A TwitchCon Guide for Eating and Drinking in San Diego

In just one week, TwitchCon kicks off here in beautiful and sunny San Diego. It’s going to be a long weekend of fun, but you’re going to have to sate your needs. To help out, I’ve put together a recommendation list of places to go to eat and drink during your stay.

Let’s start with a recommendation of a place to avoid, though. If you’ve seen Top Gun, you might think that the barbecue place they visit in the movie is a good place to start. Don’t do it. Their barbecue is lacking in flavor and they’ve been a solid tourist trap for decades now.

Phil’s BBQ in the Sports Arena area is the first name out of most when asked to recommend a barbecue place in town. I prefer their beef ribs to their baby back ribs, but both are always juicy and delicious. They provide a healthy heaping of fries and other sides as well, so you can be sure to leave with an empty stomach. If you want a smaller meal, their tri-tip sandwich is excellent, and you can even order their tri-tip by itself now.

Phil’s BBQ
3750 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

The problem with Phil’s is that they don’t offer brisket. If you want brisket, go a bit north of where Phil’s and you’ll end up at Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ. Their brisket is juicy and tender, and you can order it by the pound like you can at proper places in the South. Their happy hour selection has a strong selection of beers and snack-size food offerings that won’t break your wallet. They boast a cozy outdoor seating area with a projector for movies, and they are dog friendly.

Bulls Smokin’ BBQ
1127 W Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

While we’re on the subject of meat, let’s get into all-you-can-eat options. For Korean BBQ, my favorite place is a short drive north of downtown in the Convoy area. Jeong Won Korean BBQ Buffet differs from most places because they are self-serve. You pick up the meat you want to cook you when you want it, and in the quantity in which you want it. I’ve preferred marinated meat since going to Seoul last year, and this place’s offerings in that regard are excellent. Also, if you’ve never tried beef tongue, just go ahead and do it, you won’t regret it.

Jeong Won Korean BBQ Buffet
4690 Convoy St #104, San Diego, CA 92111

If you want a more traditional Korean BBQ experience, Manna BBQ in that same area can offer that for you, but you will have to wait in line for a significant amount of time during peak hours.

Manna BBQ
4428 Convoy St #210, San Diego, CA 92111

Closer to the Convention Center in Downtown is Rei do Gado, a Brazilian steakhouse that you must prepare yourself for with an empty stomach. They have a multitude of top-grade beef cut selections to choose from, with more available during dinner compared to lunch. You get meat until you tell them to stop. It’s wonderful. It’s also a bit pricey, so beware. To help with that regard, TwitchCon weekend also happens to fall under San Diego Restaurant Week, and Rei do Gado happens to be offering special lunch and dinner prices for the duration of the event.

Rei do Gado
939 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

There’s great Japanese food in the downtown area as well. For ramen, nothing beats Ramen Yamadaya on Broadway. There are more trendy places in town, but only Yamadaya gets the most important thing right: the broth. Their tonkotsu is available in both spicy and non-spicy versions, and you can always add on pork belly if you want. For sushi, Nobu in the Gaslamp Quarter offers great quality and selection. This is also a pricey place, but because it’s Restaurant Week, you can avail of prix fixe multi-course menus that weekend for lower than normal. But, if you prefer quantity for the same price, Sushi Deli 2 on Broadway has more-than-agreeable sushi for you.

Ramen Yamadaya
531 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
207 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Sushi Deli 2
135 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

If you want more traditional seafood, three good options include Fish Market next to the USS Midway museum, Peohe’s on Coronado across the bay and bridge from the convention center, and C Level Lounge on Harbor Island.

Fish Market
750 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
Coronado Ferry Landing, 1201 1st St, Coronado, CA 92118
C Level Lounge
880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Here in San Diego, Mexican food includes two regional inventions that are, in a word, glorious. Both can be found at Lolita’s next to the baseball stadium and across the street from the Convention Center. Carne Asada fries are just that, carne asada over fries with cheese, guacamole, and sour cream; try it out, and then get a California burrito (same ingredients but in a burrito) to go. When you get back home to where you came from, teach your local Mexican restaurant how to make those items to avail of it in the future.

202 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

After you wake up from a long night of hanging out with fellow Twitch fans, treat yourself to breakfast at Hob Nob Hill on Juniper in Banker’s Hill a little north of Downtown. They make the best Eggs Benedict in town, and their french toast is also nothing to wag a finger at as well. If you need an eye-opener, they offer (almost) bottomless mimosas during brunch as well. It’s not bottomless, but at six glasses of the stuff, it’s probably enough.

Hob Nob Hill
2271 1st Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Here’s another caution for you: avoid going to Broken Yolk Cafe in Gaslamp at all costs. It’s overpriced and just not good. Every time I’ve been roped into going there, I have left disappointed.

If you’re looking to seat a large group without fuss, Stone Brewing Bistro and Gardens in Liberty Station west of the airport boasts one of the largest restaurant spaces in California. With more than 23,500 square feet of space, they have a ridiculous number of tables available both for both outside and inside dining. They also have many bar areas from which you can order food as well if you don’t want a table to yourself. Stone focuses on making food from ingredients sourced locally. My favorite items to order from their menu include seafood paella and a wild boar and pork sandwich. Stone is also one of the bigger breweries in the area, and their beer offerings are top notch. You should try out their available Enjoy By or Ruination IPA offerings. If you’re into darker beers, they are going to release a new batch of their excellent Xocoveza mocha stout on TwitchCon weekend. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, that’s no problem. Their in-house root beer is to die for, and their other soft drinks are great as well.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens — Liberty Station
2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116, San Diego, CA 92106

On the subject of beer, San Diego is becoming quite a popular place to brew and there is a multitude of options for you to choose from in the area. You pretty much can’t go wrong. To help narrow it down here’s a few options. Ballast Point Brewing in Little Italy is one of the larger names now in San Diego (their Victory at Sea stout is my favorite). They don’t offer food at their location there, but head over to Prepkitchen just down and across the street to avail of a constantly-changing menu of tasty food. Kind of close to that is Karl Strauss. Try out their Oktoberfest and (if they have it) Two Tortugas, their Belgian quad. As far as their food goes, they make the best macaroni and cheese in down, bar none. Go ahead and order it, because you’re an adult.

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits — Little Italy
2215 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
Prepkitchen Little Italy
1660 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

As far as straight-up bars go, I generally avoid Gaslamp and prefer places like O’Brien’s up in Convoy (the best bar in San Diego, in my opinion), High Dive near Morena, and Toronado in Hillcrest. If I were forced to recommend a bar in Gaslamp, look up Prohibition, but only if you can be classy and not make a fool of yourself and your entourage during a night of drinking (and if you like whiskey).

4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
High Dive Bar & Grill
1801 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110
Toronado San Diego
4026 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

This list might seem long-winded, but there’s just so many places to have fun at while eating and drinking here in town.

Use this guide as a starting point, and most importantly, have fun here for TwitchCon!

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