Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 23-27, 2014

Top Things to Do in San Diego

This weekend in San Diego is packed with top things to do including butterflies, live music, a rodeo, art outside and plenty of family friendly festivals!

Butterfly Jungle

Butterfly Jungle at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Meet a few of the over 10,000 butterflies in the Butterfly Jungle

It’s the last weekend to marvel at more than 10,000 beautiful butterflies as they flit, float, and flutter around you in this spectacular spring fling event at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. There’s something for everyone, from fun kids’ activities to special presentations to fascinating facts about these wonderful winged insects.

Where: San Diego Zoo Safari Park – 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027
When: Through April 27, 2014
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Butterfly Jungle

50th Annual Lakeside Rodeo

Lakeside Rodeo in San Diego's East County

Put on your boots for three days of traditional rodeo competitions at the Lakeside Rodeo

Attention Cowboys and Cowgirls – For over 50 years, the El Capitain Stadium Association has brought the Wild West to life in the San Diego East County town of Lakeside with a word-class rodeo including bareback bronco rides, calf roping and other traditional rodeo competitions, along with food and crafts.

Where: Lakeside Rodeo Grounds – 12584 Mapleview St., Lakeside, CA 92040
When: April 25-27, 2014
Cost: $5-$250
> Find out more about the Lakeside Rodeo

Coronado Flower Show

Coronado Flower Show - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Stop and smell the roses at the Coronado Flower Show!

The Coronado Flower Show is the largest tented flower show in the nation. Exhibits are placed inside tents surrounding a central gazebo, which becomes the stage for continuous entertainment, announcements and trophy presentations. Take a break from the show in the wine and beer garden to relax and listen to live entertainment.

Where: Orange Avenue between 6th and 7th Avenues, Coronado, CA 92118
When: April 26-27, 2014
Cost: $5
> Find out more about the Coronado Flower Show

Adams Avenue Unplugged

John C. Reilly at Adams Avenue Unplugged - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Music will fill the air in fun spaces from churches to coffee shops to outdoor stages along Adams Avenue. Photo courtesy of Paul Jameson.

Adams Avenue Unplugged takes place along a two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue featuring 150 live musical performances staged inside restaurants, bars, coffee houses and galleries lining the neighborhood and on four community stages evenly spread out throughout the district. Don’t worry about the distance between venues, a free trolley will subsidize the walking. To make it even better, there will also be $5 cocktail and $3 beer specials at select drinking establishments along Adams!

Where: Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
When: April 26-27, 2014
Cost: Free. Some concerts have reserved seating tickets
> Find out more about Adams Avenue Unplugged

25th Annual San Diego Earth Fair

Set in Balboa Park, the annual EarthFair is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world event featuring exhibitors, a food pavilion, kids area, live entertainment, parade, art show and a “clean” car concourse.

Where: Balboa Park – 1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 27, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Earth Fair

Mission Federal ArtWalk

Mission Federal ArtWalk in Little Italy

Spend the day outdoors enjoy local art and meeting the artists at the Mission Federal ArtWalk

Mission Federal ArtWalk, the largest fine art festival in Southern California, will commemorate its 30th year with a 17-block celebration in the lively neighborhood of Little Italy in San Diego. Founded by local artists, Mission Federal ArtWalk has become a showcase for established and emerging artists and the ultimate event for aficionados and casual collectors.

Where: India St & W Date St, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 26-27, 2014
Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Mission Federal ArtWalk

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend in San Diego? Let everyone know 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.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – June 27-30, 2013

Sun & Sea Festival in Imperial Beach

Make the most out of the last weekend in June by enjoying these top things to do in San Diego:

Please note: It’s expected to get very warm this weekend. Please make sure to wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water and spend a few moments in the shade when you’re out exploring San Diego.

MVCBF Presents New Kids on the Block II

MVCBF Presents New Kids on the Block II

Taste new brews from San Diego’s newest breweries at MVCBF Presents New Kids on the Block II

The Mission Valley Craft Beer Festival is bringing together San Diego’s newest brewers for a night of showcasing the exciting new beers coming to market. Chefs from Toronado, Stone Liberty Station and PubCakes are on board to help Chef Karl get everyone fed. Admission gains you unlimited tastings of beer and food from the numerous stations.

