Everyone will tell you that Southern California is a great place to work. Between incredible theatre companies in San Diego, La Jolla, Solana Beach, Costa Mesa, Santa Barbara, etc. chances are good that you will work in this region at some point and let the tequila flow. Gorgeous weather, incredible beaches, adorable beach towns, and killer Mexican food will make working in this area of the country a unique getaway very akin to a vacation.
The Aero Club is a beloved San Diego dive that has weathered seven decades in its current home near the airport, serving up an epic collection of whiskies (just wait 'til you see their small bible of a menu), cheap local craft beer, and a staff as friendly as you can possibly hope for. This spot demands a visit while you're in town, whether you're a whisky lover or not, but, if you are a whisky lover, expect to fall head over heels and return over and over and over again.
3365 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Sun 2PM- 2AM aeroclubbar.com
Polite Provisions offers tremendous cocktails on an ever-changing seasonal menu and even welcomes in food from the restaurant next door, Soda and Swine (who also gets a shout out in the Food section below). In a candle-filled, white-tiled dining room, these sexy, swanky digs lend themselves well to a casual evening with your company. (P.S. The cocktails here start at $8, so this ain't your New York speakeasy prices even if the quality is absolutely top-notch.)
4696 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 2AM Fri- Sun 12PM- 2AM politeprovisions.com
Where heavy metal occult decor meets vegetarian eats meets high end cocktails, Kindred is a welcome addition to South Park's growing scene of hip, delicious bars and restaurants. Under the soft glow of the ambient lighting here, the mixologist from Please Don't Tell in NYC has built a cocktail menu sure to satisfy even the most sophisticated palate. So, pick a liquor, and confer with your bartender about exactly what you're in the mood for, then pair that cocktail with something delicious off their vegetarian menu like their Herb Puffs (garlic dill puff pastry with paprika aioli) or their Beer Batter Palm Tacos (seaweed salad, chile De Àrbol crema, jicama salsa on corn tortillas, with grilled corn, and cilantro butter.) 1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 12AM Fri 4PM- 1AM Sat 10AM- 1AM Sun 10AM- 12AM barkindred.com
In the back of the Neighborhood Eatery restaurant and bar behind a row of fake beer kegs (and when I say fake, I mean as life-like as they get), lives a hidden treasure in the Gaslamp District of San Diego. Noble Experiment may be hard to get into, but it will be worth the wait. This speakeasy takes its reservations and space seriously, but the result is a kind of focused service and peaceful atmosphere that sets it apart from other loud, overly crowded places. On top of it all, these cocktail creations are serious masterpieces, and these bartenders enjoy a good discussion about exactly what flavors and liquor you are looking for. So, either make a reservation ahead of time, or show up willing to wait, but this special spot is a must-go while working in San Diego.
With four separate bar areas, including one inside a tiny house with a ping pong table that converts to a dance floor and two that are al fresco so you can enjoy those perfect Southern California evenings, Park & Rec is a perfect spot for a large group. Easy ordering from the bar where dividing up those pesky tabs will never be an issue, the group can partake in board games as well as jumbo versions of jenga, connect four, and corn hole. The cocktails here are affordable ($8-$10) and strong, so go for a cocktail or a local craft beer on tap and linger at this late-night haven. (Weekends can get rowdy starting around 9pm, so swing by on a weeknight if you can....)
4612 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4PM- 12AM Fri 4PM- 2AM Sat 10AM- 2AM Sun 10AM- 12AM parkandrecsd.com
Possibly the best part about Prohibition Lounge is the contrast between the delicately crafted artisan cocktails the serve, and brassy, electric jazz music engulfing you in the compact, crowded space. This is a place to dress up, bring a number of cast and crew members, and get ready to dance. The live music offered here will put you in mind of a party- but the best kind of party. The music is jazz and the drinks are excellent, so even though there may be a wait to get everyone in, this will be a special night out for a group.
548 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Sun 8PM- 1:30AM prohibitionsd.com
URBN North Park
URBN is all about the beer and the pizza, and this location, closest to The Old Globe actor housing, makes it ideal for a post-show trip with the crew. The pizzas are fresh, lightly charred, and delicious, and the drinks menu here is affordable with healthy pours coming at you from this friendly staff. The warehouse-y space and generous bar area make it perfect for mingling and coming with a group, so make use of this ideal post-show and day-off spot whenever you can.
3085 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 HOURS: Sun- Mon 12PM- 10PM Tues- Thurs 12PM- 12AM Fri- Sat 12PM- 2AM urbnnorthpark.com
So, I mean, the reason to go to Drift I tried to make obvious in the photos above. When working in gorgeous Southern California, sometimes the last thing you want to do in the evenings is go drink inside a bar, so Drift is your option (exceptionally close to La Jolla's Actor Housing) to have some glasses with your cast around a fire pit in its expansive outdoor area behind the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. Enjoy their rotating draft list of local craft beers. Even indulge in their beer flight option to sample some regional favorites for $7 or give in to the gorgeous outdoor setting and sip a fancy tequila-based cocktail. This is a somewhat secret place, but you should make sure to go one evening.
