Well that was a quick five months. After the city council approved the Jacobs bypass bridge in Balboa Park I figured a blog break was in order, but I didn’t realize it would last that long. While it’s going to be tough to watch San Diego’s best public space ruined for a misguided, 1960′s-era tribute to the automobile, it’s probably doesn’t justify ending this blog. Plus, it’s been a good learning experience – never expect your elected representatives to support the public interest when it runs counter to the wealthy. Especially in San Diego!
So a lot of stuff has happened since July, including President Obama’s re-election, which we hear seriously pissed off Republican owner Phil Pace of Phil’s BBQ. I’m guessing the owner of O’Briens Pub, who pulled advertising from City Beat due to its liberal endorsements, would concur. Papa Doug and John Lynch over at the UT couldn’t have been thrilled about their candidate Carl DeMaio losing the mayoral race, biased polls notwithstanding. At least I know I’m not the only one who pouts when their side doesn’t prevail.
One of the biggest developments in the uptown neighborhoods has to be next month’s opening of the bar/restaurant from the owners of downtown’s Neighborhood. Going into the former Kadan space at Adams and 30th, Polite Provisions will serve mixed drinks on tap, while meatballs are the main menu item at Soda and Swine next door (thanks to the new Eater San Diego for the menu preview). All of the establishments opened by Consortium Holdings have been big hits in their respective neighborhoods, and with Jayne’s Gastropub and Blind Lady Ale House nearby, this part of Normal Heights/North Park keeps getting better.
Further east in our neighborhood of Kensington, we’ll settle for a somewhat less original concept – pizza and beer – at Haven, according to San Diego Magazine. Opening in January from the owner of Kensington Cafe, it should be a pleasant alternative when that 45-minute wait for a table at Ponce’s across the street is just too much. I’m just happy that I can add “barber” to the list of things I can walk to, since Adams Ave Barber Shop has opened at 3801 Adams. Vietnamese barbers seem to do the best job with what’s left of my hair, so no more racing to Happy Barber (1 or 2) in the Mesas for that post-work haircut.
Some favorites we’ve been frequenting over the past few months: Uptown Tavern in Hillcrest, with a wide drink selection, well-designed interior and use of outdoor space that’s a big improvement over Sushi Ono formerly in that spot; the healthy-yet-tasty options at Pita Jungle across the street (avert your eyes from their cartoon-y signage); Big Front Door‘s awesome sandwiches and salads, just down the street from Sprouts in North Park; and the amazing design, bar and food at Brooklyn Girl in Mission Hills – one of our favorite dinners in recent memory. Try the duck; either the salad or main entree, which had significantly different flavors.
It’s good to see the positive changes along a formerly-troubled stretch of El Cajon Boulevard in North Park, including the recent addition of San Diego Soup Shoppe just west of 30th and its wraparound outdoor patio:
Each soup our group ordered was delicious, but the uniquely-flavored mushroom and brie was the winner. Next door, The Barn bar/restaurant will be opening soon from the same owners and share the patio. Across the street, San Diego Coffee and Tea Collective looks like it’s been imported straight from Williamsburg, and their pour-over coffee is fantastic:
Throw in Tiger Tiger down the street and things are looking up on the Boulevard.
On the cycling front, San Diego selected Deco Bikes for their bike share program; we rode these in South Beach last month and found them easy to use but a bit expensive – $4 per half hour:
If you’re riding solo or cycling up and down the beachfront they’re perfect, but it was significantly cheaper for us to take a cab (or walk) when we ventured from our friend’s townhouse to the movie theaters several blocks north. I’m not sure how $24/day in Miami somehow turns into $8/day in San Diego as the article above states, particularly if the city is going to make money off the program as Mayor Sanders vowed.
A quick aside – why does San Diego need to make money off its bike share? If I understand this article correctly, it makes exactly $0 from parking fees collected at parking lots and structures (compared to $85 million annually in Los Angeles), yet we need to squeeze cyclists? Only in San Diego. Still, I’m eagerly awaiting a map to see what neighborhoods and streets get racks.
Ruocco Park opened next to Seaport Village recently and features this art pice, The Riparium, from San Diego artist Roman de Salvo:
Art critic Robert Pincus has a good piece in San Diego Magazine comparing this sculpture’s selection versus the Port District’s override of its own art commission to permanently erect the “lazy”, “pandering” Unconditional Surrender statue nearby. Hmm, maybe it is time to take another break from blogging about this city… just kidding!
More culture: we lucked out and won tickets to the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots musical at the La Jolla Playhouse (thanks FM 94.9); the music, props and glowing robot technology more than made up for any thin-ness to the love triangle story. My favorite part was when each robot lit up one-by-one in a half circle across the entire stage. Owl and Bear has a review.
Speaking of technology, there’s an ambitious arts and entertainment district proposed for downtown that would light up building exteriors with art, and include LED signage. Sounds interesting, but there could be a catch: would amending the city’s strong ordinance against off-site advertising (e.g., billboards) for this case weaken the law city-wide? From what I’ve been told, yes. L.A. offered a cautionary tale recently in this regard, where nearly 2000 billboards were illegally erected. Hopefully there will be more vetting of this project as it proceeds, but like with the Jacobs bridge, keep an eye on the money.