San Diego Restaurant Takeout Day Trips: East Village

Part 3 in a series on where to pickup food in downtown San Diego during the coronavirus crisis

East-Village- Restaurant-Takeout
Randy Wagener serves up pandemic Wet Willie slush cocktails at The Smoking Gun.
East-Village-Knotty-Barrel
Canning beer at Knotty Barrel.

Part III: “San Diego Restaurant Takeout Day Trips: East Village.”

Downtown’s funky, gentrifying-in-spurts neighborhood may be the city’s most tight-knit community. So it seems to many of the area’s restauranteurs. Almost unanimously, they say East Village locals are knocking on their doors for takeout and offering kind words–while also taking home copious amounts of craft beer.

Per the suds, Knotty Barrel owner Ken Lovi proudly makes it known he has an electric canning machine. His bartenders can adhere a sealed pop top to a 32-ounce can. That means any of his 24 beers on tap are good for takeout.

At Basic Bar/Pizza, general manager/owner Erik Tesmer is regularly selling out of 64-ounce growler bottles. To meet the demand from thirsty beer aficionados, he and his staff will fill and cap any Mason Jar they can find.

We Are Family

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Beshock Ramen & Sake Bar owner Ayaka Ito.

Rovino–The Foodery co-owner Tom Tarantino talks about taking special care of locals who carry “community cards.”

Social Tap’s Taylor Martel says special menu offerings cater to families. A $50 deal at this Petco Park-adjacent eatery is more than enough dinner for four.

“With a lot of the places in East Village, we’re not just a restaurant—we’re also a hangout,” says Beshock Ramen & Sake Bar co-owner Ayaka Ito, who is an accomplished Master of Sake.

Ito says a regular customer recently came in for an order and had a mild mental breakdown.

“I asked her how she was doing, and I guess things had built up and the whole situation got to her,” she says. “It was sad. What could I do—I couldn’t hug her, and she really needed a hug.”

Ito hears people talking about needing help from government checks, or filing for unemployment for the first time. “We are seeing people in need, and we do what we can,” she says. “And we definitely encourage people to come by and talk to us—especially if they live alone and don’t have anybody to talk to.”

A Takeout Takeaway

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Working the door at The Smoking Gun: Randy Wagener and Fabio.

One thing you can always offer friends and customers during down times: A smile. Those are on tap at casual-1970s-nostalgia bar/restaurant The Smoking Gun. Planted in the entrance: a life-size cardboard standup of Fabio. Witness the blonde tresses. The shirtless big shoulders. The quarantine-era face mask.

Working the door with Cardboard Fabio is Randy Wagener. He sits at a makeshift desk next to a slushie machine. (Before it was The Smoking Gun this was the site of Wet Willie’s and Blush, both of which sold slush cocktails.)

Wagener is selling a slushie called the Wet Willie. It’s sugar-free Red Bull, vodka, coconut rum, strawberries, fresh lemon juice, orgeat almond liqueur and (why not?) Squirt and Sprite.

The Smoking Gun has its garage-style windows furled wide open. This allows ’70s tunes on the sound system to fill the empty sidewalks at the corner of Market Street and Sixth Avenue.

“We’ll play music right up until our 8 o’clock closing, when we play our regular last-call song,” Wagener says.

Every night at 8 p.m. is also when downtowners come out onto their condo balconies to bang pots and pans, clap and cheer for a few minutes. This new tradition transcends the COVID-19 negativity and is primarily done to honor medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus battle.

To add to the downtown din, The Smoking Gun blares Aerosmith’s rock ballad “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” The song, not unironically, is from the 1998 disaster film Armageddon.  J&J

Restaurant Takout East Village Directory

East-Village-Basic-Bar-Pizza
Basic Bar/Pizza owner Erik Tesmer and Lexi Alcantar.

Basic Bar/Pizza

Thin-crust pizzas with an array of toppings you can use to build your own creation. Happy Hour all day means $8 for a mule, margarita and old fashioned. Beer lovers be advised: 64-ounce growlers have been selling out, but they’ll cap a Mason Jar with your favorite IPA to go.

410 Tenth Avenue, 619-531-8869 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9/10 p.m.

Beshock Ramen & Sake Bar

Exquisite ramen when its cooler out and sushi to go when it gets warmer. Plus, one of the best Japanese liquor selections in town courtesy of sake master/owner Ayaka Ito.

1288 Market Street, 619-310-5498 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

East-Village-Restaurant-Takeout
Knotty Barrel owner Ken Lovi.

Knotty Barrel

The full menu is available to go—and so are all 24 beers on tap, thanks to a canning machine that lets a bartender seal any sudsy offering in a 32-once pop-top can.

844 Market Street, 619-269-7156 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. (closed Monday)

Lotus Thai

The kitchen is staying busy serving up authentic dishes from Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

906 Market Street, 619-595-0115 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Make pizza+salad

This fast-casual spot dishes up just what the name implies.

699 Park Boulevard, 619-546-8511 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

East-Village-Rovino
Rovino – The Foodery.

RoVino – The Foodery

Ready-made meals here are not at all “fast food.” RoVino (which also has a restaurant in Little Italy) is an Italian market where the fresh pastas and family recipes are complemented the sale of breads, meats, wine, cheese and gelato.  

969 Market Street, 619-310-6421 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Smoking Gun

Any takeout meal order comes with a free roll of toilet paper. Wine discounts abound. On a warm day, cool off with a Wet Willie slush drink (sugar-free Red Bull, vodka, coconut rum, strawberries, fresh lemon juice, orgeat almond liquor, Squirt and Sprite).

555 Market Street, 619-233-3836 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 2 to 8 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday)

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Social Tap.

Social Tap

Adjacent to the Petco Park at the Park, Social Tap is offering family-friendly menus for $50: chicken/shrimp stir fry, a bottle of wine (or 32-ounce beer), a pound of veggies, cucumber salad, brownies and eggrolls (feeds four). A two-person version of the meal goes for $30.

815 J Street, 619-398-8938 (takeout and free delivery anywhere in San Diego)

Pandemic Hours: Noon to 7 p.m. (closed Monday)

PART I: SAN DIEGO RESTAURANT TAKEOUT DAY TRIPS: LITTLE ITALY

PART II: SAN DIEGO RESTAURANT TAKEOUT DAY TRIPS: GASLAMP QUARTER

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