The Best of San Diego 2007
We scoured the county, with a little help from readers and some notable San Diegans, to uncover the best spots, services and stuff in town.
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FOR YOUR DAYDREAMS
PLACE FOR SOPHISTICATES WHO CAN’T AFFORD TO BE IN PARIS
Lavender-lemonade mimosas, a curved bar facing a collection of fine wines and a floral arrangement that explodes like a bottle of uncorked champagne, really frothy cappuccino served in an actual cup with a real spoon and cloth napkin——some of the details that make Café Chloe in East Village (721 Ninth Avenue; 619-232-3242) le locale for sophisticates who can’t afford to be in Paris at the moment.
Twinkling white lights and flickering candles give Old Venice Italian Restaurant (2910 Canon Street, San Diego, 619-222-5888) the ideal ambience for a romantic rendezvous. Not paired up? No worries. If you are in love with Italian food, this family-owned Point Loma venue will hook you up with gourmet pizzas and hearty Italian fare.
It’s easy to work up a little enthusiasm for the mates at Bondi Bar & Kitchen (333 Fifth Avenue, 619-342-0212), especially after trying a few glasses of Boag’s draft. The beautiful new Aussie restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter is known for its fabulous décor, including metal sculpture, red iron-ore walls imported from Australia and 110 works of blown-glass art on the ceiling. But the décor can’t quite compete with too-cute Luke, Rachel, Brad, Russell, Roe and Marita——and Turbo Smurf.
WAY TO CRUISE COAST HIGHWAY
Think that roadside view of the North County coastline can’t get any better? Try getting behind the wheel of a luxury car from Symbolic Motors (7440 La Jolla Boulevard, 858-454-1800) for the ultimate in joyriding. Our favorite is the blue Bentley convertible pictured ($205,000), but you can take your pick of Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Lotus, Bugatti and more. Or you can dream.
FOR RETAIL THERAPY
BARGAIN SHOPPING NEIGHBORHOOD
Head for University and Fifth avenues in Hillcrest armed with quarters for the parking meter. Press Trash Talkin’ Turleen’s belly button at Babette Schwartz (619-220-7048), and ponder purchasing the pregnant doll for your evil sister-in-law. Look cute in a straw fedora from the Village Hat Shop (619-683-5533). Must have that turquoise ceramic vase at Pomegranatehome (619-220-0225), and are the leopard-print ballet flats from Plasticland (619-692-3291) too much? Oh, shut up. Who asked you?
UPSCALE GARDEN SHOP
Tucked away in Little Italy, Che Bella (6211/2 West Fir Street, 619-232-3193) has everything you need to create your own mini Roman garden sanctuary. Topiaries and lush seasonal blooms adorn every corner and cranny——lily of the valley, hydrangea, sweet pea, lavender, orchids and more. Herbs and strawberry plants sprout from terra-cotta pots. Much more than a garden shop, Che Bella also specializes in romanza, or romance: Rumi poetry covers one wall, and the love poet’s books fill a shelf.
Albert Migdal (suits) and Eddy Aracena (sportswear) at Neiman Marcus (7027 Friars Road, 619- 692-9100) have an inherent knowledge of their clothing lines. They can name pants that run long, the hottest European designs, jackets that slenderize and the season’s most popular colors in a heartbeat. Hence, customers only need to express their needs, and these pros match them to the ideal fit and look.
Give in to your sole addiction at Hillcrest’s Mint (525 University Avenue, 619-291-6468). There are so many shoes, so little time. Girls will find sexy stilettos by Dollhouse and Seychelles vintage platforms. Guys, check out the plaid oxfords from Irregular Choice and those way-cool white high-top heroes by Bronx.
ART & CRAFT STORE
Folks visit The Grove (3010 Juniper Street, 619-284-7684) in South Park to get their creative juices flowing. Sure, there are the usual glass buttons, silk ribbons and nice selections of soft yarn. There are also artist receptions, book signings, open mic for prose writers, and crochet and knitted shawl classes.
Assume the persona of a sexy nurse, firefighter, even a Klingon at Buffalo Breath (2050 Hancock Street, 619-297-1175; 630 Nordahl Road, San Marcos, 760-739-9800), where you can rent or buy from one of the oldest and largest costume shops in San Diego County.
Located in the Simon Levi Building in downtown’s East Village, Design Within Reach (393 Seventh Avenue, 619-744-9900) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside the white storefront that was once a grocery warehouse, there’s some cleverly designed furniture. Primary Poof, for instance, is a large cube of all-weather patented foam in primary colors. For just $330, it provides style and comfortable seating, and it’s firm enough to hold drinks and plates.
