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Where to Refuel Around San Diego
San Diego has a few homegrown chains as well as many stand-alone eateries that will amiably fill you up without demanding too much cash in return.
Burger Lounge (www.burgerlounge.com) specializes in juicy burgers made from grass-fed beef—besides skipping grain, the cows were also raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. Locations in Kensington (4116 Adams Ave. 619/584-2929), Coronado (922 Orange Ave. 619/435-6835), Gaslamp (528 5th Ave. 619/955-5727), La Jolla (1101 Wall St. 858/456-0196), (1608 India St. 619/237-7878) share a retro-mod orange and white decor and hearty side dishes like onion rings and house-made french fries, sodas, and malts. The turkey burgers are equally flavorful.
A vast and varied homegrown chain specializing in seafood is the Brigantine (multiple locations, see www.brigantine.com), which offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu that ranges from fish tacos to fresh oysters, grilled swordfish with avocado butter, and wok-charred ahi tuna in every corner of San Diego County. The happy hours at any of the Brigantine (aka "The Brig" to locals) restaurants are popular for the oysters and fish tacos.
The Mission, a local minichain open only for breakfast and lunch, has three locations: Mission Beach (3795 Mission Blvd. 858/488-9060), North Park (2801 University Ave. 619/220-8992), and the East Village (1250 J St. 619/232-7662). They all fulfill their mission as a breakfast-and-lunch destination (there's no service after 3 pm) with a menu that runs the gamut from banana-blackberry pancakes to a Zen breakfast complete with tofu and brown rice, to creative black-bean burritos and a smoked turkey sandwich. Or if you're in the mood for excellent Mexican-style comfort fare, head to Achiote (www.achioterestaurants.com) in San Ysidro (4119 Camino de la Plaza 619/690-1494) and Otay Mesa (2110 Birch Rd. 619/482-0307)—the omelet with chipotle cream sauce is muy rico. Sushi lovers should head to Harney Sushi in Old Town (3964 Harney St. 619/295-3272) and Oceanside (301 Mission Ave. 760/967-1820 www.harneysushi.com) for California-style sushi and superfresh fish with a rocking atmosphere that includes DJ booths and a sexy modern Asian design.
If there's something for everyone at the Mission, the statement is equally true of San Diego's enormously popular Sammy's Woodfired Pizza (multiple locations; see www.sammyspizza.com) chain. With convenient outlets in La Jolla, Mission Valley, and the Gaslamp Quarter, Sammy's makes friends with oversize salads, a vast selection of pizzas, entrées, and pastas, and the fun "messy sundae," which lives up to its name.
Besides chains, keep these streets or neighborhoods in mind for refueling: funky Ocean Beach, famed for its easygoing breakfast places; Little Italy (India Street), with endless Italian options; and Hillcrest in the vicinity of the 5th Avenue-University Avenue intersection, a buffet of international cuisines. If you want Asian, Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa is the place to go.
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