Coffee, Pot Pies, and the Classic Club... checking out the food in San Diego...
Looking for some local color and food flavor for your upcoming summer get out of Los Angeles weekend? Are you tired of the same old routine that includes all of those chain food joints when you visit a town?
Fret no more! In a whirlwind two days in the beautiful city of San Diego, I had some great food and a chance to experience some wonderful areas in one of America’s most beautiful cities.
We all know everyone these days is drinking coffee, or at least one of those sugar laden concoctions we all call coffee. A great local café to start your visit is Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge. Located in the North Park area of the city, this place is surrounded by Starbuck’s outlets. Don’t let that discourage you, and don't pass this place up.
The place is huge, full of tables inside and out. This gives you a great place to people watch. If there is a drawback, it’s that there is no wi-fi, but with all of the tables, take a game along and you and your partner can make an evening of it.
In the same North Park area and within a few blocks is a San Diego tradition, The Chicken Pie Shop, on the corner of El Cajon and Utah. This is the diner you've seen on television a thousand times.
Since 1938 they have been serving up their classic Chicken Pie Plate. For $7.50 you get soup, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, vegetables, bread and the star of the meal, a chicken pot pie.
Hand made and bursting with chicken, these little gems were wonderful. Mixing both shredded and chunks of chicken, light and dark meat, I could eat one of these everyday. And I am guessing some people do.
Once you are rested up, or have spent your afternoon swimming in the pool or nearby Mission Bay, it’s time to head on over to the Gaslamp District for some dinner. 16 blocks of urban cool, this area is the heart of San Diego.
Catch a baseball game, hear some great music, pick up the latest fashion accessory, or laugh the night away at one of the local comedy clubs. It’s all here along with a host of trendy restaurants, some with less than 20 feet of street frontage, but packed with energy, vibe, and great food.
We ate at Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint, but don’t let the name scare you. The food was anything but rotten. We started with sweet potato fries and beer. I had Yellowtail Pale Ale from Ballast Point, a local microbrewery. On draft, this was a nice beer alongside the fries, which were served with a maple dipping syrup.
For dinner, I had the club sandwich, made with a wonderful applewood smoked bacon. Crisp toast, all the right ingredients, and served with fries... they call it the Classic Club, and they delivered.
As good as the club was, perhaps the star of the night was the “Dirty Sanchez” Baja Burger. Served with jalapeños, salsa, guacamole and topped with pepper jack cheese, this 100% organic burger was a handful. Top it off with a nice cold one, and you can’t beat this burger.
But maybe you are a vegetarian, or are just in the mood to skip red meat. Not a problem in this place. Everyone of their burgers can be made with a vegetarian patty, chicken, or even turkey. That shows you how importantly they take the customer at Nicky Rottens.
So next time you are in San Diego, skip the chains. Look for the local flavor and be amazed. You can eat at Chili’s every night when you get home and you can get your favorite caramel laced coffee the next time you pass through the Starbuck’s Drive-Thru on your way to work.
Getaways are about a change in the routine.
Next time you are in San Diego, go get a great handmade chicken pot pie, people watch, and experience a great burger. Without a doubt, the Gaslamp District and North Park, are two area you should not miss next time you are in San Diego.
a nice hat tip to joe ramirez of mission focused for helping with the pictures!