One does not simply waltz through a perfect food day with nary a care in the world. No, sir. A day of eating requires hard work. Down and dirty stuff, with much elbow grease, and no small amount of gumption. One should hit the end of an epic food day with eyes glazed over, and the belly-deep satisfaction that makes it physically hard to sleep at night, when traitorous thoughts of one...more...bite…dance across the weary mind.
But, where to begin?
970 North Coast Highway 101, Leucadia
First coffee should be from Cafe Ipe (970 N. Coast Highway), because their Revolution Roasters beans brew dark and strong, not the fruity effervescent neo-espresso of third-wave American coffee roasting. The potent stuff dribbling from Ipe’s espresso engines would make an Italian proud, and it instills the power to go on with breakfast from Claire’s on Cedros (246 N. Cedros Ave, Solana Beach), where the tree-shaded patio makes for peaceful surrounds and the lemon-ricotta pancakes — perhaps augmented with pecans and blueberries — induce a swift and glorious early food coma.
750 W. Fir Street #102-B, Little Italy
In the wake of a hero’s breakfast (maybe steak and eggs, if pancakes didn’t do?), the beach calls. Roasting in the sun and battling some North County surf frees up the necessary calories for lunch at Monello (750 W. Fir Street). This should be a two-plus-hour affair, comprising many glasses of their wicked house vermouth; salty lupini beans; and courses of salami, hand-cut prosciutto, and imported cheese spaced in even intervals. The expense would be ludicrous, but how else to follow the sugar bomb of a pancake breakfast than with vermouth on the rocks and salty snacks?
4820 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach
Salted and groggy, the only cure would be to head back beachward, to Azucar (4820 Newport Avenue), where the pungent sweetness of a café cubano reinvigorates the nerves; best sipped slowly in the sun while the O.B. riff-raff cruises by.
1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla
Buoyed once again by strong coffee, happy hour at George’s at the Cove (1250 Prospect Street) is the way to go. Take a moment to indulge in an easy drink, a Pimm’s Cup or Paloma, and contemplate the sun sinking toward the cove. The dinner reso is back in Little Italy, but not for Italian food. Dinner’s to be Japanese, at Shino Sushi + Kappo (838 W. Ash Street).
One word: omakase.
Each bite a perfect jewel of finest fish and delicate rice. It happens subtly, one mouthful at a time, but the experience slowly, gradually overwhelms. The briny richness of uni, the snap of raw octopus, and the fatty, melting sexyness of high-grade tuna belly laid over perfect grains of rice: it’s an experience like none other, the most reserved form of gluttony.
326 Broadway, Downtown San Diego
Anything less than a moment of silence following such a meal would be profane, and the best place to find solitude is at the bottom of a snifter of cold Fernet, sipped with the utmost gentility at the bar of the Grant Grill (326 Broadway). Yes, maybe the Grant is a fine restaurant with a wild cocktail program, but let it all go. Soak in some Art Deco-y vibes, and just...digest.
Save room for a slice of pie from Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon (155 Quail Garden’s Drive) and maybe one more cup of homebrew coffee. Critics have prophesied a pie renaissance for the better part of a decade. It never came, but Betty’s doesn’t care. A slice of their pecan, strawberry-rhubarb, or (best of all) shoofly pie, enjoyed at home, should put the finishing touches on a day of pro-level eating.
Falling into bed and making empty promises to “never ever ever do that again” is proof of great success in epic eating.
Or...one could slouch into the following honorable mentions and do the whole thing on the super cheap and dirty, but much to the same effect:
601 W. Washington Street, Mission Hills
5019 Cass Street (inside Latitude 32°), Pacific Beach
4206 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
5050 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach
3365 India Street, Mission Hills
3860 Convoy Street #106, Clairemont
Breakfast (601 Washington Street, Hillcrest) for sub-$1 coffee and the best maple-glazed French crullers around.
Alex’s Brown Bag
Lunch (5019 Cass Street, Pacific Beach) for Philly cheesesteak fries and cold PBR at Lat’s with alternative sports on TV.
Happy hour (4206 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa) for legit shave ice, only $1.50 for a not-really-that-tiny size during happy hour, that’s great for after a drinky lunch.
Newport Pizza and Ale House
Dinner (5050 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach) for strong beer and very good slices with a touch of lovable grunginess.
Post-prandial digestif (3365 India Street, Midtown) for whatever glass of whiskey suits the moment...probably a High West Campfire.
Dessert (3860 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa) for Belgian waffles, topped with Italian gelato, at a Vietnamese bakery, right?