19 JULY 2017
Happy Comic-Con! Whether you have a Preview Night badge or not, you may already be floating around the area. So before we plunge into the madness, let's talk about something very basic: where to eat.
CCI does have a restaurant guide, although it's more of a list. And you'll hear a lot of recommendations from attendees and hotel staff. But when it comes to eating out at SDCC, there's more at stake than the food - because how much time and money you spend on it will directly impact what you can buy and see at the Con.
Think of it in these terms.
How much time do you want to spend on
eating - getting to your restaurant, waiting for a table and then
waiting for the food and walking back? If you have a full day of panels and events
planned, you probably can't spare 2 hours to walk into the Gaslamp, put
your name on a To Be Seated list, and then wait an eternity for lunch.
save time, you can bring your own food in with you or eat the
convention center cafe choices. There are a few Starbucks on site, but
of course they serve muffins, banana bread and other carbfests that don't
really comprise a good meal.
If you want to go out
without spending a lot of time, the Fox Sports Grill at Hilton Bayfront
has always been able to seat and serve me quickly. I favor the Headquarters in the other direction, on the other side of the Hyatt, because not too many attendees seem to head here. The Cheesecake Factory there is usually busy but Seasons 52 (my fave) and the other restaurants in the complex can usually seat you immediately. If you're staying at the Hyatt like I am, it's extremely handy but you can also take the blue shuttle to the Hyatt and cross the streets or just walk there.
Seaport Village is also a convenient choice for people staying near the convention center - and Little Italy seems to have more places than ever. It's not that far and can be a nice escape from the Gaslamp craziness.
But if you want the Gaslamp craziness, you've got options. You can keep it quick with Subway and Gaslamp Pizza or you can go to popular spots like Dick's Last Resort, Tin Fish,
the Broken Yolk and Rockin' Baja Cantina. Lots of people assume they must be fantastic since they often have lines, but it's worth looking beyond them at other restaurants that offer as good or better food - with little to no wait. Again, I favor Phulkari (a bit slower than the others), Blue Point Coastal and de Medici, and eat breakfast quite often at McCormick and Schmick at the Omni. They all tend to be more peaceful than your typical Con crowd screamer.
A lot of attendees who aren't in a hurry, want to plant themselves somewhere with street seating so they can watch everyone promenade up and down the street. Nothing wrong with that, but you will need to wait a while for a table. Another option if you've got time to burn: going to the beach and eating beach food like shrimp tacos or burritos. Or you can catch the ferry to Coronado Island (behind the convention center) and indulge yourself somewhere like the Hotel del Coronado.
you're on a budget, and a lot of people are, you can eat well and protect your wallet. Some of the local food trucks are inexpensive (and some aren't); bars like McFaddens often have Con specials if you don't mind typical bar food; you can also perform the venerable attendee rite of buying a sub at Subway, then living off it all day long.
The Horton Plaza has fast food, and some hotel cafes are offering "grab and go" options for attendees who want something other than bagels and coffee. And if you're not familiar with the area and want to get some basic groceries, you can walk to Ralph's grocery store on G Street or take the blue line shuttle there.
Late Night Dining
It's hard to define your schedule at SDCC; panels release you into the night at odd hours, you might sacrifice breakfast to join a line, or find yourself getting by on a borrowed power bar for an entire day. Often you find yourself hungry late at night. The options aren't plentiful, but they exist. Subway ran 24 hours last I knew; some pizza slice places are open late; the Syfy Cafe used to stay open till 3 am but these days they close a little earlier; the Marriott Marquis serves a limited menu after midnight. Bar kitchens will also accommodate you for a reasonable period of time.
But don't forget your ultimate option: ordering pizza or room service. Sometimes nothing is better when your feet hurt and you're sick of crowds.
Most likely you'll end up eating wherever and whenever is convenient. But if you can take the time to make choices, choose wisely - because it will make a difference in your Con.