Robert Arends

5 Retro Dining Spots in San Diego’s Mission Valley

Sir Wafflelot welcomes diners for some retro dining at the Waffle Spot

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

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. 🙂

Where: 1201 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, California 92108
> Find out more about Albie’s Beef Inn

2. Adam’s Steak & Eggs

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.

Where: 1201 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, California 92108
> Find out more about Adam’s Steak & Eggs

3. Waffle Spot

Sir Wafflelot welcomes diners for some retro dining at the Waffle Spot

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.

Where: 1333 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about the Waffle Spot

4. Hunter Steakhouse

Hunter Steakhouse has the best prime rib in town!

Hunter Steakhouse has the best prime rib in town!

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.

Where: 2445 Hotel Circle Place, San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about Hunter Steakhouse

5. Trellises Garden Grille

Trellises Garden Grille at Town & Country Resort

Trellises Garden Grille at Town & Country Resort

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! 😉

Where: 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about Trellises Garden Grille

For a unique retro dining experiences from yesteryear, Mission Valley has some pretty memorable spots to check out!

Robert Arends

Filipino Dining Delights in National City

National City has a vibrant Filipino community known for its delicious cuisine

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!

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

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!

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

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! 😉

Candice

Tina Mickelson: San Diego’s Guide to Golf and More

Tina Mickelson - San Diego's Guide to Golf
Tina Mickelson - San Diego's Guide to Golf

Tina Mickelson – San Diego’s Guide to Golf

Callaway Golf Ambassador Tina Mickelson knows a thing or two about San Diego. Not only has she spent lots of time on the region’s many golf courses (just like her brother, Phil Mickelson), but she also loves to get out and explore the region with family and friends.

In San Diego, “everyone is very welcoming,” says Tina. We welcome you to join Tina Mickelson, one of  San Diego’s Guides to the Good Stuff, in exploring what makes San Diego a great place for golf-lovers and non-golfers alike.

Tina Mickelson’s Favorite Golf Courses

With more than 90 courses in the San Diego area, it can be hard to pick a favorite. However, Tina guarantees you’ll love the game on these courses.

  • Coronado Municipal Golf Course: For Tina, this course embodies the feeling of being in San Diego. “You really get to enjoy the view of downtown, and the ocean,” says Tina. “It’s just a lot of fun and a very laid-back vibe.”
  • Torrey Pines Golf Course: You get to see the wonderful views of the ocean,” she says, “and hear the waves crash.” Tina insists that these will help take the edge off any bad day on the course!
  • The Grand Golf Club at the Grand Del Mar: Tina loves how each hole is arranged so that you can’t see any other hole while you’re teed up. Plus, “you can’t beat the amenities here,” she adds.
  • Maderas Golf Club: Even though the beautiful course is only 20 minutes from downtown San  Diego, Tina shares that “you feel like you are far removed.”
  • Steele Canyon Golf Club: Tina loves the variety of the holes as well as the scenery you get out in San Diego’s diverse East County landscape.

Tina’s Perfect Day in San Diego

How would Tina spend a day in San Diego? Besides golfing, of course, she’d relax by the beach or at a spa, do some shopping and enjoy some of San Diego’s great cuisine.

  • Start your day by the sea: Tina suggests enjoying a big breakfast surf-side, then “take a nice long walk either on the beach or through the neighborhood of Del Mar.”
  • Shopping: Tina loves Mission Beach for boutiques and sidewalk cafes, and also recommends shopping Solana Beach’s Cedros Design District. “You find not only great clothing boutiques but a lot of great little shops for your home.”
  • Spa day: Relaxing with a massage is one of Tina’s favorite activities. “I love the spa at Estancia in La Jolla,” she says, but she also notes that with so many great spas in San Diego, you don’t have to look far to find a good one.
  • Dinner with a view: “It’s very common to be able to accommodate a great dinner with a great view, especially at sunset,” shares Tina. She recommends the ocean and bay views from restaurants in Coronado or downtown.

Check out more recommendations from Tina Mickelson, including tips for the perfect date night, at sandiego.org/goodstuff.

Robert Arends

5 to Try for Big Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay
San Diego's Big Bay

Pick your adventure on San Diego’s Big Bay

Spring is here and there’s no better time to make a splash on San Diego Bay – also called the “Big Bay” –  with its treasure trove of attractions, tours, events and cool points of interest.

Following are my top 5 to Try:

1. The Port of San Diego’s Annual Day at the Docks

Kids fishing at the docks

Spend a day with the kids fishing.

The Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks celebration in April is the West Coast’s largest public sportfishing celebration – and the official start of Southern California’s popular spring saltwater fishing season. Festivities at American’s Cup Harbor include over 200 maritime exhibits, live entertainment, a casting competition, captains’ dunk tank, free fishing and kids art areas. It’s fun and free!

2. The San Salvador

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Did you know: in 1542 European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed aboard his ship, the San Salvador, and reached “a very good enclosed port” naming it “San Miguel.” Today we call it San Diego Bay and visitors can step back in time to check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s building of a full-sized, fully functional, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship, the San Salvador. The framing is nearly complete and it’s easy to imagine the ship that she will become. Ahoy!

3. The Living Coast Discovery Center

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

The South Bay city of Chula Vista is home to one of my favorite attractions for up-close animal encounters: the Living Coast Discovery Center. You can see endangered green sea turtles (tip: go during feeding time!), leopard sharks, friendly stingrays (minus the stingers so you can pet them!) and magnificent birds like falcons and burrowing owls. The observation tower and hiking trails afford picturesque views of the surrounding wetlands and bay.

4. Seeing the Big Bay…While on the Big Bay

Flagship Patriot Jet Boat Tour

Speed across San Diego’s Big Bay aboard a jet powered boat like Flagship’s Patriot

Water activities abound on the bay, from the affordable Coronado Ferry ride, to narrated harbor tours (on Flagship and Hornblower), SEAL Tours, whale watching excursions, kayak tours (including San Diego’s only urban kayak adventure), Jetpack America rides (you too can fly like a superhero!) and two new thrilling, turbo-charged boat rides (the Sea Rocket and Flagship Patriot). Let’s make some waves!

5. Headquarters at Seaport District

The Headquarters at Seaport District. on San Diego's Big Bay

The stylish new Headquarters at Seaport District

Foodies and shoppers are in for a treat at the new Headquarters at Seaport District, located in San Diego’s former Spanish-style police headquarters (pose for pix in an actual jail cell). Nosh on gourmet tacos at Puesto or grab a slice at Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Mario Batali’s first foray into San Diego’s dining scene. Shop-portunties include local surf photographer Aaron Chang’s Ocean Art Gallery and Kitson, a celebrity hot spot and go-to fashion boutique dedicated to pop culture.

Pick your own adventure and discover the many wonders of San Diego’s Big Bay this spring! 🙂

Robert Arends

5 Things I Love about Coronado

Coronado Beach - OrangeandPark.com

Beautiful Coronado Sunset. Photo courtesy of OrangeandPark.com

Oh Coronado, the “Enchanted Isle,” how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

OK, that’s a little sappy, but I can’t help it. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and love is in the air. What better time to talk about five things I really love about the Emerald City.

1. The Restaurants

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

I love that Coronado was made for romantic dining, with fabu restaurants from the Pacific to San Diego Bay beckoning couples to gaze into each other’s eyes over a delectable candlelit dinner. Two of my personal favs: Chez Loma, an intimate, authentic French bistro, and Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort with views as phenomenal as the cuisine.

2. The Journey Around Coronado Island

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

I love the joy in the journey to and around the island. The views by car from the graceful blue arch of the iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge are second to none! You can see as far as Mexico and the ‘lil Islas Coronadas (crowned islands) off the coast. Better yet, take a fun ferry ride over from downtown San Diego! Then explore the island by beach cruiser (there are bike rental shops throughout the island), Segway of Coronado or Pedego electric bike.

3. Playing in the Water

Kayak Under the Coronado Bridge

Coronado Kayak Tour adventure!

I love all the ways to play in the ocean and bay. There’s stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Coronado, surfing with Coronado Surfing Academy, the new Coronado Kayak Tour, The Gondola Company’s authentic Venetian gondola rides and San Diego Seaplanes, launching from the bay by the Coronado Ferry Landing!

4. The Island’s Secrets

The "Baby Del" (144 Isabella Ave.)

The “Baby Del” (144 Isabella Ave.)

I love the “secret” sights around the island, from sand dunes on the beach that spell C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O and the flock of flamingos and aviary at Coronado Island Marriot Resort, to Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s cottage on Star Park Circle, the ghost of Kate Morgan’s room at the Hotel del Coronado and the “Baby Del” on Isabella Ave.

5. The Sunsets

sunset2

I love the stunning sunsets. I took the photo above just last weekend. No matter how many times I see the sun set in glorious hues of yellow, orange and red over the beach, it’s never ceases to leave me in awe.

