San Diego Neighborhood Guide: University Heights
Multicultural cuisine and cafés have always been this enclave’s calling card. Now it has trendy cocktail bars, eclectic theater, and vegan-friendly eats, too.
Madison | Photo: Sam Wells
University Heights This Month
Spin & Go cycling class, Trolley Barn Park, Mondays
Bull in a China Shop, Diversionary Theater, September 13–October 14
Choose from the dining room, with its vaulted ceilings and geometric patterns, or the cozy bar area, flanked by an installation reminiscent of guitar strings. Dinner spans salmon skewers with couscous, gluten-free pasta, and portobello fries with chipotle sauce—and don’t miss the cocktails.
The style is a little rock ’n’ roll and a little folk at this petite boutique, stocked with tops, leather jackets, and accessories from the ’60s through today.
Trolley Barn Park
This green space overlooking a canyon has a huge grassy lawn perfect for picnics, as well as a playground and chess tables.
1998 Adams Avenue
Adult fun (cocktails) meets childhood nostalgia (games) at this sprawling space, with an indoor bar, huge outdoor patio, and a bungalow that hosts DJ-driven dance parties. There are gin, vodka, and mezcal cocktails, best enjoyed in the outdoor area filled with table tennis, Jenga, and Connect 4.
“In Pie We Crust” reads the neon sign on the wall of this fast-casual spot, which serves savory and sweet versions of the namesake dish, like roasted veggies in panang curry and a mini coconut cream. They’ve also taken over the space next door for their new ice cream parlor, Stella Jean’s.
Vegan Asian cuisine meets farm-to-table atmosphere at this rustic restaurant on Adams. All “meat” items are made with organic, non-GMO local tofu, like the duck larb, tom ka soup, and salt and pepper calamari mushrooms. Their tap list spans local brews, from Modern Times to Ballast Point.
The group behind Trust in Hillcrest opened this gastro-cocktail-bar last summer. It has a quirky feel—rabbit-print wallpaper, a giant photo of Marlene Dietrich—that’s rooted in a traditional bar scene. The meat-heavy menu includes pizzas, a fried chicken sandwich, and weekend brunch.