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The Best of San Diego 2020

Our annual guide to what’s new, cool, and delicious in San Diego and Baja (plus, things to do from a distance!)

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Best of San Diego 2020 / Town and Country Resort

Town and Country Resort

This story was published in the December 2020 issue of San Diego Magazine. Some of these attractions and businesses are now temporarily closed due to the Regional Stay Home Order. Visit covid19.ca.gov for the latest information.

 

Browse this year's list by category:

Arts & Culture | Shopping & Beauty | Health & Wellness | Kids & Pets | Food & Drink | Baja

 

Arts & Culture

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / AirOshi

AirOshi

Scenic Tour of San Diego

AirOshi

Get plenty of social distance by enjoying a scenic tour of San Diego by air. Aeronautical athlete Anthony Oshinuga takes passengers aboard his jet to experience the glistening ocean waters and the city’s historic landmarks from above. Oshinuga placed second at the 2015 National Championship Air Races.

Pickup and drop off from Montgomery Field and Palomar Airport

 

Workcation Spot

La Valencia Hotel

The famed “Pink Lady” hotel offers workcationers an Office by the Ocean package to set up your workspace in one of the high-end property’s king-size guest rooms for the day. You’ll get a sanitized and comfy desk and chair, high-speed Wi-Fi and, of course, a view worthy of your next Zoom meeting background.

1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / FemX Quarters

FemX Quarters

New Workspace

FemX Quarters

FemX Quarters is a Latina-founded multipurpose creative space for women that hosts events and includes coworking spaces and studios for photography, film, and audio recording. Because of the pandemic, FemX Quarters had to expand its digital footprint by launching online courses geared toward today’s economy and by hosting physically distant but socially connected events.

1919 San Diego Avenue, Mission Hills

 

Cabana Redo

Hotel del Coronado

The Del’s oceanfront cabana guest rooms got a complete makeover with refreshed coastal colors and stunning alfresco settings with lounge areas, fire pits, and sunset views. The new nearby pool also has private cabanas to offer a refreshed spot to enjoy craft cocktails and swanky SoCal living.

1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado

 

Hotel Revamp

The Pearl

The Point Loma landmark remains true to its 1960s midcentury aesthetic, but with revamped interiors, thanks to local design firm Human Kind Design Company and to Electric Bowery.The property also changed its popular “dive-in” movies to “dine-in” movies over the oyster-shaped pool with a $50 prix fixe menu.

1410 Rosecrans Street, Point Loma

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Voices of Our City Choir

Voices of Our City Choir

Music for the Soul

Voices of Our City Choir

Cofounded in 2016 by jazz singer Steph Johnson, this choir for people experiencing homelessness made it to the semifinals of this year’s America’s Got Talent competition. The celebrity judges were wowed by an original song the choir performed and by the story of how this group—now a nonprofit—welcomes people off the street and has empowered over 60 of its members to find stable housing.

1550 Market Street, East Village

 

Virtual Arts Programs

Media Arts Center San Diego

2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the arts, and North Park’s Media Arts Center has adapted by transitioning its most popular events to virtual happenings. The organization behind Digital Gym Cinema and the annual Latino Film Festival hosted both events online with weekly arthouse engagements and digital access to the film festival’s movies. The nonprofit also continued its youth filmmakers program this summer, giving teens interested in cinema a chance to produce a documentary.

2921 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

 

Private Art Experience

Quint One

This innovative gallery concept shows only one piece of art at a time. Avoid crowds—visits are limited to groups of four, by appointment only—and enjoy the experience of “slow art.” Each visit is free, and a gallery worker will be on hand to offer information and insight or simply let you appreciate the work in silence. Each show runs for three weeks.

7722 Girard Avenue, La Jolla

 

Nightlife Pivot

Rich’s San Diego

The beloved gay nightclub pandemic-pivoted in truly spectacular fashion (we would expect nothing less) by transforming into an outdoor party palace complete with go-go dancing stages, socially distanced tables, a full menu, and fun decor.

1051 University Avenue, Hillcrest

 

New Art Gallery

Trash Lamb Gallery

In October, visual artist and South Park local Melody Moulton opened Trash Lamb, her first standalone art gallery. The intimate gallery features a variety of thought-provoking pieces by artists working in different media from San Diego and beyond. A small shop, curated by Moulton and stocked with artisanal goods, occupies the front. Moulton is also an avid traveler. The pandemic grounded her in more ways than one, giving her the courage to take the leap into this new venture.

