Somehow, the effort it takes to crack the shell of a crab or lobster makes savoring the meat inside a more rewarding experience than having it handed to you. Crab Hut in downtown San Diego offers the perfect opportunity to throw on a bib and chow down. The highlight of Crab Hut’s hands-on dining experience is its bucket combos. The seafood bucket for $55 features king crab leg, snow crab cluster, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, clams potatoes, corn on the cob and sausages mixed in their full house sauce. Its signature dish Go To Town incorporates all the seafood bucket options with an additional full lobster or a dungeness crab mixed with a sauce of your choice for $95. These meals are perfect for a group of shellfish lovers to band together and split the price for some of the best seafood San Diego has to offer. There’s plenty of food to go around.
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
As a San Diegan, it’s easy to become partial to your go-to taco shop, but something special is happening on the coast. In Pacific Beach, San Diegans can find Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, which cooks some of the best fish tacos the city has to offer, specifically the spicy shrimp taco. One bite of shrimp ceviche is all it takes to appreciate the fresh ingredients and seasonings at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. Prices are reasonable, as most items are a la carte, rang- ing from $3-11. However, be prepared with cash, because this restaurant doesn’t accept credit or debit cards. The hang loose mentality of Pacific Beach permeates the atmosphere at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. The community has embraced the shop since its opening a little more than a year ago, which is evident by the long lines out the door and growing popularity among locals. Jump in line and let Oscar’s woo your taste buds.
Nestled in the heart of Seaport Village, Edgewater Grill offers an amazing selection of seafood options coupled with a serene view of San Diego Bay. Those passing by on the boardwalk often do a double take as they catch a whiff of the delicacies being brought to patrons. Edgewater’s Seafood Medley is the perfect meal for entertaining family from out of town, celebrating an A on a tough midterm or taking a special someone out. At $26, this seafood lover’s dream features sautéed scallops, clams, shrimp, seasonal fish and calamari with fingerling potatoes in a fennel, chili and tomato broth served with a rosemary croustini and red pepper crème fraiche (writing this description just sparked a heavenly nostalgia in my taste buds). Accented by the friendly service from staff, every student should partake in the Edgewater Grill experience.
Old Town Mexican Cafe
Tourists and locals alike flock to Old Town, San Diego enjoy the most delicious Mexican cuisine found this side of the border. Several authentic taco shops and cantinas adorn the main street, but Old Town Mexican Cafe remains a top contender. The resturant is known for its menu, atmosphere and tortillas. With a glass window in front offering onlookers a glimpse of the homemade tortilla process. Customers can enjoy their famous tradi- tional carnitas which feature pieces of pork with cilantro, onion, avocado, tomato, peppers, beans and of course, homemade tortillas. The cafe also hosts a live table-side performance from a mariachi band. Entrées are served at quite a reasonable price, considering the large portions. This place is extremely busy during peak hours and week- ends, so be prepared for a parking hunt and wait time. Students wishing to explore the historic sites of Old Town and enjoy an authentic meal need look no further than Old Town Mexican Cafe.
Lolita’s Taco Shop
Being a San Diego resident who lives only 30 minutes from the border has its cuisine perks, especially when it comes to eating cheap, authentic Mexican food. Lolita’s Taco Shop has been my usual go-to spot when craving the West Coast’s very own carne asada fries. Lolita’s is known for its affordable prices, quick service and tasty carne asada fries, which in the last 20 years has become a famous dish among locals. For those who haven’t tried carne asada fries, the dish combines the best of both American and Mexican food in a flavorful, spicy plate: of french fries mixed with carne asada and topped with onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa. If you’re craving a burrito, the California burrito contains the same ingredients wrapped in a tortilla. How the cooks manage to fit all those ingredients in a flour tortilla is impressive, but not as impressive as the food itself. What started off as a small sit-down Mexican taco shop in Chula Vista has spread to neighboring locations, including downtown San Diego. Founders Joaquin and Dolores Farfan have a new shop called Lolita’s At the Park next to Petco Park. Stop by Lolita’s on Tall Can Tuesdays for happy hour prices all day and order the carne asada fries. Pro tip: Add tons of lime.
Ultra-cool downtown Mexican restaurant Pokéz has something for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. The sticker-plastered door and art-covered green walls invite customers into enjoy Mexican food like they’ve never had it before. This family owned and operated business is just a few blocks away from the Gaslamp Quarter (and its tourists), which makes it a treasured local destination.
Ordering is easy because everything on the menu is clearly labeled with vegan and vegetarian symbols. Also, the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful when it comes to customizing items to meet their guests’ needs. Although it’s not on the menu, a vegetarian can get a Cali- fornia burrito made with soy chorizo instead of with meat (it’s awesome by the way.)
For those who have made their made your rounds through the Gaslamp Quarter and are ready to call themselves a local, head to 10th Avenue and E Street and get your grub on.
