San Diego County wineries are overshadowed by the reign of amazing craft breweries throughout the county (the region is close to surpassing 100 breweries). But vitoculturist visitors to San Diego can have a wonderful time exploring the more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms from chic urban settings to mountain resort retreats nestled in the vineyards. Many of the wineries offer outdoor entertainment such as Jazz series or special event concerts. While most of these music and wine pairings occur during the summer season, a few wineries take advantage of the spectacular views and gentle autumn weather to provide performances into the fall.
Music at Milagro
Relax on a Sunday afternoon in the country listening to local music and sipping local wine at Milagro Farms Vineyard & Winery in Ramona, in San Diego’s East County.
The 110 acres that compose Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery abound with myriad plants, trees, wild life, and open spaces. Tucked into the Ramona Valley near the Cleveland National Forest, the property features a naturally rolling landscape dotted with granite boulders and coast live oak trees. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the Music at Milagro acoustic series has shifted from Friday to Sunday afternoons beginning in October. Take a Sunday country drive and visit this beautiful destination to hear local musicians and sip local wines. Taste six estate-grown wines and keep the glass for $12; the live music is free. Milagro has partnered with Treasure Limo for guests from San Diego who want to go beyond “tastings” and really enjoy a bottle of wine with the performance, and not have to drive home.
From Lazy Sunday Afternoons to Swinging Saturday Nights
San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room courtesy Wayne Swanson
If a Sunday drive to the countryside doesn’t fit your itinerary, San Pasqual Winery has an urban Tasting Room in the town of La Mesa that hosts rock, blues, and folk music on Saturday nights. Seating is on a first come, first-served basis in the intimate back room, and the shows start at 7:00 PM. The music is free and local, and the wine, cheese and crackers and desserts are available for sale. San Pasqual Winery blends California grown grapes including varietals from Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara to produce a wide range of wine offerings.
Their Saturday night music series also offers a wide range of styles. Upcoming shows include:
October 18: Jefferson Washington is a local San Diego blues and folk musician who showcases a blend of American roots style music
October 24: the Sock Monkeys play variety of fun music from the past to the present, in addition to mixing in their own entertaining original music.
November 1: Mercury Street Blues play a variety of music – jazz, blues, folk and rock.
Salerno Winery in San Diego County’s rustic town of Ramona, includes an extensive sculpture garden of internationally acclaimed artists. Photo courtesy Angie Clement.
Salerno Winery, a small family owned boutique winery is a cultural destination located in the hills of Ramona Valley. In addition to established favorites such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah, Salerno Winery offers hand crafted wines such as their signature Elegante, a double gold medal and gold sweepstakes winner. The property offers guests a unique experience complete with tasting room, sculptures from more than 20 world-renowned artists and classical opera.
Every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, visitors can enjoy lilting operatic performances from Jorge D’Soria – a gifted tenor who sings in six languages including Italian, Spanish, Latin and French – and Salvador Padilla, a brilliant baritone who has performed around the world and won numerous awards for his vocal talent.
The Kidvasion has begun! The 3rd annual Kids Free San Diego month kicks off today and continues through Halloween. Kids are sure to get a kick out of being VIPs (or should we say, VIKs – Very Important Kids 😉 ) all month long.
As you and your family are in town exploring the sights or planning a fun-filled fall visit to San Diego, be sure to check out these kids free deals in Mission Valley, conveniently located in the middle of it all just minutes from many major attractions.
Enjoy the sound of the San Diego river rushing through the Old Mission Dam with a free hike through Mission Trails
Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the nation’s largest urban natural parks, is free for the whole family to explore, bike and hike 42 miles of scenic trails, including paths to the historic Old Mission Dam/San Diego River and to the top of Cowles Mountain, famous for its spectacular 360-degre views. The interactive Visitor Center is cool too, as are free guided nature walks every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 AM.
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Take a trip back in time at Mission San Diego
Take a trip back to the time of the Spanish explorers and Franciscan friars who discovered San Diego at Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first mission in California (founded in 1769 and relocated to its present site in 1774). Children under 6 are free to tour the little museum (kids 6 to 12 are only $2). The Mission church and grounds, including a cool excavation site out back, are free for all to explore.