Nunus is the go-to spot for a late night food-fix while working at The Old Globe. With a kitchen that is open till 12:30AM, this affordable, divey haven offers cheap but delicious bar fare including burgers (just perfection), melts, and cheese fries. Located not far from the The Old Globe's theatre or actor housing, Nunus will quickly become the easy choice on many nights.
Baha Betty's, located on University Ave near the actor housing for The Old Globe, is a truly generous place- both in terms food and drink. This is the perfect spot to share a huge, delicious plate of nachos with your cast while slurping down one of their many marguerita options (expect a heavy tequila pour in that cocktail.) Fabulously friendly staff and an easy going bar area will make individual tabs easy and mingling ideal.
Small Bar is perfect for a late-night, post-show cast and crew hangout. With a kitchen that's open late and serving up perfect bar food fried to perfection, the drinks here are cheap and the list of local crafts brews is extensive. Dark and divy without feeling grimy, this University Heights destination is a straight shot up Park Ave from the Old Globe Actor housing, so keep it in your back pocket when folks decide they need a proper cast hang.
4628 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Mon- Sun 10AM- 2AM
Hundred Proof is a trendy University Heights bar with killer comfort food and came recommended by the one and only Rodney Lizcano. Up the road from The Old Globe Actor Housing and with late hours over the weekend, this is a ideal spot for a bite and a sip after a show some evening. Indulge in one of their many Boilermaker options. (Boilermakers are shots of whiskey with a glass of beer as a chaser- and I know, I know, most of you knew that.)
4130 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11:30AM- 11:30PM Fri 11:30AM- 12:30AM Sat 10AM- 12:30AM Sun 10AM- 10:30 hundredproofsd.com
Madison is a sexy, swanky Mediterranean Restaurant with a gorgeous cocktail bar and lounge up front. With a menu sporting mezcal flights and build-your-own Old Fashioneds, indulge in an affordable cocktail or two (starting at $10) and snuggle up at this golden-hewed, booth surrounded fancy spot in University Heights, right up Park Ave from The Old Globe Actor Housing.
4622 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Wed 4PM- 11PM Thurs 4PM- 11:30PM Fri 4PM- 12AM Sat 9:30AM- 12AM Sun 9:30AM- 10:30PM madisononpark.com
Located inside the super hip Little Italy restaurant, Craft and Commerce, lives False Idol, the Tiki Bar Speakeasy offshoot from the good people who brought you Noble Experiment. Now, as may of you know by now, I am a firm lover of all things tiki drink, and this place is a bit of a mecca for someone like me. With an extensive and exquisite selection of tiki cocktails in their funky, intimate speakeasy bar, complete with sound and lighting effects that go off whenever someone orders one of their mammoth, light-on-fire goblets of rum goodness, this spot is a delight for a special occasion one evening.
675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon- Fri 6PM- 2AM Sat- Sun 5PM- 2AM falseidoltiki.com
No, those are not beautiful bouquets pictured above- those are desserts. At Extraordinary Desserts, it doesn't matter how hyped up it is before you get there, you will still be blown away. A San Diego institution, helmed by San Diego native, Karen Krasne, the desserts here were clearly inspired by her time in Hawaii, and the color, taste, and texture of every single masterpiece here makes you feel as if you are eating a work of art. Open late and with a location right near Balboa Park, this is a perfect late-night sugar fix after the show.
2929 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 1430 Union St, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 8:30AM- 11PM HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10AM - 11PM Fri 8:30AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 10AM- 12AM Sat 10AM- 11PM Sun 10AM- 11PM 8:30 AM - 11PM https://extraordinarydesserts.com
With a number of locations all over Southern California, The Cravery is a local favorite, and your crew may bring some backstage during Tech just to hook you on these fun, delicious cookies. With everything from lemon bar cookies, to pancakes and bacon cookies, to rosemary balsamic cookies, to sriracha peanut brittle- expect the unexpected from these crafty little bites.
3960 W Point Loma Blvd g, San Diego, CA 92110 HOURS: Mon-Sat 9AM- 9PM thecravory.com Sun 10AM- 8PM
Pop Pie Co.
Pop Pie Co. will get a mention down below for their savory pies, but the dessert options here as also well worth a mention. With seasonal specialties that come and go along with a few tride and true favorites like Apple Crumb, Maple Bourbon Peacan, as well as Key Lime, these tiny pieces of perfection as sure to satisfy with a coffee or a craft beer alongside.