2365 30th Street, South Park

 

Book Club

San Diego Public Library

The San Diego Public Library has kept readers of all ages engaged online despite coronavirus-related library closures. The SDPL Virtual Hub has real-time and recorded bilingual storytimes, teen and adult book talks, craft activities, science experiments, and special guest performances. The librarians dress up in costumes and do all the voices as they read aloud to book lovers young and old.

Various locations

 

 

 Shopping & Beauty

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / The Nada Shop

The Nada Shop

Refillery

The Nada Shop

Consider Samantha Simone the North County queen of low-waste living. She opened up her own refillery in Encinitas just last year, selling eco-friendly household cleaners and bath soaps in bulk. Bring in your own containers and fill them up, or let her team guide you through the Starter Collection to kick off your sustainable lifestyle. In addition to formulas, the shop also carries products that’ll get you on a greener living track—think reusable mugs and bags, and even solid dish soaps to avoid single-use plastics.

937 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas; 332 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

 

Healing Skin Rubs

Anshi

When Janelle Noble Donovan’s daughter was suffering through a cycle of infections, she became desperate to create a solution. In developing Anshi topical rubs, she aimed to use the body’s largest organ—the skin—to promote healing. The dry rubs contain pink Himalayan salt for quick absorption, and can also be used as a shower scrub or bath soak to relieve various ailments, including joint and muscle pain, cold and flu symptoms, and bites and burns.

 

Music Venue Merch

Casbah

Music venues are hurting right now, and The Casbah introduced new merch this summer for loyal concertgoers and music lovers to show their support. The crowd favorite is the “Froberg” tees, featuring a cartoonish design by musician and former Encinitas resident Rick Froberg (Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu). The illustration is available as a unisex tee, women’s tank, and coffee mug. Also new to the merchandise is 2020’s hottest accessory—a face mask, with Casbah branding. Trust us, you can rock it.

2501 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy

 

Hats

The Dapper Renaissance

What started as a bow tie business has evolved to meet a niche market: wood-brimmed hats. The caps are crafted with real woods and spot-coated with epoxy resin for dashes of color. All fedoras come with iconic accessories, like a feather, quill, or pin. We’ll tip our hats to that!

 

Home and Garden Boutique

Home Ec

With the homesteading lifestyle on the rise, home hobbyists need a shop of their own. Enter Home Ec., stocked with gardening supplies, cookbooks, sewing kits, and even the owner’s sourdough starter. Preheat your oven!

2355 India Street, Little Italy

 

New Plant Shop

Jungle Fever

You can’t get any more homegrown than running a plant shop out of your house. A former co-owner of North Park Nursery and its sister shop Eden San Diego, Stephanie Ward bases her new venture out of her Imperial Beach home and runs on an appointment-based system. The inventory skews toward tropical plants, but she also has all the basics like snake plants and pothos.

Imperial Beach

 

New Dispensary

Klover

Klover’s art-forward dispensary livened up its industrial neighborhood when it opened up shop last year. Splashed across its exterior walls are murals from local cross-border artist Panca. Inside is a suite of THC-rich products from the highest-quality brands California cannabis has to offer.

3500 Estudillo Street, Pacific Highway

 

Co-op

The Rising Co.

The longtime dream of Rais Case owner Julie Ellis, The Rising Co. in Oceanside opened in early 2020. The co-op is brimming with something for everyone from wares to activities. Beyond the merchandise, there’s coworking spaces, Seaborne Coffee Company, and fitness classes.

332 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Maek

Maek

Ceramics Shop

Maek

Married ceramicists Michaela and Ryan Maes opened up their first-ever brick and mortar shop in Ocean Beach last summer. They do all of their throwing in the shop, so customers can see the time and care each piece needs. Fan favorites include the Thumb Cup, the Traveler mug, and Portholes wall mirrors. Coming soon: a membership-based ceramic studio.

1918 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach

 

Shop within a Shop

Sommeil Boutique

Sommeil—that’s French for ‘sleep’—is the boutique arm of the North Park mattress shop Sleep Bedder. They stock all the creature comforts one could want to wind down for a restful night, from candles to bath soaps and herbal supplements. If you’re into it, there are also crystals, sage, and smudge sticks.

