Empty for decades, the Old Police Headquarters has finally come to life with a mix of restaurants and shops. The exterior landscaping gets points for a colorful mix of drought tolerant plants, but it does get a bit repetitive on this south side that faces downtown. Also on this side is the Cheesecake Factory patio, reminding downtown residents where 40-year leaseholder Terramar’s priorities lie: attracting tourists. And who can blame them – after sinking millions into redeveloping the site, they’re going after the sure money. Hopefully a greater business focus on locals at the Headquarters will happen someday when there’s more residents living on this side of downtown.
The interior courtyard is appealing and was busy on a mild Saturday. Puesto and Pizzeria Mozza both have seating that spills into the courtyard; Seasons 52 is off in the southeast corner, and Eddie V’s isn’t open yet. We forgot to check out the old jail cell open to the public.
We ate at Puesto – I still haven’t been to their La Jolla location, so it was a first for me – and they’ve put together an interesting interior over two levels and multiple rooms:
We did the 3 tacos for $11, which is a pretty low price point for a meal given the rent they’re likely paying. My favorite was the potato taco, but the fish taco was amply-sized; the guacamole and hot sauce were both delicious. Several people were opting to order from the kitchen area and carry their tacos to the outdoor seating areas.
One disappointment with the Headquarters was the lack of bike parking. A mere 8 bike slots hidden in the back of the facility doesn’t cut it, and people were locking bikes to anything that would suffice. We were glad we biked there too – as we waited to cross the street to Ruocco park (below), drivers were having road rage fits as traffic backed up, gunning it through the intersection and laying on their horns.
We made our way along the Embarcadero, noting the re-opening (and flattening) of Harbor Drive:
And the signage showing the planned changes for the pier and Embarcadero:
From there we headed to northern Little Italy to the new Ballast Point restaurant/bar/brewery:
Several “deconstructed” Little India Pale Ale beers were on tap, variations of the pale ale brewed on-site. I like the serving size options – 8 oz of the Black Eye blended ale (1/3 Black Marlin Porter, 2/3 Big Eye IPA) was just right, and I did a taster of the Pale Ale #1 – the version with all the spices thrown in.
Ballast Point was nearly full (the dining area was busy too) and I think it’s going to be very successful as this neighborhood continues to grow. Juniper and Ivy restaurant (construction shown below) is opening just a block west, and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters has announced plans to open nearby. One bummer was seeing the “No Alcohol” signs on the Little Italy Association tables outside – God forbid we drink a beer on the sidewalk. I wish Ballast Point had their own patio or rollup doors, but given its proximity to the landing path, I can see why they don’t. And install some bike lock stands please!
Broadstone condos at Grape and Kettner look like they’re getting close to completion:
On our ride back to the car we passed the new federal courthouse and snapped a couple of shots; hopefully this outdoor space isn’t so desolate at lunchtime during the week:
- Shorties: Casa de Luz closes tomorrow (Sunday) in North Park… in East Village, look for Green Flash to open a new brewery/tasting room, and SILO in Maker’s Quarter is holding a Holiday Happening next Saturday 11-11.