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Comic-Con 2018: Where to find San Diego’s quintessential eats

Rubio’s Coastal Grill will be offering fish taco specials, like the original fish taco especial on N
No dish is more associated with San Diego than the fish taco. Rubio’s Coastal Grill popularized them here and has sold 200 million, and counting.
(Rubio’s)

Surveys have shown that most Comic-Con visitors rarely venture beyond downtown San Diego during their visit. But if you’ve built some extra dining time into your trip, we’ve come up with a list of where to find San Diego’s quintessential foods.

Fish tacos

San Diego’s biggest gustatory claim to fame, besides craft beer, is the fish taco. Back in 1983, Ralph Rubio imported the beer batter-fried fish taco from Baja and opened his first restaurant in a former Orange Julius stand just north of Mission Bay. Since then, Rubio’s Coastal Grill has expanded to 200 restaurants and more than 200 million fish tacos have been sold. While the Rubio’s menu has dramatically expanded over the years, the original fish taco — fried wild Alaskan pollock served with shredded cabbage, mild salsa, a sour cream/mayo white sauce and a wedge of lime on a corn tortilla — still reigns supreme. Visit shop No. 1 at 4504 E. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego. rubios.com

Mexican food

If “taco trucks on every corner” is your idea of a good time, then San Diego is your jam. There are hundreds of choices, but locals line up every morning at Las Cuatro Milpas, about a half-hour walk south of the convention center. What makes this cafeteria-style, small-menu Barrio Logan shop so popular? Tradition. Three generations of the Estudillo family have dished up authentic tacos, burritos, tamales and a handful of other items since 1933. Real Mexican cheese and crema are used and tortillas and hot sauce are made in-house. The prices are low, the line moves slow, only breakfast and lunch are served and it’s a cash-only business. But no culinary visit to San Diego is complete without a visit.1857 Logan Ave., Barrio Logan. (619) 234-4460. facebook.com/Las-Cuatro-Milpas-421776945082/

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The Balboa Burger at Balboa Bar & Grill is one of San Diego’s most beloved burgers.
(Balboa Bar & Grill)
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Burgers

Social media wars have been fought over this topic for years, but the top three finalists are Hodad’s, Rocky’s and The Balboa. Hodad’s, made famous by TV chef Guy Fieri, is known for its creative, piled-high and ultra-juicy burgers. 945 Broadway, East Village and 5010 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach, hodadies.com. For more than 40 years, Rocky’s Crown Pub sports bar in Pacific Beach has been praised for its simple but satisfying 1/3- and 1/2-pound burgers, but be aware it’s adults- and cash-only. 3786 Ingraham St., (858) 273-9140. rockyburgers.com. Newcomer Balboa Bar & Grill in Bankers Hill has rapidly established a loyal following with its hearty, juicy 1/3-pound burgers, which are just $5 during happy hour. 1863 Fifth Ave., (619) 955-8525. thebalboabarandgrill.com

Buona Forchetta pizza will be available at Petco Park beginning on Opening Day, Thursday, March 29.
Neopolitan-style pizza at Buona Forchetta is always ranked among San Diego’s most popular pies.
(U-T File)

Pizza

The “best” depends on the style you prefer. If you like thin-crust New York-style pizza, try Pizzeria Luigi (multiple locations, pizzerialuigi.com) and Bronx Pizza (111 Washington St., Hillcrest, bronxpizza.com). If you like the authentic Neopolitan-style, try Pizzeria Bruno (4207 Park Blvd., North Park, pizzeriabrunosd.com) or Buona Forchetta (3001 Beech St., South Park, buonaforchettasd.com). For deep-dish Chicago-style, visit Lefty’s (3448 30th St., North Park, leftyspizza.com) or Regents Pizzeria (4150 Regents Park Row, La Jolla, regentspizza.com). And Connecticut-style coal-fired pizza is the speciality at Basic (410 Tenth Ave., East Village, barbasic.com) and URBN (multiple locations, urbnpizza.com).

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California wines and cuisine are celebrated at just-opened Route 29 in the Gaslamp Quarter.
(Courtesy photo)

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California cuisine

The Golden State is known for its fresh produce, hormone-free farmed meats and award-winning wines. You can get all three in a short walk from the convention center at the just-opened Route 29, so named for the two-lane highway that winds through Napa Valley. More than 150 wines, including 30-plus by the glass, are served. The seasonal and sustainable menu offers vegetable-rich entrees, vegan dishes and specialties like roasted duck confit wings, shiitake-rubbed ribeye and crispy California halibut. For now, open for happy hour and dinner only. 644 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 235-8144. route29restaurant.com

Commercial buildings like this single level are common on Convoy Street.
Strip malls along Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa are packed with nearly 100 Asian restaurants, bars and dessert shops.
(U-T File)

Asian food

With its proximity to the Pacific Rim, Asian cuisine is just as popular in San Diego as Mexican food. You can find it all on Convoy Street, home to nearly 100 Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean restaurants, bars and dessert shops. Parking is limited, so be prepared to walk a few blocks and also to wait in sometimes long lines. Convoy Street, from Clairemont Mesa Drive to Aero Drive, Kearny Mesa.

pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com. Twitter: @pamkragen


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