Options for cheap eats near the San Diego Convention Center (and Comic-Con) abound, if you know where to look. Most of the spots on 5th, right across from the SDCC aren’t worth your dining dollar, but there are a few gems right on the strip. If you go a little farther north, or east, that’s where you’ll really strike gold. Here are my top picks for cheap eats near the Convention Center (and in downtown SD, in general).
For breakfast, The Mission is my top spot. There’s pancakes, egg dishes, great coffee, and the best cinnamon French toast of any restaurant downtown. They also have gluten free rosemary bread and lots of meat-free options for vegetarians. Portions are on the large side, so I like to add some bacon and eggs to my French toast order and share it. For more breakfast recs, check out my Where to Eat Breakfast in Downtown San Diego post.
San Diego is a big burger town, and that’s what I’d suggest for lunch. The closest spots to the Convention Center are Nicky Rottens, Burger Lounge, and Fleming’s. Burger Lounge offers beef, veggie, and turkey burgers, and a great little patio out back. Nicky’s is just up the street and has a larger selection of burgers. For $11, you get a huge, juicy patty and a giant mound of fries. It’s definitely enough food for two. Happy hour is the time to check out Morton’s. Burgers are $6 until 7 p.m. They also have cocktails, wines, and appetizers for $6 each. For more burger suggestions, check out this post on Serious Eats.
Some of my other favorite options for cheap eats downtown include the pad thai at J-Wok, the shawarma and falafel at The Kebab Shop, and the sandwiches and salads at The District (banh mi pictured at top of post).
For happy hour, La Puerta is a great option. They’ve got half-priced appetizers and frosty frozen drinks. You can get a huge plate of chips and guac and the “Mr. Mojo Risin’” (a frozen mojito — my favorite drink) for just over $4 each. Happy hour runs from 3-7 p.m., with a bonus late-night happy hour on Thursdays from 10-close, where frozen drinks are $3. For late night libations, check out The Grant Grill on Friday nights from 10 p.m. to close, when you can score an awesome craft cocktail for $6 (that’s half price).
For dessert, I’d stick with frozen treats like gelato from Cremolose or Chocolat, and especially Yogurtland in Little Italy. If you’re visiting from a place where self-serve frozen yogurt isn’t available, this is a must. Yogurtland has about a dozen flavors of fro-yo, including options like peanut butter, mango, cookies and cream, and tart strawberry that you can top with everything from fresh fruit to cheesecake bites, candy, and chocolate syrup.
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