Grab a sandwich for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at this East Village sandwich shop. For a mid-day meal, the "Saigon" ($7.95) is a tasty option. The banh mi-style sandwich features juicy pulled roast beef marinated in lemongrass, topped with pickled veggies on a crusty baguette. Flash your Comic-Con badge and you can get a free side.
Go here for healthy fare made with farm fresh produce and proteins prepared with care. The "big salads" ($11) are solid, or choose a protein like chipotle BBQ chicken, herb-brushed albacore, or steak and get it as a hot plate, sandwich, or on a simple salad (all options are $11).
The 'Con crowds are sure to make the line-up at Donut Bar even more crazy, but it's worth the wait to score doughnuts at San Diego's only artisanal doughnut shop. The fruit glazes can be hit and miss, but anything chocolate is always good. Get here early! They often sell out before 2 p.m.
My love for The Mission's french toast ($8.95) is well documented, and looking at the photo, it's probably easy to see why. Three giant slabs of cinnamon swirl bread come to an order, but you can add eggs and bacon for an extra $2.50. Normally, that's the perfect amount of food to split between two people, but if you're eating early and don't want to worry about getting the munchies, you might be able to finish it by yourself. The pancakes, soy chorizo specials, and Latino breakfast plates are all pretty great too.
This Vietnamese spot just north of Broadway is great if you want to stretch your lunch or dinner budget. Go for steaming bowl of pho or bowls of bun ($6.95). Skip the Chinese dishes; they're not great.
1125 6th Ave. San Diego, CA 92101 (map); 619-531-9333
This is a great spot for happy hour (3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday), where you can get 21 different tapas for $4 apiece, like this crisp-edged spinach crepe with mozzarella, feta, and pesto. To drink, try the sangria or a Mule. The bartenders here know their stuff.
The Kebab Shop
The wraps may seem like the thing to go for here, and sure, they're tasty, but what you really want is a doner box ($6.99). You get all of the same fillings that come in the sandwiches (meat, veggies, sauce) on top of rice or fries in an easy-to-carry container that preserves what you can't eat for later (try doing that with one of the wraps, and you'll be met with soggy bread–no good). I like tricking mine out a bit by adding feta and spicy hummus, and nixing the garlic sauce in favor of dill. If you do go for the garlic, be sure to grab some of the breath mints out of the bowl on the counter. You will need them!
Southpaw Social Club
I tried a bunch of different items for the First Look post, but honestly, the one dish that is stamped into my memory is the Fat Boy Mac ($12). If you're already committing to eating something this decadent, you might as well add pork belly. Cocktails ($10) are tasty too, and there's plenty of seating, both inside the restaurant and at the front and back patios.
The Blind Burro
Burger Lounge isn't just about burgers. In fact, more than often, I order their mixed vegetable salad ($5.95/$7.95) with lemon basil vinaigrette and grilled chicken (+ $3.45). The half-size is enough for lunch if you're adding protein, and even though it's on the pricey side for a salad, you can't beat the convenience. From the Convention Center, it's a 7 minute walk.
The flavors at J Wok tend to be a bit Americanized, but it's still worth a visit. I'm a fan of their pad thai ($9.75). It tends to be sweeter than most, and the portion size is generous. There are other Thai restaurants closer to the Convention Center, but this would be my pick.
This cozy cafe in the East Village is a bit off the beaten track, but has a totally different vibe than the Gaslamp Quarter. Sit on the patio and nurse an extra-large mocha while you wait for your macaroni, pancetta, and bleu d’auvergne gratin ($13). Chloe's take on mac stars oversized noodles topped with a rich and creamy blue cheese bechamel that's thickened up with Gruyère, fontina, and white cheddar. It's baked, so the top layer of cheese gets golden brown and crisp, while the gooey cheese sauce bubbles up around the edges. So good, and totally worth the wait.
This stylish Asian-fusion restaurant is great for lunch. Try the spicy noodles with hanger steak or go during happy hour when all apps and cocktails are discounted to $5 each. I like the Singapore Sling (Plymouth gin, lemon, pineapple, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Benedictine, bitters).