NEW MEN’S BOUTIQUE
Yummy Amalfi shirts, Sabre Vision shades, Kasil jeans, hot hoodies. Need we say more? Guys who shop at Buzz (630 10th Avenue, 619-955-7805) in the East Village just get it.
MEXICAN FOLK ART AND FURNISHINGS
Judy and Charles Compton trek throughout Mexico and Central America, hand-picking unique treasures created by native artisans to fill their colorful Encinitas shop, Aesthetyx (466 North Coast Highway, Suite 5, 760-203-9697). Ceramics from San Jose de Gracia, tin mirrors from San Miguel de Allende, handblown glass from Tonala——each piece reflects a cultural richness and hard-to-find craftsmanship.
Point Loma may be the high-rent district, but for some reason, OPEC doesn’t know it. Two gas stations——both ARCO——are consistently among the least-expensive gasoline purveyors in the city. It’s a toss-up, on any given day, but you’ll always find a (relative) bargain at the station at Lytton and Rosecrans or at the one in the parking lot at the Sports Arena on Sports Arena Boulevard. (Bring cash, or you’ll pay a fee to use your ATM card.)
Nirvana for shutterbugs, Nelson Photo Supplies (1909 India Street, Little Italy, 619-234-6621; 7720 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, 858-729-6565) has everything needed to capture the perfect image. For the past 50 years, the store has served San Diego with quality photo processing, darkroom supplies and complete lines of cameras. Plus, when you purchase a camera, you can sign up for a free digital photography class.
DISCOUNT STORE FOR DESIGNER CLOTHES
GTM’s Discount General Store (7663 Broadway, Lemon Grove, 619-460-2990; 8967 Carlton Hills Boulevard, Santee, 619-449-4953) buys overstocks, closeouts and discontinued merchandise——everything from detergent to designer jeans——from chain retailers and wholesalers. Shoppers can print out an online coupon at gtmstores.com for added savings. You’ll find Rebecca Beeson tops, Sevens jeans, Ralph Lauren Polo cargo pants and other highend labels at seeing-is-believing prices. Just be aware that prices are so cheap, inventory changes often.
PLACE TO FIND USED BOOKS
San Diego’s escalating rents have forced out some old standbys, but three of the best places to find used and rare books are concentrated in three blocks of Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. And you might just snag a hard-to-find bio of Jeffrey Dahmer or The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Talesamong the dusty covers: The Book Broker (3287 Adams Avenue, 619-280-2665), Book Tree (3316 Adams Avenue, 619-280-1263) and Adams Avenue Bookstore (3502 Adams Avenue, 619-281-3330).
Collectible adult comics, Manga comics, Disney and Marvel, Calvin & Hobbes, DC and the Archie Americana Series——it’s all at Comickaze (5525 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, 858-278- 0371). There are videos, art supplies, graphic novels and McFarlane toys, too.
Friends Krissy Heinz and Lisa Ovadia, both 25, combined expertise gleaned from years working in boutiques in creating their new shop, Capricorn Boutique (5544 La Jolla Boulevard, Suite B, 858-551-2660). With black-and-white checked floors, turquoise walls and vintage furniture, the store reflects a playful, Paris-inspired sensibility. The clothes——oh, the clothes——are a mix of feminine and funky. “We wanted to appeal to everyone, from the Bird Rock mom to the Pacific Beach girl,” says Heinz. And appeal they do, with reasonably priced clothes from up-and-coming designers and fine accessories, including candles and quirky stationery from London. Plenty of retro-chic designs for dudes, too.
Frederick A. Einer Jr. and his brothers built Escondido’s Holiday Wine Cellar (302 West Mission Avenue, 760-745-1200) in 1965. Now the grandkids are in charge, perpetuating an impressive selection of rare and fine wines, specialty beers, spirits and cigars. (At last count: 1,300 wines, 400 beers.) But they’re much more than a storefront: Services include private and in-house wine tastings, product delivery, private wine storage, cellar appraisal and personal cellar management.
CUSTOM INVITATION DESIGNER
For the past 16 years, graphic designer Melissa Marquardt has helped San Diegans celebrate life’s biggest milestones with her stylish custom invitations and announcements. She recently opened Viva Papel (301 North Highway 101, Suite C, Solana Beach, 760-809-5995), an intimate, charming paperie.
Fresh fruit, fish, flowers and a plethora of veggies can be found every Wednesday at the Ocean Beach market (619-224-4906) in the 4900 block of Newport Avenue. Don’t leave without getting the strawberry tiramisu and the roasted bell–pepper hummus. Live music and llama rides, too.