Coronado, what’s not to love! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Candice

La Jolla Restaurants with a View (and Great Food, Too)

While everyone loves a good view while they dine, many diners worry that restaurants with a great view may rest on their laurels when it comes to the food. Fortunately for foodies everywhere, these restaurants in the seaside neighborhood of La Jolla offer food that’s just as delicious as the coastal view is spectacular.

George’s at the Cove

George's at the Cove

The food is just as good as the view at George’s at the Cove

Overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove, George’s at the Cove features executive chef Trey Foshee’s creative regional cuisine in an atmosphere of modern elegance. Foshee’s cutting edge and ever-changing menu can be enjoyed in three of the restaurant’s settings: the first-story California Modern featuring an elegant dining room, the bistro-styled George’s Bar and the rooftop Ocean Terrace, spanning spectacular ocean views.

> Find out more about George’s at the Cove

The Marine Room

The Marine Room in La Jolla

The Marine Room is located right on the sand, offering incredible views

A local landmark since 1941, The Marine Room is nestled along the sand of La Jolla Shores. The changing tides and dramatic waves crashing against the restaurant’s windows provide the perfect backdrop for executive chef Bernard Guillas’ sophisticated dishes like maple smoked bison carpaccio, thyme-rubbed free range veal tenderloin and lemon verbena lobster tail. Chef Guillas was recently inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, becoming the only chef in San Diego to join the ranks of the 204 Master Chefs from around the world.

> Find out more about the Marine Room

The Shores Restaurant

The Shores restaurant La Jolla San Diego

The Shores in La Jolla has a great view with a casual atmosphere.

The sister restaurant of The Marine Room, The Shores Restaurant offers the same breathtaking views of La Jolla shores, but with a more casual atmosphere. Families will feel right at home in the dining room or on The Shores’ beach-side patio. The Shores offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and an easy-going happy hour, as well as weekend brunch.

> Find out more about The Shores Restaurant

Brockton Villa Restaurant

Brockton Villa Breakfast

Brockton Villa is best enjoyed at breakfast.

Overlooking La Jolla Cove, Brockton Villa has been serving award-winning breakfast, lunch and seasonal dinner for 20 years. Using local ingredients and seafood, the menu includes fresh takes on classic American cuisine. Not to be missed is Brockton Villa’s world-famous Coast Toast French toast, served throughout the day.

> Find out more about Brockton Villa Restaurant

> Explore more of San Diego’s La Jolla

Do you have a favorite seaside San Diego restaurant? Share it in the comments below.

Robert Arends

Valentine’s Day, LGBT-style, in San Diego

Walking under Hillcrest Sign
Walking under Hillcrest Sign

Feel the love in Hillcrest this Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air and for LGBT couples looking for something romantic to do this Valentine’s Day, San Diego is THE place to cuddle close and feel the warmth – especially in Hillcrest, our fabulous uptown “gayborhood” located just a couple of miles from downtown.

Following are a few unforgettable places to wine and dine your significant other or special V-day date.

Start the Night with Dinner in Hillcrest

Temperatures rising at Kitchen Bar & Kitchen this Valentine's Day

Temperatures rising at Kitchen Bar & Kitchen this Valentine’s Day

In Hillcrest, begin your heart-filled evening at the comfortably modern Heat Bar & Kitchen on Park Blvd. Amber lighting radiates to create a cozy ambiance to enjoy a menu of California fusion cuisine. The steamed local Carlsbad mussels are delish, as is the duck breast and braised lamb shank!

Another tried and true Hillcrest dining option is the chic retro-modern D Bar on 5th Ave. where comfort food based on childhood favorites will have you both smiling from ear to ear – and reaching over to sample each other’s entrees! Highly recommended is the Southern Fried Belgian butter milk fried chicken with sweet potato fries. OMG 😉

After Dinner Drinks in Hillcrest

wine

After dinner, head to The Wine Lover with its intimate little patio to toast your love as you gaze into each other’s eyes. For something extra special, ask for a dessert wine flight (which isn’t on the menu) to sweeten the mood.

Mix it up at Martinis Above Fourth

Mix it up at Martinis Above Fourth

If decadent martinis or craft beer are more your style, grab a nightcap at Martinis Above Fourth or the Hillcrest Brewing Company, the “World’s First Out and Proud LGBT Brewery.”

Fall in Love on Coronado…or is it Italy?

Enchanting Coronado, a bridge away from downtown and Hillcrest, is gay friendly and welcoming with a renowned romantic French bistro called Chez Loma. Couples are drawn to its private candle-lit rooms and delectable French classics like Boeuf Bourguignon.