4404 Park Blvd ste a, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 8AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 8AM- 10PM poppieco.com
Your show opens and suddenly your daytimes (weekends excepted) are free and clear in a new town, so time to do Brunch. Great Maple is a bit of a legend, and it is located so close to actor housing for The Old Globe, you'll be in heaven. Generous portions are the staple of this bright, loud, pulsating brunch spot. Lines and a wait can be a real possibility here, but, since we're actors and weekday are better for us anyway, try a Tuesday morning rather than a Sunday.
1451 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 8AM- 2PM, 5PM-9PM Fri 8AM- 2PM, 5PM- 9:30PM Sat 8AM- 2:30PM, 5PM- 9:30PM Sun 8AM- 2:30PM, 5PM- 9PM thegreatmaple.com
Snooze is back! Remember this place from the Denver page? These are the two cities where this phenom of a brunch place originated and it's worth a swing by. Try a pancake flight, so you can sample three of their incredible pancake offerings like Pineapple Upside Down or Nana's Hot Cocoa. You can't go wrong with any of their twists on Eggs Benedict either. They call the whole section "The Art of Hollandaise", and they even give you the option of a half order so that you sample even more flavors!
3435 Del Mar Heights Rd D3, San Diego, CA 92130 HOURS: 6:30AM- 2:30PM snoozeeatery.com
The Market Place
The Market Place is a trade secret amongst San Diego locals. Located close to The Old Globe, just outside of Balboa Park, it's the absolute ideal for a lunch snack during a rehearsal day. These affordable sandwiches served up at their deli counter are absolutely spot on, and really you can't go wrong with any selection.
2601 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Fri 7AM- 7PM Sat 8AM- 7PM Sun 9AM- 4PM themarketplacesd.com
Big Front Door
Big Front Door has a sandwich rep in San Diego, and they live up to it. With mountains of quality ingredients (including house smoked and roasted meats) stuffed into fresh bread with other local ingredients- this place, open since 2012, is a labor of love and you can feel it. I highly recommend the B3 Sandwich with blackened chicken, brussel, brie, aioli, honey dijon on a ciabatta as well as their Hoisin-Ginger Pulled Pork Sandwich with carrot, cabbage, cilantro, scallion, hoisin-ginger sauce on torpedo bread. 4135 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: 11AM- 8PM DAILY bfdsandiego.com
Located in the heart of Balboa Park and nestled between the Art Museum and The Old Globe Theatre, the convenience of Panama 66 cannot be denied, but this open-air cafe does a pretty damn good salad and sandwich as well. Their bar also boasts a thoughtful selection of local craft beer and delicious wines by the glass, so make use of this beautiful outdoor spot either for a lunch break, a 2-show-day meal, or a post-matinee swing through with friends or family in town. It's just too close and lovely not to be utilized.
1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon- Tues 11AM- 5PM Wed 11AM- 11PM Thurs- Sun 11AM- 10PM panama66.com
Herb & Eatery
Located adjacent to Brian Malarkey's Herb & Wood, Herb & Eatery is a cafeteria-style gourmet market in a spacious, bright, eclectic setting where you can enjoy everything from a fresh, heaping salad to a burger to a beer. Swing by here for a quiet read with a sandwich in an armchair or a small group hang with coffee and fresh pastries. These delicious menu items are fairly affordable and the easy-going environment will charm you.
1739, 2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon- Sun 8AM- 4PM; 4:30PM- 8PM herbandeatery.com
DAY OFF HAPPY HOUR:
Islands became a Monday retreat for us while working at La Jolla Playhouse. A 10-15 minute walk from actor housing, this Happy Hour in their quiet, spacious bar area is well worth the chain-restaurant feel. With drink prices ranging from $2.99- $5.69 as well as snacks available like chips and salsa ($1.29), beachside sliders ($4.75), and buffalo wings ($8.49) it will be well worth it.
3351 Nobel Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037 HAPPY HOUR: 4PM- 7PM Weekdays HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11AM- 10PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 11PM islandsrestaurants.com
Right around the corner from The Old Globe's actor housing at Shiley Terrace, Trust Restaurant is a newcomer to Hillcrest. With a young chef, eager to impress, expect bold dishes incorporating seasonal local ingredients and making good use of the gorgeous wood fired stove you can see from the dining room. Their Happy Hour on weekdays is available exclusively at the bar from 5PM- 7PM. Enjoy $6 wine and beer, $8 cocktails, and $2 off bar bites.
3752 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 5PM- 7PM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 5PM- 10PM Fri 5PM- 11PM Sat 9AM- 2PM, 5PM- 11PM Sun 9AM- 2PM, 5PM- 10PM trustrestaurantsd.com
The Smoking Goat Restaurant
In the trendy neighborhood of North Park, The Smoking Goat Restaurant is worth a visit for its creative French fare, but we're here to talk Happy Hour. Here they offer $4 beer, $5 wine, as well as exceptional $6 snacks like Handcut Duck Fat Truffle Fries with pecorino romano and mustard aioli or Escargot au Gratin with garlic and herb butter and ciabatta on the side. In it's hip, friendly digs, this is an excellent place to enjoy on a day off while working in town.
