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San Diego

A Perfect S.D. Date: Dinner and Live Music

Oct 29th 2010 12:23PM / by Nanette Wiser

Here's how you're going to impress your date this weekend: Rather than cheaping out with burgers and Guinness at the local gastropub, sip and sway at these jumping joints where cuisine, concerts, salsa and jazz are the catch of the day.

Wild Note Café & The Belly Up Tavern : This slick neighborhood bistro nestled next to one of San Diego's best live music venues makes it easy to dine before and after the heartbreaking reggae, indie and blues sets. Best of all, dinner allows you to skip the concert line. Chef Izzy Balderas' global flavors infuse his seafood, salads and Mexican-inspired dishes. Pan-Asian dishes share the stage with pine-nut crusted chicken, and filet medallions with truffle mashed potatoes. Kick up your heels and after the show, linger over tasty desserts.
143 S. Cedros Ave, Solana Beach; Belly Up, 858-481-8140; Wild Note, 858-720-9000
Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar : Champagne brunch Sunday, Tripp Sprague jazz and Agua Dulce Latin sounds gives you a taste of San Diego's talented music scene in this beautiful brick bar and adjacent restaurant. It's reminiscent of Gaslamp's heyday, enhanced by Jim Croce memorabilia and Ingrid Croce's sanguine style. The Wine Spectator award-winning wine list accompanies a trendy, Mediterranean and pan-Asian inspired menu that's both spicy and eclectic. You'll find dishes such as marinated Alaskan halibut ceviche, wild mushroom potato lasagna, and miso glazed black cod. Can anyone sing the blues after grooving here? Crowded, but fun.
802 5th Ave.; 619-233-4355
House of Blues: Live concerts, rock 'n' roll décor, indie-style vibe and solid fare gives your posse a feeling of Rolling Stone glam at this downtown club. Open for lunch and dinner, with two happy hours (including post-show), the best of show are the voodoo shrimp, rosemary chicken and Creole seafood jambalaya. Bring plenty of dough for drinks.
1055 5th Ave.; 619-299-2583
Jimmy Love's: The owner was "Top Gun," the drinks are top-shelf and the LBD top-flight, as is the contemporary American cuisine. Open seven days a week with live rock bands nightly, the two-story shimmering modern nightclub delivers bottle service, booty-shaking people-watching and memorable dishes in what was once San Diego's City Hall. Share crab cakes with mango salsa, artichoke dip so good it was featured in Bon Appetit, and filet mignon or pork loin rack chop. But, save room for the chocolate soufflé with vanilla bean gelato.
672 5th Ave.; 619-595-0123
La Gran Tapa: Ready to rumba? In between tasty tapas served on white linen tables, you can snap your fingers as the flamenco guitar trills or enjoy sultry live Latina music and flamenco dancing Friday in this Barcelona-style bistro. Local blues legend Tomcat Courtney tunes up on Tuesday.
611 B St.; 619-234-8272

Riviera Supper Club & Turquoise Room: Another oldie but goodie retro lounge where you can DIY your ribeye or porterhouse, add sautéed mushrooms, bourbon bacon baked beans or tater tots, and finish up with bacon chocolate cake while making friends at the communal grill. Enjoy a mélange of jazz, blues, swing and more starting nightly at 9pm. Catch Melly Francis and the Distilled Spirits every Monday and the lovely Nena Anderson on Tuesday, as well as the Fairmounts and Baja Bugs in November; check the calendar for the nightly roster. Top off the night with an Art Snob, a killer mix of bourbon, bitters, orange peel and ginger ale. It's speakeasy style that's easy on the pocketbook.
7777 University Ave., La Mesa; 619-713-6777

Favorite Hotels
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Everywhere Else
Anna Maria Beach Cottages
Epic Hotel Miami
Los Cabos Resort
Crystal River, Florida
Sanibel Beach Resort, Florida
Sonoma Mission Inn

Upcoming Events
San Diego Beer Week
The Old Globe Theater
Newport Jazz Festival
Clearwater Jazz Festiva