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).

Banh Mi from The District

The Cravory is one of my favorite cookie bakers in San Diego. From both a technical and creative standpoint, their cookies are excellent. There are a dozen signature flavors, plus 6 additional options that change each month, and you can also create your own. There’s no retail storefront but you can try them at San Diego Farmers’ Markets (La Jolla and Hillcrest), and if you’re not local, order them online. They’ll ship anywhere in the continental USA (with a one dozen minimum).

ej-eats-cravory-interview

I haven’t been this excited about coffee cake in… ever. Cookies? Yes. Cake? Uh-huh. Brownies? Ok, now you’re just messing with me, that one’s obvious…. but coffee cake? Until I tried the chocolate chip flavor from Kona Coffee Co. in Hillcrest, I never really craved the stuff. Let me break it down for you: the marble cake is like the inside of the moistest muffin in the history of Everdom and the crumble topping is like chocolate chip cookie dough. Get all the details of this and other flavors on San Diego Sugar.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake from Kona Coffee Co.

The newest spot to open in the East Village is Lucky’s, where over-stuffed sandwiches, soups, salads, and hot dogs rule. Inside, it’s like a modern take on a drugstore soda fountain. A counter runs the length of the restaurant, with bar tables providing additional seating. There’s even Crater Lake root beer on draft. I tried a hot dog for Everyday Eats on San Diego Magazine.com, plus the mish mosh soup, a bite of a salad, and a doughnut. Some choices were great, others I wouldn’t order again. Find out the highlights (and low-lights) in my extended review.

Hot Dog from Lucky's Lunch Counter

It should come as no surprise that I love dessert. So when I dined at Burlap, and saw three desserts on the brunch menu (coconut-lemongrass tapioca, vietnamese affogato, and carrot cake), it was a foregone conclusion that I’d be ordering one. To make room for a slice of carrot cake, I opted for one of the smaller entrees, but when the Twinkie-sized portion was delivered at the end of the meal, I was stunned.

Carrot Cake from Burlap