Where: Handlery Hotel San Diego – 950 Hotel Circle N, San Diego, CA 92108
When: June 27, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $30
> Find out more about MVCBF Presents New Kids on the Block II

Summer Pops – Music of the Rolling Stones

San Diego Symphony Summer Pops Concert Series

San Diego Symphony Summer Pops pairs music with the beautiful downtown skyline.

The original bad boys of rock ‘n roll are back via a high-energy tribute to Jagger and company. Their songs are legendary. Mick’s strut iconic. The British Invasion returns with Satisfaction, Under My Thumb, Brown Sugar and Paint it Black.

Where: Embarcadero Marina Park South – 206 Marina Park Way, San Diego, CA 92101
When: June 28-29, 2013
Time: 7:30 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $20-$84
> Find out more about Summer Pops – Music of the Rolling Stones

> Enjoy more waterfront concerts in San Diego

Oceanside Independence Day Parade

Oceanside Independence Parade 2013 - Top Things To Do in San Diego

Join in the fun at the 20th Annual Oceanside Independence Parade with floats, bands, walking groups, cool cars and much more. This year’s theme is “The Spirit of Freedom.”

Where: South Coast Highway – Wisconsin Avenue to Civic Center Drive, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: June 29, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Oceanside Independence Parade

> Start planning your 4th of July Weekend in San Diego

San Diego Latino Music Festival

17th Annual San Diego Latino Music Festival - Top Things to Do

Celebrate Latino culture at the 17th Annual Latino Music Festival with live music, food, arts, unique hand-crafted items, Impalas San Diego Car Club and a Fun Zone with activities for kids. Those over 21 can relax and quench their thirst at the Cantina Rockola.

Where: 2258 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92102
When: June 29, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Latino Music Festival

Sun & Sea Festival

Sun & Sea Festival in Imperial Beach

The Port of San Diego invites kids and their families to enjoy art, live music and circus acrobatic performances and lessons.

Spend Sunday afternoon with the family learning circus arts, dance, gymnastic tumbling and more.  You can also dance to music and stage performances from local and regional young talents, or create art work at “Make and Take” stations. Kids 12 and under can put their architectural skills to work at the Kids’ Kastles sandcastle competition at the nearby beach.

Where: Pier Plaza – 10 Evergreen Avenue, Imperial Beach, CA 91932
When: June 30, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Sun & Sea Festival

Taste of Adams Avenue

Taste of Adams Avenue 2013 - Top Things to Do in San Diego

This gastronomic trek will feature 30 restaurants, coffee houses, pubs, wine bars and unique eateries in one of San Diego’s hottest and historic neighborhoods. Food lovers can access their favorite restaurants by foot, bike, or by complimentary trolley service available along Adams Avenue.

Where: Adams Avenue – Oregon Street to Marlborough Drive, San Diego, CA 92116
When: June 30, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Cost: $30-$35
> Find out more about Taste of Adams Avenue

> Browse more top things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Robert Arends

Hillcrest Neighborhood Spotlight – Home of San Diego’s LGBT community

Walking under Hillcrest Sign
Walking under Hillcrest Sign

Happening Hillcrest!

San Diego’s uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest, home of San Diego’s LGBT community, celebrates diversity year-round with a vibrant rainbow mix of accommodations, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, chic boutiques, vintage clothing stores, kitschy novelty shops and so much more.

With San Diego Pride coming up next month (July 12-14), now is the perfect time to spotlight a few of my favorite places worth checking out:

Where to Stay

The historic Inn at the Park, located right across the street from Balboa Park, is home to the best happy hour in Hillcrest: Top of the Park, a Friday night tradition where hundreds gather on the rooftop to soak up the sunset and kick-off the weekend over cocktails.

Stay at Ann Callahan’s Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast for a relaxing escape in the heart of Hillcrest and still just a short walk away all the shops, restaurants and bars on University Avenue.