3408 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 5PM- 6PM (Bar and Patio) HOURS: Sun- Thurs 5PM- 9PM Fri- Sat 5PM- 10PM thesmokinggoatrestaurant.com
Queenstown Public House
Hiding away in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood is a New Zealand restaurant. That's right. And if you've ever wondered what traditional New Zealand fare is like, Queenstown Public House is the perfect place to find out, starting with their Happy Hour Menu. This restaurant making use of every element of a renovated house gives you tons of equally fascinating and beautiful seating areas to choose from. Find a spot in their beautiful outdoor front yard, or on their yellow-screen-covered side deck, or their cozy indoor bar area and enjoy a $9 flight of sangria, wine, or beer. And the best part is, you get to choose your three or four glasses from off their regular beer/wine menu! So get exactly whatever you're in the mood for! Then sample from their delicious $4 Happy Hour sliders like "Meso Tasty" (grilled chicken, grilled pineapple, sweet onion chips, swiss, and red pepper aioli) or "Bare Lil' Lamb" or "Kiwilango" (beef with jalapeños and blue cheese), or "Cluck and Squeel." Maybe stick around and order some small plates because you're here! Happy day off!
1557 Columbia St, San Diego, CA 92101 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 3PM- 6PM HOURS: Mon- Tues 11AM- 10PM Wed- Thurs 11AM- 11PM Fri 11AM- 12AM Sat 9AM- 12AM Sun 9AM- 10PM queenstownpublichouse.com
Carruth Cellars Wine Garden
I first visited the Carruth Cellars Tasting Room in Carlsbad before finding out that this beautiful wine garden existed right in the heart of Little Italy. These exquisitely balanced wines are available by the flight, glass, or bottle here, and alongside the cozy, dark wood tasting room is an outdoor garden area with fairy lights, hanging ivy, and long tables ideal for groups. So bring yourself here on a day off and enjoy their Happy Hour between 4PM and 6PM with $3 glasses and $5 bottles.
2215 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 4PM- 6PM HOURS: Mon- Fri 4PM- 10PM Sat- Sun 12PM- 10PM carruthcellars.com
Soda and Swine
Soda and Swine is a must-go in San Diego while working at any theatre company. Open late for food and drink, this hip eatery offers a cafeteria style set up for a menu that features high-end meatballs in a variety of forms- skillet, sandwich, pasta, or (my personal favorite) over their "dirty fries." With a blazing fireplace and an ambiance of candles and dark wood, your gang can snag a spot at their two long communal tables, get a local brew or two, and enjoy delicious food til the wee hours.
2943 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Mon- Sun 11:30AM - 1:30AM sodaandswine.com
Cucina Urbana is ideally located just outside of Balboa Park when walking away from The Old Globe Theatre, but, even if it didn't live in this prime location, this Italian heaven would be worth a trip. The food here is across the board sensational, from their cheese plate to their pastas, and, with two bar areas and a large dining room, this is great for a slightly fancier night out post-show. So drag along family and friends and indulge in some late-night carbs on the weekend post-show, you deserve it.
505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon 5PM- 9PM Tues- Wed 11:30AM- 10PM Thurs 11:30AM- 3PM Fri 11:30AM- 12AM Sat 5PM- 12AM cucinaurbana.com Sun 4:30PM- 9PM
Amarin is some of the best Thai food I have ever had, no question. Close to The Old Globe actor housing in Hillcrest, this spacious restaurant is wonderful for groups or for take out or delivery. Absolutely every single thing on this menu is spot on, and, with generous portions and affordable prices, it will very quickly become a favorite spot, I promise.
3843 Richmond St, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Fri 11AM- 3PM, 5PM- 10PM Sat- Sun 11AM- 10PM amarinsandiego.com
So, this is some serious sushi. Sushi Ota has been winning national accolades since it opened its doors in 1990 at the far end of one of those "could miss it" California strip malls great sushi places like to hide out in. If you're on the West Coast- sushi is just something you should indulge in, and do it right and casual at this spectacular San Diego favorite where reservations are recommended by calling 858.270.5670 or 858.270.5047.
4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109 HOURS: Mon- Fri 11:30AM- 2PM, 5:30PM- 10:30PM Sat- Sun 5PM- 10:30PM sushiota.com
Moriscos Nine Seas Seafood
So, I did my own personal "hunt for the best fish taco" while in California, and I must tell you, my choice is Moriscos Nine Seas Seafood. A truck located in a Target parking lot in the neighborhood of North Park, this tremendous fish taco is so perfect, it will spoil you for anything else. Tack onto that the acceptable price tag of $1.50 plus a small cup of fresh, homemade soup along with every order, and this place will quickly win your heart. Also, whenever you can get past the fish tacos, everything on this menu should be sampled as well.