2867 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

 

Small Shop

Shop Soet

When you have minimal square feet to work with, you bet your inventory has to be refined. That’s been Shop Soet’s philosophy since they opened in Hillcrest last summer. The little shop is tucked below the Abpópa microloft complex on Fifth Avenue and the gem of its inventory is a two-story wall of vinyl records that leads to their “music den” upstairs. On the bottom floor, you’ll find a modest collection of homewares, jewelry, books, and beauty and skin care goods.

3776 Fourth Avenue, Hillcrest

 

Cannabis Storage

Rob Rodney bags

When he welcomed his first child into the world, Mark Frahm realized that the frayed shoebox he’d been using to store his cannabis stash was no longer adequate. To solve this problem, he created Rob Rodney, a luxury line of leather storage cases designed to keep cannabis products safely out of reach from kids and pets. The bags have locks and come with airtight jars and magnetic pouches to store joints, vapes, gummies, and oils.

 

Boutique Expansion

Thread + Seed

No matter what you call it—an expansion, a rebranding, a reset—we’re loving that Melanie Michaud transformed her South Park clothing boutique, Graffiti Beach, into a second location of her Bankers Hill shop, Thread + Seed. The South Park post swapped the fast-fashion finds in favor of timeless pieces at an affordable price.Perfect for the holidays, the shop has a Build-a-Box Bar for shoppers to create their own gift box.

2220 Fern Street, South Park

 

Luxury Fashion Boutique

Ugochi Iwuaba

Designer Ugochi Iwuaba makes her mark with attention-grabbing fashion inspired by African textiles and silhouettes. The same scene-stealing power that won Ugochi Iwuaba the award for Best Show at Orange County Fashion Week is back this season in liquid metallics and delicate details (hello, virtual holiday parties). Browse the racks at her eponymous flagship boutique, which opened this summer in Mission Valley.

5080 Camino del Arroyo, Mission Valley

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Timshel in Thread Spun

Timshel in Thread Spun

Pop-Up Shop

Timshel in Thread Spun

This modern-meets-vintage home goods boutique charmed Normal Heights for mere months before COVID-19 caused the closure of its brick and mortar. Then, the young owners found a saving grace through Thread Spun, which lent a nook of its shop space to Timshel to run as a pop-up and spotlight its sustainable wares and slow-fashion products.

1114 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas

 

Socially Distanced Home Purchase

Wild Island Collective

This Normal Heights plant shop pivoted their sales strictly to Instagram stories during the shutdown and got their process so perfected that they’ve continued their online sales even after reopening. Simply DM the shop to let them know you’re ready to retrieve your purchase and they’ll slide your new plant out the door, no contact required. In-person shoppers will love the newly installed community cutting swap wall.

3504 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights

 

 

 

Health & Wellness

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Sojourn Healing Collective

Sojourn Healing Collective

New Yoga Studio

Sojourn Healing Collective

Coinciding with its three-year anniversary, Sojourn Healing Collective moved from its original Bankers Hill location to a new space with two sunlit studios in Golden Hill. Already known for their various yoga practices, meditation, sound healing, and breathwork, Sojourn has recently rolled out new in-person classes and workshops, plus a virtual studio membership for online instruction. The 2,000-square-foot facility has a modern vibe, brought to life with a plant wall, crystals, and an outdoor community courtyard.

811 25th Street, Golden Hill

 

New Med Spa

Revive Salon & Spa

Based on the success of their first two medical spas, Revive Salon & Spa expanded farther north with a new location in Encinitas. Providing laser, skin, and body treatments; facials, peels, and waxing; Botox and other fillers; Revive also houses full-service hair salons at their Mission Valley and Carmel Valley locations. All virtual consultations are free.

109 North El Camino Real, Suite 9, Encinitas

 

At-Home Cardio Workout

Jazzercise On Demand

Set your leg warmer and leotard stereotypes aside. Jazzercise has lived on for 51 years for good reason—you burn calories, and fast. This year, the San Diego–based fitness empire has ramped up its Jazzercise On Demand workout so you can start burning calories from the moment you get up off the couch. The workouts target all muscle groups and incorporate strength, high-intensity interval training, and Pilates moves that bring the dance routines well into the modern era.

 

Workout Streaming Service

Salt Pilates

This hot-mat Pilates studio quickly grew a dedicated following after it debuted in Bankers Hill last year. When public health regulations barred indoor workouts for much of 2020, owner Betsy Blumenfeld hopped on the next best thing by launching an online streaming service for those determined to keep getting their sweat on. A monthly subscription of $25 grants access to over 200 videos, with new ones added each month. Their specialty is the Savor and Spice classes, which move through quick, blood-pumping intervals of classic mat moves.

 

Wellness Series

Saffron & Sage Transform Series

Saffron & Sage is offering a comprehensive Mind, Body + Spirit detoxification so you can reset and rewire. Commit to this six-week self-care series and you’ll receive a detox kit designed by holistic health practitioners that includes nutritional guidance, sample menus, recipes, nutritional and homeopathic supplements, and daily journal prompts. It also comes with access to weekly virtual workshops, Saffron & Sage’s virtual classes, and flower essences delivered to your door.

2555 State Street, Mission Hills

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Movement Warehouse

Movement Warehouse

Pandemic-Friendly Gym

Movement Warehouse

Movement Warehouse facilitates high-intensity weight lifting that prioritizes form over setting personal records. Think an athlete training facility, not a CrossFit. Owner Michael Hamanaka says it’s the people and community that make you want to keep coming back. In light of the pandemic, the gym upgraded their space for complete outdoor training and cleaning on rotation every six to seven minutes.

1425 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach

 

 

Kids & Pets

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Town and Country Resort

Town and Country Resort

New Water Slide

Town and Country Resort

The nearly 70-year-old hotel got a new lease on life after $70 million worth of construction work, and the results make a big splash. The expansive pool deck has three areas to explore, including a kids’ pool. Older kids (and brave younger ones) will adore the Twister, a four-story-high waterslide (the city’s tallest!) while grown-ups will appreciate the margaritas served poolside. The hardest part of your day may be telling the kids when it’s time to head back home, but that’s a small win any parent will happily take! Day passes can be purchased at resortpass.com.

500 Hotel Circle North, Mission Valley

 

New Birder Experience

Rancho Bernardo Inn

Rancho Bernardo Inn has debuted a private, interactive falconry experience for guests. Under the guidance of expert handlers, you can don the falconer’s glove and have close encounters with owls and other majestic raptors. You’ll learn all about the history of this ancient and noble sport and play field games with the birds on the sprawling Argon Lawn.

17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, Rancho Bernardo

 

Doggy Daycare Rebranding

Camp Kirby Dog

The former Camp-Run-A-Mutt location welcomed a refreshing rebranding inspired by the daycare owner’s 11-year-old puggle, Kirby. The new name comes with the same trusted service, but with updated perks like temperament testing to keep things safe, spacious big-dog and small-dog play yards, and dog pools for your pup to splash around. You can pick from half- or full-day stays or overnight boarding, and even treat your four-legged friend to a grooming so they come home happy and squeaky clean.

7888 Othello Avenue, Kearny Mesa

 

Sustainable Dog Goods

Le Shoob

Stylish sustainability is at the heart of Le Shoob. The brand offers a collection of treats, goods, and wears for your favorite furry companion that you can feel good about. The small-batch treats are made from 100 percent natural ingredients and bagged in recycled packaging. Collars, leashes, and harnesses are available in a wide range of colors and, with each purchase, Le Shoob donates ten percent to Hearts & Bones Rescue.

 

Pool Makeover

Plunge Pool Mission Bay

The iconic indoor pool at Mission Beach opened last summer after getting a $12 million facelift. The new retractable roof and floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light and ventilation, and during daytime recreational swim hours, there’s a fun floatie obstacle course for the kids to tackle in the shallow end. For the ultimate pool party, you can sign the kids up for a full day camp experience.

3115 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Home & Hound

Home & Hound

Chic Dog Store

Home & Hound

Home & Hound’s owner, Brittany Garbani, is on a mission to make home decor and dog garb jibe harmoniously. The inventory’s neutral color palette and Garbani’s minimalist-meets-boho aesthetic is a big part of it. The shop is a true 50/50 split between serving humans (textiles, accent furniture, decorative accessories, entertaining wares) and dogs (walking, eating, sleeping, and playing essentials). We couldn’t agree more with the shop’s tagline, “Home is where your hound is”—so decorate accordingly.