Bar Hop

Bar hopping in Hillcrest

Bar hopping in Hillcrest

Urban Mo’s is fun and boisterous with strong margaritas and booming dance music on a packed outdoor patio and indoor dance floor. Hillcrest Brewing Company, claiming to be the World’s First “Out and Proud LGBT Brewery”(wow!), has 9 tasty in-house craft brews on tap to quench your thirst. If crafty cocktails are more your thing, Martinis Above Fourth is a swanky go-to spot.

Gotta Dance

If you’ve got to get your groove on, Rich’s with its two dance floors and sexy go-go boys can’t be beat!

Java Joint

Filter Coffee House is the place to see and be seen while sipping espresso and “studying” the crowd for cuties, day or night.

Dinner & a Show

D Bar restaurant is my new fav with its sleek moderne design and delish dishes like Southern fried Belgian – a sweet waffle with fried chicken (yep!). Their macarons are also off the charts! Afterward, head to Diversionary Theatre for cutting edge theater at its finest.

Brunch ‘n Lunch

Colorful Café on Park with its deliciously imaginative breakfast dishes like egg scrambles, Captain Crunch pancakes (yep!) and crab cake benny, is sure to satisfy!

Shop till you drop

Shopping in Hillcrest

Shop-portuunities galore in Hillcrest

Stroll along Fifth Ave. and University Ave. for funky, one-of-a-kind finds. Park Blvd. is great for retro, mid-Century modern treasures.

> Discover more of San Diego’s Hillcrest

Brent Bernasconi

Craft Beer Continues to Invade San Diego’s Uptown

Pint at Poor House Brewing

The Uptown region (especially North Park and Hillcrest) is well-known for its great food (coffee, vegetarian), shopping and nightlife. Locals and visitors also flock to Uptown in search of great craft beer, and these recent additions only make it better.

Craft Beer Fresh from the Tanks

Thorn Street Brewery

Thorn Street Brewery Craft Beer Tasting Room

On warm days, the upstairs roof of Thorn Street Brewery opens to blue skies.

Some of San Diego’s most notable home brewers teamed up to transform a home brewing store into a 7 barrel brewery and tasting room. This family-friendly brewery is a great place to enjoy a flight of Thorn Street Brewing’s eight house beers in the main wood-paneled tasting room or the upstairs area with barrel tables and booths. Watch out for the chile beer: it sits there unassuming in the line up and then bam, it hits you half way through your flight.

As of this blog post, Thorn Street can only serve flights which allows the space to be all ages. My nephew had a great time playing with the provided books and blocks.

Where: 3176 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA 92104
Growlers: Yes
> Find out more about Thorn Street Brewery

Poor House Brewing Company

Pint at Poor House Brewing

Grab a pint at Poor House Brewing

After Firehouse Brewing Company sadly bottled its last bottle, the founder Chris Finch had the urge to continue to brew. Beer lovers can now taste his delicious concoctions and more than 30 other beers at his new brewery/bar, Poor House Brewing Company in North Park. While enjoying a cold one, challenge an old friend or a new one you just met at the bar to a game of pool and shuffleboard. If it’s on tap, make sure to try the “Panty Dropper Ale,” an 18.5% ABV beast brewed with red hots!

Where: 4494 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116
Growlers: TBD
> Find out more about Poor House Brewing Company

Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego – Opening Soon

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et1wudaKTNc]

San Diego’s first nano-brewery is enlarging its 1.6 barrel system (50 gallons per batch) in a warehouse to a 30 barrel (1,100 gallons per batch) brewhouse in North Park. The pièce de résistance is a 50 skybridge that will guide craft beer aficionados over the brewery, located in the open air basements below, to the tasting room and back patio. Mike Hess Brewing will also be canning their 5 regular beers and using the original warehouse for experimental brews.

Where: 3812 Grim Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Growlers: Yes
> Find out more about Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego

Craft Beer Bottle and Tasting Shops

Bine & Vine

What happens when the former proprietor of the craft beer store, South Bay Drugs, and a professionally trained sommelier join forces? They create Bine & Vine, located in Normal Heights, a craft beer and wine store that has become my go to place for a craft beer bomber or two ever since it opened. Joey and Stephen (former Beer Train Tour Guide) have a passion for craft beer and wine, respectively, and it’s reflected in the ever-changing local and international selections.

