There were more than 500 of us eating from voluminous plates of shrimp and downing made-on-the-spot sushi hand rolls.
The 1,200-room hotel is adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center. It’s enormous, but uncharacteristically sophisticated for a convention property. Fox Sports Grill is on the ground floor of the hotel. You can see the bay from the bar’s front door. Even better, there are tables lined up on an outside deck where you can take a seat, be warmed by fire pits and gaze out toward the glassy blue water.
The grand opening party took place as March Madness crept into our consciousness. The grill would love to be the temporary home of sports fans watching the NCAA basketball tournament’s Sweet 16 and Final 4 action. To that effort, there are 26 flat-screen TVs, and an integrated surround-sound system.
As sports bars go, this one leans slightly upscale. The food laid out for the gala is definitely worthy of a major leaguer. There’s an extensive wine list. At present, Happy Hour consists of no drink specials, but $5 appetizers (including chipotle pork sliders, chicken tenders and barbecue chicken nachos) from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The bar and hotel are cut off from the buzz of the Gaslamp Quarter by Harbor Drive and train tracks. However, a walking bridge from Petco Park to the Hilton is under construction, and due to be completed in September. Whether that better lets locals flow in, or conventioneers flow out, remains to be seen.
Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.