A WEEKEND IN SAN DIEGO

It's kind of funny to think that I've been all over the world, but I've never been to so many cities in my own country, like San Diego. It's nothing personal against San Diego, but California is pretty hard to get to from the East Coast, and there were other closer cities on my list.

But dang, San Diego should have definitely been higher! There's not much I didn't like about my weekend in SD, and I already know I need to go back and spend at least 2 more days in the area.

For now, here's what I did this time! (AKA mostly what we ate and drank.)



FRIDAY NIGHT

We left LA around 11:30 and stopped for lunch near Dana Point. Unfortunately, this meant that we were stuck in some pretty gnarly traffic going into San Diego so we got there a little later than we wanted. Thanks to a deal on Priceline, we stayed at the Westin Gaslamp which was very nice but offered parking at a whopping $50 a day for guests. We had to drive around for a little bit to find overnight parking for cheaper, but we eventually found a garage about a quarter of a mile away.

Based off my one experience, I would recommend staying near the Gaslamp district. It was walking (or Birding) distance from so many attractions, restaurants, and breweries. We didn't even scratch the surface.

The Westin Gaslamp (not to be confused with the Westin Downtown a couple of blocks away) had a lot of amenities that we enjoyed (like free drinks at the hotel bar) and a lot that we didn't get to enjoy (like a gym where you could rent workout clothes and ride a Peleton bike and a rooftop pool with skyline views).

Our first order of business after checking in and changing was trying a flight of local beers. I liked this set up a lot because we got to sample four different breweries instead of four beers from the same place.


From darkest to lightest: Iron Fist Imperial Stout, Red Trolley Ale, Stone IPA, Ballast Point Blonde. I liked them in the reverse order, but I passed on the stout because to me those beers just taste like unfiltered super strong coffee and I don't have time for that!

 

Per the recommendation of a San Diego based-blogger, we went to Starlite for dinner. The location is pretty random, but the ambiance of the restaurant itself is very cool. The entrance into the room has won awards (according to Yelp). The bar area is really pretty too. It's set up in a way where you can still have private conversations and not be right up against your neighbor, but you don't feel totally disconnected from the people. We went around 6:45 without a reservation and got seated right away in a corner booth (hello people watching!) but I think if we had been later we would have had to wait. Plus, happy hour ends at 7!

 


We both got the Starlite Mules which were SO good! They're also a really good size. This is easily their most famous drink - if you go, take a look around the room and everyone will have at least one on their table. Per the blogger's recommendation, I got the Starlite burger (surprise, surprise... y'all know I love a good burger) but was honestly pretty disappointed. The bun to burger ratio was really off and I could barely taste the actual burger. Super bummed! And fear not, I got a side salad with it because we got fries to split. I don't have a picture of them, but they were so crispy and good, and so was the garlic aioli that came with them!


After dinner I (strongly) suggested that we go to a bar in the Gaslamp district called Bang Bang so that I could take a picture of the famous Ryan Gosling bathroom. It took a hot sec, but I ended up finding it! Pro Tip: you have to go to the Bang Bang restaurant which is up a flight of stairs. We went to the bar located on the corner at first instead. I mean, it's just a bathroom... but it's also Ryan Gosling. (There's not a mirror in the stall so all hopes of a mirror pic went out the window.)


We stayed at Bang Bang for a drink to thank them for the bathroom. I got the Shiso Mule which was good but strong. Bang Bang is cool if you're young and hip and have a lot of money for one of the sushi boats and a punch bowl. It's definitely not the place you'd like for dinner if you don't like DJs and low lighting and loud music. But it was definitely worth going to for a drink and a pic of the bathroom.

SATURDAY

Saturday was our fun day of brewery hopping! Did you know that San Diego is home to over 100 craft breweries?! I had no idea. We only made it to 3, because we wanted to do a harbor cruise in the afternoon, but just add it to the list of reasons to go back!



We started out in Coronado Island for brunch at a cute little bistro called Little Frenchie's. The meal was honestly just ok. This was the avocado tartine, which was technically a starter and not very filling at all. I did enjoy the goat cheese, though!



After we finished walking on the beach, we hit up our first brewery of the day: Mission Brewery. It's in a bit of a shady neighborhood, but overall a decent place! It also has a great view of Petco Park and I bet it's poppin' when the Padres are in town. I really liked the IPAs here, especially the hazy IPA. And you can't go wrong with a blonde ale!



Next up was Stone Brewery. Although the main location is a little bit of a drive from San Diego, there are several taprooms around the city. We went to one near our hotel (Bird distance!) with a nice outdoor seating area that was honestly perfect for the afternoon.



I also totally forgot to take a picture of the samples I got on this flight - but look at the tasting size! Can you blame me?! The only one I didn't love was the reddish one - it was mojito inspired. While it was still good, if I want a mojito, I'll just have a mojito!



Our final stop of the day was the Karl Strauss Tap Room, which (luckily) was walking distance from Stone. We only got one flight to share (though somehow I ended up drinking almost all of it?) because we were about to go on a Harbor Cruise and ain't nobody got time for seasickness. Favorites here were the Pilsner and the Hazy IPA.



Special S/O to the rosemary pretzel bites for providing some much-needed sustenance 🙌🏻

We had another beer on our Harbor Cruise (Ballast Blonde) which we had from our flight at the hotel. It was great! Also, would definitely recommend taking a Harbor Cruise on a nice day. It was a bit windy on the boat, but it was also cool to learn a bit more about San Diego's water history.

Soooo the main reason we decided on SD was to drink beer and eat tacos. We did one very well, but for those keeping score at home you'll notice that we have had approximately ZERO tacos!

Good news, that problem was quickly resolved on Saturday night. We had been recommended La Puerta by our hotel so we Birded home from our boat tour, changed into fresh clothes, and headed out for some delicious tacos.

Except... there was a wait. But luckily! There was a restaurant next door to snack at while we waited. S/O to Las Hadas for making our guacamole dreams come true. The coolest part about the Gaslamp District (in my opinion) is that a lot of restaurants double as bars, so they have very cool atmospheres early in the night. It makes you feel better about not staying out late! 😉

 

As soon as we paid the bill at Las Hadas we could hear our name being called at La Puerta next door (sort of). This bar/restaurant was awesome and weird, and when I say that their tacos were the highlight of our trip I'm not joking.


This is a TERRIBLE picture, but these tacos were SOOOO good! I did the mix and match and got carne asada, carnitas, and pastor. The pastor was my favorite, but honestly they were all three so good! We also got homemade tortilla chips with tomatillo salsa that were also amazing. Definitely would recommend going to La Puerta if you're in the neighborhood!

SUNDAY

One of the areas of SD that I really wanted to go to was La Jolla Cove! This is definitely the most ~instagram famous~ neighborhood of San Diego, famous for its beachside cliffs and sea lions/seals on the rocks.




We had brunch at Cove House, which just opened up. We decided to go there because of the striped umbrellas that reminded me of an Italian coastal town (lol) and because we were hungry and it was the first restaurant we came across.



I had wanted the chickrizo (chicken chorizo sausage) skillet, but they were out even though it was just past 11. I ended up getting the veggie skillet with eggs instead of tofu, and it was pretty good!

 

  

We easily could have spent the rest of the day in La Jolla, swimming at the beach (sort of - lots of tiger sharks in these waters and I don't mess with that kind of stuff) and snorkling and watching the seals/sea lions, but we had to head back to LA before traffic got too bad. Joke's on us, traffic is always bad.



The worst part? We had to leave just as the sun was coming out.

San Diego, I will definitely be back!

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