3768 30th Street, North Park

 

Wildlife Experience

Children’s Nature Retreat

Experience the wildlife at this quiet retreat in Alpine. The Children’s Nature Retreat is a 20-acre sanctuary for 150 domesticated and wild animals. Visitors get up close with 22 different species, including one of the few white camels in the world. Many of the animals were donated from owners who could no longer care for them or rescued and brought to the sanctuary for a bit of San Diego sun and peace.

5178 Japatul Spur, Alpine

 

 

 

Food & Drink

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / American Pizza Manufacturing

American Pizza Manufacturing

Take and Bake Pizza

American Pizza Manufacturing

American Pizza Manufacturing offers restaurant-quality pizzas and pastas without the prep work. Crowd favorites include the Harley pizza, topped with Italian sausage, caramelized onions, sage, Asiago, and mozzarella. Salads and desserts complete a full and no-fuss dinner.

7402 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla

 

Natural Wine Shop

Clos

At long last, University Heights has a wine shop to call its own. Married couple Juerie and Paul opened Clos this summer, delivering all the mom-and-pop vibes you wish for in a neighborhood bottle shop. They specialize in natural and organic wines sourced from small growers and producers. Grab a bottle to go or post up on the patio and stay awhile with a meat and cheese board or the house specialty, tinned fish.

4521 Park Boulevard, University Heights 

 

New Mezcal

Izo Mezcal

From the high-altitude mesas of Durango, Mexico, comes Izo Mezcal, a smooth, smoky spirit that’s meant for sipping. Crafted from wild agave hearts, Izo has hints of banana and green apple flavors with subtle floral notes. The distillery will soon release a well tequila and sotol to round out its full collection.

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Luca at The Guild Hotel

Luca at The Guild Hotel

Downtown Lunch Spot

Luca at The Guild Hotel

International travel may be on pause, but guests dining at Luca in The Guild Hotel will feel transported to the French Riviera thanks to the restaurant’s chic alfresco setup. The menu combines flavors from the Mediterranean and North Africa, and its location makes for the perfect workday lunch spot.

500 West Broadway, Downtown

 

Boozy Ice Cream

Metl Cocktail Creamery

Metl Bar & Restaurant mixes alcohol and ice cream in deliciously campy ways. Try a “Painchiller” with three kinds of rum, orange, pineapple, and nutmeg; or stay on trend by ordering the “Tygrr King.” This wild concoction includes Skrewball Whiskey and chocolate rum dashed with banana pudding, cashews, and Whoppers candy.

748 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter

 

Farmers’ Market Vendor

Mindful Mushrooms

Ivo Fedak sells his hard-to-grow gourmet mushrooms at local farmers’ markets. He specializes in “wood lovers,” or exotic strains that grow on trees and in forests—king trumpets, oysters, and lion’s manes, to name a few. Pay him a visit and expand your palate!

 

Zero-Waste Restaurant

The Plot

San Diego’s first zero-waste plant-based restaurant makes creative use of products that many restaurants throw out, like banana peels, which transform into a taco filling. Vegan proteins, including taste-alikes for crab and chicken, are all made in-house.

1733 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside

 

New Bayside Eats

Portside Pier

This multi-restaurant spot opened on the North Embarcadero in July. You’ll need to call ahead to get a reservation at Brigantine on the Bay. Just cruising by? Check out Ketch Grill & Taps. Over 1,000 seats are spread out across the two-story complex—most with fantastic bay views.

1360 North Harbor Drive, Downtown

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Pâtisserie Mélanie

Pâtisserie Mélanie

Kouign-Amann

Pâtisserie Mélanie

Combining the best of a palmier and a croissant yields the kouign-amann. Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef Melanie Dunn creates her masterpiece by laminating the dough with lots of butter—the result is a rich, flaky, cinnamon-topped dessert that’s totally delicious.

3788 Park Boulevard, Hillcrest

 

Dinner with Socially Distanced Live Music

The Roxy

Encinitas’ favorite spot for live music recently created a charming venue in the back of their restaurant, transforming the parking lot with market lights, artificial turf, barrel tables, and an elevated stage, so you can safely enjoy the local musicians while you sip a Coupe de la Vie nightcap—cold brew with Irish cream, crème de cacao, and vodka.

517 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas

 

COVID Collaboration

Urban Kitchen Group and Snake Oil Cocktail Company

Tracy Borkum of Cucina Urbana fame has joined forces with the Snake Oil craft cocktail wizards to create Camp Cucina, a dynamic all-outdoor pop-up scene. Come holiday season, Urban Kitchen Group will continue to cater to the festive gatherings at Julep.

1735 Hancock Street, Middletown

 

Vegan meal service

The Vegan Lion

The Vegan Lion delivers homestyle, plant-based comfort foods. Chef-founder Quin Butler runs San Diego’s first completely vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free meal service. Order the best-selling Lion Wings Meal: Air-fried oyster mushroom “wings” show off Quin’s skill with seasonings and stay crispy and delicious even through cross-town transit.

1100 North Magnolia Avenue, Suite D, El Cajon

 

New Changing Menu

Angkorian Pikestaff

Last summer, chef Socheath Sun (formerly of Tiger!Tiger! Tavern) opened one of the most talked about lunch spots downtown: a pop-up that has only one dish on the menu, which changes daily. Diners can expect dishes that span Southeast Asia. Sun’s family is from Cambodia, and dishes like prahok k’tiss (a dip of minced pork, eggplant, lemongrass, and chili) make appearances on the menu. Give Chef Sun a follow, and see what her loyal fan base has been raving about.

734 Park Boulevard, East Village

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Yipao Coffee Bar

Yipao Coffee Bar

New Café

Yipao Coffee Bar

Positioned as an offshoot of Kairoa Brewing Company, Yipao specializes in Colombian coffee, roasted in San Diego. In addition to single-origin cold brews, pour-overs, espresso, and other coffee drinks, they sell bags of beans at Seaside Market in Cardiff and at their University Heights location to take to go. Just look for the namesake yipao jeep parked right in front.

4601 Park Boulevard, University Heights

 

Canned Cocktails

You & Yours Distilling Co.

Dare we say some cocktails taste better in a can? One sip from You & Yours’ collection of vodka sodas and gin and tonics, and you’ll see what we mean. New this year are two vodka sodas in Meyer lemon and cucumber mint flavors, rounding out the distillery’s collection of eight canned sippers. Both are made from their award-winning grape-based vodka and distilled at their tasting room.

1495 G Street, East Village

 

Cider

Calico Cidery

Owner David Young is no newbie when it comes to the business of fruit, with a degree in pomology (fruit science) and 20 years in winemaking to prove it. But what’s most impressive about his cidery is that everything is found, grown, and made on-site. Recipes include ingredients like pineapple weed and white sage, which gives their crisp apple ciders an extra flair. The tasting room is right on the apple orchard, making a sweet alfresco cider experience that much sweeter.

4200 Highway 78, Julian

 

Virtual Tastings and Cooking Classes

Venissimo Cheese

Having a midweek slump? Tune in to Wino Wednesdays for some wine, cheese, and respite at this biweekly tasting hosted by one of the city’s most acclaimed cheese shops. Every week, they highlight a new wine from around the world, like a Spanish garnacha or even a local pinot noir, and pair it with a cheese plate for a virtual tasting on their YouTube channel. Order ahead online, pick up the cheese and vino that day at their shop in Del Mar or Mission Hills, and get ready for a comfy happy hour at home. If you’re up for it, you can engage in the live chat, but no one minds if you just sit in your sweatpants and listen in while you sip. If you want something more interactive (that will get you off the couch) they also have cooking classes hosted by Venissimo employees. Just want to socialize? Sign up for their informal Sunday Sessions and toast to making it through another week.

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Realm of the 52 Remedies

Realm of the 52 Remedies

Cocktail kit

Realm of the 52 Remedies

When happy hour has to be a home affair, only the best cocktails will do. That’s where Common Theory’s not-so-secret speakeasy comes in. 52 Remedies’ innovative craft cocktails are now available in “Home Therapy” bottles to go—complete with garnishes. All you need to do is pour over ice and enjoy. Each week, the bar features three new recipes that you can order individually or as part of the Home Therapy Wellness Kit, which comes with all three premixed cocktails, garnishes, barbecue taro chips, and a surprise gift.

4805 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa

 

 

Baja

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Baja Excursions

Baja Excursions

Best Outdoor Activity

Baja Excursions

Ever wanted to rappel 25 meters off the ocean? It might be time to give coasteering a try. This nature tourism company offers a variety of extreme sports and outdoor activities such as hiking, canyoneering, kayaking, and coasteering. It’s the only company in Tijuana and Rosarito that has federal and state accreditations that are required for their line of services.

