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., University Heights; parkhouseeatery.com), serving American ethnic grub in a charming venue, but be sure to make reservations at the always-busy spot.
Hillcrest 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
Carlsbad 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 Balboa Park, 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 Downtown 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).