Jeff Smith 2 p.m., July 30
Next Door: wine for La Mesa
A charming wine bar on an unexpected stretch of El Cajon.
Next Door Wine Bar is almost all the way out at the end of El Cajon Boulevard, past the college and into La Mesa. That’s a long way to go from North Park for a glass of wine -- even if it’s just fifteen minutes down the freeway -- but for La Mesa locals, Next Door is a winner. It’s owned by the same people who run Treehouse Coffee Company, right... next door. You see what they did there?
The wine bar is, without exaggerating, adorable. The look they’ve achieved is a mix of bohemian and retro craftiness. Instead of just going for one, big space, the interior is segmented by angular bar partitions, and off-square spaces. I felt like wherever I sat would have been private and cozy.
It’s not extensive, but the wine list is affordable and mostly available by the glass. Very brief tasting notes follow each bottling on the menu and, from my experience, they were accurate. Being given this information up front is pretty great because, for me as well as most people, identifying scents like “cedar” in a wine isn’t always easy and it’s always good to be able to practice matching words with smells and tastes.
As cute and fun as the bar was, the snacks left a bit to be desired. A flatbread with mushrooms, squash, and sage had good intentions, but they fell short of achieving any real synergy of flavor. Similarly, a pulled pork quesadilla was not much improved over one from TGI Friday’s. Nothing was outright expensive ($7-$10 on average), so there’s no real prohibition on eating at Next Door. But the ambiance and wine are certainly the biggest draws.
7235 El Cajon Boulevard
W, Th, Sun 4-10