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ride that wave

ride that wave

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Little Italy

San Diego’s coffee culture continues to grow, and San Diego Magazine has a good writeup on the Third Wave trend that’s (finally) becoming increasingly popular here:

The most recent phase, known in the industry as the Third Wave, is coffee craftsmanship of the highest level. Drilling down past sourcing and labeling beans by country, they’re sourced from specific farms. The dark roasts made popular by Starbucks are now manifesting into lighter, brighter roasts, more acidic and almost sour (though this isn’t a defining characteristic of the movement, just a result of it). New serving techniques also mark the arrival of the Third Wave: A pour-over is a slow-drip single cup of coffee made to order, where beans are ground and placed in a filter-lined ceramic funnel and hot water delicately drenches the grind. Siphoned coffee is brewed in an hourglass-looking device that uses heat and vacuum pressure to reverse-cycle (from bottom to top) hot water through coffee grounds. Cold brewing is an eight-to-12-hour process in which room-temperature water percolates through coarsely ground coffee.

Along with pioneering third wave locals like North Park’s Coffee and Tea Collective (and innovative roasters like Caffe Calabria), Bird Rock Coffee Roasters keeps the ball rolling with their new location across the street from Juniper and Ivy in Little Italy.  They’re currently doing a soft opening with hours from just 7 AM to noon, but on a recent morning they had a steady stream of customers braving the jet path noise from above.

Roast Magazine’s Daily Coffee News has more information on BRCR, including the equipment they’re using to create all those delicious offerings.  Just try not to order an iced soy latte like I did on this warm morning. While it was still great, I had forgotten that at Third Wave spots the coffee flavor is meant to be experienced on its own (despite past pour-overs from Coffee and Tea Collective and researching Third Wave cafes while in London).  That’s OK, there should be many more opportunities for me to sample as intended, along with enjoying my beans purchase.  And speaking of beans, don’t forget the excellent ones from Modern Times roaster Amy Krone, a big part of what makes their Black House coffee stout so amazing, and likely their new Monsters’ Park imperial stout.

Downtown, nearly-open Bean Bar (across from the new library; pictured below) and Copa Vida (at the northeast corner of Park at the Park – not far from where Petco will get a giant new scoreboard and left-field hangout area) will also continue the third wave in San Diego.



Elsewhere downtown, upscale Italian joint Double Standard opens next month in the former Corner Counter Burger spot at 6th and G, and will serve up Neapolitan pizza and…

…signatures like Cavatelli with Ricotta Dumplings, made with sausage, fresh sliced truffles and a grana padano sauce. The restaurant will also offer small plates composed of carefully selected and combined ingredients, like clams and mussels with Nduja, a spreadable Calabrian sausage made in house. Diners looking for larger dishes will also find wild, fresh-caught fish, dry-aged ribeyes and a Crackling House Porchetta Sandwich. Another standout on the menu is Double Standard’s pizzas. Tender specialty dough is baked in wood-fired ovens to create a crisp, crunchy base piled with organic San Marzano tomatoes and meats cured in house.

Back in Little Italy, “Latin-inspired” seafood spot Sirena has opened, as has Kettner Exchange at Grape:





The historic Star Building at Beech and Kettner has been demolished for the mundane 10-story, $24 million dollar parking garage shown in the rendering below; it will provide daytime parking for County Administration Building workers (their lot was removed for Waterfront Park) and nighttime parking for Little Italy restaurant patrons.  At least it will include ground-floor retail, but this was a big architectural loss for San Diego and another disincentive for County employees to use public transit.


In Hillcrest, South American gastropub Buffalo Public House opened in the former East Village Asian Diner spot on University recently… Just west on University, Bearitos Republic has opened in the former Sloppy’s Burritos… but the biggest recent news in Hillcrest has to be the closure of Harvey Milk’s Diner and the subsequent outrage over legitimate criticism of the restaurant.

Harvey Milk’s got off to a bad start by painting the Egyptian-era, iconic bright fruit frieze above the restaurant a steel gray, then proceeded to put up trashy Bud Light banners and happy hour signs.  Food quality and service problems were widespread on their Yelp reviews.  There was a strong Log Party Republican presence in a gay community divided by the polarizing Carl DeMaio.  But it was one of the owners telling the head of Bike San Diego (while she dined there) that bicyclists should be hit by cars to “teach them a lesson”, that really soured me on the place.

Given the above, it was difficult to read this piece by Jerry Troyer in DeMaio’s partner’s publication, which cried out:

Can’t we treat people, and especially the people in our own community, with a little compassion and understanding? One has to admit that it takes a lot of courage and dedication just to make the decision to start a new business. Why can’t we honor them for that?

