Downtown San Diego Stories

Hangin with the kitties of The Cat Café

A little caffeine, a little feline companionship, a lot of sweet purring

Casanova has taken an interest in my iced tea. He eyes it warily at first, then leans forward for a closer look. Then he bares his teeth like he’s mad at it, but instead reaches ...

The Great Soup Experiment: Jalisco, Cafe 21, and Soup Du Jour

“You must cook slowly to bring out the flavor.”

‘This is going to hurt,” says Dr. Jamie. “Like, for a week.” He has been fighting to haul out a stubborn molar of mine. That was yesterday. Today, in IB, on Palm Avenue, I still ...

Spin scooters, too good to be true

Gone from City College, Little Italy, Gaslamp by Dec. 16

On Christmas weekend, I looked for Spin motorized scooters to test drive; I hopped onto the Spin app, and noticed two were closeby at City College. I strolled and jogged around the campus, between the ...

Did Joan Crawford own the bar at Brian’s 24?

I suddenly remember why I came... the Peanut Butter Burger

Crack o’ dawn. Brand new day! Toughest task of new year — to start getting up early — accomplished! On the other hand, not totally together yet. I look up along deserted Sixth Avenue. Right ...

What to make of MAKE pizza+salad

The unexplored overlap of salad and pizza toppings

I don’t know exactly what to make of the name Make Pizza + Salad. Is it pronounced, “make pizza plus salad,” or, “make pizza and salad?” That’s before I even notice the East Village business ...

Angkorian Pikestaff serves one dish per day in East Village

With her weekday lunch pop up, a local chef explores the world of Asian cuisine

A thousand years ago, when Cambodia’s Angkor empire extended across what is now Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, its infantry brandished long, piked staffs, sometimes from the back of an elephant. That’s the reference being made ...

Duck Foot’s new menu proves gluten isn’t necessary

The brewery’s East Village taproom and restaurant raises its game

By the end of this story, chances are you’ll forget I’m talking about gluten free food. That’s exclusively what Duck Foot Brewing serves at its East Village restaurant and taproom, where even the beer has ...

J & Tony’s Discount Cured Meats And Negroni Warehouse is a mouthful

Aperitivos and sandwiches go with vinyl records and imported cheese

When I grab a seat at the counter, the first question I’m asked is whether I’d like any parmesan to snack on. The correct answer to that question is always yes. It’s especially so when ...

You want the sauce at Doner Mediterranean Grill

An overachieving falafel and rotisserie shop in the Gaslamp

Perhaps it’s owing to the small size of Doner Mediterranean Grill, or to its Gaslamp location. Maybe it only has to do with the doner shop’s generic name. For whatever reasons, I’ve always ignored the ...

The city's latest ramen obsession: Artisan Noodle Tatsuki

Los Angeles ramen chef delivers the richest broth we've seen

Every time I think my list of San Diego’s top five ramen spots is set, along comes a new one to shake things up. Artisan Noodle Tatsuki opened a few weeks back in the Gaslamp ...

Amplified Ale Works' underground arts venue

The Acid Vault brings poetry, comedy, drag shows, and more to East Village

The Acid Vault was supposed to be a place for barrel aging beers to sour. At least, that was the original plan when Amplified Ale Works took over the space overlooking Fault Line Park last ...

Sugar highs and lows at Theatre Box

Yes, you can order food from your movie seat, but should you?

The tabloids invaded the movies. The public relations team for Theatre Box, the luxury movie theater and sugar-themed restaurant complex that opened in the Gaslamp this spring, started sending press releases about celebrities making appearances. ...

San Diego's Seaport Village slows down

Selfies replace souvenirs

Pat and her two children noted the closure of Seaport Cookie Company at Seaport Village. “I cannot believe it’s closed,” she said, “and what happened with all of these other shops?” Pat’s been visiting Seaport ...

Lima Restaurant has heart

New Gaslamp sit-down remains authentic to the Peru’s capital city

At first glance, the name Lima Restaurant struck me as generic. But in between serving tables the married owners of the new Gaslamp eatery got to telling us about how they want it to remain ...

Donkey Kong, Rubik’s Cubes, Ghostbusters and arcade food

“Ain’t nothing he doesn’t know about the eighties.”

‘Donkey Kong’s at the back left,” says the guy at the welcome podium. “Go for it, brother.” My friend Annie and I head inside, and into the ding-dong cacophony of a hundred different arcade games ...

The 17th Street stolen bike economy

Bicycle parts from the corner of Imperial to K Street.

Within the last week, fashion-photographer Ron Morales and I rolled downtown to see if we could locate a stolen $1900 Raleigh iE e-bike. I drove down 17th Street and pulled over before it turns into ...

Steak with benefits at Lou & Mickey's

A new dry-aging room gives Gaslamp prime steakhouse an edge

Because of its plum location across the street from the Convention Center, at the left leg of the gateway arch welcoming visitors to the Gaslamp Quarter, prime steakhouse Lou & Mickey’s struck me as a ...

Could be wood frame house in Alabama, but it's El Cajon Blvd. storefront

Why would anyone sing in church these days?

“If you want, I’ll give you a hug,” a tall man with silver hair says to a seated congregant. “I give man hugs,” the silver-haired man says after the two have bro-hugged. It’s noon on ...

Hawkins Way uses San Diego's Procopio lawyers to lobby city hall for downtown evictions

Beverly Hill firm behind the closing of the Plaza Hotel

As the rush to gentrify downtown San Diego by evicting low-income residents continues apace, the specter of lobbyists pushing clients' projects through city hall and picking up sizable public subsidies is growing. A prime example ...

Breakfast flight at The Morning After

Cocktails and breakfast food fuel new Gaslamp concept

You spent last night drinking and clubbing, and now your best bet to escape a hangover is a dose of breakfast food and cocktails. At least that’s the thinking behind The Morning After, a new ...

First public meeting on San Diego's surveillance via streetlight

Move comes after months of inside turmoil, cop concerns

Following months of uncertainty regarding the low-profile rollout of San Diego's so-called smart streetlights, equipped with spy cams, shot-spotters, and related intelligence gathering gear, officials have called a community meeting in Southeastern San Diego to ...

Dockless bikes and scooters in San Diego get new rules in June

3 mph on Embarcadero, geofencing on Mission Beach boardwalk, and the 4X40 rule

It's not all coasting as San Diego works out new rules for dockless rides. The city has to balance climate action goals with the needs of citizens who feel they've been pushed off the sidewalk ...

Whatever Lola's got

Six months in and already a taco destination

San Diegans rejoice, because we are experiencing a golden age of tacos. Great tacos are nothing new here. Taco shops are one of the things people miss most when they move away. But new taco ...

Mac & cheese with black truffles stirs up memories

Crunchy on the outside and hot and soft on the inside

Bertrand at Mister A's isn’t exactly a place for children, and their macaroni and cheese is probably too fancy schmancy for a child, but for me, it brought back fond memories of my childhood. My ...

Double rainbows over downtown San Diego

Alexander's band helps

In the last couple of weeks, the elusive “double rainbows” have been spotted throughout San Diego County. “It was surreal,” said Chris Mannerino, “On February 5, I saw it out of my new office and ...

The continuous still of Storyhouse Spirits

East Village's shiny new distillery was made to make whiskey

San Diego’s newest craft spirit maker opened for business in early February, updating a vintage industrial space in East Village. In lieu of tasting room, Storyhouse Spirits offers an appealing bar and restaurant, with a ...

East Village's birdman loses Sydney, run over by trolley

"Get out of here with your dirty clothes"

Victor Vasquez holds his head in his hands. His white parakeet Ginger sits on his shoulder. Coocooberry, his 25-year-old red-lored green Amazon parrot, sits atop his cage, looking at Vasquez, unblinking, silent. “It’s really painful,” ...

A fault line Made in Kitchen

There are better options within walking distance

The mixed veggies in my curry look right out of a can or freezer bag: identically chopped sections of green beans, cubes of diced carrot, and faded peas. Like the potato chunks, they’re all fairly ...

Theatre Box – one sweet splurge

Luxury and sugar in San Diego's Gaslamp

I love seeing movies in theaters, but it’s hard to leave home when you have a big screen TV, streaming and DVD options, big easy chairs, and food available for delivery. That cruel fact has ...

San Diego Venezuelans grateful to Trump

Drenched at Waterfront Park

During the rainstorm on February 2, Oceanside resident Ana Groening trekked down to Waterfront Park while "many others didn’t make it." That Saturday, many of Groening's fellow-Venezuelans were slated to meet at the waterfront park ...

Le Parfait Paris – beyond Paris

Authenticity doesn't get in the way of creativity

I’d never heard of the croissant and muffin hybrid called a cruffin. It seems to be a response to the cronut craze that had online breakfast pastry fans astir back in 2013. But I suppose ...

Women's March and Walk for Life – a mile or a world apart?

Abortion the litmus issue in San Diego

Two events drew out civic exhibitionists in San Diego on Saturday, January 19, each expressing a different view about what it means to be pro-woman. An estimated 20,000 participants in the Women’s March gathered at ...

San Diego beer turns 30

Karl Strauss co-founder reflects on the decision to launch

As of February 2, Karl Strauss Brewing Company has officially been open for business for 30 years. Karl Strauss Old Columbia Brewery and Grill opened on that date in 1989, serving three house beers: Amber ...

