Normal Heights is a foodie heaven


Normal Heights is in the midst of a small business renaissance with new eateries, cocktail bars, retail, plenty of craft-beer options, and even more incoming.

Alexandra Hall, Normal Heights resident and owner of the newly minted boutique, Maven, says she hopes more retail shops will follow suit in the neighborhood, most known for its food and cocktails. Hall said the arrival of Polite Provisions/Soda & Swine in 2013 was a major turning point, and that it made her want in on the revitalization of the neighborhood, too.

You can’t miss Maven on the corner of 30th Street and Adams Avenue; once inside, you’ll discover Hall’s collection of home goods, clothing and apothecary items from around the world, 90 percent of which you can’t find anywhere else in town, she said. As for the design and fashion savvy store, the aesthetic at Maven is “minimalist meets bohemian,” Hall said, for a style that’s unique to our San Diego, Baja region.

The grand opening party at Maven will coincide with Art Around Adams, happening from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, June 6. If you haven’t visited this neck of the woods for a hot minute, here’s the perfect excuse. With over a dozen stages set up for live music along Adams Avenue from Normal Heights to Kensington, this bi-annual street festival also showcases top local artists painting live, along with curated artwork by Thumbprint Gallery inside participating businesses. For the complete directory, music lineup and map, visit

Sycamore Den (3391 Adams Ave.) is one such participating business with live art by Monty Montgomery taking place throughout the day. Come see his modern, geometric work, known for its bright colors and attention to detail. This block is sure to be a happening spot along the art crawl, with close proximity to the main stage at Smitty’s, and the brand new, over-the-top sandwich joint, Burnside.

Under the same ownership as cocktail lounge, Sycamore Den, Burnside’s menu is available at the neighboring bar. And, if you order the pot roast on ciabatta, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you can handle two additional cocktails, besides the ones you just soaked up.

If you’re beefed out, or just a vegetarian, there’s additional options on the menu developed by Lhasa Landry of The Heart & Trotter Butchery. Among them, a fried chicken sandwich with ranch and Buffalo-style hot sauce; chickpea burger with mint and feta tzitziki sauce; pochetta cubano; and a devilishly deep-fried sandwich, filled with chocolate, peanut butter and marshmallows.

Coffee shop culture has always percolated ‘round these parts with the likes of Lestat’s Coffee House (3343 Adams Ave.), something of a divey institution among mobile commuters, musicians and artists. Recent times have seen more refined options to fuel up, AKA, where the pour-over rules at places like Dark Horse Coffee Roasters flagship location (3260 Adams Ave.), and Broke Girls’ Coffee Bar (3562 Adams Ave.).

It goes without saying that businesses like Blind Lady Ale House (3416 Adams Ave.) and Cantina Mayahuel (2934 Adams Ave.) led the initial charge of rejuvenating Normal Heights. For crying out loud, Will Ferrell has been known to belly up to the bar at BLAH, and the cantina turns out what are widely considered the best margaritas in town.

Still incoming is the O.C.-based Blackmarket Bakery, which will be located directly behind Polite Provisions. Expect Southern specialties, rustic baked goods and even multi-tiered cakes for DIY decorating. Say what? We’re also looking forward to trying the casual seafood eatery, Beerfish, from the same owners of Sessions Public in Point Loma, opening next door to Soda & Swine.

We want to hear from you: What else is new and happening in Normal Heights? Leave us a comment below, or drop us a line after exploring for yourself at next weekend’s Art Around Adams event.
More neighborhoods to explore

Anza Borrego, Balboa Park, Coronado, Del Mar, East Village, Encinitas, Fiesta Island, Golden Hill, Hillcrest, La Jolla, Linda Vista, Mission Beach, Mission Hills, North Park: Part 1, North Park: Part 2, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, San Carlos, South Park, University Heights
Source: DiscoverSD