Junipero Serra Museum
Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill
Kids under 6 are also free at Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill overlooking Mission Valley and Old Town. It was here in 1769 that the Spanish friar Junípero Serra and a group of soldiers built California’s first mission and a fort (called “presidio” in Spanish). The original buildings are gone, but an impressive Spanish-style museum sits on the site today.
Lots of restaurants in Mission Valley’s hotels and resorts are rolling out the red carpet for children 12 and under. Kids eat free (with purchase of an adult entrée) at:
Kids eat free at the tiki-tastic Crowne Plaza Hotel!
Sample vintages from around the world and locally at these amazing wine bars in San Diego
With hundreds of wineries established throughout California, including dozens thriving in nearby Temecula Valley, San Diego enjoys a never-ending proliferation of wine bars stocked with the latest and greatest releases as well as varietals from across the globe.
Numerous wine bars exist throughout the city’s LGBT neighborhood of Hillcrest, offering a quieter alternative to the cocktail-centric nightclubs. Among the most popular is Wine Steals, a University Avenue favorite that greets with an earthy, de-constructed interior as well as affordable wine choices from California and beyond. Its front sidewalk patio puts you in direct view of the gayborhood’s lively pedestrian flow. The bar is also famous for its creative selection of pizzas, many of them named after wine varietals.
Further west and in walking distance is The Wine Lover, a quaint and intimate hangout that ranks as Hillcrest’s first wine bar. Finding a swell Napa Cab here for under $25 a bottle isn’t too difficult. The inventory focuses on small productions from notable family winemakers. Meat and cheese plates are also served and the space features a relaxing flora-filled patio.
Residing a couple blocks away is Jake’s on 6th, where I’ve encountered some of the most well-structured Malbecs from South America, not to mention sensational “new world” whites from Sonoma and Oregon. The atmosphere at Jake’s is living-room comfy, featuring upholstered furniture, soft lighting and stone-façade accents throughout. The bill of fare extends to artisan cheese boards, paninis, salads and desserts.
If you prefer pairing heartier meals to what’s sitting in your stemware, look no further than 100 Wines Kitchen, which captures a European farmhouse vibe amid a wine inventory spanning from bargain and special-occasion picks to prized small productions.
In a short jot east of Hillcrest, in the gay-friendly neighborhood of North Park, customers dispense their own wine pours at Splash Wine Lounge. The artfully designed space features circular islands of shiny Enomatic machines from Italy that allow you to purchase one-ounce pours with prepaid cards. The system holds about 70 different labels and the actual bar features select bottles poured by human hands.
Mosaic Wine Bar is another North Park favorite, given its industrial-designed panache and sturdy wine inventory boasting more than 200 choices. Fronted by a sizable patio, it also offers a lengthy food menu and a popular weekend brunch featuring all-you-can-drink sangria.
San Diego’s largest wine bar (and perhaps the biggest in the nation) is the art-filled Fifty Seven Degrees Warehouse, located centrally in Middletown near the western foot of Washington Street. Formerly a Pier I Imports store, the structure showcases a plethora of colorful works from local artists as well as a massive inventory of niche wines hailing from the U.S. and abroad.
If you’re a fan of South American wines and the gourmet dishes that go with them, Wet Stone Wine Bar & Café in nearby Bankers Hill is your ticket to Tannat from Argentina and Carmenere from Chile. The wine list doesn’t exclude coveted labels from California and Europe or tropical house-made sangrias that wink at you from glass vats on the bar.
If you find yourself shopping or sunning in Ocean Beach, the 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro serves as an excellent finale to the day with its teaming wine selection strewn throughout a large retail section that doubles as a restaurant. From new releases to older vintages, you’ll find them within this formidable bottle collection before digging in to such dishes as seafood risotto, wild mushroom pasta and a stellar execution of duck confit.
Lastly, when the urge for vino strikes while romping through the bustling Gaslamp Quarter, I duck underground into Vin de Syrah, a subterranean wonderland of sorts where botanical chandeliers and old wine vines hover over plush sitting areas. The eccentrically styled establishment attracts a diverse crowd and offers a focused selection of wines by the glass, a majority of them from top California vineyards. It’s one of the few wine bars in San Diego that also serves cocktails, so don’t hesitate to bring along your vodka-loving friends.
