Each month we ask one of our favorite San Diegans the question:
If you only had 24 hours to show a friend the best that urban San Diego has to offer, where would you take them?
Live: North Park
How Long: San Diego native
San Diego is a city meant to be experienced outside. The urban core of the city has tons of good food experiences to offer, so we start at Urban Solace in North Park, sharing a Pork Belly Benedict, gooey cinnamon roll covered in icing, and a dish aptly named The Kitchen Sink. The food is great, it can be enjoyed on the patio, and the service is always delivered with the warmth characteristic of San Diegans.
As luck would have it, a nearby artist owns a home décor-meets-cool stuff shop called Pigment two doors down from the restaurant, so we pop in for a purchase. You get all the benefits of reminding your loved ones you thought about them without the hangover of purchasing cheap tchotchkes. Score!
Gift purchased, we head outside, hop on our bikes, and cruise down to Balboa Park for a look around. We sneak in a New English Pure & Simple IPA and an Elemental Pilsner from Lightning – two local breweries – at Panama 66, and check out the adjacent art in the garden while we’re there. Back on the bikes, we do a leisure loop down the Prado and head to stop number two.
I need to make you earn our next meal coming back across the hill at Florida Canyon because no San Diego stop works without a trip to Carnitas’ Snack Shack. Named for the owners’ cute pet pig, The Shack does many things well but the steak sandwich is one of the best things on the menu. We go half on that with a beet terrine and one a la carte carnitas taco before grabbing a Claritas Kolsch and Mother Earth’s Cali Creamin’ (more local beer) to keep our lunch relatively light. Ha!
Loving this outdoor life, we hop back on the bikes and take a ride down the big hill at Pershing with the beauty of the Coronado bridge in the distance — dodging cars along our way — and then to the waterfront. We ride up Harbor Drive a little to take in nature’s beauty and then cruise up to Little Italy, where the cocktails at Herb & Wood are worth the visit. We sip an old-fashioned and a bartender’s choice featuring Mescal, and contemplate the joys of life.
Leaving the bikes parked, we catch the tail end of the sunset and head for one of San Diego’s best Italian meals at Bencotto Kitchen. You put me in charge of ordering, so we order up the burrata, riso fritto, a salad and finish with the lamb ragu tagliatelle. You’ll talk about that dish when you get home, trust me. We’ll have to Uber back home for the night and hope the bikes are safe, but enjoying San Diego this way was kinda worth the gamble.