Convention Primers

(NOTE: All listings are subject to change due to COVID-19 temporary/permanent closures)

Here is a list of convention primers that I have created, using years of experience of attending these conventions to inform you all of just about everything I can think of when it comes to attending.

SacAnime
  • Grocery Stores:
    • Grocery Outlet - 1700 Capitol Avenue
    • Safeway - 1814 19th Street
    • BevMo! - 1700 J Street 
  • Pharmacies:
    • Rite Aid - 831 K Street
    • CVS Pharmacy - 1701 K Street
  • Banks/ATMs:
    • First US Credit Union Branch - across the street from the Sacramento Convention Center next to 7-Eleven (if you have a credit union debit card, you can use their ATM surcharge-free!)
    • Golden One Credit Union Branch - 1109 L Street
    • Bank of America Branch - 1130 K Street
    • Wells Fargo ATM - 1009 12th Street
    • US Bank Branch - 621 Capitol Mall #110 
  • Places to Eat and Drink:
    • Convenience Stores
      • 7-Eleven - 1355 J Street (Across the street from the Convention Center)
    • Fast Food/Fast Casual
      • Starbucks - 1100 14th Street & 1123 12th Street
      • Subway - 1231 J Street, 731 J Street, 428 J Street #110, 1125 2nd Street
      • La Bou - 1122 11th Street (open Mon-Fri)
      • Which Wich Superior Sandwiches - 1020 16th Street
      • Jimmy John's - 1350 16th Street
      • Ike's Sandwiches - 1420 16th Street
      • Chipotle - Downtown Commons (next to Sauced Spirits)
      • Panda Express - Downtown Commons
    • A note about fast food: Beyond Subway across from the convention center, you're going to have to travel if you want any decent-priced, brand-name "fast food." There are a couple of options in the outlying downtown area:
      • McDonalds -
    • Casual Dining/Bars
      • Upper Crust Pizza - 1200 K Street
      • The Park To Go - 1431 L Street
      • Pennisi's Deli - 1237 J Street
      • Muntean's Sandwiches and Soups - 1225 J Street
      • Tantric Urban Bistro -
      • Squeeze Inn - 1630 K Street
      • Capitol Garage - 1500 K Street
      • Osaka Sushi Japanese Restaurant -
      • Cafe Connection - 1007 L Street
      • Ambrosia Cafe - 1030 K Street
      • Asuka Japanese Restaurant - 1021 K Street
      • Crest Cafe - 1017 K Street
      • Darna Mediterranean Kitchen - 925 K Street
      • Tony's Delicatessen & Catering - 1131 J Street
      • Wayside Noodles - 828 J Street
      • Coin-Op Game Room - 908 K Street
      • Bento Box - 1600 K Street
      • Pieology - 1020 16th Street
      • Petra Greek - 1122 16th Street
      • The Pizza Press - Downtown Commons
      • Burger Lounge - Downtown Commons
      • Poke Ichii - Downtown Commons
    • Upscale Dining/Bars
      • Public Market Bar - Inside the Shertaon Grand
      • Morgan's Restaurant - Inside the Shertaon Grand
      • Dawson's - Inside the Hyatt
      • Vines Cafe - Inside the Hyatt
      • Armouarth Patio - Inside the Hyatt 
      • DeVeres Irish Pub - 1531 L Street
      • Esquire Grill - 1213 K Street
      • Cafeteria 15L - 1116 15th Street
      • Tequila Museo Mayahuel - 1200 K Street
      • Magnolia Grill - 1200 K Street
      • Ella Dining Room & Bar -
      • Mikuni - 1530 J Street
      • PF Chang's - 1530 J Street #100
      • Monsoon - 1020 16th Street
      • Firestone Public House - 1132 16th Street
      • Station 18 - 1118 16th Street
      • Chops Steaks Seafood & Bar - 1117 11th Street
      • Pizza Rock - 1020 K Street
      • Dive Bar - 1016 K Street
      • Empress Tavern - 1013 K Street
      • El Ray On K - 723 K Street
      • Claim Jumper - 1111 J Street
      • The Broiler Steakhouse - 1201 K Street
      • Zen Sushi -
      • Punched Bowl Social
  •  Places of Recommended Interest:
    • Squeeze Inn-Midtown (1630 K Street), Suzie Burgers (2820 P Street), & Willie's Burgers (2415 16th Street)  - Three (of four) really good burger joints in close proximity to the Sacramento Convention Center. Take your pick: cheese overtaking your burger? (Squeeze Inn) An In-N-Out/Tommy's-style burger? (Willie's Burgers) Or in addition awesome cheese steaks and maybe a drink or two? (Suzie Burgers)
    • Shake Shack (1710 R Street #190) - You probably heard about this burger chain from its locations in New York, Chicago, and across NorCal & SoCal. You probably heard about its burgers that can rival In-N-Out, frozen custard (either by itself or "concrete-style" with your choice of mix-ins), and milkshakes that are unique in its own right. Well worry no more as they finally opened up one in the Ice Blocks section of Downtown Sacramento.
