Ballpark bites: Our 18 picks for spots to eat and drink outside Petco Park
The 2018 San Diego Padres season opens this afternoon at Petco Park. While the Padres are unveiling a slate of new food vendors inside the stadium this spring, ticket-buyers can bring in their own food items as well.
So this year, we’re taking a look at what’s new to eat inside Petco Park as well as some of the best grab-and-go and sit-down food spots in the vicinity of Petco Park.
East Village has seen a lot of restaurant closures in the past year, but there are many new spots and old favorites to try. Our picks are divided up by their proximity to the nearest ticket entry gate.
Downtown Gate (9th Avenue at J Street)
Cafe de l’Opera: This 5-year-old French bistro offers some of the best croissants in San Diego. They’re baked in-house all day, every day in varieties that include almond, blood orange, fig jam, matcha tea and chocolate. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menu includes tartines (open-face sandwiches), house soups, paninis, wraps and salads priced from $5 to $9. Owners are working on an express lunch deal for game-goers that will include a cold sandwich, a bag of chips and a French dessert for about $10. 910 J St., downtown. (619) 647-9676. cafedelopera.com
Copa Vida Coffee Bar: This Pasadena-based coffee and tea chain is known for its well-trained baristas and latte art. Check out the unusual tea lattes, like the London Fog (Earl Gray tea), Masala Chai, Brulee Mint and pale green Matcha lvarieties, priced from $4.75 to $5. 905 J St., downtown. (619) 501-7529. copa-vida.com
Social Tap San Diego: This lively, 3-year-old sports bar boasts a stellar view of Park at the Park from its glassed-in patio. Popular dishes are its filet mignon truffle tacos, generously plated nachos and the Trifecta Wings, grilled and fried for maximum smoky taste and crunch. 815 J St., downtown. (619) 398-8938. socialtapeatery.com
Stone Brewing Tap Room: On the walkway into Park at the Park, stop by this industrial-modern bar and restaurant with 16 Stone brews on tap and a simple gastro-pub menu of small plates, sandwiches, salads and flatbreads. 795 J St., downtown. (619) 727-4452 or stonebrewing.com/visit/outposts/tap-room
Fairweather Rooftop Bar: Best to save this hard-to-find, open-air cocktail bar for warmer weather this spring. Enter through Stone Brewing Tap Room and hike up the back stairs to this second-floor bar overlooking the Padres outfield. Fairweather’s known for its tropical and classic cocktails and nightly cocktail and snack specials. 795 J St. downtown. (619) 578-2392. fairweatherbar.com
The Kebab Shop: If you’re craving Middle Eastern comfort food, you can’t do better than this quick-service eatery, serving tender and tasty Döner (Turkish) rotisserie and grilled meats and super-fresh salads in plates, paninis, salads and hand-rolled flatbreads. Don’t miss the tabouli. 630 Ninth Ave., downtown. (619) 525-0055. thekebabshop.com
East Village Gate (10th Avenue at K Street)
Harvest by the Patio: The Patio Group’s 18-month-old East Village eatery offers ballgame fans a grab-and-go meal special with two fresh-made sandwiches, two bags of chips and two bottles of water in a Harvest-brand canvas tote for $30. 369 Tenth Ave., East Village. (619) 541-8301. harvestbythepatio.com
MG Beyer Seafood By the Park: Three months ago, Chula Vista’s long-famous Mariscos German Beyer taco truck opened its first brick-and-mortar location just across from the East Village gate. Huffington Post rated Jorge Fuentes’ battered fish taco the best in San Diego. And his 7 Chiles grilled fish taco has won numerous competitions. The shop carries ceviches, oysters, mussels and traditional Mexican favorites. Fuentes is planning to launch a ballpark “6x6” deal with six tacos and six bottles of beer in April. The price has not been determined. 317 Tenth Ave., East Village. (619) 326-8156. facebook.com/mgbeyerseafood/
Basic Pizza: Hands-down, Basic is one of the most popular spots for pre- and post-game pizzas and beer. The no-frills warehouse, open until 2 a.m. nightly, serves Connecticut-style coal-fired thin-crust pizza. Happy hour runs from 4-7 pm (i.e. first pitch), with $5 beers on draft. 410 Tenth Ave., East Village. (619) 531-8869. barbasic.com
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood: One of San Diego’s most popular and fast-expanding Baja-inspired taco empires, Oscar’s opened an East Village location in 2016. Tacos range from the $2 basic fish tacos (grilled or batter-fried) to the fancy Al Pastor with adobo-marinated tuna, diced pineapple and avocado, for $4.65. From 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, fish tacos are 99 cents (limit four). 927 J St., East Village. (619) 564-6007. oscarsmexicanseafood.com
Dirty Del’s: This baseball-themed sports bar serves up amusingly named sandwiches priced from $8 to $10, like the Padre, which is ham, Swiss and veggies on French baguette, or the Fowl Ball, with chicken, ham, Swiss and mustard on a toasted baguette. Check the sandwich board out front for daily food specials. 499 Tenth Ave., East Village. (619) 677-3789.
