For many visitors, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is the crown jewel of the city. The San Diego Convention Center brings in folks from around the globe for huge events like Comic-Con and business conferences of all kind. When the conference lets out for the day, many visitors walk across the train tracks to Fifth Avenue, the primary stretch of the Gaslamp. How do you choose from dozens of restaurants within a short walk, and how do you avoid those that are overpriced tourist traps? The guide to Gaslamp Quarter restaurants will help.
Searsucker — 611 Fifth Ave.
Walk a few blocks north of the famous Gaslamp Quarter sign that spans Fifth Avenue to find Searsucker, a classy restaurant that looks pricy but is actually quite reasonable. The 7,000-square-foot space is the creation of Brian Malarkey, a celebrity chef you may have seen on the Food Network.
For dinner, you can choose from small plates like grilled octopus, duck wings or artichoke hearts, or go right for the main courses, which start at $22. We recommend anything seafood, as Searsucker uses only freshly caught, local items. If you come during lunch, the sandwiches are affordable, filling and delicious.
The Blind Burro — 639 J St.
When you’re just 15 miles from the Mexican border, Mexican cuisine is never a bad choice. San Diego has some of the great Mexican food in the country, from tiny mom-and-pop taco shops to sit-down restaurants.
The Blind Burro is a casual version of the latter, focusing specifically on cuisine native the coastal areas of Baja California. Start with either guacamole or a salsa flight before moving on to your choice of Baja-style tacos. Options include lobster, carne asada, short rib, mahi mahi and our favorite, al pastor. There are also veggie options, and if you aren’t feeling like tacos, there are tortas, poke and more on the menu.
The Blind Burro is also a good stop for drinks later in the evening — especially if you’re into tequila.
Berkeley Pizza — 539 Island Ave.
For a low-key Gaslamp Quarter restaurant experience, check out Berkeley Pizza to grab a few slices for lunch or to sit down for dinner. This small and unpretentious place specializes in deep-dish pizza. The slices may look small, but don’t let that fool you — they are definitely filling. The pesto-garlic pizza is our favorite of the bunch, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the topping choice. The lunch specials are quite affordable, and you can sit in the window as you eat and people-watch outside.
You can call in an order ahead of time, and they also deliver to the Gaslamp, if that makes things easier for you.
Neighborhood — 777 G St.
Neighborhood is a few blocks away from the main strip of the Gaslamp, but you won’t regret walking for a few extra minutes. This craft beer and whiskey-focused restaurant is truly one-of-a-kind, with anti-corporate mantras written across the ceiling, a full-wall tile mosaic of the San Diego skyline, signed photos of former President Bill Clinton and a courtyard with trees and fake grass. The drink list is extensive, and you can drop some serious money on high-end whiskey, if that’s your kind of thing. The beer list is heavy on local options, and the food is phenomenal. We highly recommend both the Hood Burger and the Jalapeno Mac ‘N Cheese (which can be ordered “Hamburger Helper-style,” as in, with ground beef.)
Pro tip: Housed behind a fake wall in Neighborhood is Noble Experiment, a reservation-only speakeasy. If you’re looking to impress someone, this is your best bet. You’ll look like you know all of San Diego’s little secrets and hidden gems.
So there you have it — four great Gaslamp Quarter restaurants you won’t regret paying a visit. Of course, there are lots of other great restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter and elsewhere in San Diego. They are just a small part of what makes this city great.
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