HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Mar 22, 2008 09:28 PM

Good Coffee/Breakfast in Gaslamp Quarter (San Diego)

I will be in San Diego on business beginning Monday, staying through Wednesday. I am looking for a good quality, independent coffee shop (or shops) in the area. I am staying at the Marriott, so will not have a car handy. I understand there is a bus line and train that run in that area, so venturing out will work for me. If anyone can recommend a good coffee shop that also serves a convenient, but tasty (and inexpensive) breakfast, I would appreciate it. Also, are there any Farmer's Markets in the area? I would love some fresh fruit to sneak into the hotel room. A good market in the area (deli, fresh fruit, fresh bread) would be nice, too.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think the best coffee you can get downtown is probably at The Pannikin, which is on G Street between 6th and 7th. It's been a while since I worked downtown, so I'm not sure what they have for food. Cafe 222 (222 Island Ave.), which is close to the Marriott, serves up a pretty good breakfast. For fresh bread, there is Bread on Market (on Market St. between 7th and 8th). There is a Farmer's Market on Imperial Avenue and 21st Street. You can take the trolley to get there - it'll drop you a few blocks away - but I'm not sure of their hours. Along with produce, there are a number of booths serving up some fine Mexican fare (check out this post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/485761). There is also a Ralph's grocery store downtown at 1st and G, which is very close to your hotel. Enjoy your stay!

    2 Replies
    1. re: phee

      Great info! Thanks for your reply. I'm sure I'll enjoy my stay.

      1. re: phee

        I had an espresso this morning at Panikin's. The first sip was ok, but after that, it was pretty medicore.

        If you're willing to travel, there's a SPECTACULAR hole-in-the-wall coffee shop called Java Beach down in Ocean Beach, but w/o a car, there's not really any way to get there from downtown (except maybe by bus--it's way too far for breakfast, but their California Bagel is AMAZING.

      2. Elixir, a small cafe hidden in the first floor of an office building along the trolley line, may have the best espresso downtown. They use locally-roasted beans from Caffe Calabria. Their bagels are pretty good too.

        Elixir Espresso Bar
        427 C St # 101, San Diego, CA

        1. There's a very small farmer's market that operates in the Gaslamp area around 3rd Ave. and Island St. I found it to be incredibly limited, so unless things have changed, you might be out of luck in downtown.

          Cafe 222 does a good, if not a bit eccentric, breakfast, though I suspect you may be looking more for a coffee shop that happens to serve food rather than a regular restaurant. If you want to just lounge around with a coffee while enjoying some edibles, St. Tropez Bakery and Bistro might fit the bill. It's located near the NBC/39 building just next to Horton Plaza. The barista who manned the espresso machine was very competent, though that may not hold for others in the same shop.

          If you want a place that's more focused on espresso drinks I've had many a good espresso at Caffe Italia in Little Italy, an easy trolley ride from downtown. But beware - again you have to get the right barista, as I've had some disastrous shots from there as well! All of the good shots that I've had there have been with the same barista.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cgfan

            OK cgfan, you got my attention. I'm not heading out to SD until June, but name names so I know who to request at this place ;-)

            Was planning on elixir, but are you suggesting that's not an ideal choice for a good macchiato or trad capp?

            1. re: Panini Guy

              Panini Guy: Sorry, I didn't intend for my post to be an anti-recommendation for any other shop. I haven't been to Elixir so I really cannot add anything to that sub-thread. However I have read in the past what appeared to me to be well-informed posts, at least in an espresso sense, touting Elixir elsewhere on CH. Because of that it's on my short list of places to check out.

              Honestly I don't think I'll ever find a place that can make a ristretto as good as at home, but I value like treasure the few local baristas that have delivered consistently in the past. Unfortunately it seems that in S.D. most of the better ones come and go!

              I never got the name of the barista at Caffe Italia, (I know, it's a crime in my book too...; the barista is everything...), but if he's still there you can be assured that you'll get as many well-crafted back to back shots as you can handle. (I know - I once killed 2+ hours there waiting on a delayed incomming flight into Lindbergh Field...)

              1. re: Panini Guy

                PG: Just realized you're talking about June... Perhaps by then we just might have an answer for you - that is, of course, if he's still there!

                1. re: cgfan

                  CG - didn't mean to imply that you found anyplace lacking. Coming from the espresso world myself and having looked at some of your other posts, I just figured you'd have tried every espresso place in town... so please take that as a compliment. Seems you know your stuff and I'd take any recos you have.

            2. It hasn't been open that long and already has lines out front every weekend. Richard Walkers Pancake House has banana flapjacks, potato cakes and a delicious apple pancake.


              3 Replies
              1. re: LisaSD

                RWPH has been open for a few years now. I would strongly not recommend going there. Their potato pancakes were bland and tasteless, even with a good dousing of Tabasco and black pepper. Crepes were also tasteless and despite my attempts to "wake it up" w/ condiments, it was pretty feh. I would get a bagel and cream cheese at Starbucks any day over their food.

                Cafe 222 has better breakfast. Cafe Chloe beats them both, plus they're open for lunch, snacks and dinner!

                1. re: daantaat

                  The speciality there is really the apple pancake and German pancake as at The Original Pancake House mini-chain. The Walker brothers (one of whom is Richard's father [?]) were responsible for taking the chain to the highest of heights in the Chicago area. I am a big fan of the Walker brother's restaurants in Chicago, I've not tried the RWPH in San Diego.

                  1. re: daantaat

                    I have noticed several negative comments about RWPH before, and I just have to say I didn't think it was all that bad - not sure about the potato pancakes, but the hashbrowns were very good and the apple pancake is just like OPH. In fact, the whole place appears to be an imitation of Original Pancake House (though I'm not sure which came first, OPH is based in Oregon I believe). I definitely didn't think it was any worse than Cafe 222. I do agree that Chloe is better, but it's completely different.

                    The Mission also has a branch down there that might be pretty good - but the better bet is probably to go up to Hillcrest to Crest Cafe, Parkhouse Eatery, Cafe on Park or the Farmhouse Cafe (if it's a weekend.) If it's quick and easy you're looking for you're probably better off going to the Cheese Shop or sticking with your hotel. The Hard Rock also has a coffee shop called "Mary Janes" but I haven't tried it yet.