Enjoy San Diego’s emerging culinary scene during San Diego Restaurant Week Sept. 21-26.
It is that time of the year again, the time for foodies to gather, feast and spread some San Diego Restaurant Week cheer. That’s right, San Diego Restaurant Week (SDRW) returns September 21-26. During SDRW more than 200 participating restaurants offer a prix-fixe, three-course dinner menu at just $25, $35 and $45 per person and a two-course lunch menu for $10, $15 and $20 per person. This is your opportunity to try that place you’ve always heard about, treat your boss for lunch or plan that dinner you have pending with your friends.
But before you grab your appetite and head out that door, here are five steps that will help you enjoy San Diego Restaurant Week to the fullest.
Do some research – VisitSanDiegoRestaurantWeek.com where you can find which restaurants are participating, their price range and even peruse their special prix-fix menu. Remember that restaurants create a special menu for Restaurant Week, which means you might not be able to sample a dish from their regular menu, but could try something they don’t regularly serve.
Try a new restaurant – We all have our favorite restaurant, but the idea behind Restaurant Week is to give food lovers the opportunity to explore new restaurants. Don’t be afraid to venture out and check out that place you read about or try a new ethnic cuisine.
Make a reservation – Restaurants tend to be busier than usual during SDRW. Depending on the restaurant, you can either call or make a reservation online.
Invite everyone – Go with your friends, family, co-workers or that special someone. The more people in your party, the more dishes you get to try. Have everyone in your group order different items, and remember…sharing is caring!
Get social – Remember to check-in on Facebook, tweet about it, upload a picture on Instagram or review the restaurant. If you loved it, let the world know. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SDRW.
If you’ve got these steps down but are still not sure which restaurants to try, here are some quick suggestions:
Places like Pizza Port are great kid friendly restaurants that also make sure Mom and Dad have a good time
For some reason (ahem), people are often surprised that my husband and I regularly eat out with our five kids, ages 10, 8, 5, 3 and 3. Yes, we know a thing or two about a restaurant that can cater to children and, well, ones that just can’t kid around (get it?). In general, San Diego is very family friendly, so it wasn’t easy to narrow down my top 5 kid friendly restaurants, but the promise for ice cream got me going (kidding… kind of). Here are five kids friendly restaurants that both the little ones and parents will enjoy!
Starting in North County, the top pick for locals is Pizza Port, located in Carlsbad (options are also in Solana Beach, Ocean Beach, and Bressi Ranch). Truly delicious pizza, the kids love it, too, as they can play video games or enjoy the grub. Go early as it can be tricky to nab a table, but nothing screams a beach town visit like some seaside pepperoni pie.
Truth be told, my family may as well start collecting our mail at this Cardiff breakfast/lunch joint. With plenty of outdoor seating, not only can you (very ) affordably feed a large family (trust me), you can also enjoy sea breezes and ocean views. In fact, three of my kids can share the “big breakfast” and Dana, who can regularly be found behind the coffee counter, is always good for a great big hug.
Hands down one of the most authentic, delicious Mexican food restaurants in town, this is a family favorite for its affordability, too. When the weather is nice, request outdoor dining or inside in the back room if you think your kids might need to be a li’l louder than usual. Though the booths inside the main dining are just as accommodating as are the coloring books and crayons that they offer to occupy the kids. Located in Solana Beach this is a San Diego must!
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Located near the airport, be sure to take a few minutes before entering and get a very up close view of the planes coming in for a landing! Though not your usual “kids” establishment, my children consider this unique twist on the usual Mexican food a favorite! Go early as the later crowd tends to be more “club”, but if you can arrive by 5, my kids love the free Mexican wrestler that comes with the children’s menu plates and the Chiclets chewing gum that accompany the bill. Also, music plays on the dance floor prepping for the later evening crowd and my fam has been known to bust a move. Though darker on the inside, you can request outdoor seating for an even better view of the overhead planes. And, whatever you do, don’t miss out on the churros for dessert!
