question about downtown SD
There is a small Italian cafe on 3rd and Ash that has wonderful salads and fresh pannini sandwhiches. The service was always quick and I could walk in and order and be out the door in five minutes or less. The homemade Italian wedding soup was really good. I can't recall the name of it for the life of me, but used to go there weekly. It is located in between a graphic design/printing company and a coffee shop that is probably out of business because no one was ever in there. It was run by the nicest Italian woman and during the summer there would always be classes of Italian exchange students there for lunch as I think she was friends with the instructor.
Another great quick lunch option is Grab & Go subs on West C street and 1st Ave. The Tunisia is about the best tuna sub I've ever tasted, olive oil, capers, fresh tomato, black olives on a toasted sub...yum. Lots of gourmet and good sandwhich options to go for about $6.
Oh how I miss the delicious quick dining options in San Diego! You never fully realize a good thing until you're surrounded by corn fields...
Cafe Chloe is great, but I don't think it's what you are looking for. It is kind of fancy pants and is not exactly quick. Last time I went there for lunch it was two hours start to finish.
I would second Bread on Market as well as the Cheese Shop for good sandwiches. I think Al Teatro Panini Grill is the place Exercise to Eat is referring to, and it is pretty good. I also like the Westgate Deli. I am not a fan of the Luxor, I thought the food was greasy - but it is inexpensive and quick.
Depending on where you are downtown...
Closer to Little Italy: Pete's Meats (great italian sausage)
Closer to Petco: California Grinders- next to the Hustler Store. Amazing sandwiches, soups, and salads! I wish our office was still downtown!
Taco Shop: Broadway Taco (or whatever its called now, they changed their name almost weekly) on the corner of Broadway and 7th. Awesome taco shop fare-
Bread on Market is very good if you want a sandwich.
For hot food, I suggest the all you can eat buffet at Royal India on 4th and Market. Very good Indian food for $11.
The Palm has an excellent lunch menu--1/2 pound chopped sirloin steak (i.e. gourmet burger with fries) for $11--quicker if you eat at the bar.
Royal Thai on 5th Avenue has excellent lunch specials starting at $ 7.95.