(P.S. They also apparently have a service where they will deliver directly to you in LaJolla! at 619.279.0010.)
So, Barrio Star is perhaps the other end of the spectrum from Moriscos Nine Seas Seafood. Located very close to The Old Globe and Balboa Park, this restaurant serves up extraordinary "modern Mexican soul food" as they call it in a bright, celebratory environment. (I had the best tortas of my life here it should be noted.) Chef Isabella Cruz has tossed some Asian influences into her Mexican fare, and it takes every dish here to another level. Pair your dishes with some colorful tequila and mezcal based cocktails, and you will be off to a good evening at this special spot.
2706 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: 11:30AM- 9:30PM DAILY barriostar.com
Google will tell you that The Friendly is a pizza place, but that's not the real reason to swing by this Normal Heights dive. The Dirty Flat Top Cheeseburger here is $5 and complete and utter perfection. It is everything a truly great cheeseburger should be: the meat is crispy on the outside but moist and juicy within, a thin layer of garlic mayo is spread over the perfectly toasted sweet bun, and the melted cheddar cheese and grilled onions add the last flavor profile of savory deliciousness to this creation. Get your $5 dinner here, then head down the street to a $10 cocktail at Polite Provisions. It's a perfect evening out.
4592 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 12PM- 10PM Fri- Sat 12PM- 2AM
Tacos El Gordo
Tacos El Gordo got its start in 1972 in Tijuana, and, thankfully, decided to bring its brilliance north of the boarder to San Diego in 1998. This wildly popular taco joint now has multiple locations around town, some of which are shockingly close together, but, for good reason. Tacos El Gordo draws lines and crowds, so, if you see a line, drive a few minutes away and hit up one of their other locations. The king of the tacos here is their Adobada, crispy, spicy pork carved fresh directly onto your tortilla. Get a couple with everything on top and toss in a few other tacos of your liking alongside some grilled peppers. This food will blow you away.
1940 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950 3265 Palm Ave, San Diego, CA 92154 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10AM- 12AM HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11AM- 1AM Fri- Sat 10AM- 4AM Fri- Sat 11AM- 2AM
556 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91910 689 H St, Chula Vista, CA 91910 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10AM- 2AM HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10AM- 2AM Fri- Sat 10AM- 4AM Fri- Sat 10AM- 4AM
1351 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91911 HOURS: Mon- Fri 10AM- 5PM Sat- Sun CLOSED http://tacoselgordobc.com/
Right around the corner from The Old Globe's actor housing at Shiley Terrace, Trust Restaurant is a newcomer to Hillcrest. With a young chef, eager to impress, expect bold dishes incorporating seasonal local ingredients and making good use of the gorgeous wood fired stove you can see from the dining room. Trust is a special occasion place, and feels sleek and hip, but don't let that stop you from a post-show drink if your show gets out early enough. Or swing by during their Happy Hour on a Monday off! It's only available at the bar from 5PM- 7PM. Enjoy $6 wine and beer, $8 cocktails, and $2 off bar bites.
3752 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 5PM- 7PM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 5PM- 10PM Fri 5PM- 11PM Sat 9AM- 2PM, 5PM- 11PM Sun 9AM- 2PM, 5PM- 10PM trustrestaurantsd.com
The Smok'd Hog
The Smok'd Hog also resides around the corner from The Old Globe actor housing at Shiley Terrace, and you will frequently see the smoker out back working away. This compact little building is home to a BBQ place built on a lot of love. On Saturday and Sundays only, they serve their award-winning BBQ ribs and on Fridays, their fried chicken. The rest of the week their smoked meats go into sandwiches and don't be surprised if they sell out by early in the afternoon, this spot is popular!
3749 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon 11:30AM- 9PM Tues CLOSED Wed- Thurs 11:30AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 9PM Sun 11AM- 7:30PM thesmokdhog.com
Fresh, local meat and produce is transformed in Afghan gourmet at Khyber Pass, Southern California's first Afghani Restaurant. Family owned and operated since it was founded by a refugee couple from Kabul in 1984, this exceptional menu is ideal for sharing amongst a table of friends, and trust your server if you're unfamiliar with how or what to order. They are happy to help, and many of them have worked at this restaurant for 20+ years!
Ironside offers, for those who can afford it, a top-of-the-line seafood dinner to please even the most discerning customer, but, for you, I recommend the bar. Not only the bar, the bar at Happy Hour. This bright, exciting restaurant in San Diego's Little Italy is perfect for snacking on some $1 oysters on a day off. Add on fries and a martini or two, and you'll be set. Enjoy a lively staff who are happy to chat about the city they live in and give you recommendations on their favorite spots in town as well.
1654 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 HAPPY HOUR: 3PM- 6PM $1 oysters DAILY HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11:30AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 2AM ironsidefishandoyster.com
Juniper and Ivy
So Juniper and Ivy is a special place. The kind of warm, upscale restaurant where the love of food served up in unique and surprising ways is evident from the moment you walk in. Warmly lit with an ever-changing seasonal menu, try something here you've never heard of or had before (especially their vegetable entrees which are wildly creative and absolutely delicious.) If possible, bring along some friends to share and maximize the experience.
