I love downtown San Diego. The vibe is happy and fun in this part of the city, and it’s a great California vacation spot for people of all ages.
I especially like the Gaslamp Quarter because it has so many great steakhouses – not that it doesn’t also have terrific sushi restaurants and other dining options, but the happy, festive atmosphere in San Diego’s top steakhouses really sets it apart.
I haven’t been to all (or even most) of the great restaurants in San Diego – there aren’t enough vacation days in the year – but I’m more than content whenever I try one of these recommended best steakhouses down in the Gaslamp Quarter.
The 7 Best Steakhouses in San Diego, California
Donovan’s Steak & Chop House – Donovan’s has won the Lamplighter Award in the past (Favorite Steakhouse), and it’s easy to see why.
Only prime meat is used, all the time, and the prime rib is among the best I’ve had. This is a high-end steakhouse, somewhat more refined and less convivial than others on this Top 10 list.
However, it is worth a reservation for a romantic, special meal. Many awards have been given to Donovan’s for both its wine list and simply being, consistently, the best high-end steakhouse in San Diego.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar – This is a national chain, but very well-regarded. A respectable wine list includes 100-Wines-by-the-Glass, and the steaks here are generously portioned, perfectly prepared, and come with complementary sides.
The ambience is fun and informal, hence, many relaxed San Diego residents consider Flemings the best steakhouse in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.
Gaslamp Strip Club – This fun steakhouse epitomizes the friendly atmosphere of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego. Great food, not too fancy, and accommodating of large groups, it’s simply terrific.
Not the best restaurant for a quiet, romantic dinner, of course, but the open community grill allows for customers (age 21 and up) to grill their own steaks, after choosing their cuts from the waiters.The fun, happy atmosphere has to suite your mood, though – usually, this is easy in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Greystone the Steakhouse – Wow; Greystone is an amazingly glamorous restaurant in the mostly “regular Joe” Gaslamp Quarter.
The elegance of the decor and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence indicate that this is one restaurant you may want to save for special occasions.
While there are some child-friendly entrees of the menu, I don’t recommend Greystone for kids. It’s just too formal, and very expensive.
The waiters here are trained in wine matching, so guests can relax and be certain that their fillet mignon, lobster, or any other entree will be perfectly suited to their vino.
Lou and Mickey’s – Along with the Gaslamp Strip Club, this is probably the most “manly” of the Top 10 steakhouses list.
A lively, convivial atmosphere is pervasive most evenings at Lou & Mickey’s: The restaurant has an ambience closer to that of Italian restaurants than traditional steakhouses.
Lou & Mickey’s is right across the street from San Diego’s busy convention center, so there’s nearly always a crowd of hungry executives and business travelers who want to unwind.
Morton’s the Steakhouse – Check out Morton’s website, as there are often gift card deals found there. Morton’s is a national chain, yes, but it’s very picky regarding high quality steak and other entrees.
I’ve been to a few Morton’s across the US. The menu items are consistently great and the work put into ambience (dark wood, white linen tablecloths) gives the feel of an independently owned restaurant.
Rei do Gado Brazilian Steakhouse – This is a Brazilian Churrasco, or barbeque: Rei do Gado means “The king of the Herd.” The steaks in this restaurant are slow-cooked on skewers, as per the traditional Brazilian style.
While a buffet never has the look of a best restaurant, the appeal here is the different type of steaks than the primes and chops we’re used to.
A waiter slices just-prepared, sizzling meats off the skewers onto your plates until you signal “that’s enough.” The skewers items range widely from tender loin to lamb, to the most popular churrasco cut, top sirloin cap.
Now, the qualities that make a great steakhouse go beyond fantastic steak and fresh seafood options. Ambiance is key: The best steakhouses in San Diego are either fun and friendly, or elegant and classy.
Either way, the best restaurants in San Diego, California are always well worth a night out. My top 7 favorite steakhouses leave plenty of options for the hungry traveling carnivore!
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