San Diego

Dinner With a Side of Showgirls, Mafia and Murder

Jan 27th 2011 5:00PM / by Nanette Wiser

At a cleverly themed eatery, dining out is more reminiscent of a movie set than a restaurant. Beyond Sea World's themed gastro destinations, sample five other playfully themed restaurants in San Diego -- and don't forget to dress the part when you dine there.

Buca di Beppo: The Rat Pack thrive here -- Dean Martin crooning in the background, heaping family-style dishes and campy Jersey Italian '50s decor reign, including a private dining booth with a Pope's head spinning as a centerpiece. Order a pitcher of sangria or lemon basil mojito and share plates of chicken carbonara, Chianti-braised short ribs, stuffed shells and Old World broccoli Romano.
705 6th Ave.; 619-233-7272
10749 Westview Pkwy., Mira Mesa; 858-536-2822
1921 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad; 760-479-2533

The Godfather Restaurant: Tony Soprano lurks in this fancy shmancy but casual Italian restaurant, complete with banquet room. Having celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2009 makes this family favorite the real deal, complete with favorite mafia movie celebrity photos (Marlon Brando's on the website) and authentic cuisine, especially the cuori di carcioifi (seasoned fried artichoke hearts baked in lemon, garlic, capers and Parmesan), the spaghetti carbonara, linguine alle vongole and eight cannelloni stuffed best with fresh chicken livers and mushrooms or with marsala veal medallions.
7878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Kearny Mesa; 858-560-1747

Kansas City Barbecue: Smoking-hot horseradish pickles, lip-smacking pulled pork, pulled links or brisket and "Top Gun" memorabilia star here, a downtown original near the original cop shop pre-Seaport Village (the tailor next door specialized in removing bloodstains long ago). Tom Cruise's Maverick jukebox scene was filmed here and despite the 2008 fire, Martin and K.C. fans restocked the walls with Navy hats from all the ships, global license plates, Kansas sports memorabilia, the "Top Gun" piano and K.C. the pig mascot, now dubbed Smokey the Pig.
610 W. Market St.; 619-231-9680

The Marble Room: Before the movie "Burlesque" premiered, locals flocked to this bawdy venue festooned with costumed servers, boa-clad shimmying dancers and funky bordello decor (think red and paintings of naked ladies). Enjoy outlandish California cuisine, blue-plate specials, jazzy Jezebel Missy Anderson for blues Thursday, the Dime Store Band Friday and erotic era-themed cocktails (working girl's martini: Absolut Mandarin, Apple Pucker, Cranberry soda).
535 Fifth Ave.; 619-702-5595

Mystery Café Dinner Theater: Whodunnit? You won't know until dessert. One of San Diego's favorite interactive experiences for more than 20 years is full of giggles, four-course fun and a chance to be, rather than eat, a ham. Moll and gangster attire recommended, "Bonnie and Clyde" style.
505 Kalmia St., Hillcrest; 619-460-2200

Photo Courtesy of claytron, Flickr

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