2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 5PM- 10PM Fri- Sat 5PM- 11PM juniperandivy.com
So. In-N-Out. I had to give them a shout out. Chances are very, VERY good that you've heard of this West Coast wonder before, but I needed to put it on the list as it is a late-night food option that needs to stay on the table when working in Southern California. Do it animal-style or go home and don't forget, that you will always regret not getting a double after you've finished.
2005 Camino Del Este, San Diego, CA 92108 (Old Globe) HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10:30AM- 1AM Fri- Sat 10:30AM- 1:30AM
2910 Damon Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 (LaJolla) HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10:30AM- 1AM Fri- Sat 10:30AM- 1:30AM locations.in-n-out.com
Pop Pie Co.
These pies are exceptional. Just completely and utterly exceptional. I now believe I have tried nearly every kind Pop Pie Co. has to offer, and I am here to report they are all equally and uniquely exquisitely amazing. Their Classic Chicken Pot Pie, Their Green Hog and Cheese with braised pork shoulder, blend of tomatillo, roasted pasilla, and jalapeno chiles with jack cheese, their Steak and Ale with slow braised beef, carrots, mushrooms, fresh herbs, barley, butter beans, in a dark ale gravy. I could go on and on, but, really, come to this place and treat yourself to an affordable, filling bit of perfection from a team that is deeply proud of what they do.
4404 Park Blvd ste a, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 8AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 8AM- 10PM poppieco.com
Known for "progressive American cuisine", Kettner Exchange in San Diego's hip Little Italy Neighborhood is a two-story wonderland of fireplace bar seats, cozy corner booths, a relaxed sports bar area, and trees everywhere, yup REAL trees, coming right up through the various dining rooms. With wildly popular "Small Plates" like their Big-Eye Tuna "Pizza" with red onion, ponzu, shiso, and truffle oil all layered on top of melt in your mouth tuna and "Large Plates" like their Beijing-Style Peking Duck with house-made hoison sauce, this menu is extraordinary. So, swing by for a fancy dinner, or just beer and some snacks with your cast in one of the many extensive bar areas. This cozy, hip, spot is well worth a visit.
2001 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon- Wed 5PM- 12AM Thurs- Fri 5PM- 2AM Sat 11AM- 2AM Sun 11AM- 12PM kettnerexchange.com
The Crack Shack
I must warn you, first and foremost, that The Crack Shack is best enjoyed with another person and/or a family. The portions here are large, but the quality of their ingredients is second to none. With great care given to clean, local, organic meat, eggs, and other ingredients, the quality of the fried chicken they serve up at The Crack Shack has created a loyal (even devoted) following that has allowed the restaurant to open up more locations on the West Coast. Lines can sometimes be long, so try coming by during off-peak hours, and, again, bring along the family or a small group, grab a table and number of different items, and enjoy your dining al fresca at the Little Italy location in San Diego- it will be a pleasure.
2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 9AM- 10PM Fri- Sat 9AM- 11PM crackshack.com
Pizzaria Bruno Napoletano
Pizzaria Bruno Napoletano is the only restaurant in San Diego serving up traditional, Naples-style, wood-fire pizzas, and their pizzas are nothing short of out of this world. Even their Margherita will knock you over with the faint char on the fresh, flavorful dough, the sweet cherry tomatoes, the creamy, home-made mozzarella, topped with fresh basil leaves. This restaurant is best enjoyed with a friend or a small group where you can get a couple of their delicious, medium-sized pies alongside some wine or local beer and an appetizer or salad. The gorgeous, tile-adorned pizza oven is at the heart of this restaurant, both literally and figuratively, and I strongly encourage you to swing by. It's a straight shot up Park Ave from The Old Globe Shiley Terrace Actor Housing, too...
4207 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Tues CLOSED Wed- Fri 5PM- 10PM Sat 12PM- 10PM Sun 12PM- 9PM pizzeriabrunosd.com
Herb & Wood
Herb & Wood is the flagship restaurant of celebrated chef Brian Malarkey. Located in the vibrant downtown neighborhood of San Diego's Little Italy, this beautiful restaurant knocks it out of the park. Specializing in wood-fired dishes like Grilled Venison Loin with roasted dates, sherry, thyme, and California buttermilk polenta or their various, excellent wood-fired pizzas like their Speck with coal-roasted pineapple, habanero, red onion, and taleggio pizza, everything on this menu is good. The restaurant itself strikes the ideal balance between trendy and soft elegance, making Herb & Wood a relaxing and inviting place to enjoy good meal. So, start with appetizers and cocktails and take your time at this very, very special spot.
