This is a guest post by Jay Porter. Jay is a long time friend of Gaslamp Ball and is owner and founder of The Linkery in North Park. He also knows much more about the San Diego restaurant scene than we do so we asked that he write about some recommended spots around Petco Park for "take-in" dining at Padres and World Baseball Classic games. Visit his blog and check out The Linkery if you haven't already. You won't regret it! -Dex
First of all, I just want to brag that I've been a Gaslamp Ball fan since it was PFS76. GLBFSIWPFS76. That's old school, yo.
Like the founders of this website, I am Padre fan since '76. Back in the 70's I would go to games with my friends' families (my family was more in the football side of things), and they'd usually stop at Fiesta Liquor & Deli to pick up a sandwich before going to San Diego Stadium.
The Friars have moved to the upscale environs of the East Village, but the basic idea is still possible. Buy yummy food, bring it into the ballpark. I've got no beef with the ballpark food-service folks, but obvs there's a wider selection of beef outside the Petco gates.
So the question is, where should a PF in 09 get food to bring to a ballgame? Dex asked me to blog on this topic fully aware that I would probably plug my restaurant (The Linkery) and cured meat shop (North Park Meat Co). But really, I don't really want to talk that much about those places -- the Linkery and North Park Meat Co., I mean -- and who knows, maybe The Linkery and North Park Meat Co aren't where you'd want to buy sausage tacos or cured meat to eat at the ball game. So I won't even mention the Linkery or the North Park Meat Co., let alone their websites: thelinkery.com and northparkmeatco.com. Instead, I'll highlight other places I like and recommend.
I am, however, a 30th Street homer. And that's my number one recommendation: the number two. Parking downtown is a pain, so I recommend parking near 30th Street, buying food there, and then taking the #2 bus to 8th and Broadway, a short walk from Petco Park. If driving to North/South Park seems too far, then do what I did, and just move here.
Before you get on the bus, you can get a sandwich at Grant's Marketplace (Beech & 30th) that is the match for any of my childhood memories. Possibly because my childhood memories weren't made on bread from Bread & Cie, right? For a hot food option to take with, I wholeheartedly recommend Lefty's Pizza on 30th above Upas. They're known for their Chicago-style deep dish but I think their thin-crust is stellar. They make a lot of their food themselves, with good ingredients, and it shows. I also like their grilled vegetable sandwich, which is really sloppy and fun to eat. And their fries are great. I don't know, though, you bring that food on the bus and maybe people start to get jealous.
Also on 30th, before a night game you could get hot food above University at either Toronado (grass-fed burgers on Tuesdays) and Ritual Tavern (Niman Ranch burgers and sometimes Niman Ranch hot dogs). The ulterior motive being that these places have world class beer lists, which wouldn't be a bad way to wait for them to make your food. Um, you can just take your time cooking that...
If you're more of a trolley type, Mona Lisa in Little Italy has fantastic sandwiches. I particularly like their caprese (mozzarella, basil, tomato and balsamic), and if you also pick up a bag of Frito's and a bottle of Pellegrino, you're pretty much set. I don't know if you can bring glass bottles of Pellegrino into the ballpark though. Probably not. Mona Lisa is kind of between the Little Italy and the Middletown trolley stops, on India.
Further back up the trolley line, at Washington and India, is my favorite counter-style restaurant in San Diego, Blue Water. I get the grilled fish tacos with whatever local fish catches my eye in their deli case. Particularly, if they have it, yellowtail. I guess bringing fish tacos to Petco is almost like bringing sand to the beach. Delicious, delicious sand.
Close to the ballpark itself, the best sandwiches used to be at Bread on Market, but I haven't been there since it was sold a few months back and I can't personally guarantee it's still awesome. However, my guess is that it is, and once the season starts, I'll be there to confirm. Bread on Market is a bakery and sandwich shop on -- guess where? -- Market, at 8th. My other go-to place to get food near the park is Tin Fish, which is right outside Petco on L and 6th. Try the calamari tacos. Everything at Tin Fish comes on flour tortillas and is delicious.
Just on pure style points, I think it's huge to roll into any swanky sit-down restaurant you love, and buy a bunch of food to take with you to the game. So if you're a regular at Starlite (India Street at Redwood) or The Pearl (Rosecrans in Point Loma) or Jayne's Gastropub (30th at Adams), just saunter in at 6pm, order up a bevy of salads, soups, chops, and desserts and explain that you need it boxed so you can really kick it at Bleacher Beach. (Those guys are gonna kill me.) But seriously, most restaurants are happy to sell food to-go, and why not live it up?
Whatever meal you bring to the park, I suggest going to see Neil at the craft beer stand at the bottom of the Western Metals Building, and buying a Stone or other great local brew to drink with your chow. Unless of course, you're underage, a nondrinker, or otherwise shouldn't be drinking beer. But if beer and you are cool, trust me, you'll be happy together at a ballgame.
Happy eating and continued Gaslamp Balling!