The tacos are great at El Paisa, but if you’re in it for the meat, the al pastor torta is the way to go. Load up the moist, tangy pork with salsa, jalapeños, and a good squeeze of lime and get eating. Then, halfway through, ditch the bread, dump the toppings on those crispy spuds, and dig into the second course: al pastor fries.
For lunch, it’s easy to fall back on a sandwich, but discovering a hidden gem is much more satisfying. La Mirage, an unassuming restaurant on F Street, is that kind of place. There’s lots to choose from, including chicken shawarma in salad, wrap, and even pizza form, but for variety and value, go for the chicken shawarma plate, which comes with basmati rice, hummus, and a house salad for $8.99.
Big Front Door, a sandwich shop in University Heights, has plenty of elevated deli-style ‘wiches, including the Loins of Fire, with thin slices of chile pork loin piled on a roast poblano pepper, with pickled onions, aioli, cilantro, and lettuce.
McCormicks and Schmick’s has one of the best burger deals in the Gaslamp, with a cheeseburger and fries for $3.95 during happy hour, but you’d better like your burger medium-well, because that’s the only way they cook ‘em.
From stunning views, to strong drinks, to a tasty burger, Bali Hai checks all the boxes. Juicy half-pounders are grilled to order and topped with a double spread of killer truffle black pepper mayo. You can get a salad on the side, but the brown butter fries should be considered mandatory, as should the tiki drinks.
The best pizza deal in San Diego used to be at slice shops, where $6 buys you two slices and a drink… until now. Isola Pizza Bar in Little Italy has a screaming deal during happy hour: a personal-sized pie … Continued
San Diego Magazine’s Best-Of SD issue has a ton of intel, including a round-up of the best restaurants of 2012. If you keep flipping to the South Bay section, you’ll see my top 10 places to Eat Your Way Around South Bay, including everything from fro-yo to fusion fare, like MJ’s Yogurt Time and Deli in Chula Vista, where you can get a heaping plate of fries and meat, topped with cheese, creamy sauces, and two fried eggs. The “House Fries” are their top seller (and make your typical carne asada fries look downright dainty).
I never got swept up by the bacon craze of the early aughts. Bacon on a club sandwich? Yes. Bacon on cupcakes? Oh hell no. But, one thing to come out of the nation’s preoccupation with pork is bacon jam, which can make an excellent addition to a burger.
At this point, I’m surprised bacon grease isn’t leaking from my pores. In the span of four days, I consumed a 100 percent bacon burger from Slater’s 50/50 (dubbed the ‘Merica burger) and a “Son of Baconator” from Wendy’s. Both reviews, I feel like it’s necessary to note, were done for A Hamburger Today, and were aided by my complete lack of dignity.
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).