Gaslamp Gate (7th and K, near the Western Metal Building)
Larry’s Deli: This deli opened on the gate’s north side 18 months ago. Its overstuffed sandwiches include a half-pound of organic or grass-fed meat with fine cheeses, Bread & Cie breads and house-made sauces and dressings. Sandwiches range from $9 to $12. Top-sellers are the pastrami and California-style turkey sandwiches. A ballpark sandwich special is in the works but hasn’t been announced yet. 323 Seventh Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. Only open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, so it’s ideal for opening day. (619) 795-7100. hungrylarrys.com
CrunchTime Popcorn: Opened in 2003 and now owned by Mark Kozloski and Danielle Bouchard, this dessert shop makes everything in-house. The “crunch” in the name comes from its signature popcorns, which are air-popped and then hand-stirred in a giant vat with mix-ins. The cheddar corn uses real cheese and the caramel corn is stirred with housemade caramel sauce (think of it as fresher Cracker Jack without the nuts). Six-ounce bags are $2.50 each of three bags for $6. The ice creams are made fresh daily with fruit and gourmet ingredients. The No. 1 flavor is Birthday Cake, made with white cake mix. During baseball season, there are always Chicago-style hot dogs spinning on the grill, priced at two for $5. 611 K St., Suite C, Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 338-0048 or crunchtimepopcorn.com
Bubs at the Ballpark: Bub’s, a popular corner sports bar since 1996, is locally famous for its tater tots and wings. Although it usually offers its tots at half-price during its generous happy hour (3-6 p.m. weekdays), the deal is usually void on home game days. Still they’re worth the price. 715 J St., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 546-0815. bubssandiego.com
Lucky’s Lunch Counter: Designed in the fashion of an 1930s lunch counter, this shop serves classic breakfasts and overstuffed sandwiches. Top-sellers include the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, Tyrone’s Midwest Crispy Pork Tenderloin sandwich, Turkey Club and Jalapeño Patty Melt. 338 Seventh Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 255-4782. luckyslunchcounter.com
Altitude Sky Lounge: This dazzling rooftop bar on the 22nd floor of the Gaslamp’s Marriott Hotel opens two hours before all evening home games. There’s a limited menu of hot food items and beer, wine and cocktails. Happy hour runs 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays, with half-price flatbreads and $5 beers on draft. Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, 700 K St., Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 446-6086. sandiegogaslamphotel.com
Park Boulevard Gate (Park Boulevard at 10th Avenue)
Lolita’s at the Park: This Chula Vista-born quick-service Mexican food chain opened its ballpark location seven years ago, and it’s still going strong. The shop’s famous carne asada fries are the ultimate in decadent munchie food. For afternoon games, swing by for the daily lunch special, which is one of the best deals in the Village. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, order the day’s burrito, quesadilla or taco selection with rice, beans and a medium drink for just $7.75. 202 Park Blvd., East Village. (619) 269-6055. lolitasmexicanfood.com
Home Plate Gate (Park Boulevard near Imperial Avenue)
Fox Sports Grill: Cross the pedestrian bridge to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel for this American sports bar and restaurant. that bosts 26 plasma screens and a spectacular view of the sunset before evening games. Good bets are the blue cheese potato chips and the short rib tacos.1 Park Blvd., Suite 101, Bayfront. (619) 231-9000. foxsportsgrill.com
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