Wild Thyme Table: Turkey vs. roast beef

Each sandwich has a different thing going for it

Turkey or roast beef. How often do I find myself in this position? I’m visiting The Wild Thyme Table, a newish deli counter in between the train station and the courthouse downtown. There’s a lengthy ...

That's not the fish taco you're looking for

Don't believe everything you read in a restaurant window

Some places are just doomed to fail. Specifically this one place in East Village, right across the street from Petco Park. It seems like every time I walk by, there's a new restaurant at 317 ...

Best driving shortcuts for 2019

Kearny Villa to Ruffin as alternative to I-15

On Oct. 9, 1975, the Reader published a story on driving shortcuts. It was written by then cabbie Ray Lilly and contained 14 San Diego shortcuts when gas went for about $.57 per gallon. In ...

Coffee and lot to talk about

Toasts, pastries, and ice cream for breakfast downtown

It’s a coffee roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Too many apostrophes and a forgettable name will forever doom it to misspelled branding (including on at least one of its own signs). Furthermore, ...

San Diego's tallest buildings – higher and higher

Downtown will never be the same

When I buy my ticket to True Romance at Rooftop Cinema Club, I have visions of vertigo from the thrill of the rise to the top of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. I am not yet ...

Manchester’s mystery money and Tom Barrack

San Diego-tied inaugural committee chief latest to face questions

Because of the Wall Street Journal's November 13 report that federal investigators are looking into spending and fundraising issues involving president Donald Trump's inaugural committee, eyes are returning to the two San Diego major money ...

Apartments for poor come to 13th and Broadway

Goodbye, lemon trees and chiles

273 affordable housing units are coming to the East Village. On the northeast corner on 13th and Broadway, the new homes will take their place amid developments by companies that chose to pay the in-lieu ...

In the company of cats

They say purrs lower blood pressure

Autumn in Paris! I’m in a French-feeling patio with about eight wood-slat tables under a big tree. Fall leaves saucer down in the breeze. We’re in the Gaslamp’s Chinatown area at 3rd and Island. “The ...

Blankets, umbrellas, street food, and sun

The Sunday weekly that's not a farmers market

Here’s an awkward faux pas: I showed up at Lane Field Park Market last Sunday expecting to buy produce. It’s not a farmers market. For one thing, there are no farmers: this weekly market is ...

Dessert for your camera

Photographing — and eating — raindrop cakes

They’ve been labeled a “viral food,” and “cult dessert,” and been likened to silicone breast implants. The Japanese call them mizu shingen mochi, but the internet really fell in love with them in 2016, when ...

Four kinds of fish and chips

The third favorite may surprise you

Probably one of the most urban things about downtown San Diego is its motley accumulation of restaurants. Most of the press goes to well-financed, high-volume eateries with glossy interiors, PR representation, and “up and coming” ...

Honeymoon at the San Diego county building

Hanky panky on Pacific Highway

For an $88 fee, a couple can opt to have a civil marriage ceremony overlooking the San Diego Bay in front of the San Diego County Administration Center at 1600 Pacific Highway. On the westside ...

False alarm brings out police ingenuity

Birds for security tape, Birds for homeless tents

On the morning of October 24, Sam saw a photo tweeted by John Gibbins from the U-T. The photo depicted two San Diego police officers propping up yellow police tape on two Bird motorized scooters ...

John Cox or Venezuela

Alpine Chamber gets $75K for Snow Festival, Christmas Parade, and honey event

Bombs away San Diego’s bigger-than-life public art world is in turmoil. A proposed million-dollar pair of oversized plastic straws designed in Los Angeles to grace the entrance of San Diego’s new toilet-to-tap water plant has ...

Free Ride Day – a few left behind

How many trolley riders will end up buying fares?

On Oct. 2, a Tuesday, everyone could board public transit and go all over the region – how about El Cajon to San Marcos and back? – for nothing; yes, no fare, no tickets, no ...

Fleet Week's celebration on Broadway Pier

Ship visits plus Notre Dame-Annapolis party

It was the water that brought them. Since the first forays of Europeans, San Diego’s natural harbor offered a strategic naval location. Silts carried by runoff and outflow from the inland mountains could not fill ...

The daughter who eats anchovies and huitlacoche

Well, it was the Westgate

It was time for a little father-daughter bonding and what better place than a drag show? Exactly! That’s why I had no problem when my daughter asked to go to Werq The World, featuring drag ...

Marriott strike – from both sides

San Diego film festival proceeds with sidelong glance

On October 13, as we neared The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, next door to Horton Plaza, the chants of the strikers in red shirts became louder. At the glass door entrances by the hotel ...

Downtown dog owners point fingers at homeless

14th and Market could use more waste bags

On October 6, I saw Emma walking her corgi and lab-hound mix dogs in front of the downtown Albertsons. As I approached her, her corgi defecated on the sidewalk; Emma was quick to pick up. ...

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