    • Burgers and Brew (1409 R Street) - The reason why Burgers and Brew is separate from Squeeze Inn, Suzie Burgers, Willie's Burgers and Shake Shack: pub fries. Take for instance their Gladiator Fries: "roasted garlic fries topped with grilled chicken, feta and parmesan cheese, and covered in Caesar dressing;" or their New England Fries: "fries covered with melted jack, home made clam chowder, and apple wood smoked bacon." There are eight all together, so you'll be satisfied either way.
    • Shoki Ramen House (1201 R Street) - Arguably Sacramento's best ramen house with everything made from scratch in an authentic ramen house setting. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
    • RyuJin Ramen House (1831 S Street) & Raijin Ramen House (1901 S Street) - Two ramen houses next to Safeway Midtown that's giving Shoki a run for its money. Also open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
    • Old Spaghetti Factory (1910 J Street) - Boasting an actual trolley car that you can dine in, this West Coast Italian Restaurant chain is known for their pastas, salads, and seemly unlimited bread that's hot on delivery. 
    • Zelda's Original Gourmet Pizza (
    • The Boiling Crab () - We previously recommended Joe's Crab Shack, but that was before The Boiling Crab opened right down the street from the convention center. This seafood eatery offers a different experience: order your seafood, some sides, and seasoning all cooked and served in a bag to lock in that flavor.
    • Vampire Penguin (907 K Street) - After you're done with a day at the convention (or after you've eaten at The Boiling Crab), head down the way to Vampire Penguin, Sacramento's to-go spot for shaved snow - the new hotness in desserts. Choose from a selection of combinations like the Tuxedo or Mexican Candy, or make your own!
    • Raku Sushi (2915 West Capitol Ave, West Sacramento) - There a number of all-you-can-eat sushi spots within Sacramento and while people will argue Fuji's is the best (two locations in Elk Grove and Davis), Raku Sushi is just as good and is more closer to downtown Sacramento. Plus you can wash down all that sushi with fried bananas and donuts.
    • Tako Korean BBQ (3030 T Street) - What about Korean/Mexican fusion food? It's literally like having Chipotle and your favorite BBQ spot rolled into one.
  •  Off The Beaten Path:
    • ABC Bakery (1309 Florin Road) - Located right behind Bel Air in the Florin West Center, this Asian-centered bakery offers dim-sum style items like pork buns, steamed dumplings, and pastries. Bring some cash because the minimum credit card order is $18, or a $0.80 surcharge for orders below $18. You can order in advance for early morning or afternoon functions but make sure to pick up within 30 minutes or they will cancel the order.
    • Mahoroba Japanese Bakery (4900 Freeport Boulevard) - Like ABC Bakery, Mahoroba is also an Asian-centered bakery but offers Japanese-inspired pastries like the Kobe Cream Delight, Sweet Cream Cheese, Curry Pan, and the Yakisoba Pan. Try out the Bacon & Egg pastry too.
    • Le Croissant Factory (6413 Riverside Boulevard) - This French-centered bakery located right next to Grocery Outlet offers croissants ranging from plan to custard and cream cheese-filled and turkey/ham and swiss as well as cookies and cinnamon rolls. On weekends they sell a "dossant," a cross between a donut and a croissant. Also to note: CASH ONLY.
    • Spinners (1400 Sutterville Road) - Sacramento residents will remember Spinners during its days at Downtown Plaza before the Golden 1 Center and DoCo; it has since relocated to a 76 gas station off of Sutterville and South Land Park Drive right across the street from William Land Park. Come early for their signature cinnamon rolls, some of the best you'll ever eat in Sacramento.
    • Dad's Kitchen (2968 Freeport Boulevard) - This restaurant was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for its Dad's Burger, The Hot Blonde and many other filling and delicious entrees. Might be a bit expensive, but is definitely worth it.