We are looking for the straight community to treat us (the LGBT community) with dignity and respect. Oh that we would treat each other that same way.

Frank Lechner hoping for bicyclists to get hit by cars is exactly the lack of dignity and respect that Troyer is railing against. And regarding compassion for others, why did Harvey Milk’s apparent financial backer, Phil Pace of Phil’s BBQ, donate ten thousand dollars to take away a desperately-needed pay raise from tens of thousands of San Diegans earning minimum wage?

OK, enough of that – over in North Park, Safehouse has opened on University, and on Park, S&M Sausage and Meat is open… There’s a big bottle share this Sunday (same day as CicloSDias!) in North Park… The monthly Boulevard Market on El Cajon had its inaugural event last month in the parking lot of the building where Heart and Trotter will be opening; it features some of San Diego’s top/upcoming chefs… Further east on El Cajon, right behind a Rapid 215 bus station, the new YMCA looks pretty close to opening (next month):


While I’m excited for the bike parking in the parking garage, I’m disappointed in the sheer scale of said garage. This is an urban neighborhood on a major transit line – do we need to be encouraging thousands of drivers per day to this location? And in a city that’s desperate for more housing, why do we continue to prioritize housing cars instead?


transforming hillcrest

transforming hillcrest

Lots of restaurant changes going on around town – Heights Tavern in Normal Heights has been bought out and will be closing this week, according to Hutton Marshall at Uptown News… Plumeria’s new spot is coming along on Adams… A friend says Eddie’s on 30th in North Park is closing and will make way for a Queenstown Public House operation.  I never did get Eddie’s concept – the menu was so wide-ranging that there had to be some serious Sysco going on… Across the street, Veg-N-Out is also closing… Marie’s on University is being replaced by a new Lucha LibreDark Horse Coffee is opening a location in the You Are Here project in Golden Hill… Acme Kitchen downtown has also closed; we enjoyed our dinner there a while back but there’s no way I could eat there regularly without elastic waistbands… Comun is open downtown with an upscale Mexican concept; chef Chad White has worked at Roseville, Gabardine and Counterpoint.

Meanwhile, LGBT Weekly asks why there’s been so much restaurant turnover in Hillcrest – but considering the above, restaurant changes aren’t unique to this neighborhood.  We get New York magazine (gotta use those airline points) and there’s plenty of turnover all over that city too.  Maybe it’s not about the parking as the article implies, but rather strong competition for a finite dining-out dollar.

– Upcoming: come to Modern Times Wednesday at 6 and support the minimum wage increase, since our current mayor and former mayor heading the SD Chamber of Commerce will be doing their best to keep thousands of San Diegans working in poverty… Monty Python and The Holy Grail finishes up the Normal Heights summer movie season at Ward Canyon Park (Adams and I-15) this Saturday at 8… There are a couple of clean-up events coming up: Operation Clean Sweep this Saturday morning cleans up the bay, while Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday 9/21.

– A new residential project is planned for the vacant lot just east of Albertsons on University:

View Larger Map

As SD Streets notes, this is the same architect who designed the Columbia Lofts going up in Little Italy (Columbia St, between Fir and Grape), and there’s an interesting-looking possible rendering of the University project. With North Park Nursery moving in a few doors east, this humdrum stretch of University is looking up.

– I attended Jim Frost’s Transforming Hillcrest presentation last week at the Hillcrest Town Council and was impressed by the thought put into the plan, which would provide protected bike lanes while retaining all current parking on University:


Something’s gotta give, and in this case it’s two travel lanes, which could create traffic flow issues for the frequent bus service on that street.  I had assumed SANDAG performed a traffic study indicating no travel lanes could be lost, but apparently that’s not the case.  We’ll see if they consider this plan, which has broad community support.


– We were headed to the beach Saturday (this has been the best beach summer I can remember since moving here in late 1997, btw) and got caught in the backup from the 7-car sandwich just east of I-5 on I-8.  Here’s a map showing this is the worst stretch of I-8 in the city:


I looked at other freeways individually since you can only plot 1000 collisions at a time, and this appears to be the worst freeway stretch within city limits, largely due to the morning backup onto the I-5N off-ramp.  While Caltrans is widening this off-ramp, why not reduce speeds and/or add caution signage in the area?  It’s been a problem since at least 2000 when I began driving this route (although now I usually exit at Taylor and take the bus to work on my UCSD days – or ride my bike to the Hillcrest/UCSD shuttle).
– Looks like the I-5 widening is going to happen; meanwhile, San Diego ranks poorly on transit.