San Diego Comic-Con is the Mecca for pop culture fans, but its in-house food offerings of muffins, coffee carts and cold sandwiches leave much to be desired.
Instead, we encourage Con visitors to venture outside the San Diego Convention Center with this dining cheat sheet.
MG Beyer Seafood By the Park: This newly opened shop is the first brick-and-mortar location of Chula Vista’s long-famous Mariscos German Beyer taco truck. Huffington Post rated Jorge Fuentes’ battered fish taco the best in San Diego. And his 7 Chiles grilled fish taco has won numerous competitions. To get there, exit the convention center and walk south to cross the pedestrian bridge over Harbor Drive. 317 10th Ave., East Village. (619) 326-8156. facebook.com/mgbeyerseafood/
A better burger
Union Kitchen & Tap Gaslamp: There are tons of great burgers downtown, but one of the best is right across the street. Union’s namesake burger is a true beauty, with a half-pound all-natural beef patty, New York aged white cheddar on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and onion by request, for $16.95. For $2 extra add avocado or cherrywood-smoked bacon. 1333 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 795-9463. gaslampunion.com
Fun for a crowd
Rockin’ Baja Lobster: This fun, hands-on eatery offers visitors a south-of-the-border experience without actually going south of the border. Deep-fried Pacific spiny lobsters are served Rosarito-style in a bucket with grilled carne asada, shrimp and chicken and all-you-can eat tortillas, beans and rice. It’s not cheap, but it’s an entertaining, build-your-own Baja experience. 310 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 234-6333. rockinbaja.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/comic-con2018.pdf
Cafe 222: This has been a downtown institution for 25 years. Last year, sales of its feather-light waffles topped 1 million. The top-selling dish is owner Terryl Gavre’s peanut-butter-and-banana-stuffed French toast, which has been featured on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” The small shop has no wifi or boozy breakfast cocktails and lines form early, so be prepared. 222 Island Ave., downtown. (619) 236-9902. cafe222.com
Larry’s Deli: This ballpark-area shop serves tasty sandwiches overstuffed with a half-pound of organic or grass-fed meat with fine cheeses, Bread & Cie breads and house-made sauces and dressings. Sandwiches range from $9 to $12. Top-sellers are the pastrami and California-style turkey sandwiches. 323 Seventh Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. Larry’s is only open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. (619) 795-7100. hungrylarrys.com
Basic Pizza: There are plenty of good slice shops downtown, but this large, no-frills warehouse serves delicious Connecticut-style coal-fired thin-crust pizza. And for late-night beer crawls, it’s open until 2 a.m. every night. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m., with $5 beers on draft. 410 10th Ave., East Village. (619) 531-8869. barbasic.com
Full Moon Sushi & Kitchen Bar: It’s a 15-minute walk from the convention center, but worth it. This attractive sushi and robata bar is known for its quality seafood, friendly staff and classy decor. It’s also considerably less expensive than some of the Gaslamp’s other sushi eateries. Traditional rolls are priced from $8 to $10, with specialty rolls ranging up to $19. Open for dinner only. 926 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 233-3711. fullmoonsd.com
Cafe 21: You can’t go wrong with any dish on the menu at this Azerbaijan-inspired restaurant known for its extensive tapas menu, savory kabobs, aromatic veggie dishes and decadent American-style desserts. 802 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 795-0721. cafe-21.com
Worth the splurge
Rustic Root: Boasting the Gaslamp Quarter’s only rooftop restaurant and bar, Rustic Root has delicious food, excellent service and one of the best views in all of downtown. There are different menus for the more upscale downstairs dining room and the more bar food-centric rooftop. 535 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 232-1747. rusticroot.com
Chocolat Cremerie: This European-inspired cafe serves breakfast, salads, paninis, pastas and flatbreads, but thanks to its name, most customers turn up for its excellent housemade gelato, sweet crepes and chocolate desserts and pastries. Most everything’s in the $4 to $10 range. 509 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 238-9400. chocolatsandiego.com