San Diego 2024: food & drink

by | Feb 1, 2024 | Food & Drink, Travel, USA Travel


This year we arrived in San Diego in the early evening, so after checking in to the hotel {link to hotel blog post} we drove to Hillcrest Brewing to check out what they had on offer. Originally I was interested in their sour (partially hidden as it is kept separate from the other beer lines) but it didn’t have much sour flavor going on. Instead I went for the BNS raspberry wheat, while Leandra chose the Burning Beard Baltic porter. We weren’t terribly hungry so we split a soft pretzel platter that came with five(!) house made mustards. The spicy honey was our surprise favorite.


For breakfast we stayed close by and tried Jane’s Cafe – a small open space on the ground floor at the the back of an office building. They are only open  Mon-Fri so this was our best chance to check it out. I opted for the egg and ham breakfast burrito while Leandra ordered the carne asada (she loved the refried beans). Staff were very friendly and everything was tasty and well priced.

In the later afternoon Leandra picked me up from my conference and we headed to North Park to check out Pure Project Brewing. I ordered the Astral Infusion, a wine barreled sour beer with pluots, while Leandra ordered Dreaming of Lions, an imperial stout with peanuts. This place is relaxed and comfortable – we would return.

Since we had a good (free!) parking spot we decided to walk to a favorite from our 2023 trip, Part Time Lover, a Japanese-inspired music and cocktail bar. I tried the bait & switch (cachaca, pineapple, yuzucello, coconut) and a Leandra had a sway reduction (shochu, grapefruit, elderflower). Leandra’s drink wasn’t very strong so we also split an Old Fashioned.

For dinner we went around the corner to URBN North Park where we shared a BBQ chicken pizza, plus a mango beer for me and a Pinot Noir for Leandra.


We couldn’t resist a return to the The Waffle Spot for breakfast – a quick 8 minute walk from the hotel. I loved my chocolate chip waffles, and Leandra needed help with her one egg, hash browns and mini waffle platter. Just like last year we both enjoyed all the local crayon-driven artwork hanging from the walls!

Toward sunset we took a colleague to Ocean Beach. First up was California Wild Ales, where I got the rosé sour and Leandra got the ‘Order the Porter’.

Next was Kilowatt Brewing, just a block away. I had the Peach Cobbler sour (lots of peach and graham crackers)  while Leandra went for the Christmas Ale. This was our first visit at night, and it was even more lit up than our previous daytime trips.

Finally, for dinner we had reservations at 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro. We were surprised at how much of a wine shop it was! The short rib sliders were excellent, very rich, and paired well with my Daou rosé. Leandra opted for the Pike Road pinot noir with her mussels and frites. Good to remember that they have a minimal $7 corkage fee too for wines purchased there.


I had an early start to meeting that morning, but a break in the middle of the day, so we went for brunch at Working Class where we split a chicken and waffle platter – just the right amount for both of us!

A few blocks away we visited the Shared Craft brewing building that houses three breweries. It is an interesting concept, with a large shared outdoor space and individual interiors for each brewery, which definitely had their own personalities. We tried the following:

  • Seek Beer Co: I started with the warm smile tropical punch sour, which was mildly sour, but had lots of tropical flavors, quite like a punch. My second pick was the cherry limeade.
  • Barley & Sword Brewing: Leandra went for the Yule Tidings Winter Spice Ale. She liked the overall vibe but it was a bit bitter. The bartender was very chatty and friendly.
  • GOAL. Brewing: A 5oz pour of the very strong (and delicious) Ube Latte for Leandra

Later that evening we went to dinner at Oltre Mare in Pacific Beach. We called ahead for a reservation and it was an easy walk from our hotel. The restaurant was even smaller than expected, really a house with 12 tables. Inside was quite lively, and since every interior surface is solid it was fairly noisy, but our meal was excellent. Leandra ordered the special, a ravioli with mushrooms and braised beef, while I selected the wild boar pappardelle. This restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license so you bring your own. Note that they do have wine openers available but lots of people brought sparkling wine and screw capped bottles, and others had six-packs of beer.


Breakfast at The Mission, our old fave. I couldn’t resist the standard mission platter with the rosemary potatoes, while Leandra got the Sweet Hawaiian linguica sausage platter. Again, we walked from our hotel – a little under a mile one way so we earned it!

For sunset we visited Amplified Ale Works during their happy hour, when most beers were $4. I tried the Strawberry Sournova from Almanac Beer Co, then the Eppig Glitz and Glam. Leandra had a High Water Campfire stout, then the Amplified Ale Works Harmony Imperial Porter. We also split a falafel appetizer, which was surprisingly good. Happy hour is a great deal and it’s hard to beat the sunset views!

Our dinner plans with a friend got rescheduled at the last minute, so we decided to do takeaway from Soi PB Thai. The panang chicken curry was great but the tom yum soup came with lots of inedible lemon grass pieces in it, boo.


Since it was right next door to our hotel we had to go for breakfast at Konas. Portions were just as big as we remembered! The egg burrito #3 was just as tasty too, and Leandra got her favorite egg sandwich. We also lucked into a table with an ocean view. Konas is probably our favorite morning spot on the beach, and we returned for breakfast on our final morning too.

For dinner we went up to Hillcrest and tried Barrel and Board. We split a three cheese board – sage infused, Brie, and wine infused goat cheese accompanied by loads of fruit, crackers and grilled bread. We each tried two wines based on our bartender’s recommendations: Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc and then Bella Grace Rosé for me, with a Coehlo Pinot Noir and Asuncion Ridge Inception (red blend) for Leandra. We sat at the bar, enjoyed the music playlist, and our bartender, Jess, was fantastic!


With the conference winding down we had more time available this morning, so we walked to Olive Cafe for breakfast. The special cinnamon roll French toast worked well for me, while Leandra tried the lox on rye. Their hot chocolate with whipped cream is well worth it too!

In the afternoon we returned to Ocean Beach. While Leandra checked out a few antique shops (and did a quick wine tasting!) I read a book and sipped on a California Wild Ales dry hopped sour (5oz). When she returned we split a small pour of the Skull and Cross Barrel Flanders red and chatted with the owner of the sweet pup in the photo below. :)

We decided to head back to Kilowatt to try beers we didn’t get to try on our previous visit, namely the Belgian Quad and the Ukraine imperial stout. Both delicious and enjoyed outside in the sunshine.


For dinner we returned to French Gourmet in Pacific Beach, with a later reservation so we could meet a college friend. Good to know that their kitchen tends to close around 8:30p for the future! Parking can be a bit scarce in this area so we opted to walk and thankfully the weather cooperated. Leandra went for the the classic house Malbec and steak entrecote with fries, while I paired a chablis with chicken marsala and potatoes dauphinoise. Really good!

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Valencia, Spain (Mar)
Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)</br />Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)