San Diego

Ivory Evenings: Piano Bars and Dinner

Nov 1st 2010 1:52PM / by Nanette Wiser

Piano rules the night. The Hotel Del and U.S. Grant have always boasted about their piano bars where gents in tuxedos served up a bit of Billy Joel and Bacharach mixed in with your parents' classics. Austin's dueling piano trend has its fans in San Diego's Gaslamp, but local scenesters flock to a bevy of piano bars where you can dine, dance and even croon along for your moment of fame.

Bing Crosby's Restaurant & Piano Bar: A taste of old Hollywood and a toast to Del Mar Racetrack's handsome patron with sumptuous 1930s décor and country club cuisine. The swing era ambience at this restaurant and piano bar, accented by Crosby artifacts including his golf clubs, features live piano music celebrating the era accompanied by glam dishes once consumed by Fred and Ginger -- Waldorf salad, crab Louie, Berkshire pork chop with shoestring potatoes, and filet mignon with black truffle demi-glaze.
7007 Friars Road, Fashion Valley; 619-295-2464
Donovan's Circle of Fifths: Donovan's is the spot for martinis and music, from the dueling pianos most nights to a break in the action for some soulful R&B once a week. Neon backlit bar, a daily happy hour with half-priced apps and a boutique menu and wine list from oysters to chopped salad, bodacious burgers and a decent Philly cheesesteak, make this a popular way after-work watering hole.
333 5th Ave., Downtown; 619-906-4850
Manhattan of La Jolla: Frank Sinatra would love this sensational Italian classic, a Zagat's best of best. This quintessential La Jolla hoi polloi spot has catered to San Diego's resident luminaries (Chargers, Sid and Jenny Craig) and Hollywood stars (Johnny Depp, Mel Brooks, Jay Leno) for 25 years. Old world style reigns in the décor and cuisine, from the appetizers (carpaccio, baked clams oreganata) to the scampi, gnocchi and veal chop Milanese and sophisticated wine list. In the lounge, Tad Sisler tinkles the keys on Thursday to Saturday from 7pm to 11pm, crooning jazz standards, contemporary pop, classic rock and Motown.
7766 Fay Ave., La Jolla; 858-459-0700
Red Fox Steakhouse: Everything old is new again at Red Fox. Once a red hot disco and always a popular dive bar with Godzilla-sized steaks and a raucous piano bar, this classic was rediscovered by North Park's hipsters, and like Nunu's and the Lamplighter, its retro chic character rings true with the denizens of the night. Step into the dim, dark wood bar, lush booths, European décor and liquor-lively cocktails and take a step back in time, right down to the inexpensive steaks, outrageously delicious blue cheese dressing, baked potato with all the fixings and béarnaise sauce without pricey add-on charges. Late night dining lets you enjoy the jazzy piano (and at times, a horn player), and when the mood strikes, the audience lets loose with a sing along. Bravo!
2223 El Cajon Blvd., North Park; 619-297-1313

Favorite Hotels
The Pearl Hotel
Hotel del Coronado
1906 Lodge on Coronado
The Cosmopolitan Hotel
Andaz San Diego
Paradies Point Spa & Resort
Hotel Indigo San Diego
Hilton San Diego Bayfront
The Se San Diego
Porto Vista Hotel & Suites
The Grand Del Mar
Temecula Creek Inn

Everywhere Else
Anna Maria Beach Cottages
Epic Hotel Miami
Los Cabos Resort
Crystal River, Florida
Sanibel Beach Resort, Florida
Sonoma Mission Inn

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