I get a huge thrill out of sharing recommendations with my friends, but offering tips on (what I think are) cool, under-the-radar, hardly-every-visited restaurants is my #1. And today we salute the foodie who favors all things hole-in-the-wall and hidden with a few less-traveled stores and sights to boot:
Coffee at Industrial Grind. Rise and shine! It’s time for caffeine. Industrial Grind is neither flashy nor hipster; it’s just dang good coffee. This sweet little small-batch artisan roaster has an open-air layout with a front patio, back patio that’s designed with sauna-style wooden benches in stadium seating, and benches decorated by each barista. Though that particular address on Park Boulevard has operated as a coffee shop for about a decade, it wasn’t until four years ago when the owners found it on Craigslist and—inspired by L.A.’s Intelligentsia—transformed it into its current form. The Callie Blend is my favorite coffee in all of San Diego.
Breakfast at Captain Kirk’s. Make your way to South Park (my favorite ‘hood) for an acai bowl breakfast. Not familiar with the term? Think of an acai bowl as a thick smoothie topped with granola, fruit, and other goodies like shredded coconut if you so desire. There are countless acai bowl spots in San Diego, but this unassuming stand in a vacant parking lot is my favorite, thanks to its perfect size and ratio of acai to granola to toppings. (I just hate those bowls that don’t come with enough granola!) (Photo via)
Shopping at Make Good, Junc Life, and Bad Madge. A walk around the beautiful South Park homes near Captain Kirk’s is a must, but once the clock strikes noon, it’s time to shop in some of San Diego’s most charming boutiques that are slightly more off-the-radar. Lined up side by side on 30th Street are Make Good (above; home decor and other giftables made exclusively by San Diego and Tijuana artisans), Junc Life (a mix of edgy, artsy, and quirky products), and Bad Madge (vintage clothing, accessories, and furniture). Make Good is my favorite for picking up something “San Diego.” (Photo by Tommy McAdams)
Seven Bridges Walk. It’s time to build an appetite for dinner. I like to call this an urban hike. Though there’s very little change in elevation, the course, which runs through historic and new bridges in Bankers Hill and Hillcrest, is a lengthy 5.5 miles that crosses, yep, seven bridges. The most surprising of which is the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge that dates back to 1912. It’s a also a wee bit wobbly! For detailed directions, head to this San Diego Reader piece. (Photo via)
Dinner at Venga Venga. All of us like our favorites, sure. But sometimes relying on the tried-and-true means confining yourself to a bubble. Time to break out and head to Chula Vista for a true gem. Venga Venga is a sophisticated Mexican restaurant-lounge full of flavor and pretty people, not to mention an absolutely charming outdoor patio. The menu offers elevated tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and burritos, along with S’mores kits for dessert, and tequila flights. Given the setting and food options, it would make a great choice for a special occasion dinner. It’s also a part of Otay Mesa Town Center, which includes an Anthropologie that’s hardly ever picked-over. (Second photo via Venga Venga)
Drinks and perhaps a second dinner at Turf Supper Club. Home stretch! Time for a drink. You can channel Frank Sinatra at this swinging lounge, which opened in 1950 under the name Turf Club. When a gas line was installed five years later, they added food to their menu and Turf Supper Club as its now known was born. You can grab a classic cocktail, and if you’re jonesing for another meal, DIY a second dinner with their self-service hot grill. Simply choose your cut of meat, and go! (My boyfriend goes nuts for this spot and has eaten many a 1 a.m. steak here.)