2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 4:30PM- 10PM Fri- Sat 4:30PM- 11PM Sun 10AM- 2:30PM; 4:30PM- 10PM herbandwood.com
The Red Door
Chef Luciano Cibelli was born and raised in Milano, Italy, and now San Diego is very lucky to have him. The Red Door was only recently taken over by Cibelli and you will still find the chef milling about the dining room checking in with diners and soaking up the atmosphere of his new home, and, trust me, the atmosphere here is warm and pleased. The food here is made simply with farm-fresh ingredients and lots of devotion. Every single pasta dish is incredible as the hand made pasta here is second to none. But not a single thing on this menu
741 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Tues- Thurs 11:30AM- 9PM Fri 11:30AM- 10PM Sat 3PM- 10PM Sun 10AM- 9PM thereddoorsd.com
In a classic Southern California move, Spicy City is housed in an unassuming strip mall, but get ready for some rock-your-socks-off Szechuan dishes that will keep you coming back for more. Their Fired Chicken Cubes with Hot Peppers is a standard favorite, but the Fried Lamb Cumin is also delicious. Pair those with their Eggplant in Brown Sauce or Crispy Szechuan String Beans and some cold noodles, and it'll be a flavorful, mouth-exploding night.
4690 Convoy St #107, San Diego, CA 92111 HOURS: Mon- Fri 11AM- 3PM; 5PM- 9:30PM Sat- Sun 11AM- 9:30PM spicycity.menutoeat.com
Refill is located right around the corner from The Old Globe's actor housing at Shiley Terrace, and boy is it a welcome gift to the neighborhood. With an expansive outdoor area that is covered but open air, this spacious coffee shop is a beautiful, welcome spot to settle in and catch up on some emails or work on a script. Tasty snacks are available as well if you want get peckish during your hang, and the coffee is good. Real good.
3752 Park Blvd #104, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: 6AM- 9PM DAILY refillcafe.com
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters prides itself on its relationships with farmers. They communicate with and source directly from the farmers who make their coffee beans, and this means exceptional cups of coffee every single time. The walls of Bird Rock are adorned with photographs of the farmers and their farms, and this seems to imbibe the whole atmosphere with a warm and welcoming energy that will make that cappuccino taste even sweeter.
San Diego 2295 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 1270 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 6AM- 6PM HOURS: Mon- Fri 6AM- 4 PM Fri 6AM- 7PM Sat- Sun 7AM- 12PM Sat 7AM- 7PM Sun 7AM- 6PM
La Jolla 5627 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037 HOURS: Mon- Fri 6AM- 6PM Sat- Sun 6:30AM- 6PM https://www.birdrockcoffee.com
Cafe Bassam is a beautiful, eclectic Turkish coffee house stowed away on a quiet street in Banker's Hill, but worthy of noting as it is an ideal hangout when working at The Old Globe. Serving up delicious coffee, coffee drinks, a glorious tea collection, as well as sandwiches and sweet snacks, this spacious spot is perfect for lingering with a book, a computer, or a friend during any mid-day down time that might arise either during rehearsals or between shows.
Industrial Grind is another coffee shop convenient to The Old Globe's actor housing at Shiley Terrace. An indoor space, instead of an outdoor one, Industrial Grind also offers excellent coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos and a comfortable space in which to linger and sip.
Housed in an adorable little A-frame structure by the side of Washington Street, Copper Top Coffee and Donuts is an ideal spot for a quick coffee and donut on the go. There are a couple tables and chairs out front, but this is mainly a place to swing through on foot in a vehicle and bring your breakfast or mid-day treat along with you. The coffee here is fresh and strong and the donuts are buttery, slightly crispy little morsels of delight. I highly recommend trying whatever seasonal donut special they are currently featuring.
101 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Fri 6AM- 6PM Sat- Sun 7AM- 6PM coppertopcoffee.com
Better Buzz Coffee Roasters
A newcomer to University Ave in Hillcrest, Better Buzz Coffee Roasters is an enormous coffee shop offering dozens of tables and nooks and crannies to work in, including an upstairs level. With its bright, hip, and busy design, this is a coffee shop where hours can easily be spent on work and reading, or a friendly catchup in a convenient location.
801 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 HOURS: Mon- Sun 6AM- 9PM betterbuzzcoffee.com
Ballast Point Brewery
Ballast Point is a San Diego Brewery that has risen to national acclaim over the years and can now be found wherever great craft beer is sold. But even as they continue to branch out, the high quality and bold flavor exploration of this brewery has remained consistent. Their gold-medal winning IPA is a must while you're in town, and make sure you try the flavored IPA's they are constantly experimenting with. Their Aloha IPA was a personal favorite of mine and their Spruce Tips IPA is another special treat. Indulge in their award-winning Pale Ale as well (it will be the hoppiest pale ale you will ever have.)
