Food & Drink

10 Must-Eat Dishes in the East Village

Published On 04/06/2015 Published On 04/06/2015
Erin Jackson/Thrillist

San Diego’s East Village sits shoulder-to-shoulder with the Gaslamp Quarter, but personality-wise, the two Downtown ‘hoods are like a pair of young and old sisters, NOT twins. While most of the Gaslamp Quarter is stuck in time and populated largely by tourists and conventioneers, the East Village -- San Diego’s largest urban neighborhood -- is quickly turning into one of the coolest places for Downtown locals to live, work, and (most importantly) feast. Take a look at these 10 tasty eats from some of the newest restaurants, bakeries, and juice shops in the East Village and see for yourself.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Escabeche tostada

Común Kitchen & Tavern (address and info)
We know you’re going to opt for meaty (or fishy) options for tostadas at Común, and you absolutely should -- but don’t forget about the lone veggie option, with hominy purée, carrots, jalapeño, avocado, and morita-sesame salsa. The flavors are a little bit sweet, a little bit smoky, a little bit Asian, and 100% DELICIOUS. Go on Tostada Tuesday, when all tostadas are $4 a pop.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Spaghetti and meatballs

Bottega Americano (address and info)
This splashy new spot in the Thomas Jefferson Law School is significantly more grown-up than your standard pizza-and-pasta shop -- but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat a classic plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Thanks to the fresh, house-made pasta, super-tender beef & pork meatballs, and flavorful, five-herb pesto, it’s quite a few steps up from the noodles you noisily slurped as a kid, but just as satisfying.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Chocolate and almond croissants

Café de L'Opéra (address and info)
Next door to Sol Cal, grab a buttery, flaky croissant. It’s just the thing to counterbalance the so-healthy-it’s-probably-too-good-for-you parfait. The sweet almond paste and dark chocolate croissants aren’t always on offer, but if they are, grab one (or two!). Otherwise, all of the traditional options (butter, almond, and chocolate) are worthy. Pro tip: ask for whichever flavor is fresh out of the oven, or have your croissant warmed up.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Acai parfait

Sol Cal Cafe (address and info)
This bright new vegan restaurant and juicery draws a health-conscious, yoga-pant-clad crowd, but even if your favorite meal is burgers with a side of burgers, you have to try the acai parfait. The fluffy, mousse-like mounds of house-made coconut yogurt with acai purée, fresh berries, and granola make this bright bowl of healthy goodness a great choice for breakfast or lunch, whether you’re a strict vegan or um, not.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Bruschetta

Halcyon (address and info)
Halcyon’s fresh-baked bread puts its bruschetta head and shoulders above most restaurants, but factor in razor-thin slices of prosciutto, diced heirloom tomatoes, hydroponic basil, and mounds of fresh, house-made burrata and it’s really something special. Think of it as an open-faced sandwich and order it for lunch -- often.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

S'mores doughnuts

Table No. 10 (address and info)
There are so many tasty things going on in this dessert, it’s worth making a trip to the second-story restaurant for the doughnuts alone. You'll find toasty cubes of brûléed marshmallow and torched marshmallow cream, plus vanilla custard, dehydrated chocolate mousse (which looks and tastes like brownie chips), and ganache-filled mini doughnuts rolled in crushed graham crackers. Yum.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Beet Tower

Stella Public House (address and info)
Anyone who loves cheese (so, everyone...) will appreciate this killer appetizer from Stella Public House. It's got tangy whipped goat cheese stacked between slices of earthy red and golden beets marinated in red wine vinegar. We’ve done the math, and it’s more cheese than beet, but you can still feel good about eating your vegetables. The restaurant will be open for lunch soon, but in the meantime, score this tasty plate for $8 during happy hour (5-7 pm, Monday-Friday) or at dinnertime.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Juice Saves (address and info)
Muscle strength and an energy boost are touted as benefits of this meal replacement in a cup, but we think you should order one because it’s just flat-out delicious. Frozen banana and almonds are blended with half a bottle of your choice of cold-pressed juice ("Grow A Pear," with pear, carrot, orange, and pineapple juice, is a good choice). BONUS: you get to walk out with what’s left in the bottle, which makes the $10 price tag a lot easier to swallow.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Pomodorini pizza

Double Standard (address and info)
Heirloom cherry tomatoes, Gioia mozzarella, basil, and a mountain of lightly dressed arugula so large it’s like a complimentary side salad top this paper-thin pie served on a sheet pan at Double Standard -- a stylish new spot located on the Western-most edge of East Village. You’re going to need to order the pork belly and prosciutto bruschetta, too, but in terms of pizza, this is the one to get.

