Between North Park’s 30th Street corridor and the boundaries of University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard, you’ll find more coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques than a reasonably sized guide could fit - plus, that isn’t even the half of the neighborhood. In this second part of DiscoverSD Explorer’s look at the neighborhood we’ve tried to include them all, but the best way to get the full experience is to explore for yourself.
So the next time you’re in North Park, pull it up on your phone, or pass it along to your friends and discover why San Diegans can’t help but love this neighborhood they affectionately poke fun at for its hip appeal, and crowd. What can we say? North Park simply attracts cool.
Coffee for any mood
Chill out at Subterranean Coffee Boutique with their house specialty hybrid drink, the Horchatte, made with rice milk, cinnamon and espresso. 3764 30th St., 619-780-0916, subterraneancoffeeboutique.com
Get work done, coffee or beer in hand, at Young Hickory with all the other mobile commuters, propped up by garage style doors that open to 30th Street action. 4096 30th St., 619-795-6574, younghickory.com
Savor exquisite pour-overs at Coffee & Tea Collective, a modern shop and small batch roastery. 2911 El Cajon Blvd., 619-564-8086, coffeeandteacollective.com
New and noteworthy eats
2014 was the year when North Park went from being on the cusp to full-on foodie destination. It became home to the third location in San Diego for Venissimo Cheese, oh-so-appropriately nestled inside beer shop, Bottlecraft (3007 University Ave.). A block east, hungry denizens have swarmed City Tacos (3028 University Ave.) since its first day for gourmet tacos done well and priced appropriately. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream has the whole neighborhood lining up for “flights” of its exotic flavored treats (3077 University Ave.). Back on the 30th Street corridor, Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts & Coffee (4002 30th St.) either caused eyes to roll-or roll back in heads-with its over-the-top, yet undeniably delicious concept.
A few blocks south of downtown North Park is the grandest of all 2014 newbies, the North Parker (3000 Upas St.), architect Jonathan Segal’s sleek mixed-use complex that contains the Modern Times Flavordome (moderntimesbeer.com), the third Influx Café (influxcafe.com) location, a large scale location for Underbelly No. 2 (consortiumholdings.com) and Tacos Perla (tacosperla.com), from the owners of The Pearl Hotel. It’s undoubtedly the most happening corner in the neighborhood.
Incoming: Just north from the North Parker on 30th Street, what used to be Eddie’s Place, will soon become another beach-pub concept from the owners of OB’s Raglan Public House and Little Italy’s Queenstown.
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
Alexander’s North Park: Relative of Point Loma’s venerable Old Venice, this place offers a killer Monday night happy hour. From 5 to 9:30 p.m., there’s discounted food and drinks, including half-off specialty pies, a selection of bottled beers for $1, and more. 3391 30th St., 619-281-2539, alexanderson30th.com
Urban Solace: Chef/owner, Matt Gordon, was serving comfort food before it showed up on menus all around town. Home to the popular Bluegrass Brunch (every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) with live music, Gordon’s legendary for his cinnamon rolls and more hangover curing fare. 3823 30th St., 619-295-6464, urbansolace.net
Carnitas Snack Shack: A short stroll from the main corridor, is a favorite among chefs and the pork obsessed, this relative newcomer and flagship shack brings people to North Park from near and far. It’s easy to spot with the help of a plump metal pig sculpture on its roof and line of people out front. 2632 University Ave., 619-294-7675, carnitassnackshack.com
Classic good times
North Park Theatre: North Park’s main attraction from its 1946 debut until it shuttered in the 70s, the theatre reopened in 2005 and since 2013 has been owned by the same folks as on-site bar and restaurant, West Coast Tavern. The theater is now back in action with live performances, films, and musical acts thanks to several national and local bookers, including The Casbah. 2891 University Ave., 619-239-8836, thenorthparktheatre.com
Lafayette Hotel: A North Park summer wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Lafayette Swim Club, a membership-based pool party with an Olympic-sized swimming hole and cocktails to boot. 2223 El Cajon Blvd., 619-296-2101, lafayettehotelsd.com
