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12 Formal Rehearsal Dinner Ideas in San Diego

A list of our favorite party venues and rehearsal dinner spots around town.

1. Fancy and Formal: Amaya La Jolla

The sister restaurant of Amaya at the Grand Del Mar, this newer establishment lives up to its name, impressing guests with its European décor and extensive wine list. On the menu: a filet of roasted beef tenderloin, crème fraiche potato purée, garlic broccolini, and red wine au jus. The Wine Room seats up to 12, the Private Dining Room up to 28, and the entire restaurant accommodates 118. Cost/ About $40/person  Contact/ Charles Stuart, 858.314.2035, cstuart@thegranddelmar.com

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Photo by Derek Plank

2. Polynesian on the Bay Bali Hai Restaurant – Shelter Island

Known for its super-strong Mai Tais, Bali Hai provides an island getaway without having to leave San Diego. Situated on Shelter Island, guests will experience views of the Bay and the downtown skyline while feeling the South Pacific atmosphere via tiki-inspired décor. Four distinct spaces are available to rent. Cost/ Contact Event Sales Manager for details; room rental fees are waived if food and beverage minimum is met Contact/ 619.222.1182, banquets@balihairestaurant.com

3. Upscale in the Gaslamp: Bice – Downtown

Make your way past the club-goers in the Gaslamp Quarter to find an oasis called BiCE (“BEE-chay”). This elegant restaurant appeals to oenophiles and Italian-food aficionados. The cuisine is “innovative and modern,” the vibe very cosmopolitan. The Milano Room seats 50 people. Cost/ Call for pricing Contact/ Fabrizio Donato, 619.301.7017, events@bicesd.com

4. Sky-High Sophistication: Cusp Dining & Drinks – La Jolla

On the top floor of the recently renovated Hotel La Jolla, Cusp is a cheeky dining spot with menu items like the Ron Burgundy, a signature scotch drink. In addition to trendy cocktails, Cusp offers modern coastal Mediterranean dishes such as toasted quinoa with yellowtail curry and shrimp flatbread. The atmosphere is stylish, and, before sunset, you can enjoy an 11th-floor view of La Jolla Shores. Invite 200 to dinner or, next door, the private Starling Room accommodates 60 seated guests. Cost/ Starts at $35/person Contact/ Leigh Siso, 858.551.3627, leigh.siso@hotellajolla.com

5. A Little Amore: Davanti Enoteca – Little Italy

You can seat up to 60 guests on Davanti’s back patio—a wonderful, secluded little space otherwise known as the Olive Tree Terrace. The Italian food has a modern flair, but the setting is rustic enough that your guests will feel transported to a village piazza in Italy. Davanti also has a location in Carmel Valley. Cost/ Starts at $3,000  Contact/ Maria Garcia, 619.237.9606, maria@davantisandiego.com

6. Funky Fiesta: El Camino – Little Italy

Sugar skulls, disco balls, and funky “Mexicana kitsch” complements the 21st-century take on traditional dishes. Sample the sweet potato flautas while celebrating with a Michelada. (Party of 70? For a thrill, host the dinner on the back patio—right under the flight path!) Cost/ Starts at $1,500  Contact/ Elizabeth Nichols, 619.685.3881, taco@elcaminosd.com

7. Cape Cod Meets Cali: Lobster West – Encinitas

Lobster West goes far for fresh seafood. They fly in the lobster overnight from Maine to use in their most popular dish, the Maine Lobster rolls. For a private party of 20 (or 39 with outdoor seating), the entire establishment closes. With its exposed brick, wainscoting, and weathered wood, it feels altogether very charming and exclusive—just like being on Nantucket. Cost/ $35-$40/person  Contact/ Kim Locker, 646.236.1976, klocker@lobsterwest.com

8. Relaxed & Hip: Marina Kitchen – Downtown

Within the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, the Marina Kitchen serves “modern comfort” cuisine. Brides with a sweet tooth will fall for Chef Aron’s Maker’s Mark milkshake with maple bacon or the white chocolate bread pudding with a bourbon caramel sauce. Marina Kitchen offers myriad private room options, and seating from eight to 150. Our favorite is The Cellar, an intimate space where 10 guests are surrounded by (what else!) bottles and bottles of wine. Cost/ About $60/person  Contact/ Kristin Delaney, 619.699.8289, kristin.delaney@marriott.com

9. Tried & True: Old Venice – Point Loma

This romantic neighborhood favorite offers much more than candlelit ambience. Old Venice serves classic Italian pasta and pizzas made with to-die-for sauce. The private patio and adjacent space accommodates 20-80. Guests will be enchanted as they sip wine and get serenaded by live music. Cost/$30-35/person  Contact/ Teresa Ondre, 619.222.5888, oldvenicerestaurant@gmail.com

10. Iconic Oceanfron: The Marine Room – La Jolla

It’s difficult to determine who is the real star at this famous establishment—the food or the ocean view. Not to worry, the Marine Room will provide guests the best of both. Start with an appetizer of lemongrass-infused wild prawn cocktail; a sample entrée might be an absinthe butter-basted lobster tail. A new dining area accommodates 50 people, but other rooms at this restaurant seat up to 200. Cost/ Starts at $60/person Contact/ 866.320.8463, mrcatering@marineroom.com

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11. Breezy and Beachy: Pacific Coast Grill – Cardiff-by-the-Sea

This somewhat new North County hot spot is the perfect waterfront place to show off your hometown. Dine on Pacific Coastal-inspired plates such as lobster tacos and lobster and Dungeness crab guacamole. The Beach Patio accommodates 30 seated guests, the Deck seats 50, the upstairs holds 100, and the entire downstairs seats 130. Margaritas all around! cost/ $30/entrée  Contact/Beth Bennett, 858.481.8040, beth@pacificcoastgrill.com

12. Hipster Casual: Prepkitchen – Little Italy

Tucked away in Prepkitchen Little Italy is The Study, a private dining room that can accommodate up to 28 people. In The Study, guests will try seasonal menu items such as herb-roasted chicken and drink custom cocktails like The Horse & Buggy, PK’s take on The Moscow Mule. We love the casual vibe, fun décor, and farm-to-table cuisine. Cost/ Starts at $500 + tax and gratuity  Contact/ Erin Rudolf, 401.339.3647, erudolf@wnlhosp.com

–REPORTING BY ELISSE MILLER

 

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