    • Gen Korean BBQ House (1689 Arden Way Ste 1148) - Between Gen and Oz, Gen gets the nod here only because of location, just up the freeway located in the Arden Fair Mall complex. Chow down on all-you-can eat Korean meats and sides and wash it down with some soju.
    • Fogo De Minas | Brazilian Steakhouse (2606 Gateway Oaks Drive) - In a sense, Brazilian BBQ is KBBQ but with more "traditional" cuts of meat, different sides, and it's fully cooked on skewers and served tableside hot instead of having to cook it yourself. On average a dinner meal will cost twice as much as KBBQ but worth checking out at the end of con. (Note: There is a steakhouse located downtown, but I would make the drive for this "more bang for your buck" restaurant.)
    • WinCo Foods (4137 Elverta Road, 8701 Greenback Lane, & 8142 Sheldon Road, Elk Grove) - I've been a big advocate of buying grocery food for your convention room, and the best experience of shopping with a wide selection while saving money is at WinCo Foods - just ask any person who lives near one or makes the commute just to shop. Plus they're open 24 hours for any overnight shopping you must do.

  • Next Convention Dates: May 2022?
  • Location: San Jose Convention Center
  • Hotels:
    • Connected to the Convention Center: San Jose Marriott Downtown & Hilton San Jose
    • Downtown Area: Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown, Westin San Jose (formerly the St. Claire Hotel), Fairmont San Jose, AC Hotel San Jose Downtown
    • San Jose International: Doubletree by Hilton Hotel San Jose, Fairfield Inn and Suites San Jose Airport, Courtyard San Jose Airport, SpringHill Suites San Jose Airport, Four Points by Sheraton San Jose Airport, Holiday Inn San Jose - Silicon Valley, Homewood Suites by Hilton San Jose Airport
  • How to Get to the Convention Site:
  • Grocery Stores:
    • Safeway - 1300 West San Carlos
    • Food Maxx - 1539 Parkmoor Avenue
    • Costco - 1709 Automation Parkway & 5301 Almaden Expressway
    • Whole Foods - 777 The Alameda
  • Pharmacies:
    • Walgreens - 5 S 1st Street
  • Banks/ATMs:
    • Wells Fargo - 121 Park Center Plaza
    • Bank of America - 125 S Market Street
    • Golden 1 Credit Union - 185 Park Ave #181
  • Places to Eat & Drink:
    • Convenience Stores
    • Fast Food/Fast Casual
      • Jack-in-the-Box - 148 E San Carlos Street
      • Ben & Jerry's - 115 East San Carlos Street
      • Baja Fresh - 150 South 1st Street
      • Subway - 360 South Market Street & 165 West San Fernando Street
      • Asian Gourmet Express - 150 South 1st Street
      • La Victoria Taqueria - 140 East San Carlos Street
      • 8 Treasures - 150 South 1st Street 
      • Corner Market Kitchen - Inside the Marriott San Jose
      • Voltaire Coffee House - 360 South Market Street 
      • Philz Coffee -
    • Casual Dining/Bars
      • Pizza My Heart - 117 East San Carlos Street
      • Johnny Rockets - 150 South 1st Street #115
      • Zeytoun Restaurant - 185 Park Ave #189
      • Peggy Sue's - 185 Park Ave
      • Tengu Sushi - 111 Paseo De San Antonio
      • House of Siam - 151 South 2nd Street
      • Pizz'a Chicago - 155 West San Fernando
      • Iguanas -  330 South 3rd Street
      • Pho 69 - 321 South 1st Street 
      • The Blue Chip - 325 South 1st Street
      • Tandoori Oven - 150 South 1st Street #107
    • Upscale Dining/Bars
      • Arcadia - Inside the Marriott San Jose
      • Affinity - Inside the Hilton San Jose
      • Il Fornaio - Inside the Westin San Jose
      • Original Joe's - 301 South 1st Street 
      • Morton's The Steakhouse - 177 Park Avenue
      • McCormick & Schmick's - 70 South Market Street
      • Grill On the Alley - 172 S Market Street
      • Fountain Restaurant - 170 South Market Street
      • Scott's Seafood - 185 Park Avenue
      • Cafe Stritch - 374 South 1st Street 
      • Mosaic Restaurant & Lounge - 211 South 1st Street
  • Places of Recommended Interest:
    • In-N-Out Burger (550 Newhall Drive) -  Let our serenade of the greatest fast-food chain in the world convenience you to come here, even if you live in a state/city that has one.