Mike Hess Brewing: Stop by the expansive family friendly pub and production facility of this award-winning brewery. 3812 Grim Ave., 619-255-7136, mikehessbrewing.com
Fall Brewing Company: Brand new brewery and tasting room with brewmaster, Ray Astamendi, at the helm. Check out the impressive, dog-friendly space on San Diego’s craft beer alley. 4542 30th St., fallbrewing.com
Incoming: Stay tuned for Rip Current Brewing and Sublime Ale House, which should be opening any time now. The 4,000-square-foot space will house a brewery and restaurant. 4101 30th Street, ripcurrentbrewing.com
Toronado: Back in 2008, the legendary San Francisco beer bar announced it would open a location down south, and beer nerds went nuts. Coinciding with craft beer mania in San Diego, the bar’s popularity soared as its 56 taps offered the most variety in town. To date, its Monday night happy hour is the place to be, with $4 pours from the constantly rotating tap lineup. 4026 30th St., 619-282-0456, toronadosd.com
Seven Grand: The LA-based whiskey bar opened its San Diego location in 2012 with over 200 varieties. It’s home to the Seven Grand Whiskey Society, which meets twice monthly within the 4,100-square-foot space, and features live music from local bands, including jazz on Wednesdays with renowned local trumpet player, Gilbert Castellanos. 3054 University Ave., 619-269-8820, sevengrandbars.com
Coin-Op Game Room: Arcade games, stiff drinks and fried Oreos found here at this 30th Street adult fun zone. 3926 30th St., 619-255-8523, coinopsd.com
Shop till you drop
Visual: Urban art supply store that also hosts regular exhibitions by local artists; magazines, apparel and original artwork for sale. 3776 30th St., 619-501-5585, visualshopsd.com
Aloha Sunday: This men’s clothing store has a coastal resort aesthetic that translates well onto laid-back San Diego dudes. 3039 University Ave., alohasunday.com
Hunt & Gather: New and used clothing store specializing in vintage finds for men and women, records and jewelry at affordable prices. 2871 University Ave., 619-297-3020, huntandgathershop.com
Pigment: This home and lifestyle boutique has become synonymous with shopping in North Park and its upgraded location holds all the cool stuff you’d want to adorn your life with. 3801 University Ave., 619-501-6318, shoppigment.com
Geographie: Upscale, super-hip “general store” with everything from old school men’s shaving kits to cashmere scarves and handmade greeting cards. 2879 University Ave., 619-888-5783, geographieshop.com
The new North Park: #30ECB
Times are a changin’ in North Park north, where a crop of new business owners have banded together with the help of El Cajon Boulevard’s Business Improvement Association to help give the once sketchy neighborhood an identity makeover. The end-goal is a true arts and culture district, which you can take part in as it grows; use the hashtag #30ECB.
Blvd. Market: San Diego’s first prepared foods only fest happens every third Friday at the Boulevard Center (corner of Utah St.). This night also includes special programming by businesses along the 30th and El Cajon Boulevard block.
Gym Standard: An urban lifestyle and footwear boutique with hard-to-find magazine titles alongside locally produced zines. Gym Standard also hosts monthly art exhibitions, often with performances by local bands, and is the official ticket office for Soda Bar, which you can take advantage of, free of any fees. 2903 El Cajon Blvd. Ste. 2, 619-501-4996, gymstandard.com
The Homebrewer: Brewing essentials and resources for the novice and seasoned brewer. Stay tuned for the debut of its adjoined brewery and tasting room facility where you can get to know beer on a more intimate, science-y level. 2911 El Cajon Blvd., 619-450-6165, thehomebrewersd.com
Don’t forget: Catch a flick at The Digital Gym, a cinema and clubhouse for film nerds that also offers membership packages ($25 and up) for its workshops and media center complete with “laptop bar.” 2921 El Cajon Blvd., 619-230-1938, digitalgym.org
Still going strong
Bangkok Spices: It’s not new, it’s not hip, it’s just authentic Thai food often overlooked when speaking of good eats in North Park. Don’t miss the spring rolls with tofu or shrimp that come with a whole bowl of peanut sauce for dipping, and the red curry with lots of Thai basil. 2832 El Cajon Blvd., 619-281-1111, bangkok-spices.com