SoCal: San Diego

Posted on August 24, 2015


I’m now mostly based in LA and making the most of living in California, this weekend we hopped in a zipcar and drove down to San Diego, booking Z Hotel last minute on Hotel Tonight (I also hear the W Hotel is particularly cool there too – their pool gets rave reviews).

I had high hopes for San Diego from all the reports I’ve had, and wasn’t disappointed. Downtown, the Gaslamp area, reminds me of Austin. In fact the whole city vibe does.  There is so much to like about it.

Hotel Z had all the creature comforts needed, especially good beds and sheets. Certainly not a five star, but perfect for a weekend adventure, with excellent location, and fabulous free beach cruiser bikes to get around on.

We cycled* up to Balboa Park where you could spend several days. Check out the Botanical Building with it’s lily ponds, the Japanese friendship gardens, the open air organ (check ahead for concerts) and of course the infamous zoo (which we didn’t see – we’ll come back when we can give it more justice).

IMG_0921If you can get hold of bikes, take them on the ferry over to Coronado (just under $10 return) and ride around. We whiled away an afternoon at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado (think “Some like it hot” and Airforce One fly overs, an apparently its haunted). The beach in front is also idyllic with an enormous white sandy beach. hey, maybe consider staying there a couple of nights, as long as you don’t mind your wallet getting a little lighter 😉

FullSizeRender-3The Padres were playing over the weekend so we took in (some of) the game at Petco Park. I really must get someone to explain baseball to me whilst I’m here, it would make the experience much more whole. You can wing it with beer and hotdogs just fine though.

Something I hadn’t realised that San diego was famous for is it’s craft beer. Sample at one of the breweries downtown such as Half Door Brewing or Stone Brewing Co, or hop in a taxi to 30th and Madison where there are a bunch of places. We loved the Fall Brewing Company, who gave good advice and samples until we made our pick, and a pizza truck outside for (mediocre) snacks.

IMG_0352The appreciation of taste doesn’t stop at great beer, the food scene has exploded with far too many options to try.

Our first night we ate at the Double Standard. I loved everything about it: decor atmosphere, outstanding service, oh and the food. Wow. I particularly loved the squidink and razor calamari in yuzu sauce and topped with a sweet cherry jam. Just beware that small plates are anything but.

Being so close to the water, I also wanted a seafood fix and we settled on Ocean Pacific Grill, which ended up being a good choice. The Hamachi sushi was zesty and delicious, followed by a generous portion of large juicy prawns over linguine.

A friend from San Diego game me these top tips too. Just tell her I shared them with you…

Little Italy
Craft & Commerce – Based on book “Animal Farm” – they play readings of it in the bathroom. Great food and better for cocktails. I love spending weekend afternoons here.

Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar – So good and fresh.  Newer and trendy.  The type of place that refuses to give you ketchup for your fries.  Great cocktails.

Juniper & Ivy – Huge, lively and very good. Sharable plates. A focus on the “left coast”

DaVanti’s – Italian. Order to share and make sure you get the mascarpone polenta with topping of the day.

Isola Pizza Bar – Great for napoli pizzas. Trendy.

BenCotto – More upscale Italian – A date night kind of place. Will and I love it here. I’d recommend a reservation or turn up early and sit at the bar.

Vin de Syrah – Enjoy figuring out how to get into this place.  I’m not telling the secret but great place once you’re in! Think Alice in Wonderland once inside.  Wine bar with bites.  Only downside is its huge – too huge, especially on nights where it might not be so crowded.
Basic – Nice casual pizza place – good pizza and great crowd. Nice open space with huge windows that’s perfect on a nice day or night. Close to Petco Park

Wine Steals – these are great wine bars throughout the city. One overlooks balls park.  

*another good bike ride is along the bay from Seaport village to Harbor Island where you can stop at C-Level for lunch or a cocktail with gorgeous views back on downtown, or the all new Coasterra.