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Jan 17, 2009 07:08 PM

Downtown San Diego, alone, for a long while...

Can anyone recommend some decent everyday type places for eating alone in downtown? I'm here for a month or two for work, and don't have a big expense account. Sitting at the bar is always nice, but I'm not afraid to sit alone at a table with a book for the right dish. I've scanned the board, but most people who ask this question seem to have a car -- I do not. Anything within a few (5?) blocks of Horton Plaza (I know) will do. All cuisines are welcome. A nice by-the-glass wine list is a bonus.

And please, don't send me to a "restaurant" in the Gaslamp and tell me to get there early before the hip crowd.

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  1. Well since you're working downtown, and downtown and the Gaslamp are practically one in the same, as is Horton plaza, it will be hard to avoid "restaurants" in the Gaslamp.

    Check the SDReader, in particular the Tin Fork reviews by Ed Bedford. He's written about a lot of economical places downtown, none of which are a scene.

    Like most areas these days even the poor beleaguered Gaslamp is feeling the affects of the current economic climate. Many of the hotels are running happy hour specials where the drinks and food will be quite good.

    1. I recommend Zanzibar. It is on 7th and G. It is low key with good food and wines by the glass. Our son is in grad school in San Diego and lives in the building that Sanzibar is in. He eats there very often as do we when we visit. I think is worth scouting out.

      1. Nordstrom Cafe in Horton Plaza
        Cheese Shop Deli, 4th just North of Market (One side of Horton Plaza is Fourth and it is one block North of Market) (Closes at 4-breakfast and lunch only.)
        Sultan Schawarma, 4th just South of Market
        Sun Cafe (on South Market between 4th and 5th) has been around since 1906 and locals eat there. (closes about 3) Coffee not great, but there is a Starbucks on 4th and Market.
        Ralphs Grocery store (across from the Nordstrom (3rd and G) sells sandwiches and has a coffee place inside with tables outside)

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          Is it just me or is the La jolla Cheese Shop Deli better than the downtown version?

          1. re: stevewag23

            It depends on what you get and the time of day you are there. First thing in the morning when it is still dark and foggy downtown and only locals are eating makes everything tastes good. La Jolla on the other hand, always seems pretentious. I don't feel as comfortable eating alone there.

            1. re: stevewag23

              The La Jolla shop is a LOT better - they actually use different meats from the Downtown one. I don't understand why, maybe DT has too much volume to serve the turkey and pork they roast up in the LJ shop.

              Also have to disagree with Cathy - I've never found the Cheese Shop in LJ Shores pretentious. It's at the beach - not fancy at all - and the service has always been friendly.

              1. re: Alice Q

                Interesting. The La Jolla version always seemed to have more quality ingredients. Better service too.

                I have never noticed La Jolla shores being pretentious.

                If anything it is "dead".

                And in this economy: it seems more "broke" than "pretentious".

              2. re: stevewag23

                Well the La Jolla location is the original, and as AliceQ points out they do have some different items on the menu. Our office had a connecting door to the downtown location back in the day so know both "shops" intimately. The downtown clientele has changed dramatically over the years, they opened when the martini lunch was still very much in play for biz folks downtown. As that trend faded away to a more rushed yet productive work ethic more people demanded fast and easy options, leading to the elevated popularity of that location. I sort of get a production-line vibe there, feels like they changed the business model.

            2. You don't need a car. The trolley goes most everywhere. The 3 and 7 buses go to Hillcrest.

              1. Cafe Chloe, Basic, Neighborhood