Corvette Diner is definitely the place to go for classic American food. It sets itself apart from other restaurants by building its theme around one of the most popular decades of all time: the ‘50s. Once inside Corvette Diner, patrons are blasted with music in the likes of Joe Turner, which will definitely make them want to shake, rattle and roll. The waiters and waitresses’ upbeat and positive energy, clad in ‘50s attire, add to the experience, as do the themed rooms. My personal favorite is the Woodstock room. The food is no letdown either. The most popular burger is aptly named Sid’s Cowboy Western, with its mash of Kentucky stud barbecue sauce, bacon, onion rings and cheddar. Not even the beverages fall short of creativity. Diner enthusiasts can cool down with a Cha Cha Chocolate shake or quench their thirst with a cool custom lime soda called Green River. Don’t be a fool, the ‘50s are awaiting.
Phil’s BBQ Restaurant
Phil’s BBQ Restaurant is “Home of the Best BBQ” in San Diego, but definitely deserves recognition everywhere. Because this joint serves the best mouthwatering mesquite grilled baby back ribs along with the friendliest service, customers wait while lining up around the restaurant. For patrons looking to sit down for dinner, expect to wait at least two hours during the dinner rush. The energetic atmo- sphere and large portions make the dining experience well worth the wait. The best thing to do is to call in an order and pick it up shortly after to avoid the ridiculous lines. Located only 15 minutes away from campus on Sports Arena Boulevard, Phil’s BBQ is truly the place to go when craving barbecue. For a delicious meal for two, order the baby back rib full dinner, which includes two small sides. The macaroni and potato salads are must-haves with any meal.
Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza
Craving pizza? Need to satisfy those hunger pains with a filling salad, warm bowl of soup, delicious pasta or succulent meat fresh off the grill? Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Grill is the place. With nine locations in the San Diego area, its colorful and diverse menu has something for everyone, including vegetarian and vegan options. Set in a relaxing atmosphere with friendly staff, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Grill is the ideal location for an inti- mate date as well as a casual meal. To start, try one of the appetizers, known as tapas, which are smaller in portion but big on flavor. The highlight of this venue, however, is the pizza. Artisan options will leave patrons feeling like they’re dining in Italy. Gluten-free and thin crusts are available for those with dietary restrictions as well. While the food is on the pricier side, the quality of the product is certainly worth the extra dough.
Convoy Tofu House
An unassuming location in a shopping center that specializes in Korean goods makes Convoy Tofu House hard to find and the interior design looks like the subject of an ongoing argument between a massage therapist and a funeral director. But, this doesn’t detract from an authentic and enjoyable culinary experience. The complementary banchan (small portions of food including kimchee and vegetables) served at the beginning of the meal makes the miso soup served at mainstream sushi chains look like a pathetic excuse for an appetizer. Customers dining with someone who just can’t decide between the dumpling soft tofu stew or the beef bulgogi (barbecue) can be entertained by a TV showing K-pop music videos in the adjacent Katzra Sushi Bar, which dishes out California and spider rolls good enough to animate the taste buds. Be warned: resisting the impulse to indulge in mochi green tea ice cream after the meal will be difficult.
What could possibility be better than having someone cook a meal for you? Watching them cook it in front of you, of course. At Benihana, Japanese cuisine forms before customers’ very eyes. Items such as seafood, tender chicken, juicy steaks and garden-fresh vegetables are catered to their liking.
The quality of the restaurant is reflected instantly in the secluded lobby. While waiting to be seated, a flat-screen TV displays pictures of mouthwatering entrees and various celebrities who have eaten at the location. Steve Carell, Eminem and Harrison Ford are a few who have made appearances.
At the group tables, chefs cook meals in front of you while providing entertainment and encouraging interaction. Hibachi steak is the most popular item on the menu.
A lounge area with TVs and a drink and such bar provides a casual and more intimate environment.
One ex- cuse to dine in the lounge is Benihana’s happy hour, which is Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. With sushi rolls starting at $2.25, it’s ideal for the college budget.
Warning: reading the following may induce cravings, thoughts, dreams or fantasies about excellent sushi. Domo Sushi in Santee has been providing customers with fresh, great-tasting sushi since 2008.
Along with outstanding food, Domo provides a clean, comfortable atmosphere for customers to relax and enjoy. The restaurant features a bar where customers can watch the chefs masterfully craft their signature creations or catch a sporting event on the big screen TV.
The menu at Domo sushi has much to offer. One of the restaurant’s signature rolls is the Ring of Fire, a dish that lives up to its name. Cut rolls filled with salmon, crab, avocado and cream cheese are deep fried and topped with eel sauce, spicy mayo and Sriracha. As a finishing touch, a fresh jalapeño is placed on top, adding a satisfying crunch to this spicy culinary experience.
The prices at Domo Sushi are among the most reason- able in San Diego. The restaurant runs specials all week long, including 50 percent off cut rolls and 30 percent off specialty rolls everyday. These prices keep customers coming back in packs, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait awhile to get in. Rest assured, eating at Domo is always worth the wait.