It’d be silly to fall victim to a J. Wellington Wimpy burger coma in the Gaslamp District when some of San Diego’s tastiest haunts are either a short hike or a 10-minute cab ride away. Whether you’re visiting town for its grandest of holidays or a local on staycation, expand your Comic-Con diet beyond bedtime and the crowded bars of downtown with these late-night spots.
Stick something exotic in your mouth at this East Village hot spot where Executive Chef Craig Jimenez (formerly Neighborhood, Craft & Commerce) is rolling out a new menu just for the freaks and geeks in town this weekend. Jimenez is known for his lip-smacking, East-meets-West fare, with dishes such as bacon fried rice, sweet potato spring rolls and over-night brined Thai style chicken wings with fish sauce glaze. Late night happy hour from 10 p.m. to midnight.
345 Sixth Ave., East Village, Gangkitchen.com
A Jewish-inspired delicatessen that also serves waffle sandwiches and cocktails crafted by San Diego’s much-adored bar master, Anthony Schmidt. The newly opened Rare Form by powerhouse group Consortium Holdings boasts house-made delicacies ranging from pastrami to porchetta, chicken liver mousse and yes, among the waffle sandwiches, a fried chicken version. Soups, salads and boilermakers to wash it all down are available until 11:30 p.m.
795 J St., East Village, Godblessrareform.com
Want to impress Wonder Woman with your meat handling skills? Eating doesn’t get any more primal than at this DIY steakhouse. Costumes are welcome at this landmark dive bar – after all, the hip crowd dons varying shades of Grandpa’s pants and Grandma’s gypsy garb every other day of the week. Hang by the communal grill and make sure not to burn your steak, because that wouldn’t be cool. No frills food served till 1 a.m.
1116 25th St, Golden Hill, Turfsupperclub.com
Eat like a local at neighborhood favorite Buona Forchetta with its ever-popping patio and perhaps the meanest calzones this side of “The Boot.” Pro-tip: Don’t let the crowd scare you, just have a pint while you wait at nearby craft beer bar Hamilton’s (BF will even call your phone when the table’s ready). Goes without saying that the service is great. Open till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
3001 Beech St., South Park, buonaforchettasd.com
Swoon Dessert Bar
End your night with a mind-bending meal at Swoon Dessert Bar, where adults giggle like kids in a candy shop. Gelato is the name of the game here, with Chef Ian Smith’s intricate plating of concoctions, such as buttered popcorn gelato with a salted caramel drizzle, and the inconceivably delicious caramelized cippolini onion gelato with pickled mugwort foam. Three-courses for $18. Open until 11 p.m.
3139 University Ave., North Park, swoondessertbar.com
There wasn’t a taco that San Diego hadn’t met, that is until City Tacos burst onto the scene in early summer, with varieties like battered shrimp, corn and chayote (squash); chorizo with charred pineapple and Oaxacan cheese; and lightly smoked Yellowtail served on a fried, crisp flour tortilla. You won’t find carne asada or carnitas – instead, feast on 10 different kinds of gourmet tacos, all created equally delicious on homemade flour and corn tortillas for $3.50. Open until 2 a.m.
3028 University Ave., North Park, citytacossd.com
The venerable Indigo Grill recently got a facelift, and its new modern, Latin inspired menu is hot-hot-hot. Executive chef Jason Maitland gives San Diego its first Peruvian-inspired cebiche (ceviche) bar, whose fun includes the likes of Mexican Bay scallops, local bass and Hawaiian Ahi, chopped and composed to order, imparting flavors from around the world. Dinner until 11 p.m. nightly, and late night happy hour with $6 bites and cocktails from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., (midnight on Sundays) is a deal-to-be-had.
1536 India St., Little Italy, indigogrill.com
Nothing hits the late-night spot quite like a steaming bowl of tonkotsu ramen from Izakaya Masa, a favorite wee-morning Japanese pub among locals. You can’t go wrong with the ramen here, but the reigning favorite is its namesake version, made from a 20-plus hour pork bone broth that will bewitch your taste buds with its richness. Pair it up with a sushi roll and sake, then ride off into the night on your broomstick. Food served until 1 a.m.
928 Fort Stockton Dr., Mission Hills, izakayamasa.com
Amy T. Granite is a dauntless eater who has written about food in San Diego since 2006. You can follow Granite and her tasty adventures on Twitter and Instagram @saysgranite. Send your mouth-watering ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.