Location: 3334 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Bine & Vine

Bottlecraft North Park

Bottlecraft North Park

Browse the fine selection at Bottlecraft North Park.

The wildly successful and original Bottlecraft in Little Italy (and a frequent stopping point for me when I worked in Little Italy) is expanding into North Park. Those visiting and living in Uptown can expect the same great selection and knowledge of craft beers, all within walking and/or biking distance. Unfortunately, the owners could not bring the tasting room with them, but don’t fret – there are plenty of amazing craft beer bars and restaurants nearby.

Location: 3007 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Bottlecraft

Clem’s Bottle and Tap House

Will Ferrell Enjoying a Flight at Clem's Tap House

Looks like Ron Burgundy enjoys the flight selection at Clem’s Tap House. Photo courtesy of Clem’s Tap House.

Years ago, I went to Clem’s for Jolt Cola. Now I go to Clem’s Bottle House to pick up a local craft beer to enjoy at home or stop by the new Tap House to sample a flight of brews. Clem’s Tap House offers a rotating selection of four flights each offering four different styles of beer and/or a bottle list for those wanting to enjoy a full pint. Once you’ve ordered, snag one of the outside tables and enjoy your beverage of choice under the warm San Diego sky.

Location: 4100 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Clem’s Bottle and Tap House

> Enjoy more Craft Beer in San Diego

Been to one of the places above, or have another place in Uptown where you like to grab a craft beer at? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Maren

Contest: Enter to Win the Sweetest San Diego Valentine (Entry Period Now Closed)

Chocolate Exhibition - TheNAT
Chocolate Exhibition - TheNAT

Visit Chocolate: The Exhibition now at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Valentine’s Day is a day for sweethearts and sweets. And while we can’t raffle off the former, here’s your chance to get your fill of San Diego’s finest sweets. In the comments below, tell us what sweet San Diego plans you have for Valentine’s Day to win this chocolate contest including a basket filled with sweets from Eclipse Chocolat and four (4) tickets to see the Chocolate: The Exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum through March 10, 2013.

Chocolate: The Exhibition at the NAT

Experience the complete story behind everyone’s favorite craving in the Chocolate Exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Discover the history of how the unique cacao bean transformed from a bitter drink of Mayan kings into the sweet indulgence we enjoy today.

To make the experience complete, visit the museum of February 24, 2013 for Chocolate Sundays at theNAT- Chocolate Tasting, from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. Tasting tickets are $1 each and showcase a variety of chocolatiers, including San Diego local Eclipse Chocolate.

Where: 1788 El Prado Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Through March 10, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Eclipse Chocolate

Eclipse Drinking Chocolate with Burnt Carmel & Lavender Sea Salt- Yum!

Eclipse Drinking Chocolate with Burnt Carmel & Lavender Sea Salt – Yum!

Eclipse Chocolat is a San Diego local company on a mission to provide premium artisan foods and confections with a unique culinary perspective while maintaining sustainable and ethical operations. Enjoy enticing flavor combinations such as blackberry sage chocolate bars, exotic smoked almond salted toffee and decadent drinking chocolate with burnt caramel and lavender sea salt.

If you can’t wait, make sure to check out their brand new digs opening up in South Park on February 2, 2013, just in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day. For the full Eclipse experience, join them for an exclusive 4 course, cocoa-clad dinner on February 14, 2013. Seats are only $45 each with an optional 4-course wine pairing for an additional $20.  For reservations, call 619.578.2984.

Contest Rules:

  • Tell us in the comments below, what’s sweet San Diego plans do you have this Valentine’s Day? Duplicate entries will be filtered out and discarded, so adding additional comments won’t increase your likelihood of winning.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One winner will receive a four (4) tickets to Chocolate: The Exhibition, at the San Diego Natural History Museum through March 10, 2013 and a basket of chocolate from Eclipse Chocolate.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within one day of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries (comments) can be submitted until February 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM PST. Good luck!

Entry period has closed!

Brent Bernasconi

Mangia, Mangia! World Pasta Day in San Diego!

