Nestled just east of the San Diego State University campus, College East is a popular neighborhood for students. With rental housing and a ring of businesses, this area has plenty to offer those who attend the college or who live and work nearby. Of course, being centrally located and part of the mid-town area doesn’t hurt either.
As one would expect from a neighborhood that abuts a major college campus, there’s a little bit of everything around College East. From bakeries and delis to all kind of ethnic eateries, you can find whatever you’re craving. There are both upscale and affordable options, including plenty of nearby Happy Hour specials.
Even if you’re not in the mood for a drink, there are many great options for a meal or a snack as well. Still, not all restaurants are made equal, and some simply feature better foods and prices than others. It can be difficult to determine what restaurants are really worth a visit and which ones you can simply skip over.
We’re devoted to finding the best eateries (and bars and Happy Hour specials) around San Diego. College East has plenty of fun to offer, but we’ve rounded up four of our top picks for a good meal.
Deli and Delights at D.Z. Akin’s
D.Z. Akin’s Deli
Location: 6930 Alvarado Road
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
As far as delis go, D.Z. Akin’s Deli is somewhat pricey. However, for what you spend, you get excellent quality and a very filling meal. Located on the Northeastern boundary of the College East neighborhood, this long-lived and well-loved deli is easy to access and quite popular with people from all over San Diego.
As a New York-style Jewish deli, this eatery offers up a host of sandwiches, fresh baked breads, flavorful soups and more. As if that wasn’t enough, they serve breakfast all day long! You can enjoy classics like Lox with Eggs and Onions, corned beef hash with eggs, potato latkes, fried chicken with waffles, several kinds of steak and eggs, and almost any kind of omelette you could dream up.
When it comes to lunchtime, you won’t want to overlook their sandwiches and soups. Sadly, National Pastrami Day just passed on January 14, but D.Z. Atkin’s definitely observed this niche celebration. The good news is that their incredible pastrami sandwiches are available all year round, so you won’t have to wait for the next National Pastrami Day to enjoy one of the best sandwiches in San Diego.
In addition to all kinds of great sandwiches, you can try potato pirogen, potato knish, matzo ball soup or even stuffed cabbage rolls. Be sure to bring your appetite when you visit!
Mediterranean Flavors at Abraj
Abraj Mediterranean Restaurant
Location: 6475 El Cajon Blvd.
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Closed Sunday
If you’re looking for a flavorful late night snack, it doesn’t get any better than Abraj Mediterranean Restaurant. Not only can you enjoy something much healthier than the average fast food meal or pizza, you can savor authentic Mediterranean flavors.
If you’re just in the mood for a snack, you can pick up fresh hummus, five stuffed grape leaves, babaganoush or tabbouleh, a cracked wheat salad made with lemon, mint and other seasonings, for under $6. If you’d prefer something more substantial (or American), they also sell chicken wings by the half dozen, spinach and cheese pies, eggplant chips and French fries.
If a pita is what you’re craving, you can find both chicken and beef shawarma here. For those who don’t enjoy traditional pitas, Abraj Mediterranean will serve the tasty shawarma meat in a simple wrap instead. They also have traditional gyros, with the tasty vertically roasted meat you can smell the second you enter the space.
Meal options range from kabobs with eggplant and yogurt to cheeseburgers. There is also falafal, shish kabob and lentil soup. If you need a pick-me-up, they serve freshly made Turkish coffee. Otherwise, you have your choice of sodas, hot tea or even a tasty yogurt drink.
Best Thai Food at a Place Literally Called ‘Best’ Thai Food
Best Thai Food
Location: 6366 El Cajon Blvd.
Hours: Seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
There are so many places selling Americanized Thai food, made by chefs who have never visited Thailand, let alone lived there long enough to truly appreciate the authentic cuisine of this tropical nation. Thankfully, Best Thai Food Restaurant is as authentic as they come. Their chefs are from Thailand, ensuring that you get the real, coveted flavors so often missed by other Thai joints or fusion eateries.
The decor is at once inviting and transporting. Golden Buddhas, bright art and framed photos all grace this enjoyable and casual space. You can expect attentive service, although there will be some wait for your food. After all, everything is made from scratch daily.
Their menu includes all of the staples you would expect from a Thai restaurant. They offer several kinds of curry, stews, noodles and fried rice. For curry, you have your choice of yellow, red or green curry pastes, combined with a host of fresh veggies, your choice of protein and coconut milk. They also offer Paaeng Curry with keffir lime leaves and masaman curry, which not every fusion Thai place has on the menu.
For noodles, you can, of course, order Pad Thai, served with peanut sauce, bean sprouts and scallions, as well as wide rice noodles and spicy noodles. They make several kinds of fried rice, ranging from pineapple to curry.
Fresh Fish at Tokyo Sushi Loha
Tokyo Sushi Loha
Location: 6502 Ei Cajon Blvd.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
If you’re in the mood for sushi, beer or sake, you should check out Tokyo Sushi Loha. Conveniently located in the south central part of College East, this offers everything from sashimi salads to hand rolls of every variety. The fish is always fresh. The presentation is peerless, and the prices are easy enough on your budget.
To start your meal, consider trying their Tuna Carpaccio, served in a garlic ponzu sauce. They also have diced tuna tar tar, served with avocado, tomatoes stuffed with crap meat, raw octopus (Takowasa), fresh oysters and edamame. There’s also tempura, octopus fritters, salads and miso soup.
They serve all kinds of fresh fish as sashimi, nigiri or sushi rolls, as well as hand rolls. If you can’t pick, you can always order a sushi or sashimi combination platter, which lets the chefs decide what’s freshest and best for the day.
If you’re looking for a warm meal instead of sushi, their menu has you covered. They have chicken, beef or salmon teriyaki, as well as chicken katsu, BBQ short ribs, baked black cod and fish katsu with curry. You certainly won’t leave this friendly sushi place feeling hungry!