When I think of my ideal food day in San Diego, it doesn’t involve heavy white linens, maître d’s, or putting on a suit and tie. Maximum dining enjoyment in my laidback hometown comes from delicious food enjoyed with ease. So, I’m trading a dress shirt for my favorite Pearl Jam concert tee, slipping on jeans that fit just right, and embarking on an eat-about that will include the San Diegans that mean the most to me.
3950 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest
First stop is Snooze (3940 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest), for a replay of Father’s Day 2014 with my son, a foodie in training who knew me well enough to know I’d go gaga for this Colorado-born breakfast emporium. There, we will order dueling eggs Benedicts (Ham Benny III for him, a chilaquiles with barbacoa and airy poblano hollandaise for me) and a pancake flight. The kitchen staff breaks out of the doldrums of early a.m. short-order cookery by coming up with outlandish flavor combinations for the daily pancake special, so we’d get whatever crazy thing they dreamt up (maybe Cocoa Puffs, cherry-vanilla granola, whipped cream, and white chocolate sauce…) and be sure to include a banana Nutella model, a treat that never disappoints. Snooze also serves up eye-opening adult beverages, but I’ll abstain for now, because any perfect day spent in San Diego must include local beer.
8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa
It’ll take a while to work up an appetite for lunch, so I’ll give my car keys to my son as a reward for putting up with dear ol’ dad (he has two years before he’ll be ready for what will be a righteous introduction to ales and lagers), then call my beer-drinking buddies to pick me up and usher me to the first of several brewery tasting rooms — Societe Brewing Company (8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard). I’d love this place even if my silhouette wasn’t emblazoned on a barrel-top on their west wall (I’m the pipe-smoking hobo with the knapsack). India pale ales like their crispy yet boldly botanical Pupil make even this non-hophead salivate. If this were indeed a perfect day, one of their rare sours would be on, too.
4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
From there, it’s off to nearby O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy Street) for more suds — likely from Alpine Beer or Benchmark Brewing — garlic fries, and a gargantuan Tom’s Torta. Served on an extra-large, slightly crunchy roll, layered with spicy pepper mayo and stuffed with enough deli meat and cheese to feed three of me, it sounds simple but is so tasty and satisfying that it reigns as my favorite sandwich of all time.
7705 Convoy Court, Kearny Mesa
Dinner’s in Little Italy, so there’s ground to cover, but no reason to peel out of Kearny Mesa just yet. First, we’ll stop at Council Brewing Company (7705 Convoy Court) for a sampler flight from this husband-wife upstart that will surely include their Pirate’s Breakfast Oatmeal Imperial Stout. Then we’ll go from one of San Diego’s newest operations to one its oldest, hitting up Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen (2215 India Street, Little Italy). With 51 beers on tap, many more samplers of the R&D beers being crafted on-site by award-winning brewer Colby Chandler will be in order.
2228 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
I’ll be pried from my barstool and my friends by the need to make my reservation time for dinner with my wife at Juniper and Ivy (2228 Kettner Boulevard), where I’ll take a new perch at the bar facing the open kitchen. It’s dinner theater at its finest, watching Richard Blais’ crew pump out innovative and artfully plated dishes. I’ll start with one of my favorite things — a warm, down-home Southern-style biscuit with smoked butter served in a mini cast-iron vessel — and follow it up with chopped beef tartare and quail eggs on toast. From there, crab linguini in sea-urchin sauce; it’s the sort of thing culinary dreams are made of. It’s tough to say what would come next since the menu changes with such regularity, but it’ll probably involve offal or something similarly weird/rare.
7556-D Fay Avenue, La Jolla
There’ll be plenty of gelato and tiramisu nearby, but my dessert will have to have been purchased earlier in the day since Michele Coulon Dessertier (7556 Fay Avenue) isn’t open this late. In this scenario, the missus took care of that. She also liberated the AleSmith Bourbon Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout from my beer fridge and brought it and two snifters along for the ride. So, we’ll take Michele’s carrot cake up to a secret spot of ours overlooking San Diego, sip rich, chocolatey imperial stout, and make a toast to a day well spent.
Breakfast: Parkhouse Eatery (4574 Park Boulevard, University Heights)
Lunch: The High Dive (1801 Morena Boulevard, Bay Park)
Dinner: Dumpling Inn (4619 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa)
More Beer: Churchill’s Pub (887 West San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos)