So word has gone out, returning badge sales will take place soon for this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego (SDCC). That means it’s time to start the rigamarole of reserving our hotels, reserving our parking, pre-ordering our exclusive toys, pre-ordering our Mrs.Fields cookies and convention center pretzels (those will be available through lottery at a later date). All the impending madness means one thing for your’s truly. FOOD! I’ve been going to SDCC for the better part of 18 years. Much of my youth was wasted eating convention center pizza and over paying for coke. In recent years, my food game has been elevated from microwave pizza at 7-11 to mouth watering BBQ fit for a king. It’s early, but I thought I’d share some of the best little known food spots San Diego has to offer so you don’t have to find yourself elbow-to-elbow with sweaty cosplayers at the Hooters in mid-July.
Keep in mind these are just a few of the secrets San Diego locals have. If you have any SDCC food places of your own, feel free to share them below.
The Crack Shack
2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
As someone who is always particular about chicken, The Crack Shack might be the best chicken I’ve tasted only slightly behind Honey’s Kettle in Culver City, CA. I stopped in just after breakfast time last year but managed to try The Royale. It’s a rare treat to find a great breakfast you can hold in your hand, but this sandwich was everything to me. A smoky chicken sausage with egg and cheddar cheese stacked between two slices of English muffin; a must for anyone who loves breakfast all day. Though I did not try their fried chicken last time, if the aroma was any indication, it might just end up being my favorite chicken. Located 2 miles north of the convention center or a short trolley ride to Santa Fe Depot, it’s not a bad location to get away from the volcanic epicenter of SDCC without it turning into a full expedition.
2625 Lemon Grove Ave, Lemon Grove, CA 91945
If you are feeling adventurous, San Diego has a melting pot of different BBQ styles from around the country. Coop’s brings the tangy flavor of west Texas to sunny San Diego with a moist beef brisket fired to perfection. It’s that perfect crossing of chewy and thick. Like any BBQ worth a damn, the cornbread and potato salad is reason enough to walk in the doors. Be warned, it isn’t convenient to the convention center. If you happen to be heading south, through San Diego’s Hwy 125 back door, it definitely is something you should take time to try. You know instead of trying to push other fatties out of your way in the sails pavilion why not become one yourself.
945 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
If you’re looking for walking distance options, some of the burgers in downtown can’t be beat. Boasting to be the “World’s Best Burger”, Hodad’s might not be far from the truth. I came across this just outside of San Diego on a non SDCC related trip. When it came to my attention there was a Hodad’s 1.2 miles from the convention center, it became my SDCC preview night meal. With sizes ranging from mini to large, there’s a burger for every stomach. Their burgers have a unique taste comparable to something your master chef uncle would cook at a family reunion. My experience with the bacon cheeseburger was life changing, in the sense that it cut my expected lifespan down by a few years. Though, I keep doing it so what does that tell you? With an atmosphere that blends punk and surfer, Hodad’s is definitely the most unconventional place on the list. Vegetarian options are available if meat isn’t your thing, but everyone can share a massive plate of their onion rings.
2196 Logan Ave. San Diego, CA 92113
If you’re in the mood for Mexican and let’s face it, you’re in San Diego you should be. Venture south of the convention center about 2 miles to Salud tacos. Grab a fancy beer and settle in with some of the most authentic Mexican grub you don’t need a passport for. Tops on the menu is the carne asada tacos with meat that taste like it was marinated in unicorn tears. My favorite, the al pastor tacos have that right amount of kick. A tang all about flavor rather than heat most places that do al pastor lean towards. It’s a great place to kick back after a day of walking and taking pictures, wishing the people in front of you taking pictures would keep walking.
San Diego Comic-Con is still a few months away but it’s never too late to plan out those post-show dinners. Also, if anyone has the best place for pizza in San Diego please share, as I have yet to find one outside of Carlsbad that doesn’t taste credit card debt and old pretzels.