With a name like Cardiff-by-the-Sea, can’t you just picture a quaint beach community of surfers and free spirits? That’s at least some of what’s on tap in this North County neighborhood, and in the latest issue of San Diego Magazine, I rounded up eight more food, drink, and outdoor Cardiff picks.
1. The Cheese Store of San Diego. I’ve picked up cheese at this cute Little Italy fromagerie, but I finally tried their food menu and was blown away. Some restaurants stuff their grilled cheese sandwiches with all sorts of accoutrements, but all you need is high-quality bread and cheese, and The Cheese Shop knows that. Wonderful tomato soup and fantastic plating, if I might add.
Just call us the brunch bunch. After Farmer’s Bottega and Andaz Hotel’s Rooftop600, I’m back with another brunch idea. This time, we’re visiting Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, a popular dinner spot in, yes, Bankers Hill, that recently launched brunch on Sundays. The menu changes based on season, and on this particular Sunday, Eaman got the black angus bistro tender ($20) and I got the vegetarian scramble ($11). I’m usually hard-pressed to find a vegetarian brunch option that isn’t pure carbs (i.e. French toast) or pure protein (eggs upon eggs upon eggs), so my veg dish was a welcome surprise, with king trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, the most perfectly cooked peas, and goat cheese to cream-ify the whole thing. That said, the potatoes were too soft for my taste, so I could’ve done without them.
Make sure to check out their cocktail menu, too. The milk tyson punch ($9) goes down particularly smooth, and its milk base makes it a good choice for brunch. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll also order the cinnamon bun, topped with cream cheese and blueberries. When I saw it land at another table, I thought, there’s no way the two of us can finish that. But because it’s so light and airy—the chef worked with the man behind Hillcrest donuterie Donut Star to perfect the dough—I probably could’ve eaten one on my own.
And the food isn’t the only part that deserves praise. The open, industrial space reminds me of my favorite New York City brunch spot, Public, and Bankers Hill’s enclosed, light-filled patio with a plant wall is one of the best seats in the house.
Heads up! I’m back (hooray!) and have changed my posting schedule to Tuesdays and Thursdays.
You had me at dog-friendly. The Andaz Hotel‘s RoofTop600, a lounge that includes DJ’ed weekend parties and a trio of pool parties this summer (Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day), serves brunch on its top floor, and your four-legged friend is welcome. The space, which was remodeled last summer and includes a retractable roof perfect for this recent spate of San Diego rain, is open and airy, with daybeds, a living plant wall, and city views.
On this particular Saturday, it was drizzling May grey-style darkness, so we settled in for a cozy brunch with Teddy by my side. The staff loved him, bringing him a water bowl once we sat down and giving the lovable attention whore a few pets every time they checked on us.
We managed the perfect balance of savory and sweet: The sizable waffle topped with macerated berries and fresh cream and the highly recommended caprese omelet. Oh, and a classic chocolate donut. Did I not tell you about the rain and gloom?
Brunch may not be the first word that comes to mind when I think San Diego—it’s usually palm trees, surfing, and 72 degrees—but I quickly learned that this city is passionate about the intermediary weekend meal. And San Diego offers every shade of the brunch rainbow, from boozy spots and vegan options to acai bowl stands and a place that serves pineapple upside down pancakes.
Farmers Bottega is a happy medium between everything—farm-to-table-focused without costing a fortune, simple without lacking style, and spacious for big groups. Last weekend I went to the restaurant to celebrate my friend’s birthday with a group of about a dozen, and we found the perfect spot for a group brunch: the expansive, dog-friendly back patio. It’s filled with lush greenery as well as brick walls that feel straight out of New York, albeit with much more square footage. The menu includes chilaquiles with vegetarian-friendly black beans ($10), different Benedicts ($10-14), French toast ($9), Cafe Moto coffee, and more. Sounds standard? They also have extensive gluten-free options along with bacon all over the menu. It’s like the two sides of San Diego, health-conscious plus pork-lover, coming together on one menu!
In San Diego we talk a lot about North Park and Little Italy, La Jolla and Ocean Beach, Encinitas and Hillcrest, but in this city of villages, there are so many more, often-overlooked neighborhoods to explore. For the latest issue of San Diego Magazine, I share a round-up of my favorite places in City Heights, a mid-city nabe that has a garden nursery with animals, a delightfully divey concert venue, Hummingbird Huddle (above), the farmers market coffee stand with an activist mission, and plenty more food, drink, and activities to explore. Like a beekeeping class!
Lately I’ve been thinking about why weekends in San Diego feel so different from my weekends in New York. For starters, now that I’m self-employed, I’m working way more hours than I ever did, so Sundays are usually spent working at home. But there’s something else.
Being the pedestrian-friendly city that New York is, I would usually wake up in my Nolita apartment, grab a coffee from my favorite Gimme Coffee, and walk. Walk and walk and walk. I’d start in Nolita, make my way through Soho, turn a corner to the West Village, and somehow by the end of the day, I found myself in Central Park. I do miss that sort of random weekend that walking encourages. And that’s not to say it’s impossible in San Diego, but it’s not the same. Neighborhood-hopping here typically requires a car.
So this Saturday, we did the next best thing. We spent most of the day in one neighborhood—Mission Hills, which has recently blossomed with buzzy restaurants, cafes, and more—and walked from garage sale to coffee shop to garage sale to boutique to The Patio on Goldfinch, an upscale American restaurant with lush plant walls, a Venissimo cheese cave (!), and a dog-friendly patio.
I had been before for dinner and loved our small plates, but going with Teddy during the day was a totally different (and I think more fun) experience. The light flooding in is gorgeous, they offer a complimentary dog treat made from table scraps, and a daily happy hour from 3-6pm with 50% off all glasses of wine is pretty spectacular.
I’ve been waiting to find that neighborhood in San Diego with a strong pulse, one where people are passionate, community-driven, innovative, artistic, young, and energetic—and I’ve found it in Barrio Logan. The largely Hispanic area just a few miles south of downtown San Diego is flourishing right now, thanks to plenty of art galleries, restaurants, cafes, and community events. This year also marks the 45th anniversary of Chicano Park, Barrio Logan’s park beneath the Coronado Bay Bridge that lays claim to the largest number of outdoor murals in the U.S. And just last year, Barrio Logan finally received its own marquee neighborhood sign, one that so many other San Diego nabes already have. Barrio Logan, you can say, is having a moment.
I’ve been to art shows here, eaten tacos here, talked to shopkeepers here, and it’s clear that everyone in Barrio Logan is passionate about collaborating and proudly showing off how far the neighborhood has come from its gritty reputation. I rounded up some of my favorites from the area in this month’s San Diego Magazine, which you can read here, and to do more exploring of your own, here are a few upcoming Barrio Logan events: