Quartyard’s courtyard. Graffiti artist RISK’s 6K-square-foot masterpiece in background.
1301 Market Street, San Diego
So last week, down in TJ, this cool courtyard, Telefonica Gastro Park, instantly reminded me of our very own Quartyard, that deliberately temporary spot for getting together with a few drinks, a few dogs (they get their own playpen), and a few snacks of bar-type food.
That got me wondering. Have our guys survived? Because casualties around East Village have been heavy.
Kim, Brandon from Beshock ramen restaurant nearby. Quartyard is their go-to.
Tonight around six, I’m bouncing up on the Blue Line trolley from 12th and Imperial. We get to Park and Market. Can’t resist. Have to jump off and go see if you can still go get a pint at Quartyard.
I head east. Get tempted by the sight of Beshock, the really cool ramen and sake place across Market. But no. Eyes on the Prize! Looking for the converted shipping containers across 13th. Because that’s what Quartyard is: a couple of containers around an empty lot turned into social gathering spot with long tables and benches, a Burgers & Bites kitchen, the Seahorse coffee place, a stage for shows in better times, and a fenced-in dog run.
Huh. First thing: the green astroturf dog run is no longer for dogs. Second is the benches and long picnic tables have been replaced by actual tables and chairs. Oh yeah. Bet that’s all about social distancing. Third thing: alright! The bar is still here, and still open.
Sliders. Pulled pork, short rib, shrimp patty. Enough meat? Oh yes.
A cool dude behind it comes up. Michael. “Sit anywhere, or at the bar. We’ve got happy hour for the next ten minutes.”
So I think of sitting at a courtyard table under the strings of overhead lights that are just coming on. That’s when I see a muralist has been at work. Man! He’s painted the en-tire building next door, which used to be one big ugly wall. Alpha Square. Now it’s like a rainbow that got caught in the rain. So great. Someone at the bar says it cost about $30K.
I decide to jes’ sit up here. Quicker action as the end of HH approaches. I hitch a ride on a tall stool opposite the list of beers.
Nicest guy in Quartyard, but don’t mess with Barkeep Michael.
“In time?” I ask Michael.
“Oh sure. We can stretch it. You sat down in time. That’s the main thing.”
While I’m waiting, I check through their website. Love that students from NewSchool of Architecture right here in the Village got like three old shipping containers, hit ’em with the oxy-acetylene torch, and turned them into a coffee place, a kitchen, and a nice long bar.
So lessee now: “What’s most popular?” I ask Michael as he flashes by. He’s the lone guy serving everybody, and the place is filling up.
“Juicy Lucy Burger, for sure,” he says. “The patty is stuffed with cheese inside. People love it. That or the BBQ and bacon burger. Or the flatbreads.”
I see flatbreads are $14. Not the cheapest, but fries or salad are included. Plus you can add bacon, egg, or avo for $1.
Then they have “bite-size burgers,” at $15 for three of them.
Mini mountain of Loaded Fries with carne asada. Guac, sour cream cover lower slopes.
Also, they have a ton of “bites,” like “loaded fries,” stuffed with avo cream, sour cream, pico de gallo and your choice of carne asada, chicken, pulled pork or Impossible crumbles - the pretend meat. That’s $15. Wings and fries are $13, and for $12, cauliflower bites with stuff like carrot sticks and celery for your wascally wabbit side.
But I don’t want to push my luck on HH; there’s just two minutes to go. Two bucks off all beers, $5 beers as selected by the barkeep, plus $7 mule or margarita, and $2 off certain bites. I go straight to a can o’beer I know I love: Modern Times coffee stout. Then I decide on the loaded fries.
And this pile is totally delicious. With lots of the carne asada I opted for, lots of tentacles of cheese, guac, cream, tomatoes, the usual, but dang, so good. Perfect with this beer.
But... in my usual greedy way, I can’t resist the mix’n match of the three sliders with a side salad. I choose one each of the three flavors, shrimp, short rib, and pulled pork. I take a bite each, just to see what they’re gonna be like when I get them back to the ranch. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The panko-breaded shrimp patty is in a nice remoulade sauce, but still a little fishy.
Short rib slider? Love the iceberg lettuce, horseradish sauce, marinated mushrooms, and pinot noir wine sauce. Sweet thing going on, and mustardy prickles from the horseradish sauce.
So the race for best in class is all tied up between the short rib and the pulled pork sliders. Because the smoked pork butt, pineapple ginger slaw, and gentle BBQ sauce,make a truly delicious combo. And value-added: They give you actual chunks of marinated pineapple.
Honestly, it’s so good to see a chef really taking the trouble to create interesting, tastebud-caressing flavors in the oh-so humble burger slider. Website says Chef Cirilo’s the guy.
On my way out, I pass this gent chomping away. Local East Villager. Have to ask him if he knows about who did the mural. “RISK,” he says. “All caps! Just about the most famous graffiti artist on the coast. Brilliant guy. Real name’s Kelly Graval.”
Props to RISK. Who else would dare to make a 6000-square-foot painting. And to Quartyard for commissioning it. Now, everybody you see here is like bathed in colors. And at night? Can’t wait for concerts to come back.
- The Place: Quartyard, 1301 Market Street, East Village, 619-432-5303
- Hours: Monday, Tuesday, 3-9pm; Wednesday-Sunday, 12-10pm
- Prices: Juicy Lucy Burger, (cheese-stuffed patty), with fries or salad, $15; (add bacon, egg, or avo, $1 extra); three “bite-size burgers” (carne asada, pulled pork, shrimp), $15 for three; loaded fries (with carne asada, chicken, pulled pork or Impossible crumbles), $15; BBQ chicken flatbread, $14; Hawaiian flatbread, $14; wings and fries, $13; grilled cheese, tomato bisque, $8; cauliflower bites, $13
- Buses: 3, 5, 12, 901
- Nearest Bus Stops: Market Street and Park Boulevard (3, 5); 11th and Market (12, 901)
- Trolleys: Orange Line, Blue Line
- Nearest Trolley Stop: Park and Market, Park Boulevard and Market Street