If you're attending even just one day of this week's Comic-Con, chances are you've already spent a pretty penny, not including the dough you'll drop on transportation to the Con and parking once you're there. And if you had to book a hotel, too, your love of the comic arts and commitment to fandom obviously runs deep and strong. With the Con's daily schedules packed with back-to-back programs, there's hardly time for a quick bite, especially if you're dressed in body armor or similarly cumbersome garments that prevent easy eating, not to mention other bodily functions. But if you can get away for some sustenance, either between or after events, here are some recommended spots within walking distance of the Convention Center that are all wallet-friendly and very tasty. You'll still have room in the budget for that limited-edition graphic novel you've been coveting.
For pre-Con breakfast, fuel up at Beach City Market, located on the bottom southwest corner of Horton Plaza. This market and deli does things better than most, with a full coffee menu and fresh smoothie and juice bar. They do omelets made-to-order, plus breakfast sandwiches and burritos for around $4. Stop back in at lunch for their freshly prepared sushi, which is a lot tastier than the standard supermarket variety. Although I'm usually a sushi purist, I'm fairly addicted to the spicy tuna rolls wrapped in nutty, chewy brown rice. Inside the deli, Beach City has a hot pasta bar and a counter for ordering custom deli sandwiches, and there's always a type of yummy homemade soup or two. Outdoors is a roomy patio to and a large barbecue where salmon, chicken and whatnot are grilled. Beach City Market is located at 3 Horton Plaza, 619-232-2491.
For a super-fast lunch that can be consumed as you're racing back to catch the writers' panel with Ray Bradbury or get a glimpse of the cast of Heros, head over to Ciro's Pizzeria on Market Street near Sixth Avenue. The best New York-style pizza in the Gaslamp can be found at this casual spot, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, two slices and a drink will set you back a mere $6. The thin-crust pizza is best eaten immediately after a quick warming in the oven, which serves to restore its crackly texture and greasy goodness. Ciro's also serve two types of East Coast sandwiches-heros and strombolis. The place stays open until 2 a.m. on the weekends for those seeking a post-screening meal. Ciro's Pizzeria is located at 534 Market St., 619-696-0405.
For an afternoon snack or refreshment before you return to Comic-Con for the evening's activities, check out one of the finest happy hours in town. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, eating at swanky Oceanaire becomes affordable, thanks to a bar menu featuring $7 Ketel One cocktails and appetizers-including spicy calamari, mussels and Caesar salads-all under $8. But the $1 oysters are definitely the best reason to go. Oceanaire has them flown in fresh every day and usually offers 10 or more varieties to choose from. I'm not sure what the dress code is here, but I'm hopeful that masked avengers and caped crusaders are welcome. Oceanaire Seafood Room is located at 400 J St., 619-858-2277.
For a dinner in the Gaslamp area that's differently delicious and not prohibitively expensive, walk straight up Fifth Avenue to Sadaf Restaurant, where the scene is relatively low-key compared to the other flashy tourist traps on the block. Sadaf serves traditional Persian food, from rich garlicky eggplant dips to meat and seafood kebabs. The Zereshk Polo, a moist charbroiled chicken kebab served with fragrant saffron-dusted basmati rice and tossed with tangy barberries is a long-time favorite. And in case Comic-Con hasn't given you enough of a show, belly dancers entertain here on the weekends. Sadaf Restaurant is located at 828 Fifth Ave., 619-338-0008.
For a post-Con nosh in a relatively frat-boy-free setting, Café Sevilla on Fourth Avenue serves up a menu of decent Spanish food until around 1 a.m. on weekends. Mini tapas, called “tapitas,” are all under $5 and the selection includes grilled sausages, marinated mushrooms, sautéed shrimp and chicken croquettes. For a few dollars more, the sizzling dish of baked Manchego and goat cheese is melty, late-night-snack paradise. Come down from your Comic-Con high with live Flamenco guitar music in the bar and a pitcher of sangria. Café Sevilla is located at 555 Fourth Ave.,619-233-5979.
Know of a restaurant that deserves a review? E-mail our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.