    • Iguanas - In the tradition of including eateries that we want to eat at because we saw it on Man vs Food, we have Iguanas, a local Mexican restaurant that is known for their signature burrito: the Burritozilla.
    • My Milkshake (151 S 2nd Street, Suite 199) - This milkshake shop should be on your list of places to hit up during Fanime. The concept is simple: make the milkshake of your dreams or go by their recommendations.
    • San Pedro Square Market (87 N San Pedro Street) -  A 15 minute walk from the convention center, this area has a vast variety of food and drinks that plays to any palette and/or current cravings.
    • SoFa Market ( - A smaller version of San Pedro Square Market that is much closer to the convention center, almost a block over. Features pizza, poke, salads, sandwiches, coffee, and deserts.
    • Lotus Cafe, Noodle Bá, and Michi Sushi (1887 Matrix Boulevard) - This seems to be out of the range of other eateries around the San Jose Convention Center but is within range of the shuttle that runs to the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel San Jose. Just jump on, arrive at the hotel, and cross the street to Casino M8trix, one of the South Bay's premiere "card halls" (the other being Bay 101). The Lotus Cafe is open 24/7 for bánh mì sandwiches and pearl drinks while both Noodle Bá and Michi Sushi are open late (3am on weekends) for pho, wonton soup, ramen, and sushi. If none of these sound appealing, then an additional short walk opens up another Starbucks, another Subway, Chipotle, and Wong Kok especially during the daytime (perfect if you're actually staying at the Doubletree).
      •  Side Note: If you're looking for an actual "casino," the closest that you'll get is Graton Resort and Casino all the way in Rohnert Park, a suburb of Santa Rosa.

  • Next Convention Dates: July 2021?
  • Location: Los Angeles Convention Center
  • Official Hotes:
    • JW Marriott Los Angeles Hotel at L.A. LIVE
    • Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown
    • Westin Bonaventure Hotel
    • Millennium Biltmore Hotel
    • Residence Inn Los Angeles Downtown LA Live
    • Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Downtown LA Live
    • Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles
    • How to Get to the Convention Site:
    • Grocery Stores:
      • (under construction)
    • Pharmacies:
      • (under construction)
    • Banks/ATMs:
      • Los Angeles Credit Union - Inside the LACC between the Compass Cafe and Concourse Halls 
    • Places to Eat & Drink:
      • Convenience Stores
        • (under construction)
      • Fast Food/Fast Casual
        • Fatburger - 888 S. Figueroa Street (Open 24 Hrs)
      • Casual Dining/Bars
        • Denny's - 888 S Figueroa Street (Open 24 Hrs)
        • IHOP -  800 South Flower Street (Open 24 Hrs)
      • Upscale Dining/Bars
        • California Pizza Kitchen -  735 S Figueroa Street. & 330 S Hope Street
        • LA LIVE Eateries:
          • (under construction)
    • Places of Recommended Interest:
      • Philippe The Original (1001 North Alameda Street)
      • Manuel's Original El Tepeyac Cafe (812 N Evergreen Avenue)
      • Orochon Ramen (123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street) - The Los Angeles episode of Man vs. Food featured all three of this places. Orochon Ramen is known for their legendary Spicy #2 Challenge, which both Adam Richman (the host of MvF) and colleague Ryan Silva have completed. (Note: Since the filming of that episode, the owner of the Original El Tepeyac Cafe passed away.)
      • Shin-Sen-Gumi (
      • Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles (5006 W. Pico Boulevard & 1514 N. Gower Street) - Soul food truly from the soul. Roscoe's is very well known for their title plate: chicken & waffles, which is made from scratch. If you're not going to take my recommendation of the #3/#4 Herb's Special, there's always the Obama Special. Also, get your waffles extra crispy.
      • Shake Shack (400 W 8th St) - See our recommendation for Shake Shack at the FanimeCon section. Note that this location is in the downtown area, a mile away from the convention center and much closer than the Santa Monica location.
      • Food Carts - Impromptu food carts are king in any major city, especially Los Angeles (and as of late San Jose) as vendors flock to major events in hopes of making some cash. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs with grilled onions, jalapenos, mayo, ketchup, and mustard is the star here. You also might find other foods like Elote and other Mexican-style food and snacks.