Fresh Pasta - Bencotto Italian Kitchen
Fresh Pasta - Bencotto Italian Kitchen

Dine on fresh pasta at Bencotto on World Pasta Day

My love for Italian food started early since I come from an Irish-Italian family and most of our dinners growing up either consisted of meat and potatoes or pasta. Today, my pantry always has a few boxes of pasta ready for the impromptu dinner or a date night at home with what I call Shalene’s Pesto Pasta (comment below if you want the recipe). However, sometimes my wife and I don’t feel like cooking and instead head on out for a delicious plate of pasta…made by someone else. 🙂

Since today is World Pasta Day, I wanted to share my three go to San Diego Italian restaurants for some pasta whether it be a romantic dinner, a family night out or a quick grab to eat while on the go:

Bencotto Italian Kitchen – Date Night done Right

Bencotto Italian Kitchen

Bencotto Italian Kitchen

I knew this place would be delicious when it came highly recommended by an actual Italian. Bencotto offers a romantic dining experience in Little Italy and since the weather is usually warm, sit outside on the patio for some al fresco dining. Start the meal off right with an antipasto of carpaccio di melone e prosciutto. For the main dish, my favorite is the Pasta a Modo Tuo, or Pasta Your Way, where you can pick your favorite sauce and pasta style (made fresh daily) for create the perfect meal. Cap off dinner with some tiramisu and an espresso.

Location: 750 West Fir Street San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Website: www.lovebencotto.com

Venice Pizza House – Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Venice Pizza House Sign

Head to Venice Pizza for a Family meal full of good ol’ Italian-American food.

Venice Pizza’s good ol’ fashion Italian-American food in a family-friendly setting is the reason my family has dined at Venice Pizza for well over 20 years. After a long day, this is the place my wife and I like to go to relax with friends or just by ourselves. When with a group, a few antipasti salads and pizzas are the order of the day. When it’s just the two of us, my wife orders the mushroom ravioli while I get the half and half (half spaghetti and half ravioli) dinner. Make sure to check their website for daily specials and for those over 21, a carafe of the house white or red is a great deal.

Location: 3333 El Cajon Boulevard San Diego, CA 92104 (map)
Website: www.venicepizzahouse.com

Mangia Mangia Mobile – Eclectic Italian on Wheels

Mangia Mangia Mobile Food Truck

Find the Mangia Mangia truck for a delicious and different take on Italian Food.

When you walk up to the Mangia Mangia Mobile, Marko (the owner) will greet you like a long last family member and will make sure you leave with a full stomach. When he catered our 30th birthday party, Marko whipped up a batch of delicious Italian Lolipops (meatballs on a stick dipped in tempura and fried served with parmigiano cheese and marinara dipping sauce) for an appetizer along with delicious Chicken Parmigiana sandwiches, Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli, and Lasagna Bolognese for the main courses. But since it is World Pasta Day, Mangia Mangia also offers spaghetti and meatballs for those looking for a more traditional Italian meal.

Location: Changes Every Day – Check the Website or Twitter feed for Daily Location
Website: www.mangiamangiamobile.com

Allora, cosa stai aspettando? E ‘ora di mangiare!

Tell me in the comments below, where/which is your favorite Italian restaurant in San Diego?

Candice

Trick or Treating in San Diego, the Grown-Up Version

Smashing Pumpkin Martini

As little ghosts and goblins come out to play and traipse from house to house in their sugar-fueled quest on October 31, it’s hard for the grown-ups not to feel just a little bit envious. Just because we’ve grown older doesn’t mean we have outgrown our sweet tooths (well, some of us, anyway)!

If you’re looking for a little sweet indulgence this Halloween, fear not – San Diego offers some diabolically delicious holiday treats sure to delight those too old for trick or treating.

Drink-or-Treat

Smashing Pumpkin Martini

For pumpkin with a punch, try the Smashing Pumpkin Martini at the Grant Grill.

No trick here: Halloween cocktails have seized San Diego. This Halloween, adults can do some drink-or-treating around downtown by hopping between hot spots offering spooktacular cocktails.

