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20 Reasons to Love San Diego

Our annual love letter to the city we call home


(page 1 of 2)

San Diego SunsetPhoto by Paul Body


Because this winter’s sunsets were identity-making.
According to the California State Parks Foundation, the low-riding, slow-setting winter sun is just another blessing from Mother Nature to our region. “Combine that with winter clouds and you get an upside-down canvas lit from below that can dazzle.”


Because Roberto’s. Fifty Years.
People might remember 1964 as the year the Beatles came to America, but something just as important happened that year for hungry San Diegans: Roberto Robledo opened the first Roberto’s Taco Shop, at B and 28th streets.

That first location is long gone, but over the last five decades, 24-hour taco shops like the one pioneered by Robledo have provided salsa-drenched sustenance for hungry locals any time of day.

The red-and-yellow vertical stripes that once draped each taco shop have faded away, but there are currently 63 Roberto’s in San Diego and Orange counties. In addition, there are countless other taco shop cousins like Gilberto’s, Alberto’s, Hilberto’s, Filberto’s, Adalberto’s, and Aliberto’s.

“A lot of those places were started by relatives of my dad, but they’ve evolved, so I don’t know which ones are connected,” says Jose Robledo, one of Roberto’s 13 kids, 11 of whom went into the family business.

Focusing first on beef tacos, taquitos, and quesadillas, Roberto’s branched into seafood after Ralph Rubio popularized the fish taco in the 1980s.

But Roberto’s has been a tastemaker as well. “We popularized the carne asada burrito,” Jose says proudly. “In Mexico, the flour tortilla is not associated with guacamole.”

Jose says Roberto’s has big plans for its golden anniversary. “We will be commemorating the people who made us successful, including business owners who built their businesses with us, like bakers, butchers, and tortilla makers,” he says.

Right now, the family is debating the exact month of the official anniversary.

“We have a date [day of the month], but we can’t agree on the month,” Jose says. And with 13 siblings, that could take a while.


Because our airport has a Reflection Room.
(opening next month). Translation: travelers who meditate will be patient and stress-free. Meantime in Terminal 2 West, there’s a Stone Brewing Co. bar to keep us mellow.


Because our craft brewers ARE so good, they’re moving on to spirits.
And they’re doing that well, too. Ballast Point Spirits, the offspring of Ballast Point, won 13 medals last year at competitions in New York and Las Vegas, including “California Distillery of the Year.” Joining the spirits game is Michael Skubic, who helped found Hess Brewing. He is just 27 years old and opening Old Harbor Distilling Co. on 17th & K within the next few weeks. Cilantro gin is the new IPA!


Because we are the millennial capital of the U.S.
We rank #1 in the country for percentage of the population aged 18–34. This young group outnumbers the baby boomers, so hey, the future’s literally here!


Because the largest destroyer ever built is heading our way. The USS Zumwalt is more than 600 feet long and will arrive here when it’s ready in 2015.


Because Todd Gloria stepped up.
And we need more level-headed leaders in this town who tweet. Thanks for the iMayor memories, T-Glo!


Because we’re building a bridge linking the U.S. to the Tijuana Airport.
We’ve been hemming and hawing over this idea for 20 years. Finally, the 500-foot bridge will be completed in 2014.


Because a 30-something Point Loma grad and filmmaker is making his next movie with Jennifer Lawrence.
Destin Daniel Cretton, an alum of both PLNU and SDSU, will direct Lawrence in a movie based on Jeannette Walls’ best-selling book The Glass Castle. “Jeannette Walls’ story moved me on so many levels,” says Cretton, “and in many ways, feels just as personal as Short Term 12 [his debut film]. It’s been an incredibly inspiring project to work on.” He was also featured recently in Vanity Fair. Celebrity!

Balboa Park


Because now you can finally buy ONE PASS and visit everything in Balboa Park for an entire year.
It’s about time the Park institutions figured this out. Balboa Park Explorer passes are good for general admission to 17 places including the Timken, TheNat, and MoPA, but not the Zoo. They cost $99 for students and seniors; $129 for adults; $199 for families. P.S. Balboa Park’s West End will stay open through the Cabrillo Bridge retrofit, January 2–April 30!


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