Though it’s a chain that can be found in many cities, I had to include this pick as the downtown San Diego location was always a favorite of mine growing up. Not to mention, keeping kids happy on a vacation isn’t always easy, so a favorite stand by of past is sure to reel them back in. Catering to kids and families, it’s a sure-fire bet for fresh ingredients and old school pasta delights, including gluten-free options as well.
San Diego’s food truck gatherings are a great and family friendly way to sample a plethora of food styles all in the same place
From Asian to Italian, BBQ to vegetarian, San Diego has plenty of options to choose from when it comes to food trucks.
As a true foodie city, San Diego jumped into the gastro truck craze and now has more than 50 trucks roaming the city. You can find single food trucks parked on side streets and parking lots, or in groups of five or more at weekly neighborhood food truck gatherings. There are also special festivals like the Annual Del Mar Food Truck Festival where up to 50 trucks gather in one location to delight the attendants’ palates.
So How Does It Work?
Food trucks are social media driven. They usually use Twitter and Facebook to update their customers on their menu and location. There are also websites that show you where the trucks will be making their stops, like Roaming Hunger where you can view a map with all the food trucks around your area, or you can check out daily and weekly schedules at websites like Curbside Bites or San Diego Food Trucks.
I personally think the best way to enjoy food trucks is at the weekly scheduled gatherings, where you not only get to choose from various ethnic and infused bites and desserts, but you get to experience the neighborhood and meet its people.
Food truck gatherings are one of the best ways to taste San Diego, after all San Diego is an ideal city for gastro trucks; we have the perfect weather (we just can’t stop bragging about that), a great selection of local farms and a varied ethnic influence.
Conveniently located in the center of it all, Mission Valley is just minutes away from some of San Diego’s major attractions and even closer to some classic, old school-style restaurants that still retain the cool look and feel of yesteryear with delectable retro dining.
Following are my top 5 tasty and intriguing culinary nods to the retro dining spots in Mission Valley:
1. Albie’s Beef Inn
Lounge-tastic Albie’s Beef Inn and Adam’s Steak & Eggs
Albie’s Beef Inn at Travelodge Mission Valley has been serving up prime steaks, seafood and cocktails since 1962. Guests love the retro-lounge look and feel, complete with tufted black leather booths, wood paneling, a piano bar and all-too-suggestive paintings of women adorning the walls. Albie’s is where I imagine the cast of Mad Men hang out for happy hour, and three-martini lunches. 🙂
Next door to Albie’s, Adam’s Steak & Eggs is where folks have noshed on hearty steak ‘n eggs breakfasts since 1962. It has a welcoming, old-school diner vibe with chairs that look suspiciously like the ones my mom had around our dining room table in the 1970s.
Sir Wafflelot welcomes diners for some retro dining at the Waffle Spot
The family friendly, whimsical Waffle Spot at the Kings Inn has been a local favorite for 20 years. The “Home of San Diego’s Best Waffles” has its very own mascot, Sir Wafflelot who welcomes kids on Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 AM to 12 noon. Children (and adults!) get a kick out of coloring the Kids Menus. This is the spot to get your nostalgia on while enjoying delicious waffles and other classic breakfast fare.
Hunter Steakhouse, a 40+ year tradition in the valley, serves the “Best Prime Rib in Town” – with whiskey peppercorn sauce! The exterior resembles a rustic mountain cabin with a cozy interior to match: rich wood furnishings, dim lighting and a stone fireplace; a nice romantic dinner joint to take that someone special.
Trellises Garden Grille at the Town and Country Resort Hotel & Convention Center is an eclectic mix of floral and retro lounge design, with a lovely garden patio filled with flowers. It’s timeless and old-fashioned, serving a menu of “California Fresh” cuisine, including seafood and steaks. Jane Austen would sup here for sure! 😉
As a kid, I always found ice cream sodas or root beer floats to be odd. Soda with ice cream? Really? Who came up with that? But somehow the combination of a carbonated soft drink with a scoop of vanilla ice cream tasted delicious. Nowadays, it’s not very common to find root beer floats “floating” around the dessert menu, and even if I do see one, I usually tend to pick the fancied-up-gourmet dessert…after all, I am a grownup now.
