If your night out at the theater includes an early dinner, here are some taste-tested options within a few minutes' walk of the box office.
Check out Parkhouse Eatery (4574 Park Blvd.,
; parkhouseeatery.com), serving American ethnic grub in a charming venue, but be sure to make reservations at the always-busy spot.
options we like: Lotus Thai (3761 Sixth Ave.; lotusthaisd.com) for excellent food, fast service; Busalacchi's A Modo Mio (3707 Fifth Ave.; busalacchis.com) has good Italian; and The Tractor Room (3687 Fifth Ave.; thetractorroom.com) serves upscale comfort food (but is closed Mondays through Wednesdays).
La Jolla Playhouse
James' Place (2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla; jamesplacesd.com), located right on the Playhouse campus, has a terrific happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, with a dozen sushi rolls, Kobe beef sliders, tacos and tempura dishes for $6 to $8.
Lamb's Players Theatre
Lamb's has light fare in its Encore Cafe (1138 Orange Ave., Coronado; lambsplayers.org/encore.php), but nearby try the walk-up seafood spot The Islander (1166 Orange Ave.; islandercoronado.com) with $4 happy hour tacos; Chez Loma (1132 Loma Ave., chezloma.com); serves French fare in a Victorian-era home; and there's casual Mexican grub at Costa Azul (1031 Orange Ave., costaazulcoronado.com).
If you're not picnicking, make reservations at the Artisan Café (Brengle Terrace Park, 1200 Brengle Terrace Drive, Vista; moonlightstage.com) run by Dave Krohn, on the covered patio overlooking the stage. He serves a creative three-course dinner for $33 (with optional wine pairings). He also offers grilled-to-order gourmet sausages for mid-show dining. Available at all shows, June 15-Oct. 1, 2016. .
Chef Jeff Rossman's Terra American Bistro (7091 El Cajon Blvd., Rolando; terrasd.com) serves farm-to-table American fare, with $12 to $14 nightly specials like fish and chips Fridays and mussels and red wine on Saturdays.
New Village Arts Theatre
Village is overflowing with dining options. Here are some good ones within a short walk: Caldo Pomodoro (2907 State St., Carlsbad; caldopomodoro.com) offers old-fashioned Italian fare; Mas Fina Cantina (2780 State St.; facebook.com/masfinacantinacarlsbad) has affordable tacos and pizza; and for fine dining, walk a bit further to Paon (2975 Roosevelt St.; paoncarlsbad.com).
North Coast Repertory Theatre
You don't have to leave Lomas Santa Fe Plaza to eat. We love Pizza Nova (945 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach; pizzanova.net) for the pasta and great garlic bread knots, and Samurai Japanese Restaurant for affordable sushi(979 Lomas Santa Fe Drive; samuraijapaneserestaurant.com).
The Old Globe
For a nice night out in
, try The Prado (1549 El Prado; cohnrestaurants.com), but for lighter fare, visit the Panama 66 gastropub (1540 El Prado; panama66.blogspot.com) in the San Diego Museum of Art's outdoor sculpture garden. The delicious menu includes hot and cold sandwiches, salads and appetizers, and a dozen local craft brews on tap. Bring a jacket for cool nights and call ahead to be sure it's not closed for a private party.
San Diego Civic Theatre
There's quick-service food in the theater, and on the plaza there's a Brooklyn Dogs cart (1200 Third Ave., downtown; bestbrooklyndogs.com) and
Johnny Brown's pub (1220 Third Ave.; downtownjohnnybrowns.com). But two better options are two blocks west, at First Avenue Bar & Grille in the Bristol Hotel (1055 First Ave.; firstavenuegrille.com), and three blocks east at Sixth Avenue Bistro (1165 Sixth Ave.; sixthavenuebistro.com)
San Diego Repertory Theatre
Right outside this Horton Plaza theater is the classic steakhouse Dobsons Restaurant (956 Broadway Circle; dobsonsrestaurant.com); affordable Asian fare at quick-service Thai Time, (936 Broadway Circle; thaitime3.com); and pizza and cocktails at Pinzimini in the Westin Gaslamp hotel (910 Broadway Circle; pinziminisandiego.com).