Since our last guide to South Park, the neighborhood’s impressive roster of eats has expanded with newcomers, rebrands, and pandemic pivots. Order a wagyu beef shawarma pita or plate of lemon cream chop fries at Shawarma Guys to see why this food truck was ranked no. 1 on Yelp’s list of top places to eat in 2019. Buona Forchetta’s Matteo is a 100 percent nonprofit eatery where you can shop freshly baked goods, pastas, sauces, and more to raise money for educational programs for San Diego’s youth.
Down the street, Grant’s Market recently relaunched as Grant’s Coffee Room to better reflect its standing as a favorite for a caffeine fix. (It still offers beer and wine!) And when it’s time for your next homebound happy hour, sip one of Kindred’s to-go cocktails, like the lemon-basil Palace of Certainty.
Stop in to Thread + Seed to see owner Melanie Michaud’s refreshing rebrand. In 2020, she transformed her clothing boutique Graffiti Beach into a second location of her Bankers Hill home goods shop. Here you’ll find clean beauty products, decor, and curated gift boxes fit for every occasion.
Vintage enthusiasts will want to set aside some time to sift through Bad Madge & Co.’s expansive collection of vintage, resale, and locally made fashion and home goods. In addition to its regular business hours, the shop also offers appointments for private shopping. At Vinyl Junkies, by Eric Howarth and the Casbah’s Tim Mays, crate diggers can add to their record collection in a fun and funky setup.
In a year already full of tough challenges, cherished local haunt Hamilton’s Tavern suffered a major blow when a devastating fire broke out in November. But when owner Scot Blair estimated the damages at around $1 million, dedicated patrons rose to the occasion. A GoFundMe was launched, raising money to go directly to Blair and his efforts to keep Hamilton’s, and its neighbor South Park Brewing, afloat. Show support for this longtime small-business owner here: gofundme.com/f/help-hamilton039s-tavern.
Nearby Switzer Canyon hugs the east side of Balboa Park in an easy—albeit a little rocky—out-and-back trail. Plan your trip during the spring season and you’ll be treated to a bounty of bold wildflowers.