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San Diego Cheap -ish Eats Near Convention Center

a
aya Apr 18, 2009 05:02 AM

Wanted to post what I ate for those looking for affordable eats in the Gaslamp / downtown / East Village areas, from the perspective of a non-beef/poultry/pork eater. I walked to everything. Felt very safe night and day wandering around by myself. Easy to navigate, grid-like setup. I've divided my victims into three categories.

1. Bright spots. Recommended.

Basic (J and 10th). Very good, thin-crust pizza. Modern interior, with huge loft windows on the restaurant side and an open garage door on the bar side. Must bypass two bouncers to enter. One complaint is that the black olives tasted canned; had I known that, I would have tried a different topping. Overwhelmingly loud music. Have I gotten that old? No one else seemed to mind. Space-cadet service. http://www.barbasic.com/

Neighborhood (G and 8th). Also modern urban decor. Sweet-as-pie waitress. Ordered the jicama and grapefruit salad (large size). So refreshing with a light sesame-hinted dressing. And the lettuce! Super fresh and tender. Nice atmosphere too, though music was a little loud. Is that code for hip? http://www.neighborhoodsd.com/

The Mission (J and 13th). For breakfast - desayuno burrito. I added avocado. Yummy - eggs, beans, chipotle cream, potatoes, cheese, cilantro. Can't really go wrong with that. Came with chips and salsa. Very sweet and attentive waiter. Bright, plain interior. http://www.missionsoma.signonsandiego.com/

Heavenly Cupcake (6th between J and Island). Tried four mini cupcakes: S'Mores, Carrot, Banana PB, and Orange Chip. S'Mores is a chocolate cupcake with marshmallow frosting. Yummy chocolate; could use more graham cracker crumbs. Carrot was just OK, not spicy enough and I would add nuts. Good cream cheese frosting though. The Banana PB was good banana cake with yummy whipped PB frosting. Orange Chip is orange cake with choc chips and dark choc frosting. All of the frostings were light and the right amount for me. I would go back for the Dark Chocolate, which is choc cake and dark choc frosting. As I am a tea person, I appreciated that they serve Te teas - the organic forest green was delightful! I headed directly here after the mishap at The Tin Fish and was able to fill my belly happily, and I overtipped the sweetheart behind the counter for redeeming a dark moment. Bright cafe atmosphere. The schedule of available flavors is posted online. http://www.heavenlycupcake.com/index.html

2. Fine. Would return.

Ate breakfast at the Marriott's LC's Restaurant (Harbor at 1st) because I had to be at a meeting there on Sunday morning. Head to the north tower and down one level. They push the $20 buffet but I went a la carte. Memorable sourdough toast. Seriously, I am still thinking about it. Fresh bread, properly toasted and buttered. Huge egg white frittata with lots of veggies and topped with salsa. Not bad, enhanced with Cholula. Excellent service. Windows look out onto the huge resort-ish pool area. If you walk out and beyond the pool, there's a boardwalk behind the hotel overlooking the bay - several other restaurants and shops out there. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/sandt-san-diego-marriott-hotel-and-marina/

3. Huge disappointments. I would not go back.

The Tin Fish (L and 6th). Ordered the Double - two tacos with fries and slaw. Bewilderingly, the fish was smothered in shredded cheddar and what might be ranch dressing? The grilled mahi was way too fishy. The breading on the fried cod had STRONG italian seasoning. HUH?? Tortillas not tasty. I dug one of the cod pieces out of the cheese/sauce and ate only that with the good waffle fries. Slaw was not bad, a little too vinegary. The waiter greeted and checked in on everyone around me and ignored me. I left 10% tip only b/c I didn't have to bus my own table; please note that it takes a lot for me to not tip 20%. Really bad experience. However, I could hear and see that everyone around me was enjoying their food. Interior: sports bar. http://www.thetinfish.net/right-tinfish.php?nav_ID=106&nav_Parent=104

Cafe 222 (Island between 2nd and 3rd). Ordered the basic waffle plus fruit minus yogurt. Quite bland despite a thorough dousing in syrup. I wished I had tried the peanut butter or pumpkin waffle instead. Also, no puddle of butter, sadly, though prominently pictured on the website. Did they withhold my butter b/c I ordered fruit? Doesn't seem fair. I sat outside so couldn't get a taste of the interior. http://www.cafe222.com/

Red Pearl Kitchen (J between 4th and 5th). Following advice from Yelp, ordered the Thai chili-glazed calamari. Started out fine, but then got too sweet and suddenly got very spicy. Liked the sour slaw on top and was amused by the fried wontons mixed in but the calamari was overcooked. Ultimately had to abandon the mission. Sat in the lounge which has the least attractive decor I had seen, but the restaurant seating area looked nicer. Not nearly as loud as Basic. http://www.redpearlkitchen.com/sandie...