Let nature provide
Hills, valleys, and seaside
Let the seasonal bouquet of East County and coastal chaparral inspire homespun holiday treats. A pungent whiff of Cleveland sage on Sycuan Peak or Sycamore Canyon might inspire sage shortbread cookies. Wild rosemary calls out to infused simple syrup for Christmas cocktails. Radish blossoms punctuate a New Zealand spinach, wild fennel, and nasturtium salad. Respect sensitive species, know what you are eating, wash everything thoroughly, and never forage in protected areas. Better, plant your own and replace thirsty lawn fixtures with native, drought-resistant edibles.
Over 20,000 gray whales travel between the waters off Alaska and the Gulf of California every December through April. San Diego touts about 70 miles of coastline along this path (the longest annual mammalian migration on Earth) and several idyllic vantage points to spot offshore pods as they pass at around six miles per-hour. Grab some binoculars, pack a picnic, and head to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma, or the bluff trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve for a glimpse.
Burton interpreted in Tijuana
Calle Sexta and Avenida Negrete, Zona Centro, Tijuana
This twisted Tom Burton holiday classic finds new context under the direction of Tijuana musico Sergio Gutiérrez, who has adapted the stop-motion film to the stage with original compositions sung live over studio recordings. “Entra al Mundo de Jack” (or “Enter the World of Jack”) runs December 4, 11, and 18 starting at 6:00 p.m. at the no-frills TJ Art & Rock Café. Tickets are available at the door for 200 pesos (about $15) or 150 presale.
Nocturnal bazaar à la Blade Runner
2036 Avenida Ocampo, Colonia Cacho, Tijuana
Not long after a handful of forward-thinking restaurateurs transformed street eats into haute cuisine, Baja Med is being brought back to the streets via a growing number of outdoor gastrocourts. The most recent, Telefonica Gastro Park, is a caravan of food trucks parked behind a Telnor office. At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 13, the park transforms into the second installment of Night Market 2419 — a nocturnal bazaar inspired by a Blade Runner skewed sci-fi vision of Asian flea markets. Here you’ll find 20+ expositions from local artists, boutique designers, and culinary vendors. Free. Pet- and family-friendly.
Chinese dinner in Mexicali
Mexicali is home to the most Chinese residents per capita in all of Mexico, thanks to an influx of agricultural laborers around the turn of the 20th Century. Today, the city is peppered with over 100 Chinese restaurants in addition to an enigmatic China Town, called Chinesca, which sits above a labyrinth of underground corridors that date back to the Prohibition Era. Celebrate the New Year’s tradition of Asian eats at highlights such as China Town (774 Madero), Rincón de Panchito (1990 Benito Juarez), Restaurante Beijing Mexicali (891 Justo Sierra), and the 24-hour Restaurant No. 8 (150 Avenida Juárez).
With a name like “Puerco Salvaje”...
Baja’s desert capital has been proving its weight in worth via biannual fests and creative collaborations with San Diego brewers such as Coronado, Green Flash, and Pizza Port. Hop into El Show (1326-2 Calzada Cuauhtémoc) and Industrial Bar (1360 Avenida Marmoleros) to sample local drafts from Tres B, Dos Pistones, Fauna, Juguete, Urbana, 686, Puerco Salvaje, Legion, Peninsula, and Picachos. Then buy some bottles to take home at El Sume (845 Boulevard Justo Sierra) and La Artesanal (Calzada Cuauhtémoc and Rio Fuerte). IPA fans will delight in Fauna’s Lycan Lupus, 686’s Teta de la India, and Dos Pistones’ Rocker.