The Gondola Company's romantic cruises through the Coronado Cays

The Gondola Company’s romantic cruises through the Coronado Cays

Before dinner, take a relaxing sunset gondola cruise – complete with a gondolier serenading you in Italian! – through the Coronado Cays. The Gondola Company provides chocolate-covered strawberries, and you’re welcome to bring your own wine or champagne!

Make a French Connection in Downtown San Diego

In downtown San Diego, Café Chloe holds a special place in my heart as the closest thing to a night out in Paris. The café is small and charming, and they usually do something extraordinarily quaint for Valentine’s Day couples, like little poetry verses you can recite to each other. Ahhh… 🙂

> Find more Valentine’s Day ideas and offers on SanDiego.org

Book your dinner reservations now, as Valentine’s Day tables fill up quickly.

Candice

5 Reasons to Try San Diego Restaurant Week this January

100 Wines Hillcrest San Diego Restaurant Week

Update: San Diego Restaurant Week has been extended for a second week! Sample your way at one of the 150 participating restaurants from January 26-31, 2014.

All the holiday feasting may have you thinking of fasting, but don’t start that New Year’s diet just yet! San Diego Restaurant Week is just around the corner. If you don’t yet have plans to enjoy San Diego Restaurant Week, January 19 – 24, 2014, here are the top 5 reasons why you should change your plans:

1. Healthy Options

Roppongi Sushi Bar - San Diego Restaurant Week

Sushi is healthy! Enjoy some at Roppongi during Restaurant Week.

While not everyone makes a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, many diners have healthier eating in mind in January. Fortunately, several San Diego Restaurant Week participating restaurants are known for their healthy-yet-delicious options. Try the Good Things Growing, an Indian corn pudding, at Indigo Grill or the seasonal fish entree at Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar to discover that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.

2. Dining Around the Globe

San Diego is a cultural melting pot, especially when it comes to restaurants. Start the week with dinner at Nobu for Japanese fare, try an Italian favorite at BICE Ristorante, and round out the week with lunch at Taste of Thai. Your taste buds will have traveled the world in one week.

3. New Venues for San Diego Restaurant Week

Croce's Park West celebrates its Grand Opening during Restaurant Week.

Croce’s Park West celebrates its Grand Opening during Restaurant Week.

Whether it’s the brand new SEA180º Coastal Tavern or the recently updated Market Restaurant + Bar, each San Diego Restaurant Week gives diners a chance to try new venues. Check out the grand opening Croce’s Park West, a new spot by the owners of the original Croce’s restaurant downtown, which closed in 2013.

4. California Restaurant Month

San Diego’s January Restaurant Week is part of a month-long celebration of California dining. Thanks to California Restaurant Month, travelers up and down the state can sample cuisine from more than 30 California destinations. So enjoy a January road trip, and be sure to stop in San Diego between January 19-24!

5. Great Deals

100 Wines Hillcrest San Diego Restaurant Week

Cheers to great deals!

Of course, the best reason to dine during San Diego Restaurant Week is to take advantage of the great deals. With three-course meals at some of San Diego’s finest restaurants starting at $25, Restaurant Week can help you recover from all that holiday spending.

Are you planning on dining in San Diego during Restaurant Week? Let us know in the comments below.

Candice

San Diego Restaurant Week’s Newest Eateries

Cannonball Restaurant Mission Beach - San Diego - San Diego Restaurant Week

What’s the best thing about summer coming to an end? Fall is prime time for big savings when you travel to San Diego! In September, the beaches are less crowded (though the weather is still fabulous), hotel rates are more affordable and dining at more than 180 San Diego restaurants is a real steal, thanks to San Diego Restaurant Week, September 15 – 20, 2013.

During San Diego Restaurant Week, diners can enjoy deep discounts as restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe dinner menus for just $20, $30 or $40 per person. Lunch prix-fixe menus are also available at many places for just $10, $15 or $20 per person.

With so many restaurants participating, it can be hard to choose just which ones to check out. Here are some brand new options for 2013 that are sure to make the decision even harder.

Cannonball

Cannonball Restaurant Mission Beach - San Diego - San Diego Restaurant Week

The beachside view from Cannonball

If the name conjures up the image of diving into a swimming pool, you’re on the right track. The brand new sushi restaurant and lounge in Mission Beach is decorated with pool loungers and beach balls, and their rooftop is currently being expanded into what will soon be San Diego’s largest oceanfront rooftop lounge. During San Diego Restaurant Week, you can enjoy three courses of their Pacific Rim-inspired menu for $30.

