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.

Al Pastor Torta at El Paisa in San Diego

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.

chicken shawarma plate from La Mirage

You can find paninis at just about every sandwich spot, but few are even close to being this good. One reason: the bread. Toast Enoteca & Cucina makes their own focaccia, which makes a huge difference. There are four different options, including tomato and mozz, steak, chicken, and pork. I tried the last two. Find out which one was the best on my San Diego Magazine blog post.

ej-eats-toast-panini

Haute dog, the creatively-topped wieners at Delux Dogs are tasty! You can custom build one to your own specs, or try one of the pre-made options, ranging from familiar to fusion. I chose a dog somewhere in the middle: the B.L.T., topped with bacon bits, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and a drizzle of Japanese mayo. On the side, you can get a 50/50 mix of sweet potato and regular tots, or an Orange Ave. Whip.

BLT Hot Dog from Delux Dogs

I swear, my intentions for going to Coronado did not include eating dessert for dinner, but that’s exactly what happened when I saw a sign outside of Clayton’s Coffee Shop advertising mint chocolate chip ice cream pancakes. The secret to the cool cakes is melted ice cream that’s mixed right into the batter. If that’s not enough sugar for you, they’re also topped with a miniature mountain of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

ej-eats-claytons-coffee-shop