At Whisky Girl, ghouls and guests can choose from the Wolfman, a chocolate martini with vanilla vodka, the Frankenstein with Malibu, melon, blue Curacao, pineapple juice and whipped cream, and the Dracula served with a single shot of rumplemintz, a splash of cream and grenadine.

At the Grant Grill in the US Grant Hotel, the Smashing Pumpkin martini is a delicious mix of pumpkin and star anise infused rum, Grand Marnier, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, saffron syrup, cardamom bitters and fresh meyer lemon.

If you’re not too squeamish, try the Femur Shot at Searsucker, a concoction of coconut, lime and vodka served in steer femur bones and designed to be sucked out, bone marrow style.

Crazy for Candy

Truffles

Eclipse Chocolat truffles – a perfect addition to any grown-up trick-or-treat bag. Photo courtesy of Roger Tsen.

If liquid treats just won’t cut it and only the real thing will do, die-hard candy loving adults won’t be disappointed this Halloween.

Chocolate aficionados should head straight to Eclipse Chocolat in North Park. Exotic flavor combinations are offered daily, but seasonal specials include the Pumpkin Muscavado truffle and Spiced Pumpkin cupcake, a decadent chocolate cake filled with pumpkin butter and topped in a dark chocolate ganache and grains of paradise (said to taste like a mix between pepper, ginger and cardamom).

If waiting for Halloween to roll around each year is simply too long to wait to get your candy fix, at Alchemy of the Hearth in San Marcos, candy lovers can learn to make sweet treats at home with classes that teach the secrets to creating toffees, caramels, lollipops and even candy apples.

How will you indulge your sweet tooth this Halloween?

Robert Arends

Quick Guide to San Diego Pride!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…San Diego Pride, that is, coming up this weekend July 20-22! Pride is one of our city’s biggest summer events, especially for Hillcrest, the hip LGBT uptown neighborhood.

With SO much to see and do, I thought I’d narrow it down for our out-of-town guests with some favorite local hotspots to mix & mingle, unwind and boogie down.

Eat,

Hillcrest offers a wide range of dining options (hey, a girl’s got to eat! 😉 ), especially along University Ave. and 5th Ave. Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe on 5th is THE place for great Mexican food (you’ll love the carnitas), and it’s right across the street from Inn at the Park (see DRINK below). Asian Bistro on University (right down the street from Urban Mo’s – see DRINK below) is perfect for a late-night nosh after getting your groove on (the duck soup is delish!). Café on Park is my fav for brunch where you can nurse a hangover with Captain Crunch pancakes – yum!

Drink…

Good times on tap at Urban Mo’s!

Start your Pride pub crawl at Top of the Park, the fab Friday night happy hour on the rooftop of Inn at the Park. Enjoy phenomenal views of downtown, Balboa Park and San Diego Bay while sipping cocktails and socializing. Then head to Hillcrest’s most popular “family” of bars: Urban Mo’s (the patio is jumping!), Gossip Grill (for the girls!), Baja Betty’s (ole!) and Hillcrest Brewing Co. – the FIRST gay brewery in the world! Also be sure to check out Bourbon Street, our little slice of New Orleans on Park Blvd.

& Be Merry!

Picture-perfect Hillcrest!

Kick things off on Friday at the first-ever Pride of Hillcrest Block Party with DJs, dancing, food, drink and “Hillcrest Pride Flag Viewing” Ferris wheel (!) at the intersection of Normal St. and University Ave.

San Diego Pride Parade down University Ave.

On Saturday, the colorful Pride Parade takes to the streets (University Ave. and 6th Ave.) from 11am-1pm, with Grand Marshal Sandra Bernhard and actor Alex Newell from the hit TV Show “Glee.” This year’s theme is “America’s Pride” (translation: active duty men and women in uniform!).

The Pride Festival takes place Saturday (12 noon-10pm) and Sunday (11am-8pm) at Marston Point in Balboa Park (along 6th Ave.). Music headliner is Wynter Gordon, known for her smash hit single, “Dirty Talk.” One-day ticket is $20; two-day tix are $30.

For all you grooovestars, dance the night away at spacious Rich’s nightclub (with two outdoor patios) and the chic new discothèque Eden just across the street.

Let your rainbow colors fly proudly in San Diego!