If you've ever left a new, trendy, hipster restaurant feeling like it didn't have that certain je ne sais quoi, Dobson's Restaurant might fill your cravings for both delicious food and an inviting atmosphere.
With an old-school vibe, Dobson's has been a fixture in the Gaslamp for over 30 years. Housed inside the historic Spreckels Theatre, it has been a comfortable refuge, serving classic French-American cuisine to its many regulars. "We are one of the oldest restaurants downtown with a true identity," said Executive Chef Martin San Roman. Some of their customers, he said, have been regulars since Dobson's first opened its doors in 1984.
Although a new menu and some small renovations are coming in January, Dobson's isn't straying far from the formula that's made it a San Diego landmark. Their famous Mussel Bisque, a favorite among many regulars, isn't going anywhere, but it will be joined by new dishes like lobster salad, clam bakes, lamb meatballs with goat cheese and pastel de crepas (or Tijuana crêpes).
"We're offering classic cuisine that keeps getting better," said San Roman. Dobson's is also keeping popular dishes like Filet Chez Martin (beef tenderloin with escargot, tomatoes and garlic sauce) and Duck a' l'Orange (half a roasted duck with orange jus). San Roman also assured that diners will keep enjoying Dobson's signature sourdough bread.
Dobson's cuisine has always paired well with its dining room. Wood-paneled walls, stained glass windows and plush furnishings evoke an atmosphere that's as sophisticated and distinguished as it is welcoming and cozy.
"Dobson's is a classic restaurant, and classic never goes out of style, but it does need some help to stay in great shape," San Roman said. Renovated bathrooms, updated crown moldings, re-upholstered booths and new tables and chairs maintain that classic style and keep the restaurant feeling relevant. It's the same aesthetic and atmosphere that has been greeting guests for the past 30 years.
Thanks to a career that has spanned across Central and South America, Europe and Asia, San Ramon brings vast culinary knowledge and experience to Dobson's. His refreshing fusion approach to Dobson's cuisine has won over both regulars and new guests at Dobson's.
"[I enjoy having] the liberty to choose what to cook," he said. "I have a great team and people who care about the place." He loves seeing regulars every day, but especially on Christmas and rainy days.
"Our guests feel at home and cozy here," he said.
956 Broadway, downtown. dobsonsrestaurant.com