If you’re looking for fun in San Diego, look no further than the Gaslamp Quarter. This downtown district dates back to 1950, when it was first developed for commerce near the waterfront. Now, the historic area is known for restaurants, bars and and its pedestrian zones — everything is easily walkable within a few blocks, from the sunny marina to the streets that buzz with nightlife, so you can make the most of Gaslamp on foot. Here’s where to eat and drink over the course of a day in the area as you get your steps in, enjoy the scenery and work up an appetite.
Breakfast: Chiefy Cafe
Named after the owners’ dog (and the cafe mascot), Chiefy is a go-to breakfast and lunch destination for locals and visitors alike. The namesake pup is often onsite for pets, though the food and beverage offered is equally alluring. Start with a signature latte, in flavors such as lavender mocha or honey lavender, and fill up with a smoothie, croissant sandwich or gluten-free waffle piled high with strawberries and whipped cream. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, and everything can easily be taken to-go.
Lunch: Havana 1920
For lunch, escape to Cuba at Havana 1920, a bilevel Cuban restaurant unafraid to embrace a theme. Head upstairs under the breeze of conveyor belt wooden fans to sit at one of two domino tables, and admire the dining room’s eclectic collection of memorabilia in this colorful oasis. To eat: All the classics, done right, plus an extensive rum selection. Share a bocaditos platter with ceviche tropical, plantain chips, chicken croquettes, picadillo stuffed potato and ham and cheese empanadas. Then, follow up with a Cubano or ropa vieja platter and save room for some tres leches for dessert.
Happy Hour: Coin Op
Part arcade, part cocktail bar, Coin Op is the perfect spot to unwind, embrace your inner child and sip on an adult beverage. In air conditioning, of course. Craft cocktails use homemade syrups and mixologist-approved ingredients, and are super sippable while playing a game of skeeball. Shots, slushies and plenty of beer are also served, plus bites like pretzels and corn dogs. Visit from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. on weekdays for discounted drinks, and the last Sunday of every month for free game play. Otherwise, you’ll need to load a card with money to play Ms. Pacman, pinball and so much more.
An open air rooftop sushi restaurant with nightclub vibes, chef Akira Back’s Lumi is the perfect San Diego space to have fun and enjoy excellent sushi and Nikkei cuisine. Local ingredients are prominent and a DJ sets the vibe to sip frozen cocktails to. Start with several raw fish dishes, like tuna tiradito and salmon crudo, followed by charcoal grilled skewers, and ala carte sashimi and nigiri. Trust the chef with omakase or go for a mystery box with all types of treats.
Late Night: The Shout! House
This interactive piano bar is the highlight of many visits to Gaslamp. The nightly show puts two pianists face-to-face at grand pianos, where they’ll duel for having the most musical fun. Song requests, singalongs and dancing are encouraged, and food and drinks are also available during the performance.