I recently noticed floats were making a comeback, however, soda has been replaced with beer. Now, I know beer floats are not a new thing, but I noticed that bars and restaurants have not only added them to menus, but have added their own interpretations. Curious about the different options of beer floats available; I decided to invite a couple of friends on a Friday night to try different beer floats in what we named The Beer Float Roundup.
Warning About Beer Floats
Side effects of drinking more than one beer float in one night, just like we did, might include a two-hour sugar rush that will make you burst into singing and dancing on the streets.
First Stop: Ritual Kitchen and Beer Garden
A Stone Stochasticity Project ‘Quadro Triticale’ with strawberry banana ice cream.
This North Park gem offers a good selection of craft beers and a tasty food menu.
Beer floats can be found in the dessert section with the option to combine any beer on tap with their daily selection of house made ice creams. I picked the strawberry banana ice cream with the Stone Stochasticity Project ‘Quadro Triticale’, a Belgian-style beer with wheat and rye. Garnished with cranberries and presented in a tall glass with the beer and ice cream blended, this float looked exactly like a milkshake, but certainly did not taste like one. The result was an interesting combination of wheat and banana that I truly enjoyed.
The Honey Butter with butter pecan ice cream, Me So Honey (Belching Beaver’s honey wheat ale), whip and organic honey.
Also located in North Park, along 30th Street, this local brewery offers award-winning beers like their Peanut Butter Milk Stout.
An elaborate version, referred to as Beaver Floats. With three different options I decided for the Honey Butter: butter pecan ice cream, Me So Honey (Belching Beaver’s honey wheat ale), whip cream and organic honey. The float came in a cold beer mug, with lots of whip cream, a spoon and a straw. This was not only fun to drink, but also caught the attention of everyone around.
Old Viscosity, the bourbon barrel-aged beer from Lost Abbey, with vanilla ice cream.
Known for their meatballs and convenient proximity to award-winning bar, Polite Provisions, this University Heights food spot offers apple pie and a wide selection of soda pops.
Make any of their daily draft beers into a float. Soda & Swine had five beers on tap and three different flavors of ice cream to choose from: vanilla, chocolate and twist. The waiter recommended trying the vanilla ice cream with Old Viscosity, the bourbon barrel-aged beer from Lost Abbey. The presentation was the most traditional of all. The ice cream, which by itself was flavorful, came in a traditional ice cream glass with the beer on the side. Even though I am a big fan of bourbon, the after taste of the bourbon gave the float a peculiar flavor.
Around 1870, soda floats were a rave, unfortunately at the time it was illegal to drink soda on Sundays. Soda fountains had to figure out a way to make a profit, so they started to serve ice cream, creating the term “Sundaes”.
I”m lucky enough to live walking distance from a culinary corner in San Diego”s North Park neighborhood that just gets better every day. While the entire span of 30th Street from Alchemy in South Park to Jayne”s Gastropub in University Heights offers an unbelievable array of quality local choices, my little corner at 30th and Upas features an impressive mix of restaurants and bars within a few hundred yards of each other.
Alexanders on 30th
Enjoy fresh pastas, salads and personal size pizzas at Alexander”s on 30th in North Park San Diego.
Alexander”s on 30th, a classic modern Italian restaurant with a casual elegance and great salads, baked pastas, and dense pizzas for dinner. Their new Summer Sundays brunch-lunch menu includes fennel sausage hash with Italian roasted potatoes and $1 micheladas. The kids like drawing with crayons on the paper tablecloths, and we all enjoy sitting on the patio area outside.
Right across 30th Street from Alexander”s is the new kid on the block, Bazinga Eatery where my 9-year-old flipped over the $5 bacon bowl appetizer filled with mac “n” cheese. Yes, the bowl is made entirely of bacon. My 11-year-old enjoyed her mac “n” cheese ball appetizer and I enjoyed a healthier option, a huge portion of grilled veggies (yellow squash, bell peppers, portabellas topped with parmesan cheese and a Mediterranean dressing, one of six healthy salads on the menu. If you’re like me and unable to decide when ordering, start with the entrée that features a sampler of five kinds of mac ‘n’ cheese (my favorite was the French Onion Mac).
