There are few moments when visiting San Diego that I’m seriously taken by surprise. I’ve lived there. I visit often. I pretty much keep tabs and know what’s new to check out and what stand by is worth revisiting. Somehow the Syrah Wine Parlor remained under the radar and underground…literally.

On the hunt for a pre-dinner drink, we first caught glimpse of a heavily papered stairwell. Located on the main 5th Street Gas Lamp drag, this unsuspecting little gem awaits below street level and with very little signage. In fact, once down the stairwell it’s almost impossible to  locate the camouflaged door among plastic ivy covered walls and dim lighting. Inside you’re greeted with raw wood, moss and glass. Lots of it. The lighting is actually the most impressive – Botanical chandeliers constructed with thick 50 year old grape vines as well as old wood barrels stuffed with patchwork cushions.

The Mix cheese, meat and veggie plates are of good size and quality. The wine list and specialty cocktails are more diverse than any other spot along this downtown strip. Truffle Shuffle anyone? A must try for the curious, but be warned. This lemon, basil and truffle vodka infused number is not for the light of heart….or pallet. Intimate wine tasting limited to 14 guests also happen on the weekends, definitely worth a second trip down the rabbit hole on our next visit.

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