Erin Jackson/Thrillist

Shrimp bánh mì

Water Grill (address and info)
Plump and juicy tempura-battered shrimp hangs with cucumber salad, daikon sprouts, pickled red onion, and sweet chili sauce on this non-traditional but totally tasty bánh mì sandwich served with house-made chips. Bonus: it also happens to be one of the most budget-friendly lunch or dinner items going.

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1. Común Kitchen & Tavern 935 J St, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

Común Chef Chad White’s baja-inspired menu changes with the seasons, and features dishes made with only the freshest local and sustainable ingredients. Pour yourself a cold one from the self-serve beer station and take a seat at the chef’s table in front of the open kitchen to get a gander at White whipping up tostadas topped with octopus or smoked shark and family-style plates to share.

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2. Bottega Americano 1195 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

This East Village European market/Italian eatery offers pasta, wood-fired pizzas, anti-pastas, and seafood dishes. There are also five interactive food bars, so you can see all the action happening in the kitchen, or grab-and-go from the market.

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3. Cafe De L'Opera 910 J St, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

The croissants at this French coffee shop are buttery, flaky, and delicious. The sweet almond paste and dark chocolate croissants aren’t always on offer, but if they are, grab one (or two!). Otherwise, all of the traditional options (butter, almond, and chocolate) are worthy. Pro tip: ask for whichever flavor is fresh out of the oven, or have your croissant warmed up.

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4. Sol Cal 910 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

This vegan restaurant and juicery draws a health-conscious, yoga-pant-clad crowd, but even if your favorite meal is burgers with a side of burgers, you have to try the acai parfait. The fluffy, mousse-like mounds of house-made coconut yogurt with acai purée, fresh berries, and granola make this bright bowl of healthy goodness a great choice for breakfast or lunch, whether you’re a strict vegan or um, not.

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5. Table No. 10 369 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

Chef Jason Gethin’s offers up gourmet American-style fare at Table No. 10 in the East Village, right next to Petco Park. Their kobe beef brisket is better than any hot dog you’ll get in the park, and you can’t leave without having a cocktail (or two). The bar serves their own house-made tonics and sodas, as well as a cocktail menu that features some unique ingredients like duck fat and the sharable Flux Capacitor made with gin, rosewater, violet liquor, lemon, honey, maraschino, lavender, and dry ice.

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6. Stella Public House 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

If a cocktail lounge/coffeehouse had a love child with a wood-fired pizza and craft beer restaurant, this is what you would get. Stella Public House and Halcyon are shacked up together in a 3,000sqft space on Island Ave Downtown, and San Diegans reap the benefits of this twofer establishment. With pizza, booze, beer, and coffee all under one roof, what’s not to love? Hydroponic basil (grown in tomato tins on top of the bar), house-made mozzarella, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, and a crisp, light crust come together in perfect harmony on Stella’s picture-perfect margherita pie (the benchmark of any great Neapolitan-style pizzeria). But those with a taste for adventure will also enjoy some of executive chef Jade Griego’s more inventive creations. A carefully curated draft list stocked with 33 rotating craft beers and a patio overlooking the neighborhood’s newest park are two major bonuses of getting your fix here.

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7. Juice Saves 631 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

This East Village juicery offers muscle strength and an energy boosts from its meal replacements in cups, but we think you should order one because they're just flat-out delicious. Frozen banana and almonds are blended with half a bottle of your choice of cold-pressed juice ("Grow A Pear," with pear, carrot, orange, and pineapple juice, is a good choice). BONUS: you get to walk out with what’s left in the bottle, which makes the $10 price tag a lot easier to swallow.

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8. Double Standard Kitchenetta & Bar 695 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

The design of the space here is eye-catching, from the gumball-colored furniture to the 160ft grass patio that wraps around the building. Fresh pastas made in-house, wood-fired pizzas, and small plates like N’duja Mussels & Clams make up the Italian-inspired menu, and luckily, the food tastes as good as the place looks.

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9. Water Grill 615 J St, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

This resto is heavy on seafood, and offers a shrimp bánh mì that you absolutely must try. Plump and juicy tempura-battered shrimp hangs with cucumber salad, daikon sprouts, pickled red onion, and sweet chili sauce on this non-traditional but totally tasty bánh mì sandwich served with house-made chips. Bonus: it also happens to be one of the most budget-friendly lunch or dinner items going.

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