Hey there hungry, hungry Comic-Consters…uh, Con-goers?…Convicts? – scratch that! Hey there hungry, hungry nerds! If you’re like me you are chomping at the bit to make it out to my home town of San Diego, CA and feast off of the sensory overload of Comic-Con. If you’re still like me, you are also hungry for the scrumdiddlyumptious foods that this diverse town has to offer. Now, I’m no Food Critic, or Über Foodie or anything. But I will admit to taking well framed and accent lit portraits of my food once or twice dozen times. I’m just a guy who knows what tastes amazing and where to go and get said amazing foodstuffs. This is my town and I’m gonna show you where to get your grub on.
This is mainly for the out-of-towners, those on holiday here and want to maximize their stay benefits with satisfying meals to talk about to their friends and family back home. This is for those who have the coveted 5 Day Badge and have plenty of time to kill after the convention floor closes and are willing to duck out of the cramped confines of Downtown to seek out the delicacies that San Diego is known for.
If you’re a local, I’m not gonna mention anything you haven’t already known about. So go ahead and finish reading this and nod your head with gleeful agreement, cause you know this chow is on point. But hey, you might learn some new things you didn’t know about before, in your #ionlyleavethehouseforcomiccon sheltered life.
Now, I could send you places deep in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter to get your lunch and dinner on, because there are some yummy establishments there. And hey, its right there next to the Convention Center so it’s convenient. But its also going to be crowded and crowded means waiting. And seriously, aren’t you tired of waiting after a whole day of waiting in other lines inside the Con? No, my friends. I’m going to suggest a wiser alternative – namely, Mission Valley. Trust me on this. Mission Valley is the area of town off of the I-8 Freeway, easily accessible from the airport, and contains a slew of the hotels where the free shuttles that take you directly to the Convention Center visits every 15 minutes. Okay, you ready?
First stop – Capriotti’s. Yelp rated 4 stars (338 reviews).
In 2012, USA Today named Capriotti’s one of the “10 Great Places for a Surprising Sandwich”. And in 2009, Capriotti’s signature sandwich, “The Bobbie”, was named by AOL.com “The Greatest Sandwich In America”. I know, right?! AOL.com was still around in 2009?!? But hey, I can’t disagree. The Bobbie is one downright delicious sandwich. Oh, did I mention it’s composed of? Nothing much… it’s just a sub crammed with in-house roasted pulled turkey, chunky cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo. Its friggen Thanksgiving in a handy bread container!! You people from Las Vegas know this already. The Review Journal has recognized Capriotti’s as “Best of Las Vegas” for 17 consecutive years. While you’re there try a Capastrami, with hot pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, russian dressing, and cole slaw on a submarine roll.
A couple doors down from Capriotti’s, in the same strip mall, is The Kebab Shop – Yelp rated 4 stars (194 reviews).
This place is also a casual eatery like Capriotti’s. It’s fast, fresh Mediterranean food with generous portions. Its a great change of pace from the usual burger and chicken nuggets meal you can get anywhere. A yummy selection of slowly cooked rotisserie meats and made-to-order grilled meats, seafood, and veggies. They also have salads, which I was told was an interesting non meat kind of meal- crazy huh? You want hummus? They got hummus. You want shawarma? They got shawarma. You want falafel? They got falafel. I swear I’m not making these words up! My fave, go-to thing to get there is the Döner Kebab (pronounce it Toner but with a D). It looks like a burrito. Its huge, filling and flavorful. You get your choice of Rotisserie Lamb/Beef, Rotisserie Chicken, Falafel, Ground Beef, Chicken Kebab, Moroccan Shrimp, Salmon Filet (or mix and match). Then it has that sa-lad thing in it too, with your choice of sauces. And you can also add hummus, rice, feta – heck even french fries to make it a California Döner Burrito! And its all wrapped up in a toasted flatbread. Crazy good. What, you don’t want silly carbs getting in the way. They got you. They’ll skip the flatbread and cram everything I mentioned in a Chinese take out box. Very delicious and very portable. You will be unstoppable!! Oh, and both Capriotti’s and The Kebab Shop are conveniently near a Trolley stop for even more ease and accessibility.
