I maintain a rather lovely long distance relationship with San Diego. In fact, this side fling has been going on for over a decade. I lived there while going to UCSD and to this day I still look forward to twice-annual bike rides along the beach, hiking in the Torrey Pines and getting my fix of eucalyptus and the perfect…oh you’re so perfect….72 degree air.

San Diego. I love you.

Some people don’t understand your allure and I’ve heard the names they’ve called you: Bro-Deeee…Not pleased!

I suppose some people can’t look past the some-what lackluster visits to Sea World or the drunken Post-Padre mobs that swarm the Gaslamp without warning. Have they not enjoyed a sunset cocktail at the Hotel Del? Have they not witnessed the massive Stag Horn Ferns at the botanical gardens or the even more massive chicken y papas burrito from Santana’s?

No…I think they have not.

I suppose these people have not explored San Diego’s blossoming neighborhoods bursting with unique restaurants/pubs and  personable owner-run boutiques.  Perhaps they have not taken the advisement of  The Urbanist Guide for that matter…which is a pretty spot-on resource for even those of you fine folks living in the 619…or 858.

Recently I set sail south with a mission: Two Days. Four Neighborhoods & The Urbanist as my bohemian beacon. I strayed a few times…only because I have traditions. Traditions far too deep to uproot.  I’m sentimental that way…and I can not refuse when Filippi’s calls my name for some late night spaghetti and market sweep.

On this voyage, new traditions were made. New streets were strolled. Parts of town were re-explored (North Park ain’t what it use to be when I lived there 10 years…and I’m liking it). Is it possible I fell a little more in love with San Diego?

It most definitely is. ¡Vamanos!

 

PREPKITCHEN // LITTLE ITALY:

The best happy hour in town? You bet your bottom dollar it is.  Amazing tapas and creative bevvies all priced under $4  — the atmosphere is airy, casual and prepped for communal table social interaction. Swing by here before starting your evening….or to end it depending on your schedule (they also run a late night happy hour). Make sure to visit the restroom to witness an impressive collection of fancy pet portrait china hanging from the wall.

 

CRAFT & COMMERCE // LITTLE ITALY:

This establishment is a must for me. Sometimes it’s even a must twice in one weekend. Craft & Commerce has lured me in with a friendly staff,  handsome brickwork/taxidermy decor, hearty yet mature pub food and the introduction of The White Negroni (Suze,  gin, sweet white vermouth, and Cocchini Americano serviced with a lemon twist).

This beverage changed me…Errr, Did I mention the pub food?

Holler at me mini corn dog trio! These tiny battered pork wonders are served with homemade pickles, artisinal mustard and somehow don’t make you feel any food-guilt for inhaling them all in under 5 minutes. I mean…they’re small, right?

That being said – I’ll take three more.

THE NOBLE EXPERIMENT // THE GASLAMP:

When someone tells you to go down the street, enter  Neighborhood, walk directly to the bathroom and lean against the stack of beer kegs…Just do it.

Don’t ask questions, just do it.

Actually, you might as well plan ahead and make a reservation to do such things because those beer kegs are actually a secret door that lead you into a cocktail wonderland like none other. The Noble Experiment is something special – the walls are lined floor to ceiling with glitzy skulls, haunted mansion-esque rotating artwork and stacked with small batch liquor varietals.

Seating is limited, if you’re like me and like to watch and chat up the bar staff you’ll want to claim a front row stool early-bird style. Ordering bartender’s choice is also a must.

 EL TAKE IT EASY // NORTH PARK:

I want to make “El Take It Easy” my new motto. I also want surf ‘n turn taquitos to make waves around this globe, more specifically to Los Angeles in an endless supply for me to consume. The menu explores Mexican Wine Country and introduced me to such wonders as Baja Wine and beer battered shark tacos with chicharrones and kimchi.

Yeah, it’s pretty safe to say that I would make myself at home in that dining room if I were a local. Swoon!

 

PIGMENT // NORTH PARK:

Just walking into this place with give you a green thumb…or the fanatical desire to sprout one. Botanicals make you nervous? Fret not – Pigment even offers Plant Lab workshops to help you get your craft on and create modern Eco Orbs.

Be prepared for eye candy overload. Gorgeous terrariums cover every nook, colorful gardening books are stacked high and there is a dizzying selection of Euro-Mod tableware that will get your inner home designer heart pounding. As hard as you try to resist, you will not be leaving empty handed.

PROGRESS // SOUTH PARK:

If I could exchange friendship bracelets with any shop..I think it would be this one. Progress, you get me. Towers of beautifully bound books, food magazines to the gills, letter press gift card central and a selection of housewares that you’ve already been stalking all over the internet. Consider it the perfect one-stop-go-t0 for any of your gift giving challenges.

Let’s just say I had to seriously control myself in this store. First, to keep from buying everything in sight. Secondly, to not bear hug the owner and ask her to become my new BFF.

Yeah….it’s that charming.

 

JUNC // SOUTH PARK:

This store is a trinket collector’s paradise. Housewarming coming up? Birthday conundrum?! Check and check. This place is stock piled with  unique and eclectic curiosities  ranging from porcupine quill pens to antler bottle openers. Looking for something a little tamer? There’s also a lovely selection of crisp smelling candles, herbaceous soaps….and some beautiful porcelain scissors which I had a serious one on one conversation with to discuss the reality of coming home with me.

Consider yourself warned and shopping bag full.

Thank you Urbanist Guide. Meals were consumed…thirsts were quenched…and shopping was conquered.

Until next time, San Diego…You handsome little seaside tart. Muah!

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