The Lion’s Share
629 Kettner Blvd., Downtown
We were captivated by the heavy wooden door and almost heavier lion’s head knocker. But once we came inside, we were in love. There’s something very creepy cool about The Lion’s Share—the moody lighting and velvet drapery, the taxidermy and unsettling paintings of animals presented in an uncanny-valley sort of way (like the water buffalo wielding a knife). Even the menu, with its old-fashioned, vaguely haunted imagery, sends a shiver down our spine. Try the County Cork (twelve-year-old whiskey, sherry, Grand Marnier, and orgeat) and a meat and cheese board. That’s only to start—the food is out of this world, so leave time for a few courses.
100 Park Blvd., Downtown
Whether or not you’re a San Diego Padres fan and whether or not you’re even a baseball fan, it’s hard to resist the charms of sitting outside at twilight, drinking a cold beer, and watching the sun set over the city. Petco Park, located right in downtown San Diego, is the Padres home stadium, and it’s occasionally used for events and concerts. Whatever you go for, try to make it a late-afternoon event—watching dusk settle on the city from here is lovely.
The Guild Hotel
500 W Broadway, Downtown
The rooms at this downtown boutique hotel are on the small side, but the design is so chic and the level of luxury so high, you won’t care. The building dates back to the 1920s and has all the romantic details of the era. Inside, the space is modern and inviting but in a way that respects its past. The Guild Bar and Luca, the hotel’s fantastic restaurant, are the kinds of places you want to dress up for (craft cocktails, red velvet lounge chairs, gilded details). But the star of the hotel may be the Grace Garden and courtyard—a charming place to forget you’re in the middle of downtown.
Andaz San Diego
600 F St., Downtown
The Andaz was originally built as part of the 1913 World’s Fair, and today, it’s one of the swankiest places to stay in downtown San Diego. All 159 rooms are sleek and modern, but if you can swing it, the Cabana Suite, with its private outdoor pool, is the way to go. The hotel has a great restaurant, STK (if you’re smart, you’ll get the Parmesan truffle fries), and an even greater rooftop bar, which has flatbread pizzas, burgers, fries, a killer drinks menu, and an astounding view of the city.
The US Grant
326 Broadway, Downtown
The US Grant was built in 1910 and still has the imposing manner and enormous, stately grandeur of an earlier era. The rooms and common areas are comfortable and spacious, if a touch impersonal (don’t expect a lot of original artwork or photography books piled on coffee tables here). Located smack in downtown San Diego, the US Grant is the perfect launchpad for an evening strolling the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s vibrant and buzzy downtown district. The hotel’s Art Deco Grant Grill is a solid choice for dinner, but in this neighborhood, the whole point is to venture out.