San Diego Restaurant Takeout Day Trips: Gaslamp Quarter

AN OCCASIONAL SERIES ON WHERE TO PICK UP FOOD IN DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

Metl-takeout-Gaslamp-Quarter
Metl Bar & Restaurant owner Jenna Elskamp oversees a free meal program for hospitality industry workers.
Ron-Donoho-at-Gaslamp-Sign
The author at the base of the Gaslamp Quarter.

Part 2–San Diego Restaurant Takeout Day Trips: Gaslamp Quarter.

On-the-street research for “Restaurant Takeout Day Trips: Gaslamp Quarter” unveils few silver linings. San Diego’s preeminent entertainment district has been devastatingly walloped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mandated closure of bars and restaurants on downtown’s main drag is compounded by the San Diego Convention Center shutdown. The center rests quietly at the foot of Fifth Avenue. Admirably, it’s currently serving as a homeless shelter. Confoundingly, conventioneers are not pouring out of its door and into local eateries.

Even worse, the coronavirus crisis forced the cancellation of the city’s biggest convention, the 135,000-person Comic-Con. Gone is the $100 million that The Con annually pours into the economy.

Starting under the iconic Gaslamp Quarter sign, it’s a lonely walk up Fifth Avenue. The georgeous, four-story Huntress Steak & Whiskey Society and Lumi rooftop fusion eatery are shuttered. Both are itching to do a highly anticipated grand opening. Once-lively places like The Field are cordoned off with yellow tape. El Chingon and Havana 1920 have boarded up windows. Barleymash—renown for packing in off-night crowds—is stone-cold vacant.

Open for Restaurant Takeout

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Metl Bar & Restaurant.

Metl bar/restaurant is doing takeout and delivery five days a week. It opened in December 2019, on the Fifth Avenue site of the former Hopping Pig. Jenna Elskamp has worked onsite for four years. She’d just participated in buying out the Hopping Pig owners and has instilled a more rock-n-roll ambiance in Metl.

“We were looking forward to business picking up in March so we could pay off some of our debts,” Elskamp says. “Then COVID hit and here we are.”

Metl is doing a free meal program for displaced or unemployed hospitality industry workers. Elskamp says various brands—including Skrewball Whiskey—are donating money for the initiative, which has served up more than 600 meals so far.

She adds that some regular customers have even donated their $1,200 federal stimulus checks to the program. One local couple donated $2,400.

In addition to tacos, burgers and other standard fare, Metl serves up Boozy Custard Ice Creams. The most popular one is aptly named with a nod to an eccentric Netflix series. The Tygrr King custard is made with peanut butter-flavored Skrewball Whiskey, banana pudding, cashews, Tippy Cow Chocolate Rum and Whoppers.

Pizza: Ultimate Takeout Food

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Tony’s Pizza owner David Brewer.

Along with Ike’s Place (sandwiches), Chocolate (coffee, desserts), Maryjane’s (Americana) and Sab Lai (Thai food), I find three pizza places open for takeout and delivery along Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp. Dishing up slices and pies are Gaslamp Pizza and Pizza on 5th (which share management) and Tony’s Pizza.

“Pizza is a takeout staple,” says Tony’s Pizza owner David Brewer. “It’s fast and it’s easy.”

Brewer says he tried to run the place by himself while he waited to see if he would be selected to receive a small business loan. He stays open with the help of two employees, and says he’ll hire back more if and when the loan comes through.

Besides cooked pizzas, Tony’s is selling pizza kits for $6. The kits include a doughball and 8 ounces each of sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Brewer says he’s given away 300 kits during the pandemic. And he’s donated boxes and boxes to hospitals like Scripps Mercy and eldercare facilities such as St. Paul’s PACE.

“I don’t do that for the publicity, I feed hospital workers because it’s the right thing to do,” Brewer says.

Kudos. And sometimes, the right thing to do deserves some publicity.  J&J

ALSO CHECK OUT: PART 1–SAN DIEGO RESTAURANT TAKEOUT DAY TRIPS: LITTLE ITALY.

ALSO CHECK OUT: PART 3–SAN DIEGO RESTAURANT TAKEOUT DAY TRIPS: EAST VILLAGE.

Restaurant Takeout Gaslamp Quarter Directory

Chocolate-Gaslamp-Quarter
Chocolate owner Michael Zora.

Chocolate

There’s no time like a pandemic for a beautiful cup of coffee or authentic Italian gelato or crepes.

509 Fifth Avenue, 619-238-9400 (takeout)

Pandemic Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gaslamp Pizza

In better times, an after-bar fave. Serving pizza by the slice or the whole pie in the Gaslamp for more than a dozen years.

505 Fifth Avenue, 619-231-7542 (takeout and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: Noon to 1 p.m.

Ikes-Place-Gaslamp-Quarter
Grant Buitrago (left) and Bianca Sanchez (right) pose with a cadrboard cutout of Ike’s Place owner Ike Shehadeh.

Ike’s Place

This chain sandwich shop (with a dose of good humor) still sees a robust lunch business, as well as a nightly rush of orders for the friend-chicken sandwich from 8 to 9 p.m.

542 Fifth Avenue, 619-255-2562 (takeout and delivery)

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

Metl

Just opened in early 2020, Metl has standards like tacos and burgers as well as “Boozy Custard Ice Cream.” Check their website for info on free meals for hospitality industry workers.

748 Fifth Avenue, 619-546-6424 (takeout and free delivery for area codes 92101-92105)

Pandemic Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 2 to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.

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Maryjane’s at Hard Rock San Diego

Maryjane’s

This street-level eatery at Hard Rock San Diego has a $5 menu through April for medical workers and hospitality industry workers.

207 Fifth Avenue, 619-764-6950 (takeout only)

Pandemic Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pizza On 5th

Along with pizza by the slice or whole pie, get cocktails or beer to go, or a bottle of wine for 50 percent off ($10.99 for a hours Merlot).

734 Fifth Avenue, 619-231-7582 (10 percent off takeout orders, and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: Noon to 2 a.m.

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San Lai Thai Kitchen.

Sab Lai Thai Kitchen

Offering contact-free curbside pickup and free delivery (through April 30) within two-mile radius and minimum order of $25.

500 Fifth Avenue, 619-232-1801 (takeout and free delivery)

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

Tony’s Pizza

Pizza by the slice or the whole pie—or buy a takeout pizza kit for $6 that comes with a ball of dough, and 8 ounces each of sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

433 E Street, 619-431-5600 (10-percent off takeout orders, and delivery)

Pandemic Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (or later)

1 Comment

  1. Just tried Sab Lai Thai. It was wonderful. Not only do they get my business now, they are likely to become my “go to” Thai after this all settles down.

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