Downtown San Diego Stories

Ace friend seeks Horton Plaza deal

Mall's collapse could prove costly for taxpayers

Downtown's Horton Plaza shopping mall, which used millions of tax dollars to level acres of historic buildings in the late 1970s, has itself been hollowing out of late. Multiple levels of vacant storefronts bear grim ...

Can carne asada fries be non-traditional?

A Mexican restaurant redux

We were walking around the Gaslamp looking for lunch when my friend spied a waiter, on his way to deliver food to a diner seated on a restaurant patio. It was a large, fat burrito, ...

The wild west is back in San Diego

Limebike hogs show, but it is Ofo bikes that are stolen

Sunday afternoon in El Cajon I unsuccessfully tried to find an ofo dockless rental bike to help me get around town. I traveled to five locations where the ofo app listed an available bike, but ...

Ooh, ahh, we need more convention center space

Sail Pavilion lighting precedes hotel-tax-increase sales pitch

During the month of February alone, 13 custom color schemes were drawn up to project on New York’s 103-story Empire State Building. On February 9, they went with red, white, and blue to honor American ...

Light Greek

“Meze” is a Greek term for small plates

When my family and I managed to beat all odds and get Hamilton tickets through the lottery, we knew we wanted to make it an evening out by also getting dinner. But Dad had just ...

SD City College instructors plan protest

Colleagues' lawsuit vs. administration strikes a chord

Instructors at San Diego City College will stage a protest Monday (January 29th) from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Arts and Humanities Building, 1442-1494 C Street. They will be supporting a lawsuit filed December ...

Bone-dry Broadway Fountain will be wet again

No, hepatitis scare did not shut down the Gill-built 100-some-year-old

Gregory May was at Horton Plaza last week when he noticed the historic Broadway Fountain was drained. He asked the mayor and councilmember Chris Ward via social media why it wasn't operating and "wasn't this ...

The elusive mid-range of curry heat

In search of khao soi

"Hey, what's the name of that Thai spot we liked?" my friend called to ask. Good question. I'd found its menu on a web delivery service, and I'd never once had to pronounce the restaurant's ...

A mojito with grassy flavor

Havana Club’s aged rum part of the secret

The Gaslamp’s newest Cuban eatery, Havana 1920, seeks to capture the heyday of America’s Playground and its pre-communist jazz-and-limelight nightlife. The restaurant’s beverage director Ryan Andrews says that its owners were inspired to open the ...

Sandag accused of eminent domain abuse

“We absolutely need this. We have buses laying over in eight different locations."

The San Diego Association of Governments is considering using eminent domain to take an entire downtown block. The land owners say they are concerned about what the agency plans to do with it, since the ...

San Telmo's empanadas sold out, but I waited

The sandwich not what I expected

Minus a few empanada shops, there are only a handful of Argentine restaurants around San Diego, so I perked up when I heard that San Telmo Argentine Café had opened in the Gaslamp. Argentine cuisine ...

The ice melts slowly and the flavors peel off

Striders calls it the New Fashioned

As January draws near, Striders general manager Tony Martineau found a way to raise a glass for the old year rounding the last bend even as the new year comes galloping out of the gate. ...

Dobson's happy hour includes the bisque

What's the secret? New Zealand mussels.

Bah, humbug! Seriously. Just once, I wanna be rich at Christmas. Be able to splurge, party, take folks out, presents for everybody, not sweat the lettuce. Already, the holiday thing’s starting to strain wallet, patience, ...

Cool vibe and crispy croquettes

But the best part was the Cuban sandwich

I haven’t had much opportunities to try Cuban food in San Diego — a taco shop always seems to get in the way — but I was intrigued when I discovered a new Cuban restaurant ...

Downtown homeless people driven north by cops

Normal Heights residents vexed with influx

Normal Heights residents remain frustrated and angry over the recent influx of homeless people in their neighborhood — which city staff say was prompted by the downtown streets bleaching to ward off hepatitis A. The ...

Reading the menu vs. eating it

Transitory Gaslamp means you have to straddle tastes

Running a restaurant in the Gaslamp isn’t easy. The transitory nature of the place means you have to appeal to discerning locals as well as tourist traffic passing by. That’s the challenge facing a place ...

Kimpton Hotel's alleyway of Mexican primo spirits

1/4 ounce of creme de violet binds to scent receptors

“Curadero” may not mean much outside of the downtown San Diego Kimpton, but within its lobby-side, mural-strewn walls, the neologism signifies top-quality Cali-Baja cuisine, inspired cocktails, choice drafts, 80+ premium Mexican spirits (including mezcal, bacanora, ...

Eleven kinds of patties at Burgerim

Beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, dry aged, salmon, veggie, Spanish beef (chorizo), wagyu beef, and merguez

Merguez. Never quite knew what it was. A North African region? No. That’s the Maghreb. Some organization in a James Bond movie? Nuh-uh. It took me coming to the squirty fountain in the new Horton ...

El Mezcalito — attempt to bring mescal into the fold

Agave-based avatar of San Diego’s cocktails

There are as many flavors to mescal as there are Ramirezes or Smiths in the San Diego County phone book — but only Del Maguey Vida Mescal is best suited for Puesto’s mescal cocktail, El ...

If there’s a vote on the convention center...

Convention-center numbers crunch — taste bad, more filling

There is a new breeze blowing through the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Unfortunately, it smells much like the last one. Since 2009, I have been interviewing Heywood Sanders, the Texas-based university professor who is ...

Hotel barons circle convention-center board vacancy

Hepatitis politics and real estate battle loom over ill member replacement

Could one of San Diego's wealthy "hoteliers" make it to the board of the city-subsidized convention-center corporation? That is city hall's question of the hour as the controversy-prone administration of Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer continues ...

The lines go clear to Sixth Avenue

Donuts versus salad — vice and virtue — guess who wins

Between the optimist and the pessimist, the difference is droll; The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist, the hole. — Oscar Wilde I can’t help thinking of Oscar. Because in the heat of this Santa ...

Old bike-sharing company, new plan

"We’re trying to get that first mile and last mile.”

DecoBike is looking at a dozen places for stands in North Park, Uptown, downtown, and Golden Hill after getting kicked out of the beach areas by the California Coastal Commission, city engineer Brian Genovese said ...

Farrah Fawcett, Tom Selleck hang on the walls

Ralph forgot to offer me a bite of his salad

My husband Ralph and I were on our way to the airport and had time to kill so we headed to the Gaslamp. We found a parking spot but didn’t know where we wanted to ...

U-T subletting newsroom space

Adieu to 25 percent of "cool" millennial digs

When the San Diego Union-Tribune announced in November 2015 that it would vacate its 43-year-old Mission Valley headquarters in favor of a $40 million, 15-year lease of four floors in a downtown high-rise, the paper ...

Short-term vacation rental explosion

“No one wants a clown car house next door.”

Locals in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach who say their neighborhoods are increasingly jammed full of unregulated mini-hotels are right, according to the city treasurer’s annual count of short-term rentals. But other neighborhoods — downtown ...

Normandy butter on G Street

Three four-inch quiches

"Think Agatha Christie,” says Agathe. That’s her name. Agathe. Means “good” in Greek. But she’s French. From Normandy, which should be named the Butter Capital of the World. They have black and red and white ...

Hepatitis A outbreak: Month 11 looms

"A lot of people feel safer and cleaner having to crap on the street."

An outbreak of the fecal-contamination-borne liver disease hepatitis A has sickened more than 400 people in the San Diego area since November 2016, causing national media outlets to mock the "man-made disaster" that thus far ...

The stuffed cookie wait is over

Refillable jars on G Street

For months I'd been taunted by the online traces of the Good Stuff Cookie Co. The pop-up cookie shop serves up stuffed cookies from inside East Village's idiosyncratic men's apparel boutique, 5&A Dime. At least ...

Coava’s coming to town...go elsewhere for batch brew

Portland coffee roaster opening at Westin Hotel

Coava Coffee may not be a household name, but in the world of specialty coffee, it’s always positioned at or near the top of any list ranking the best coffee roasters in Portland, Oregon. And ...

A bagel not trying to be a New York one

Rolled oats, wheat bran, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and sea salt.

The Gaslamp got a new bagel shop in August, and like North Park's new iteration of Nomad Donuts, this one's offering an artisanal take on Poland's chewy and beloved boil-and-bake pastry. However, while Nomad has ...

Horton Plaza has gone to seed

Even the Ben & Jerry’s is gone

On my first morning in San Diego — July 1995 — I set off walking toward downtown. I was young and I didn’t know anybody, so I went to be where people were. Once there, ...

Comic-Con sideshows: the $6 million yacht, the preacher, the cigarette bummer

Why follow a fantasy?

Mark came to Comic-Con from Laguna aboard his friend’s 85-foot, $6 million yacht Motown, a sleek gray vessel tied up alongside the Embarcadero just south of the convention center. “I’ve been here every year for ...

Park Hill — a church on Fir Street planted from Portland

"The gathering on Sunday is the huddle and everything we do all week long is the game"

Membership: 125 Pastor: Evan Wickham Age: 36 Born: San Diego Formation: Western Seminary, Portland, OR Years Ordained: 15 San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach? Pastor Evan Wickham: God is ...

Comic-Con's black market

“I still sell foreign (bootleg) stuff, Japanese, Tagalog, and Italian spoken 1960s Spiderman cartoons."

Mister-X has been selling bootleg videos at the Comic-Con International for 22 years now. “I made about $2000 in [the last] five days (July 19-23),” he said, “I used to make that in one day ...