Departs to various locations

 

Best Family-Friendly Activity

El Trompo

Tijuana’s only interactive science and technology museum is designed to catch your curiosity with 10 modifiable workshops, labs, robotics, and special events to explore. Most recently added is the planetarium, a space dedicated to the knowledge of the universe. They are offering online events, and visits are by appointment only.

Tijuana

 

Best New Valle Restaurant

Lunario

La Lomita Winery is where chef Sheyla Alvarado continues to build her legacy in Valle de Guadalupe. After her residency at the vineyard’s acclaimed TrasLomita, Lunario shows off her mastery of the forces shaping the valley’s culinary universe. The six- and eight-course menus, which change with the phases of the moon, source from nearby fincas and the Ensenada coastline. The dining room is housed inside a greenhouse reminiscent of an observatory.

Ensenada

 

Best Culinary Class

Culinary Art School of Tijuana

Sharpen your cooking skills with professional executive chefs at the Culinary Art School of Tijuana. They offer day courses for amateurs that walk you through popular dishes such as pan dulce, craft cocktails, veggie tacos, moles, salsas, burgers, crepes, and more. Courses include the recipes, ingredients, an apron, accident insurance, and a diploma at the end of the course. You don’t need great knife cutting skills, just comfortable shoes and a willingness to learn.

Tijuana

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / La Saladita

La Saladita

Best Seafood Restaurant

La Saladita

This new cantina from the owners of the iconic Cantina de los Remedios is focused on providing a seafood menu that distinguishes the fresh produce of the Baja region with rich marinades, sauces, and preparations from Southern Mexico. Menu items to try include the juicy golden shrimp marinated to perfection in paprika and soy, and a two-pound zarandeado octopus marinated in flavorful adobo, flash fried, and served with warm handmade tortillas.

Tijuana

 

Best New Taproom

Border Psycho

Border Psycho laid a foundation of irreverent takes on classic brews. The craft label made major moves since last year, starting with Playami, its new taproom and multilevel dining space in the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood. Inside the tanks, they’ve been pulling off some must-drink collabs with brewers on both sides of the border, including San Marcos’s Mason Ale Works.

Tijuana

 

Best Millennial Lodging

Nook Hotel

A new hospitality option for the millennial traveler is now taking reservations in downtown Tijuana. The 17-room hotel has city views and lots of natural light—ideal for snapping some photos—and houses a coffee shop, bar, and coworking spaces. The project was a collaboration led by Mariel Cuervo of Coyote Projects and Miguel Marshall of Centro Ventures.

Tijuana

 

Best Socially Distanced Entertainment

Joy Park

This 360-degree outdoor event space is designed like a drive-in movie theater with a four-sided concert stage. Guests can park in front of one of the four large LED screens and enjoy movies, concerts, boxing matches, and live DJs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. There are also food trucks and pop-up food stands.

Tijuana

 

Best New Digs

Verde y Crema

Chef Jair Téllez’s landmark Verde y Crema made its much-anticipated return to a new two-level structure on Avenida Revolución downtown after a nearly two-year absence. Its outstanding menu has seen few changes, so anyone can get a taste of the dishes that got Tijuana buzzing for years.

Tijuana

 

Best Food News

Telefónica Gastro Park

When Telefónica opened in a downtown parking lot, few would have imagined its future as a foodie destination. Today, the food hall continues to top Tijuana to-do lists with its local tap list and roster of chefs. Founder Antonio Gamboa has big plans in the works: he announced on KPBS in February that he is actively looking for a San Diego location for a cross-border expansion.

Tijuana

 

Best of San Diego 2020 / Tacos del Koshy

Tacos del Koshy

Best New Taco Shop

Tacos del Koshy

In Tijuana there are many taquerías to choose from, but this new spot is worth all the hype. In addition to staples such as carne asada, adobada, birria, cabeza, carnitas, lengua, suadero (interior shank), and tripa, Tacos del Koshy serves up Central Mexican flavors and original creations. Must-order items include the Taco del Koshy, with crispy suadero, pig skin, beans, and guacamole; and salsas that are made with special house recipes.

Tijuana

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