> Find out more about Cannonball

Fish Public

Fish Public Restaurant in Kensington San Diego

Tableside oysters service at Fish Public

Fresh seafood is what this new Kensington restaurant is all about. The menu features fish from both oceans, including the Atlantic’s Gulf Coast, New England and English Coast as well as the Pacific’s North West, Baja and Pacific Rim regions. During San Diego Restaurant Week, you can get your fish fix in three courses for just $30, or splurge on the tableside oyster cart service where patrons have the opportunity to select fresh shucks with prepared mignonettes and house made accouterments such as tarter and cocktail sauces.

> Find out more about Fish Public

Avant

Avant restaurant Rancho Bernardo Inn San Diego

Avant’s exquisite charcuterie

This summer, the luxury Rancho Bernardo Inn welcomed a new restaurant, Avant to its elegant digs in the rolling hills of San Diego’s North County. During San Diego Restaurant Week, this high-end yet casual spot will offer three course dinners for $40. Be sure to check out the restaurant’s unique features, which include a signature classic martini menu accompanied by a “choose your own” stuffed olive bar, a fire engine red vintage Berkel manual flywheel charcuterie slicer and two custom-built mustard taps.

> Find out more about Avant

> Check out the full list of San Diego Restaurant Week partners

Which spot will you be savoring this San Diego Restaurant Week? Tell us in the comments below!

Robert Arends

Quick Guide to the 2013 San Diego Pride!

Walking under Hillcrest SignLet your rainbow colors fly! San Diego Pride is coming up this weekend, July 12-14. The glittery glamorous spotlight shines on Hillcrest, San Diego’s hip uptown neighborhood, during one of our city’s biggest summer events. Following is a quick guide to the big annual LGBT celebration.

Three Must-See San Diego Pride Events…

Dancers at Pride of Hillcrest Block Party!

Dancers at Pride of Hillcrest Block Party!

First, here’s the 411 on the big three must-see San Diego Pride events:

  • 2nd annual Pride of Hillcrest Block Party on July 12, 6-11pm, on Normal St.; starring former Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta.
  • 39th Annual Pride Parade on July 13, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, down University Ave. Grand Marshalls are George Takei (of Star Trek fame!), his partner Brad and La Toya Jackson (really!)
  • Pride Festival, July 13-14, in beautiful Balboa Park, featuring eight dance/entertainment stages, including Ms. Jackson in concert.

Sip…

Good times on tap at Urban Mo's!

Good times on tap at Urban Mo’s!

So many bars, so little time! Let’s narrow down the list a bit to these Top 10 tried and true hotspots:

  1. Baby Cakes – cocktails and cupcakes, sweet! Fab for people watching from the patio.
  2. Bourbon Street – a classy touch of N’Orleans in neighboring University Heights
  3. Brass Rail – the official Pride Parade After Party, and no cover!
  4. Flicks – Hillcrest’s #1 video bar.
  5. Gossip Grill – caters to the ladies (gents welcome too)
  6. Hillcrest Brewing Company – toast San Diego’s hop-pening craft beer scene and the world’s 1st LGBT brewery!
  7. Martinis Above Fourth – swanky digs and best martinis in town!
  8. Number One Fifth Avenue – friendly neighborhood bar with patio out back to mix & mingle
  9. Pecs – Bears, oh my! Good times on tap all weekend.
  10. Urban Mos – dance floor, 3 bars, packed patio and great food…yes please!

Sup…

There are dozens of great restaurants in and around Hillcrest. Standouts include the new Great Maple, Project Pie (best pizzas!), D Bar and Snooze. Other favs: Baja Betty’s (muy bueno Mexican food), The Tractor Room, Yakitori Izakaya Tec Chan (for yummy late-night Japanese apps), Cucina Urbana and Café on Park (popular brunch spot!).

Sleep…

The coolest, closest gay-friendly hotel is Inn at the Park, just two blocks from Hillcrest and the Pride Festival. Their rooftop happy hour on Friday is off the charts!

PAR-TAY!

Go wild at the San Diego Zoo Party!

Go wild at the San Diego Zoo Party!

Groovestars unite at Rich’s nightclub for high NRG music and dancing till 2am. For you circuit boys and gals, four Pride Parties are sure to perk you up (get tickets here or at the door):

  • Pride Ball – July 12, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at Spin Night Club
  • Circuit Daze – July 13, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park
  • The famous [for some, infamous ;-)] Zoo Party – July 14, 4:00 to 11:00 PM at the San Diego Zoo
  • Fete Accompli – July 14, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at the House of Blues downtown

P.S. While you’re here, work on that coppertone tan at Coronado Beach, one of “America’s Manliest Beaches,” according to The Travel Channel.