      • Food Trucks - People will say that Los Angeles has been leading the food truck revolution, and once you have a bite from trucks like White Rabbit, Kogi BBQ, Jogasaki Sushi Burrito, and Okamoto Kitchen, you'll see - and taste - why. Various food trucks from around the area will be gathering around the convention center grounds. Given the scarcity of Fast Food/Fast Casual within walking distance, these food trucks will get you high-quality, near-restaurant-offering food for a decent but-a-bit-tad-higher price that rivals the LA LIVE offerings.


    General Tips
    • Conventions are starting to provide their full schedules on mobile devices via the Guidebook app. It's the best way to push notifications on any changes to the schedule as well as features like setting alerts to your next event or gathering.
    • Near a public library? Head over there and check out a travel guide to the city you're going to. It saves the time in having to look all over the internet for all the relevant information you need, it saves you battery and mobile data, and you can learn a thing or two that the internet doesn't tell you.
    • Looking for good food deals? Look at websites like Restaurant.com, Groupon, or LivingSocial for discounts on eateries around the Convention Center and/or the hotel you're staying in.
    • Don't feel like traveling to eat or too tired to move out of your room after a day at the convention? Get your food delivered! Food delivery is no longer restricted to pizza as you can get BBQ, Thai, Italian, anything you can think of right to your door. There are a number of options: Postmates, DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, and the list goes on and on. Much like Uber and Lyft, you can score on free delivery or delivery credit by using promo codes.
    • You can also do a shuttle service like SuperShuttle as an alternative to a taxi or public transportation. This is very useful if you want to sync your arrival and departure with your transportation to and from the convention area. They charge per passenger, but most SuperShuttles are bigger and can hold more passengers and/or luggage than a taxi. The one downside is that you may not be alone when they do pick-ups and drop-offs, and more times than not you're stuck waiting in the van longer than you expected because you're the last person to be dropped off to and from the airport.
    • Uber and Lyft are two options for taxi-based services. Their prices are competitive with taxis, and a simple pull-up of their apps can provide you with a car to your destination in near minutes. Keep an eye out for promotions (mostly through coupon codes) that odds are will make your trip cheap or even free.
    • Parking can make or break your convention experience. Depending on the location of the convention, you can pay nothing at all or pay up to almost $50/night within a given area. Each parking spot has its own pros and cons. 
      • For example, parking at the JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE is $45/night but is valet, meaning your car is parked in a private, protected garage, and you get in-and-out privileges, perfect for traveling out of the area for leisure or to pick up items such as food. On the other hand, cheap parking around $15/night is at a public parking garage (like at the convention center) or at a "visible" surface parking lot (which increases your chances of your car being broken into especially if you leave it there for a long period of time, given the experience of some our associates) and the only in-and-out privilege you get is when arriving and leaving the lot. Sometimes you can get lucky and attend a convention that has really good parking for cheap (not counting free parking), the greatest example being Fanime: $19.50/night valet parking at the Marriott.
      • Some hotels offer discounted parking with your booking in the official convention room block (see the Fanime example above). Check the details when booking your room and checking in so you can factor your costs when calculating your overall budget. 
      • Check the city's website for information about parking garages operated by the city you are visiting as well as street parking. Take advantage of "early bird" offers and days/hours you can park for free on the street.
      • Also check websites like Parking Panda if you want to secure your parking ahead of time.
    • Renting a car may be better especially if you plan on travelling outside of the convention and/or or you like the flexibility of driving yourself (and other passengers) but are unwilling to make that drive from your hometown. However, this method costs the most compared to other services. Companies like Zipcar can be a relief from the high prices of traditional renting from companies like Alamo, Avis, National, Budget, and so fourth, assuming that you're renting for a day excursion.
    • Most of the hotels, stores, and convention centers have their own ATMs, but use sparingly as these have surcharges that are typically higher than most standard ATMs. You also run the risk of running into an ATM that has no money left in the machine; this will be more of an occurrence in most convention center and hotel ATMs. However, there are exceptions i.e. Target and a Chase ATM, if you have a Chase bank account; and a Los Angeles Credit Union ATM inside the Los Angeles Convention Center for credit union bankers. If you see an exception, exploit it to your best of your ability.
      • If you need cash and a ATM from your bank is not available, try buying something at a grocery store and then ask for cash back when you pay by using your debit card and a PIN. However, the limits to how much cash back you can get are much lower than a ATM and the maximum amount can vary from store to store but you are not charged a surcharge.
      • If you are Credit Union member, try looking for a credit union in the area around where you will be for the convention. You can use their ATMs with no surcharge. 

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