It’s that time of year again: comic book fans from all over will soon descend upon San Diego for the ultimate science fiction celebration. If you’ve attended any of the previous conventions, you know that the only option for a quick bite onsite involves long lines, mediocre food, and steep prices. We at Fodor’s have a better idea: head outside and down the way to the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village neighborhoods that are teeming with cheap and delicious eats. Here we’ve compiled our top 10 tasty and affordable lunch spots nearby, so you can take a break from the daily grind of panels, sessions, and Q & A’s to taste what the city has to offer.
Just steps away from the convention center is The Tin Fish, the perfect place to get some fresh air while enjoying one of the city’s local specialties: fish tacos. Here you can sit outside, take in the San Diego sunshine, and sample fried or grilled salmon, swordfish, halibut, shrimp, or calamari tacos.
If you’re looking to truly get away from the chaotic scene of Comic-Con, then take a walk to Café Chloe, a Parisian-style bistro that is a favorite among locals (even former San Diego-based chef, Gavin Kaysen is a fan). This laidback café offers French-inspired dishes like tarte flambée (flatbread with bacon, caramelized onions and crème fraîche), and Dungeness crab cake tartine with aïoli and fennel slaw.
Sandwiches are a favorite lunchtime option, and The Cheese Shop seems to have each and every kind, including different takes on the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Your options range from extreme richness (a 3 cheese special with Muenster, Jack and Cheddar), to ethnic flavors (a Greek grilled cheese with feta, oregano and chopped tomatoes) to old-fashioned goodness (a standard sandwich with your choice of cheese).
Pizza is another go-to choice for a quick and affordable lunch. There are two pizzerias of note within walking distance: Basic and Ciro’s. Basic is a local favorite for its brick oven-cooked, thin crust pizza, and for its happening happy hour (4 pm to 6 pm). Ciro’s serves a New York-style pizza and is home to an excellent lunchtime deal: two slices and a soda for a $6.
If you’d rather sit down and linger over your lunch, head to The Field an authentic Irish pub, where you can pair a pint of your favorite brew (go Guinness) with one of the specialties like shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, or Guinness beef stew.
In the mood for a little Middle Eastern flavor? Then stop in at the Kebab Shop where doner kebabs, shish kebabs, and falafel take center stage. It’s a casual no-frills spot that serves great food at reasonable prices.
Some would argue that Rama serves the best Thai food in San Diego. If you go during lunch, entrées like drunken “spicy” noodles, pad thai, or any one of the many curry dishes are served with soup of the day, salad, spring rolls, and steamed rice.
Satisfy your comfort food cravings at Neighborhood with items like sweet potato fries, jalapeño mac and cheese, and burgers topped with caramelized onions, Gruyère cheese, and pepper greens. As a chaser, try one of the restaurant’s 27 microbrews on tap.
San Diego is home to many Mexican restaurants, and one of the best nearby is Los Panchos de Charly. The restaurant serves all of the classics like chips and guacamole and chiles rellenos in a warm and relaxed environment.
For more San Diego restaurant recommendations, check out the Fodor’s San Diego 2009 or visit www.fodors.com.