College West, the neighborhood that sprawls to the west of the San Diego State University campus, has a lot of attractions. Located in the Mid-City region of San Diego, College West is the actual home to SDSU. It borders College East, which also features some fun restaurants and housing options.
In addition to the college, this area has one private and one public elementary school, as well as two alternative schools. Locals can enjoy a ride on the San Diego Trolley, which stops at both SDSU and the nearby hospital. For those with their own vehicles, this neighborhood abuts a number of major roads, making it easily accessible. It also lets local residents and SDSU students quickly and easily visit other popular neighborhoods, like North Park and Hillcrest.
If you’re looking to enjoy a show or attending a sporting event, the Viejas arena is just west of campus and close to a number of eateries. There’s a shopping center just off of El Cajon Blvd., as well as the Lucky Lady Casino and Card Room, if you feel like placing a bet.
If you’re somewhere in the middle of El Cajon Blvd., College Avenue, which divides College East and College West, Collwood Blvd. and south of the highway, consider stopping into one of these four incredible restaurants. Regardless of your favorite flavors, there’s certainly something to enjoy at one of these College West restaurants.
Great Smoky Meat at Popular BBQ Joint
Dickey’s BBQ Pit
Location: 5500 Campanile Drive, Suite 115 (map)
Hours: Seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
There are multiple locations of Dickey’s BBQ Pit around San Diego, but this one is nestled right inside the SDSU campus. If you’re visiting the college for an event or you attend school there, Dickey’s is a great place to grab a filling, warm meal.
As with any BBQ joint, the real focus here is on the meats. They serve multiple, slow-cooked options, including pulled pork, chicken breast, slow-smoked turkey, Polish kielbasa sausage, chicken breast, pork ribs and even a jalapeno cheddar kielbasa. You can enjoy any of their meats as a plate, which include two side dishes and a roll. If you’re really hungry, they will make up a two or three meat plates with your favorites.
Their side dishes are great complements to the meats they serve. Options include cornbread muffins, Texas toast, barbecue beans, cabbage slaw, potato salad, Caesar salad, baked potato casserole, mac and cheese, green beans, creamed spinach, waffle fries and fried okra.
You can also enjoy their various meats as a simple sandwich on a Brioche bun or a grilled cheese made from Texas toast. If you’re really famished, their Westerner sandwiches come on a full size hoagie roll. They also make tacos, which feature everything from cabbage slaw and pulled pork to beef brisket with macaroni and cheese.
Discover New American Dishes at Eureka!
Location: 5140 College Avenue, Suite 111 (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to midnight
With a full bar and brunch on the weekends, there’s a reason that Eureka! has become a popular chain in California. They’ve made a name for themselves as a whiskey bar, offering bourbons, ryes, corn whiskey, single malts and specialty whiskeys for those with discerning palates. They also have plenty of beers on tap for you to enjoy.
You can find all kinds of comfort foods here, including lollipop corn dogs, chicken nachos, truffle cheese fries and mac n’ cheese balls, just for starters. Their main menu features plenty of fun options for burgers, from a Fresno Fig Burger topped with fig marmalade, goat cheese, bacon and spicy mustard to their Jalapeno Egg Burger, topped with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, bacon and pickled jalapenos.
Beyond burgers, they serve up blackened fish, steak and chicken tacos, slow-roasted pork ribs, pimento grilled cheese with tomato dill soup, salmon, fried chicken sliders and even a steak dip sandwich. For those trying to eat a little lighter, consider a turkey burger or one of their salads, which include Cobb salads and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with chicken, pecans and grapes.
You also want to save room for dessert, including a Bourbon Barrel cake served with vanilla bean ice cream or an American chocolate Budina with salted caramel.
Enjoy Authentic Thai Flavors Near Campus
Bangkok Poco Thai Restaurant
Location: 5157 College Avenue, Suite A (map)
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday: Noon to 11 p.m., Sunday: Noon to 10 p.m.
If you’re on the hunt for affordable flavor, look no farther than Bangkok Poco. There are all the standard, popular Thai dishes here, as well as several that are harder to find.
Like at many Thai places, you’ll find several great soups on the menu, including Tom Yum, the Thai hot and sour soup, Tom Kha, a coconut and lime soup, Po Tak, a seafood sour soup seasoned with ginger and lemongrass, and wonton soup. They also serve Super Soup, with chicken drumettes in a sour soup.
There are vegetarian spring rolls, crispy tofu, gyoza dumplings, fried shrimp wontons and even a sampler on their appetizer menu. If you have a fried who’s not very adventurous when it comes to Thai food, they will probably love the BBQ menu, which features chicken satay, marinated beef steaks, BBQ chicken and Teriyaki chicken or salmon, as well as pork ribs and beef bulgogi.
Noodle lovers will be thrilled to discover drunken noodles on the menu at Bangkok Poco. There are also staples like Pad Thai, udon noodles, cashew stir-fry and every kind of curry you could crave, from red to Quah sweet curry. If you’re going spicy, be sure to order a beer or drink to help cool the burn.
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Try Exotic Laotian Dishes or Traditional Thai
Location: 5421 El Cajon Blvd. (map)
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Closed Monday
If you’re closer to the south side of College West and find yourself craving something spicy or flavorful and complex, Sang Dao Restaurant should be your destination.
Their appetizers range from pork egg rolls and fresh spring rolls to Thai fish cakes, chicken satay and pork-stuffed chicken wings fried to a golden perfection. You can find all the popular soups here, including Kawo Lao, a beef meatball, tendon and tripe soup. There’s also papaya salad, which you can enjoy either Thai or Lao style.
If you haven’t tried larb, a ground meat salad with rice, lime juice and chilies, this is the place to experiment. There are also seafood salads, ranging from shrimp to calamari. If you’re vegetarian, you can enjoy bean sprouts with tofu, mixed seasonal vegetables or spicy eggplant. Those who prefer to play it safe can order Thai BBQ with either beef or pork. Other dishes include curries such as roasted duck curry, noodle dishes, rice and fried rice dishes, and stir-fries and stews.
They serve up Thai iced teas and coffees, as well as coconut juice or specialty teas to drink. If you’re lucky, you can try their mango sticky rice in season.