Great Enjoyment at Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar in the Heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp District
Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar is Ingrid Croce’s tribute to her late singer/songwriter husband, Jim Croce.
Baby Boomers will nostalgically remember Jim Croce for his hit songs like, Time In A Bottle, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song, and many more.
Jim Croce tragically died in a plane crash just as his career was beginning to explode, and today Ingrid’s restaurant sits precisely where the two of them had whimsically entertained the idea of starting a restaurant years before.
“Years later, with hopes of keeping Jim’s music alive and of building a tribute to his life and music, I was called by a friend who told me she knew of an open storefront for rent in the dilapidated Gaslamp district. When I went to look at the space, I realized it was located on the same corner where Jim and I had stopped a dozen years before. It felt like an omen. Building a restaurant and bar there would be the perfect tribute to Jim and a wonderful opportunity to help revitalize downtown San Diego.”
Today, San Diego’s Gaslamp District is bustling with life, and Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar is smack dab in the middle of it all.
As we left our car with the valet, and crossed 5th street to the restaurant, there in the middle of all of the activity was Ingrid Croce. She wore a beautiful red dress, was busily personally meeting the guests, and making all feel welcome in this, the centerpiece of her professional life for the past 25 years.
Ingrid was expecting us, and happily had saved us a table under the restaurant’s red sidewalk awnings.
As we settled ourselves, we enjoyed watching massive numbers of humanity stroll by on this famous boulevard, and ordered ourselves each a glass of wine.
The waitstaff was very attentive, and before we got too involved in our meal, Ingrid popped over, made certain that we were comfortable, and told us that she would spend a few minutes with us after we enjoyed our meals.
By this time, in our 10-day tour of San Diego, we had indulged ourselves in five consecutive nights of fabulous dining and therefore were determined to keep our cuisine on the lighter side.
Rather than our typical choice of beginning with salads, we shared Tempura Calamari with Red and Green Jalapeños (with oregano marianara parmesan). YUM!
For our main courses, Carol went with Sesame Seared Sashimi Ahi (with basmati and wild rice, teriyaki beurre blanc and Asian salad), while I went for the in-season Pan Seared Alaskan Halibut (drizzled with a Meyer lemon Riesling syrup served with roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, sauteed red bell peppers, micro cilantro and Meyer Lemon zest).
Both dishes were totally delicious, and we greatly enjoyed sharing each others fare as we took in the atmosphere of this wonderful place.
Croce’s Restaurant was hitting on all eight cylinders as the food was great, and the setting made the experience all the more memorable.
With unrecognized willpower, we resisted dessert and opted for coffee drinks in Croce’s Jazz Bar. It had just turned 8:30, and it was time for the jazz band Primo to liven up the crowd with their interesting improvisations. The place was hopping, and we very fortunate to find one lone stool around the bar which we made a beeline for.
This is the type of place where the atmosphere invites a conversation with the person next to you. Besides, the place was so busy, they were in your “personal space” anyway, so you might as well make a conversation out of it. The moment Carol hit the stool, as she loves to interact with new people, she found quick friends in an interesting couple from Oregon.
For the next hour or so, we enjoyed the music, sipped on our coffee drinks, watched the couple from Oregon share five different menu items, and overall just had a great time in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp District.
When you visit San Diego, you must visit the Gaslamp District at night. And, the best seat in town to start such an evening is dining on the sidewalk, on the corner of 5th and F, under the red awnings of Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar.
It’s fabulous and we highly recommend it.