The Hillcrest neighborhood is really emerging as one of San Diego’s favorite go-to hubs for drinking, dining and dancing entertainment…for all walks of life. And, one thing every person who comes to Hillcrest appreciates is that intolerance is not tolerated, at all. Businesses along University, Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Avenues not only open their doors to make money, but they open their hearts and minds to everyone who chooses to patronize their establishment.
But all too often, we breeze by many worthwhile shopping and dining options on our way to the hot spot of the moment for a see-and-be-seen date with friends—without giving those lesser-known joints a second thought. While the perks of popularity (and an excessive ad budget) certainly mean a steady stream of customers, there are plenty of other places you could be happy patronizing. Sometimes hitting up those overlooked spots will leave you satiated and pleasantly surprised.
Voyou This modern, elegant little wine bar & lounge in the heart of Hillcrest’s restaurant row opened mid-last year to little fanfare, but offers true oenophiles a simple yet sophisticated backdrop for a cozy night of wine pairing & cheese plate sharing with small groups of friends. (3696 Fifth Ave. @ Pennsylvania)
Empirehouse Urban Palate The neighborhood’s newest nosh spot opened quietly just a few months ago in what has been a notoriously cursed location (Big Easy, The Abbey, etc. etc.). Think contempo-farm flair with no-fuss décor, yet personality galore from both the staff and the menu, which includes what the owners describe as "forward-thinking food" such as small plates, cast-iron burgers, sandwiches and some pretty sassed-up street tacos. No liquor license yet, but it’s coming, which means yet another reason to try the place again. (127 University Ave.)
Alibi Got attitude? Take it elsewhere. The lone "straight" bar in the gayborhood has been around for eons and is one of the few "bar" bars serving up libations in the early a.m. hours, opening just in time for those slaving away on the nightshift to stop in for their after work cocktails. Alibi is a friendly, no-frills neighborhood joint where pool players and jukebox junkies go to unwind or have one more for the road. (1403 University Ave.)