“But what if you are in the mood for burgers and fries and on a budget? Skip the “Big Four” burger chains. Head on over to The Habit Burger Grill – Yelp rated 4 stars (360 reviews).
This place is about a block and a half from Capriotti’s and The Kebab Shop. Great flame charred, seasoned burgers at reasonable prices. If you got a tribe of people and kids with you and you go to a Clown, King or Jack fast food chain, sure the food is cheap. But guess what… the food is cheap – limp, bland and miles away from fresh. If you’re gonna spend the coin on burgers and fries, super-size the taste and freshness of the burger, not the size of your drink and fries. The Habit burger starts at $2.95 for a single, stripped down burger with no cheese. A Double Charburger with no cheese is $3.95. No frills. No cutting corners. Just nice juicy burgers and hot, crispy fries. Also, The Habit topped the list of Consumer Report’s The Best Tasting Burger in America. Okay, okay…I know there are loyalists amongst you who are staunch backers of the the other 3 chain burger joints immediately under The Habit on that list. Simmer down, Buster Brown. In-N-Out, Smashburger, and Fuddruckers are all in Mission Valley and ridiculously nearby. Like, Fuddruckers can literally be seen from out the window of The Habit. So you are covered.
“But Ted, I am a Techno-Geek. Is there a place I can order a delicious meal, complete from appetizer, entree, beverage and sauces, all through a wireless, hand-held device?”, you ask. Why, yes there is a place like that. And stop saying beverages when you can say drink – it’s like 3 whole syllables shorter. The place you want is Stacked – Yelp rated 4 stars (893 reviews).
This place is a sit down restaurant where you can order your whole meal from an iPad placed at your table. You won’t even have to talk to a waiter or waitress, unless you really need to ask them a question. And guess what, you can order the wait staff to go to you with the iPad. And at the end of the meal, you can even break up the cost into separate checks, which you can pay by card on the iPad. The only way this way of ordering can be cooler is if they brought out the food to your table with un-manned drones. (note to self: put that in their suggestion box and take credit for it). It’s called Stacked because you can customize every layer or stack of your meal. For your burger, you can choose the kind of bread, kind of veggies, kind of meat, how rare or cooked it will be, kind of sauce, or even if you want the sauce on the side. You are in charge of all of that. Drag and drop all the stuff you want in it on the virtual burger and when you’re done, send it to the kitchen and in minutes the masterpiece you dreamt up will arrive at your table. Same with the salads, pizzas, mac and cheese, ice cream sandwiches, and malts and shakes. Talk about having it your way. And fret not, if the dizzying amount of choices and options is already worrying you, there are pre-set suggestions of what you can compose – just click on that and send it to the kitchen.
Do yourself a favor and get a Toasted Marshmallow Shake. “Is it that good?”, you ask? Well, let me put it this way…I’m telling a whole bunch of strangers to go get it, at the risk of having a Toasted Marshmallow Shake shortage during the Comic-Con weekend.
I did not think ahead when I started writing this article. I’m Super-Starving right about now. 3 quick suggestions and I’m-a go get a post Midnight meal. These aren’t in Mission Valley but if you’ve got access to a car, hunt these spots down. You will not be disappointed.
Phil’s BBQ – Yelp rated 4 ½ stars (7364 reviews).
Get the “El Toro.” The El Toro was named the West Coast Regional Winner of the Travel Channel’s show “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America.” Its a sandwich jam packed with mesquite-grilled, deli-sliced tri-tip and topped with Phil’s signature BBQ sauce. You literally have to eat the meat spilling out of the bun first before you can wrap your hands around it so you can eat it like a sandwich. Sooo good.
JV’s Mexican Food – Yelp rated 4 ½ stars (621 reviews).
Get yourself a Surf and Turf Burrito. A burrito filled with carne asada and shrimp with guacamole. How can you lose? And its huuuuuge; like as big as a forearm huge!! Go ahead, look at your own forearm. A burrito THAT big. Every time I see a newborn baby, wrapped and swaddled, I can’t help but compare. That baby is almost as big as a JV’s Surf and Turf.
Extraordinary Desserts – Yelp rated 4 stars (3766 reviews).
Get yourself… anything. It’s desserts, fool. Splurge on yourself with a decadent dessert. You deserve it.
Well I hope that helped you out a little. You can thank me later. Now go! Get your grub on!