Dinner and a Show

Theatre and Dinner Pairings Across the County

James' Place in La Jolla

Photo by James' Place

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Centuries ago, our European ancestors began a rich tradition. Decked in their best fineries—stockings and cravats, bustled dresses and powdered strands—they’d stroll the cobblestoned streets and enter the local theatre. To the sounds of Puccini and Shakespeare, Mozart and Wagner, they’d flutter their fans and smoke their cigars as the best shows of the time unfolded before them. And after the show, top hat and cane in hand, they’d again take to the streets, this time in search of the perfect dinner destination. Over glasses of red wine and feasts of flavorful dishes they’d reflect on the theatre they’d left and the show they’d seen, debating the predominance of opera or symphony.

Today, the streetlamps under which we stroll between shows are electric and the trees that sway overhead are palm, but the tradition carries on. All these years and generations later, on the other side of the globe, there’s still no better way to spend an evening than with dinner and a show. And San Diego offers a plethora of playhouses and proximate restaurants to make yours a night to remember. Across San Diego county, from La Jolla to the Gaslamp, we’ve tallied the best theatre and dining destinations to make a romantic evening out on the town a reality. 

Spreckels Theatre in San Diego

Spreckels Theatre and Searsucker

Located in the heart of the Gaslamp, Spreckels has been an iconic theatre destination for over a century. Since 1912 San Diegans have been taking in shows at the beautiful Spreckels, first as a vaudeville house, then as a movie theater during the golden age of cinema and once again as a live performance venue in recent years. The beautifully restored theatre, which beckons to passersby with its glittering ‘30s era marquee, plays host to a variety of shows every year, from internationally-renowned artists to classic composers. City Ballet also calls the Spreckels home, and during their season you can watch dexterous dancers pirouette and plié across the timeless stage.


One of our favorite restaurants in the Gaslamp is located just a stone’s throw from Spreckels. Searsucker, with its corner location, bright windows, airy design and open kitchen, combines the best of downtown’s dining options. Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey designed an incredible dinner menu featuring local fare that mixes classic and
contemporary, like the braised lamb neck with celery root puree and pickled onions or the duck pot pie. If you’re hungry after the show, Searsucker offers the best late night dining in the Gaslamp. Baked brie with strawberry jam, duck fat fries and warm cookies and milk are just a few of the comfort foods on the late night menu that are sure to be more delicious than a soggy burrito from down the street.