It's a thrill a minute when starry-eyed tourists and conventioneers mix with the suits and meat-marketeers amid all those tall buildings. Try to keep up.
Café 222 (222 Island Ave.) serves stellar breakfast, especially the waffles, and six blocks away at Café 828 (828 Sixth Ave.), they specialize in eyefuls. That's right, buy a beverage and then check out some of the most spectacular views of our city from 10 stories up via the rooftop lounge, just below the Hotel St. James sign. Enjoy the down-to-earth ambiance at Gran Havana (502 J St.) while you can, as the swank cigar café may soon be razed to make room for a hotel. Lucky for smokers, Café Bassam (401 Market St.) will still be around, offering San Diegans the opportunity to puff and drink tasty coffee drinks in a setting reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s.
With a gazillion dining options in the Gaslamp alone, it's tough to... ah, forget that, most of those places are tourist traps. Stick with the following and you won't be disappointed: Candelas (416 Third Ave.) for gourmet Mexican food with a French twist and a different DJ every night of the week in their super-chill lounge; Sushi Deli 2 (135 Broadway) and Kiyo's (531 F St.) for sushi the way it was meant to be; Bread on Market (730 Market St.) for affordable baked goods and great sandwiches; the Fish Market (750 N. Harbor Dr.) for fresh oysters on the half shell; the Athens Market Tavern (109 W. F St.) for authentic Greek food and diabetic-coma-educing baklava; the Cheese Shop (627 Fourth Ave.) for mondo sandwiches and Bandar (825 Fourth Ave.) for grilled meats on a skewer and other authentic Persian fare.
When it comes to nightlife, On Broadway (615 Broadway) is San Diego's only über-club playing top-notch electronica, and Sidebar (536 Market St.) is another trendy spot that's also best on weekdays when the crowd of beautiful people isn't quite so thick and the line of uglies outside is a little shorter. The Onyx Room (852 Fifth Ave.) boasts jazz on Tuesdays, and DJs keep this subterranean 1920s throwback crunk on the weekends, while upstairs Thin gives kids the opportunity to mingle in a Jetsonian setting. There's no cover and mostly locals at the Red C Lounge (756 Fifth Ave.) where DJs spin house on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Check out midweek salsa nights at Café Sevilla (555 Fourth Ave.) if you've got the moves, and if you're not into the club scene and just want to hang, The Local Eatery and Dining Hole (1065 Fourth Ave.) is an urban beach bar that'll suit you. For live entertainment, 4th & B (345 B St.) is still downtown's top live music venue, featuring big names in a relatively intimate setting.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (1001 Kettner Blvd.), home of the monthly Thursday Night Thing, makes art accessible to the masses in a party setting, but the serious art connoisseurs hang at the Cassius King Gallery (435 Third Ave.) and Voices 1156 (1156 Seventh Ave.), which both feature young local talent at their own monthly shows.
While battlemonkey.net (764 Fifth Ave.) sounds like the coolest pet store in the Gaslamp, it's actually a truly unique music depot where any old slob can stumble in off of the street, record a mix on their turntables and upload it to the company's eponymous website for free.
If your boss thinks you dress inappropriately, a "Trust me, I'm a virgin" T-shirt or something similar from the Urban Outfitters (665 Fifth Ave.) sale rack should shut him up for good. If that plan somehow backfires and you end up with free time on your hands between the hours of 9 and 5, Street Machine (924 Fifth Ave.) deals in all things skate.
If you've got the downtown blues, Seaport Village/King Promenade (849 W. Harbor Drive) is a great place to go. There's nothing like an hour spent shoving obese Midwesterners out of your way to make you feel better about yourself. Better yet, the Embarcadero Marina Park (Kettner Ave.) is one of downtown's often forgotten highlights with grassy knolls and stellar views of the harbor traffic.