We live in a city that’s easy on the eyes, with each of its neighborhoods offering something different to peep: North Park has parks with a view; East Village is chock- full of street art; and Kensington is home to the most iconic California Spanish style homes and well-landscaped yards in the city.
This prestigious part of town, marked on Adams Avenue by a neon street sign, will give you real estate envy with its narrow, winding tree-lined streets that mesmerize. Explore the neighborhood on your next jog or scenic stroll, because it’s kind of like walking through a Hollywood set for Picture Perfect City USA (except that someone may shout at you to get off their lawn).
Between its storybook residences and quaint village center on Adams Avenue, Kensington has the most small-town charm of any enclave in San Diego. Young families occupy the town center’s shady Kensington Park, adjacent to the public library, landmark eatery and local favorite, Ponce’s (4050 Adams Ave., 619-282-4413 or poncesrestaurant.com), has been serving Mexican food and killer margaritas for three plus decades.
The main attraction, Ken Cinema (4061 Adams Ave., 619-283-3227, landmarktheatres.com/san-diego/ken-cinema), which threatened to close last year after being around since 1946, is considered a legendary film venue in San Diego. Luckily, the single screen theater was able to renegotiate its lease, eliciting a collective sigh of relief from the neighborhood. However, 2015 will see neighboring Kensington Video-home to a vast and increasingly obsolete stock of VHS and DVD movies-shutter its doors after renting to locals since 1984.
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
Still, Kensington has been widely preserved, considering the trend among San Diego’s ever-evolving urban neighborhoods. Its business district is only three blocks total, making it a chill place to enjoy an al fresco breakfast at Kensington Café (4141 Adams Ave., 619-640-0494 or kensingtoncafesd.com), a glass of wine at the friendly Village Vino (happy hour is from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and all day Sunday, 4095 Adams Ave., 619-546-8466 or villagevino.com), and a late night drink at the venerable dive, Ken Club, followed by a screening at the theater.
If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons to visit charming Kensington:
Clem’s Bottle House & Deli
You can’t (and shouldn’t) miss this rotund beer and wine shop. Enjoy a flight of craft beer at its Tap House (Wednesday-Friday 4-10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 3-10 p.m.), where selections change with the seasons, and then, grab a deli sandwich destined for a picnic in nearby Kensington Park. 4100 Adams Ave., 619-284-2485, clemsbottlehouse.com
This rustic, bohemian French eatery has amazing cheese plates and a charming wrap around, outdoor patio area. Its happy hour, from 5-6 p.m. daily, is available only at the bar and offers 50 percent off drinks ranging from champagne cocktails to specialty martinis and more, plus rotating, discounted food items like moules frites. 4090 Adams Ave., 619-255-4167, bleuboheme.com
The Haven Pizzeria
Stop into this neighborhood pie shop for its best-selling Cortez pizza with candied bacon, tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese and mozzarella, and topped with fresh arugula and avocado. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. with $2 off food items, beer and wine, plus ½ price pitcher Mondays. Enjoy all-night happy hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when lunch specials are served all day. 4051 Adams Ave., 619-281-1904, thehavenpizzeria.com
In case you hadn’t noticed, there isn’t much retail in Kensington. So, adding to its edible and drinkable lineup will soon be another organic outpost for Stehly Farms Market (Adams Avenue at Marlborough Drive, stehlyfarmsorganics.com) and a fourth location for the gelateria, Pappalecco, slated to open at 4202 Adams Ave. in the coming months.