The Desmond at Kimpton Alma: A Sensory Feast in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter

In the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, the Kimpton Alma Hotel emerges as a sophisticated urban retreat, and within its embrace lies a culinary gem—The Desmond. This isn’t just a restaurant; it’s an experience, an invitation to taste the locally sourced ingredients and global culinary influences. Whether you’re settling in after a day of exploring or simply seeking a fine dining experience without straying far from your room, The Desmond’s location within the Kimpton Alma makes it an ideal choice.

The Ambiance

From the moment you step into The Desmond, the atmosphere envelopes you in a warm embrace. The space is designed with an open layout, offering various seating options to cater to your dining needs. Booths for intimate gatherings, tables for larger parties, bar seats for solo adventurers, and a cozy couch for those who prefer to lounge—all meticulously arranged to ensure comfort and a sense of welcome. The mezzanine location, accessible by both elevator and stairs, adds a touch of exclusivity and serenity to your dining experience.

As the clock strikes 5 pm, The Desmond opens its doors, inviting you to embark on a culinary adventure. The menu, crafted with care and creativity, celebrates local ingredients and global flavors. Each dish is a testament to the art of cooking, blending textures and tastes that dance on your palate.

The Culinary Experience

Imagine starting your meal with a warm slice of roasted garlic and herb focaccia, paired with whipped feta, tomato conserva, babaganoush, and schug. The bread, soft and fragrant, is a perfect canvas for the creamy, tangy spreads that accompany it.

Next, check out their vibrant platter of local shrimp and fish ceviche. The tomatillo-coconut salsa brings a bright, zesty flavor, while avocado and fresno chili add richness and heat. The crunch of jicama and the freshness of cilantro tie everything together, each bite a refreshing burst of flavor.

The beef tartare is a dish that plays with texture and taste, where tender beef mixed with dijon mustard and chives, complemented by the crunch of sunchokes and the umami of parmesan, all brought together by crisp house crackers.

If you are craving fresh seafood, tuna crudo follows, a colorful dish that pairs the delicate fish with sweet watermelon and pickled watermelon rind. The creamy avocado and a hint of aleppo pepper add depth and complexity, making each bite a complex to the next.

For The Veggie Lovers

As the meal progresses, you might find yourself savoring a plate of BBQ spring carrots, their natural sweetness enhanced by carrot top pesto and ras el hanout. The honey and crispy quinoa add layers of flavor and texture, making this a standout dish.

A salad of spring lettuces is next, a refreshing mix of green tahini dressing, marcona almonds, marinated cherry tomatoes, dill, and grilled strawberries. It’s light and vibrant, a perfect palate cleanser.

Roasted cauliflower, perfectly charred and served with romesco sauce, salsa macha, vadouvan, and grilled lemon, is a revelation. Each bite is a harmonious blend of smoky, spicy, and tangy flavors.

For The Pasta Lovers

For the pasta lovers, the tonnarelli fideo is a must-try. Mussels, sherry, Spanish chorizo, sofrito, and fennel come together in a dish that is both hearty and sophisticated, the flavors melding beautifully with each forkful.

The cacio e pepe, with its creamy, peppery sauce, and the nodi marini, with artichokes, romanesco, zucchini, eggplant, lemon, basil bread crumbs, and parmesan, are both dishes that celebrate simplicity and elegance.

Hearty and Flavorful

The entrees are equally impressive. Local bass is served with BBQ maitake, roasted sunchokes, lemon, and fennel, a dish that highlights the freshness of the fish and the depth of the accompaniments. Seared tuna, with pepperonata, white gazpacho sauce, green grapes, and almonds, is a symphony of flavors, each element enhancing the other.

The hanger steak, with grilled asparagus, potato rosti, salsa macha, and yuzu kosho bernaise, is a carnivore’s dream, the steak perfectly cooked and the sides adding both flavor and texture. The roasted half chicken, served with coconut forbidden rice, snap pea salad, and pepitas, is a dish that is both comforting and sophisticated.

Drinks and Desserts

The Desmond’s beverage menu is as thoughtful as its food offerings. Whether you prefer cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks, each option is crafted with the same attention to detail and creativity.

As your meal draws to a close, the desserts promise to leave a lasting impression. The wildflower honey coconut tapioca is a tropical delight, with mango custard, honey sweet mango, coconut geleé and toasted coconut creating a medley of textures and flavors. The pecan carrot cake, with citrus cream cheese, candied carrot curls and sumac carrot dust, features sweet and tangy flavors, with a subtle crunch from the candied carrots.

For chocolate lovers, the dark chocolate silk pie is a must-try. Rich and velvety, it is complemented by salted cream, shaved chocolate, morello cherry hot fudge and roasted cocoa nibs, each bite is rich and decadent. And for those who prefer a lighter end to their meal, the seasonal ice cream and sorbet offer a refreshing and satisfying conclusion.

A Must-Visit Destination

The Desmond at Kimpton Alma is more than just a restaurant—it’s an experience that combines the best of local ingredients with global culinary techniques. Located in the bustling Gaslamp Quarter, it’s the perfect spot for a special dinner with you and your love ones, whether you’re staying at the hotel or simply exploring downtown San Diego.

For those who appreciate fine dining in a relaxed yet refined setting, The Desmond is an essential stop on your culinary journey.

For More Information Visit

Location: 1047 Fifth Ave., San Diego
Hours: Wednesday – Thursday | 5-9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday | 5-10 p.m.
Sunday (non-holiday weekends)  | 5-9 p.m.
Sunday (holiday weekends)  | 5-10 p.m.

Photo credits: Courtesy of The Desmond San Diego


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