grand central cafe / downtown – san diego, ca

I’ve been spending a few days in Downtown San Diego doing my civic duty, so I’ve been trying to find places that I would normally never go to since I hardly ever go Downtown these days. I spotted this placed called Grand Central Cafe while walking over to the Hall of Justice from the trolley station and thinking, “That place looks decent. I’ll try it.” I think what I liked about it was that it had a dual staircase leading to the entrance. I don’t know why this appealed to me, but for some reason it did. I’m easily pleased, I guess.


Grand Central Cafe has got a bit of a train theme going on. There’s a couple of railroad signs, toy trains on top of shelves, and other little details that lend to the train theme. The train theme isn’t overly done so it’s not overkill. They don’t suffer from some kind of pack rat affliction like TGI Friday’s does, which I actually appreciate. There was also this little cubby hole up front that just had tons of hard candies in it – root beer barrels, lollipops, mints, etc. Free candy on your way out for the rest of the day. Score.

We had our break right at noon, so I was a little worried about having to go through a wait at lunchtime, but I was seated fairly quickly. I’m convinced that the “new noon” is 12:30 and everyone tries to beat the “noon rush” by taking their lunch at 12:30 instead, lending to a whole new rush time and also lending me to getting seated quicker. Service was fair – waiter didn’t spend a lot of time talking to me which is fine. I’m not really a chatty person anyway but I think he said maybe three sentences to me the whole time I was in there. “Do you want something to drink?” “Do you need a few more minutes?” “Are you ready to order now?” Oh wait. There was one more question. “Are you finished?” So it was four sentences. He just dropped the check right off and left it at that – which again, fine with me.


I ordered the “Chicken Fried Steak” sandwich since it totally intrigued me. I’ve never had chicken fried steak as a sandwich before and I was curious how it would turn out. It turned out to be a huge sandwich! The chicken fried steak was actually larger than my bun and could barely contain it. There’s a large slice of melting cheese on top and all of the fixings were on the side, including some cajun mayo in a small bowl. I avoided all of the extra fixing and opted to go plain, which is something I do a lot. The sandwich was very good and very filling. The chicken fried steak was nice and crisp though I’m sure it wasn’t an actual chicken fried steak but just something similar to it. The fries were also excellent. They reminded me a lot of the fries you can get a Rally’s – seasoned and crisp. The sandwich set me back $8.50 which wasn’t too bad but for my next day of civic duty I’m going to try and find a cheaper place for a smaller lunch. Most items on their menu are in the $7-$9 range. They have burgers, sandwiches, large salads from what I could see, pastas and a few Mexican items.

If you’re down there stuck for civic duty like I am, it’s not a bad place to check out. They also have happy hour from 5-7P and “Grand Central” after dark, which I guess is to just say, “Hey, we have alcohol. Come drink it.”

Grand Central Cafe
500 W Broadway
(between 5th Ave & 6th Ave)
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-2233

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