The historic Lynhurst Building at 30th and Upas in North Park houses three restaurants.
Next to Bazinga is Zensei Sushi, one of the first restaurants to open in the historic 101 year old Lynhurst building and a pioneer in the restaurant boom in this intersection. Try the 30th & Upas roll with spicy tuna, rice, avocado, a secret sauce and more. We order it every time.
Enjoy a decadent Monte Cristo on homemade brioche at Cardamom Cafe.
Turn the corner to the Upas side of the Lynhurst for Cardamom Café, a cozy and delicious breakfast and lunch go-to for the whole community. Fresh baked bread, pastries and my favorite – croissants that are the real deal – are made daily. I see owner-chef Joanne baking in the window early mornings on my walks before anything is open and dream about eating a Monte Cristo under a colorful umbrella in the outside sidewalk seating.
Cross to the west side of 30th Street and there are three places in a row that qualify for “date night” in our house (if we leave the kids at home).
Bluefoot Bar & Lounge
The Bluefoot Bar & Lounge, a fun, unpretentious neighborhood hangout with central pool table, sidewalk smoking patio, spacious back room plus stiff drinks and craft beer. It”s the sort of place where everybody knows your name (or you”re at least guaranteed to see a neighbor nightly).
A relaxed but romantic atmosphere at The Smoking Goat.
Next door to Bluefoot is a favorite date night dining spot, The Smoking Goat. Truly wonderful French and American fare including decadent duck fat truffle fries, braised beef ribs and a small but solid selection of very local craft beer and French wine. The interior decor and outside sidewalk seating make a visit fresh, fun and upscale-funky.
Mosaic Wine Bar in North Park proves San Diegans drink more than just local craft beer.
Another grown-up favorite is Mosaic Wine Bar, proving that 30th Street isn”t all about local craft beer, although they do have six local beers on tap and 15 bottles they rotate often. Love the loungey, comfortable living room vibe of this place with open air seating in the front and private nooks, coffee tables and couches with pillows in the back. In addition to an international menu of small plates such as grilled lamb chop couscous, crispy calamari and parmesan crusted artichoke, Mosaic offers a huge selection of wine and happy hour specials, and a bottomless mimosa/sangria/Prosecco brunch on the weekends. Mosaic is 21 and up.
Chicagoans and San Diegans alike love the deep dish pizza and Chicago hot dogs at Lefty”s in North Park.
Next to Mosaic are two small restaurants, Veg-n-Out (Now Closed), a “just the right speed” vegetarian and vegan cafe (love their falafel burger) and Lefty”s Chicago Pizzeria. Lefty”s has a huge local following of ex-Chicagoans as well as born-and-bred San Diegans who discovered the delicious decadence of Chicago-style deep dish. Our family favorites are the heart-stopping Meaty Pie (sausage, pepperoni, meatball, and Italian beef) and South Sider (Italian beef, green pepper, onion, and hot giardiniera). But Lefty”s offers more than three types of pizza (thin crust and “stuffed” options are available). Their hamburgers and dogs are generous and tasty and they slow-roast beef daily for Italian beef sandwiches on a roll with provolone and sweet peppers. Best of all, you can sit across the street at the new Modern Times Tasting Room and order Lefty”s” to go and consume at Modern Times with your beer.
The North Parker
The North Parker lofts and retail houses brewery tasting room, cafe, taco shop and ramen noodle house.
Across from Lefty”s, the east side of 30th (at Upas) features a cool new complex called The North Parker. This mixed-use loft, office and retail space added an architectural panache to our loveable but creaky old “hood.
Modern Times Beer Flavordome
Modern Times Flavordome Brewery Tasting Room patio meets Influx Cafe patio at The North Parker building on 30th and Upas Streets.
Modern Times Beer is one of San Diego”s award winning local breweries, and the North Park Flavordome tasting room is light and eclectic. Sure the ceiling is covered with lampshades, but the seating is clean and uncluttered and there are 6-8 Modern Times beers on tap daily. The tasting room includes outdoor side patio seating, and customers are welcome to bring in food from the area restaurants to eat at the bar or tables inside or out.