The historic Nanking becomes Vietnamese Food Shop

Asian Grab and Go

Something’s staring back at me through the chainlink fencing. Sunlight glints through the sockets of his eyes. Wow. King Kong? His giant skull. In bits. On the grass. “Buddy, I said bring the drill,” says ...

Comic-Con scanning scamming

“They never checked IDs before”

“We had people [trying to come inside Comic-Con] dressed as Elite security wearing black polo [shirts] that said Elite on the back,” said Paulina, “[but] we don’t hire Elite security and then there was one ...

Funko dolls cause crush on Market Street

Stuck on Saturday morning cartoons — Scooby Doo, Huckleberry Hound, Jetsons, Flintstones, Wacky Races

Ricky Franco and his two sons camped out on a downtown sidewalk for the last 31 hours – they had 18 more hours left. Franco, 40, and his two sons, were the first in line ...

$800K signs mounted at City College

Proposition N brightens up 16th Street and B and C

Many of the cosmetology students at City College were impressed with the new signage being installed on their Career Technology building. “OMG, $50,000 per sign?” Corinne said, ” I saw them installing it the day ...

It's 9:30 p.m., and the Gaslamp crackles with anticipation

"It seems like it's getting younger.”

It’s half past 9:00. The happy hour/dinner crowd is packing into their vehicles, creating precious new parking spaces for the new guard. Apart from a few locals blaring hip-hop from a boombox, the sidewalk of ...

On the water, planning taco brasserie on Champs Elysées

King and Queen of Pork set up on Embarcadero

"Elvis? He stole Roy Orbison’s thunder.” John’s serious. “Roy was the bigger talent. Just because Elvis had the looks, all the girls went for him. But Roy was the great one.” John is kinda qualified ...

Another David Ross (Waterman) story

Struck out twice in San Diego

David Ross is full of stories. Gaunt yet sprightly at 82, Ross, known to his many friends on the streets of downtown San Diego as “Water Man Dave” or “Water Man,” has spent more than ...

Between Indifference and Hope — C Street: the manifestation of our vitality and gloom

The oracles of doom go unheeded

It’s decision day in the city-council chambers, Two Broke Girls vs. Billions. Call it a classic smackdown between local architectural preservationists who want to save any Spanish Colonial Revival building (and think someone should pay) ...

Don't shoot the cook

Chilaquiles and cochinita in downtown San Diego

In the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Johnny Depp plays a dangerous and dashing CIA agent with a penchant for puerco pibil. “It is a slow-roasted pork,” Depp’s character explains as he takes ...

Two more downtown high-rises — 800 Broadway and 6th & A

Exorbitant rents, ground-floor retail, and “affordable” units

The boom in downtown apartment construction continues at a furious pace. Two more projects recently submitted their applications to Civic San Diego for the extensive approval process. One new project will be just east of ...

"Let's have them do it in La Jolla next year...."

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon nay-sayers

“I didn’t miss church [because] I’m the choir director – so it’s essential that I get there,” said Nina Gilbert. Gilbert was one of the prepared ones for the detours and roadblocks brought about by ...

Manchester's Pacific Gateway featured in pitch selling visas to the rich

Chinese would get EB-5 green cards for the downtown San Diego project

It's been a decade-long slog for mega-millionaire developer and onetime Union-Tribune publisher Doug Manchester's controversial Navy Broadway complex at the foot of Broadway. Project foes vowed that it would never get built, citing its forbidding ...

Booze-smoking head scratcher

Why do Art Hookah, Mazzika Hookah, Blue Moon Hookah, Phantom Hookah, Med Cafe, 3 Kings Hookah, Blue Nile Hookah cause their neighbors fits?

Hookah lounges were on the agenda at the Eastern Area communities planning group meeting on April 11. Specifically, the lack of regulatory teeth the police have when it comes to the new version of old-world ...

There she is: Star Bar

Celebrating 43 years young

It’s hard to believe that any dive worth its weight in spilt Schlitz has survived the past few decades of redevelopment in the Gaslamp with any semblance of integrity left intact, yet there she is: ...

Gafcon's San Diego bayfront plan seems to please tuna fishermen

Plan to replace Seaport Village and Tuna Harbor would include parking garages, hotels, aquarium, daily fish market - but no pleasure craft in Tuna Harbor

After months of behind-the-scenes bickering and horse trading between San Diego's commercial fishing fleet and a developer tapped by the Port of San Diego to revamp a large portion of a large section of San ...

San Diego alarm users will pay less for permits, more for false alarms

Council passes new rules 6-3 - Ward, Zapf, and Alvarez against

On April 10, the city council voted to change an ordinance regarding alarm system fees and penalties. SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer told the city council that three key things had driven the changes. First was ...

Werewolf has Homer Cakes

A local’s place in the Gaslamp

To me, a good breakfast is like a good blues CD: Talented artists work on an established formula, whether it be three chords or eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Done well, it’s simplicity with style. Brunch ...