Best Restaurants for Private Dining in San Diego

Where to bring the party when you want to go all out
August 8, 2017
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by Zagat Staff

Maybe your home is too small, maybe you want nothing to do with post-party cleanup. Whatever the reason, throwing a party in a private San Diego dining room solves many problems. It offers the chance to play host without all the work and guarantees you and your guests get an outstanding meal in a beautiful setting. Consider this your go-to list when you want to host a private dinner for 10 to more than 100.

Hello Betty Fish House
$$

Focusing on SoCal's familiar beach eats such as fish tacos, oysters and craft beers, this breezy hangout in the heart of Oceanside offers classic bites amid views of the Pacific. The sprawling space features a huge garage door that opens out to the ocean and and retro beach decor including a dune buggy that's ready-made for a photo shoot.
Stake Chophouse & Bar
Seafood · $$$

Filets, chops and dry-aged steaks are offered in shareable portions alongside shellfish, crudo, salads and wood-fired dishes at this old-school haunt that happens to be Coronado's sole steakhouse. The expansive, two-story venue, situated nicely on the main drag, features a contemporary design despite its classic menu, with sleek architecture, a modern fire pit and oversized windows.
BO-beau kitchen + cache
French · Hillcrest · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

These midpriced California-French bistros from the Cohn Group (Indigo Grill, Island Prime) are beloved for their “amazing” “approachable” eats ( “the Brussels sprouts are a must!” ) and “fabulous cocktails” ; reasonable prices, “friendly” staffers and the “cozy” , romantic setting completes the picture.
BO-beau kitchen + garden
French · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

These midpriced Cal-French bistros from the Cohn Group (Indigo Grill, Island Prime) are beloved for their “amazing” “approachable” eats ( “the Brussels sprouts are a must!” ) and “fabulous cocktails” ; reasonable prices, “friendly” staffers and a “cozy” , romantic ambiance completes the picture.
Decoy Dockside
Pizza · $$$

Wood-fired New American fare, pizza and classic cocktails headline this chic, waterfront eatery in the Lakehouse Hotel & Resort in San Marcos. The two-story space features a luxurious dining room with cozy fireplaces and velvet furnishings on the top floor, and a casual, ground floor lounge with a spacious open deck.
Prepkitchen Little Italy
Brunch · Little Italy · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

"Simple, fresh food done well" sums up this "popular" chainlet from the Whisknladle crew that packs them in "shoulder to shoulder" – especially at happy hour – for "delicious" tapas-style plates from a menu that "changes often" and "very good craft cocktails" in a "cool" , "rustic" setting; "accommodating" service and moderate bills make it a "fun spot to go with friends."
Mister A's
French · Bankers Hill · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

Bertrand Hug's "elegant" French-American perched on the 12th floor of an office building in Bankers Hill is a “classic" spot to take visitors or celebrate a “special occasion” thanks to the "spectacular" bay and skyline views – particularly from the outdoor terrace; the "excellent" French-inflected fare is ferried by "polished" , “attentive” staffers, and though bills are "expensive" , it's "worth it for a special day."
The Crack Shack - Encinitas
Southern American · $$

An all-day menu of chicken and egg-based dishes – including fried chicken, chicken sandwiches and deviled eggs (plus a full bar) – are served at this local chain by the team behind Juniper & Ivy with locations in Encinitas and Little Italy. Modern furnishings, a giant chicken sculpture and a bocce ball court make the space hip and happening.
Juniper & Ivy
Little Italy · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

“Extremely inventive without being precious” , this “hip” New American in Little Italy is a showcase for Top Chef winner Richard Blais' "amazing" , "playful" molecular cuisine and "superb cocktails" in a "lively" setting; service is “attentive” and an open kitchen gives diners ringside seats for the action, so although it's “a little pricey” , most say "it's a blast" ; P.S. don't miss the “amazing” desserts like the housemade Yodel.
Bencotto
Little Italy · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

Fans swoon “it doesn't get better for classic Italian” than this “reasonably priced” restaurant in the heart of Little Italy, where an “attentive” , “knowledgeable” staff sets down "beautiful handmade pastas" and "cocktails made right" ; the modern setting can get “noisy” and it’s frequently busy, so reservations are recommended.
JRDN Restaurant
Pacific Beach · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.0

There's "lots of buzz" at this seaside Californian located in the "stylish" Tower 23 Hotel in Pacific Beach offering “interesting, seasonal” fare and cocktails on a patio that's "practically on the sand" boasting "magnificent views" ; it's on the pricier side and service can be "hit-and-miss" , but the "amazing scenery" and "people-watching" make up for it, especially at brunch.
PARC Bistro-Brasserie
Brunch · Bankers Hill · $$$

Classic French fare, chilled seafood towers and daily dinner specials are served in comfortable yet elegant surrounds at this charming Bankers Hill locale with a spacious, covered sidewalk patio.
Farmer's Table La Mesa
Breakfast · $$

Buzzy neighborhood hangout in downtown La Mesa plating thoughtfully sourced New American fare in an energetic setting with a spacious outdoor patio decorated with farm equipment and plants.
HIVE
Kearny Mesa · $$

Sprawling Kearny Mesa entertainment venue encompassing private karaoke rooms, a stylish bar pouring craft brews and barrel-aged cocktails and a buzzy restaurant offering an eclectic, globally inspired menu with Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian influences in industrial-chic surrounds.
Kettner Exchange
Little Italy · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.3

This "lively" see-and-be-seen Little Italy American with two levels of drinking and dining areas showcases "excellent" shared plates alongside "amazing craft cocktails" ; though opinions vary on the bills ( "reasonable" vs. "kind of expensive" ), the urban-nautical decor with playful touches like an oversized couch swing make it a solid “date spot.”
RED O Taste of Mexico
University City · $$$$

Mexican dishes and cocktails by Rick Bayless are the main attraction at this sprawling upscale option in La Jolla, complete with a resortlike dining room with a live tree planted in the center. A tequila lounge and spacious patio with fire pits keep the place buzzing.
Grant Grill Lounge
Breakfast · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.4

"Top-notch" seasonal American fare is bolstered by “fantastic" craft cocktails at this “elegant, historic” art deco haunt in Downtown's U.S. Grant Hotel; the "high-end professional atmosphere" and "experienced" service make it "well worth the visit" "for business dinners or power lunches."
Herb & Wood
Pizza · Little Italy · $$$

Chefs Shane McIntyre (ex Searsucker) and Brian Malarkey (Searsucker, Herringbone) present rustic wood-fired fare, plus pizza, housemade pastas and old-school cocktails at this upscale locale on the northern edge of Little Italy. Chic artwork and plush furnishings fill the expansive space that encompasses a cozy lounge, indoor-outdoor patio and an elegant dining room.
Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge
$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

A “simple menu” of “farm-to-table” American fare is enhanced by a thoughtful selection of craft beers and cocktails at this "fun" Coronado entry that proudly displays the work of local artists; outdoor seating and reasonable prices shore up the appeal.