In fact, imbibers can take three steps from the Modern Times patio over to the Influx Café patio and order salads (from kale to bleu) and sandwiches (from tofu to turkey) and pastries from this newly opened San Diego coffee house. If you”re not drinking beer, Influx has a wide array of drip and espresso organic coffee drinks and teas to go with your meal.
Next to Influx in The North Parker is the soon-to-be-opened Underbelly, a ramen noodle house that originally opened in Little Italy. The first location is so successful with the blend of soup and, what else?, craft beer, that the restaurateurs decided to open a second Underbelly (so named for the delicious pork included in its signature ramen dish that includes soft boiled egg, char-siu belly, applewood smoked bacon and kurobuta sausage).
Tacos with handmade corn tortillas are being served up with or without crickets at Tacos Perla in North Park San Diego.
Around the corner, back on Upas & 30th, is Tacos Perla, the new street taco darling of the intersection. The menu is simple and offers San Diego’s signature dish, tacos on handmade corn tortillas. While these “street” tacos are priced more like Rodeo Drive than Main Street, they are delicious. I had the Ocho (braised-then-grilled octopus with poblano, pesto and cheese) and the Del Mar (wild caught Mexican shrimp, marinated in ginger, chilies, achiote with jack cheese and avocado) for $4.95 each, while my son had traditional carne asada ($3.95). Neither of us opted to add on crickets for .75ȼ although I did go for the chicharrones and loved the six salsa selections. I had my tacos with a can of Modern Times beer as is de rigeur for the corner.
I feel very fortunate to have this thriving dining and brewery scene in my neighborhood. I’m also lucky enough that if I turn left on 30th, instead of right, I can walk up to South Park with an entirely different set of restaurants, tasting room, wine bar, cocktail bar, ice cream parlor and coffee house to explore; maybe next blog.
National City has a vibrant Filipino community known for its delicious cuisine
Mabuhay! That’s Tagalog for “cheers” or “welcome.” When you visit National City, south of downtown San Diego, you’ll indeed feel welcome to this tight-knit community that celebrates its rich Filipino heritage.
There’s no better way to experience San Diego’s Filipino culture than through its mouthwatering food. Following are a few of my favorite, tried and true restaurants to try, plus a couple bakeries to satisfy those sweet cravings.
National City’s main thoroughfare for Filipino restaurants is Plaza Blvd., located just off Interstate 5 or 805 South.
A Few Filipino Restaurant Options
Pancit malabon – a yummy specialty at Manila Sunset!
First stop, for delicious made-to-order breakfast or lunch fare, is Manila Sunset (925 E. Plaza Blvd.) which resembles a charming Filipino village inside. My fav dish is Lansilog, consisting of longganisa (Fillipino-style chorizo grilled to perfection), egg and rice drizzled with a vinegar/cucumber dip. The fresh lumpia and pancit malabon with thick rice noodles, shrimp, egg, veggies and chicharon are also delish!
Vast array of Filipino food at Manila Sunset
Another great sit-down restaurant for Lansilog and other traditional Filipino breakfast combinations is Point-Point Joint (916 E. 8th St)
Tita’s Kitchenette (2720 E. Plaza Blvd.) is all about the two-item combos. For just $7 you can pick from a vast array of Filipino staples like chicken adobo, sisig (seasoned chopped pork with onions, green peppers and special seasoning), kare kare (traditional Filipino stew of ox tail, tripe and pork with a savory peanut sauce) and finger-licking good BBQ chicken skewers – the best in town!
Tasty chicken skewers at Tita’s Kitchenette!
Nearby Karihan Filipino Food (2220 E. Plaza Blvd., Suite B) is also a great go-to for BBQ chicken and pork, whole(!) fried fish and piping hot sinigang (tangy tamarind soup with veggies).
Sweet! Red Ribbon mango cake
Don’t forget dessert! Goldilocks and Red Ribbon, two bakeshops from the Phillipines, have shelves of sweet fresh-baked yumminess to choose from. Must-trys are the mango cake, ube (sweet purple yam) cake, and mamon special, a fluffy French sponge cake brushed with butter and sprinkled with cheese (yep) and sugar. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you! 😉