Little ItalyUSD 2215 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 9045 Carroll Way, San Diego, CA 92121 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11AM- 11PM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11AM- 11PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 11AM- 12AM Sun 10AM- 10PM ballastpoint.com
Fall Brewing Company
Fall Brewing Company is a local favorite, and you will see their beers featured at many a bar in town. Visit their enormous brewing facility in Normal Heights where the tasting room is set up right up front. The red ales here are truly delicious, and they, too, have a proper West Coast IPA that will knock your socks off So, try a flight or two and indulge.
4542 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 12PM- 10PM Fri- Sat 12PM- 12AM fallbrewingcompany.com
Thorn St. Brewing
Thorn St. Brewing is a fresh, young brewery that has been fully embraced by its North Park community. Located in a residential area, this warm, friendly, inviting brewery is dog-friendly and even has a back area with large tables and darts for spillover from their more intimate front bar area. Stained glass windows and dark-wood walls and floors offset the funky, offbeat names and logos of Thorn St.'s excellent line up of beers, including Gutter Clown IPA and Chewbocka Doppelbocka, but this playfulness detracts nothing from the high quality of these beers. Their IPA's are thoughtful and varied and their Stouts and Porters are hearty and flavorful. I recommend a flight and then a pint of your favorite. At least.
3176 Thorn St, San Diego, CA 92104 HOURS: Mon- Tues 4PM- 10PM Wed- Thurs 12PM- 10PM Fri- Sat 12PM- 11PM Sun 12PM- 9PM thorn.beer
Modern Times Brewing Company
Modern Times has made quite a name for itself over the five years since it was founded. This funky, fun brewery has quickly expanded from its Point Loma Flagship to outposts in North Park, Encinitas, LA, and even Portland. Focusing on session-ish beer profiles, these delicious brews deserves a flight or two and pair exceptionally well with food. I highly recommend their "City of the Sun," one of their IPAs, and their "Blazing World", hoppy, dank amber. Fun Fact: their beers are almost always named after real Utopian experiments or mythological Utopias, as is the name of the Brewery itself which is named after a Utopian Experiment on Long Island from 1850.
North Park/ FlavordomePoint Loma 3000 Upas St, San Diego, CA 92104 3725 Greenwood St, San Diego, CA 92110 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 12PM- 10PM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 12PM- 10PM Fri 12PM- 12AM Fri 12PM- 12AM Sat 11AM- 12AM Sat 11AM- 12AM Sun 11AM- 10PM Sun 11AM- 10PM moderntimesbeer.com
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
In 1989, Karl Strauss became a bastion of the craft beer culture in San Diego, and, even though there are a number of locations now scattered throughout Southern California, this brewery hasn't lost its quality or its loyal San Diego followers. Come in for year round favorites, seasonal specialities, barrel aged creations, as well as small batch offerings.
1157 Columbia St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Old Globe) HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11AM- 10PM Fri 11AM- 11PM Sat 11:30AM- 11PM Sun 11:30AM- 10PM 1044 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11AM- 9:30PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 10PM karlstrauss.com
Since its founding in San Diego in 1996, Stone Brewery has grown to national acclaim, but, while working in San Diego, this craft brewery is still worth a visit to see where it all began. I highly recommend the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, located inside a former U.S. Navy mess hall, this expansive brewhaus features indoor and outdoor dining and bars, as well as a bocce ball court, outdoor cinema space, and a garden. They offer 40 taps of craft beers, ranging from Stone Brews (both year-round and special releases) as well as beers from other local craft breweries.
2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116, San Diego, CA 92106 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11:30AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 10PM stonebrewing.com
Coronado Brewing Company
Coronado Brewing Company couldn't live in a more picturesque location, so the fact that they have great beer to offer is just the icing on top. Located on Coronado Island, this brewery also started operations in 1996 and now shares its beers nationwide. A consistent winner of national and international awards and accolades, their Stingray IPA, Imperial Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, Seacoast Pilsner, and Mermaid's Red are favorites, but here is definitely a brewery worthy of a flight (or two) to get the most out of what they have to offer.
170 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 10:30AM- 9PM Fri- Sat 10:30AM- 10PM coronadobrewing.com
Hillcrest Brewing Company
Hillcrest Brewing Company is located very close to The Old Globe Actor Housing at Shiley Terrace, and, although it may seem like a small operation, don't let that stop you from visiting this labor of love and sampling some of the beer they're crafting. Advertising themselves as the "First Gay Craft Brewery in San Diego", enjoy playful names for their brews like "Crotch Rocket" and "Long and Stout" and "Pearl Necklace", and these beers are as solid as they come. Their pizza is the cherry on top of this place. It's hot, made fresh and absolutely delicious.
I first visited the Carruth Cellars Tasting Room in Carlsbad before finding out that this beautiful wine garden existed right in the heart of Little Italy. These exquisitely balanced wines are available by the flight, glass, or bottle here, and alongside the cozy, dark wood tasting room is an outdoor garden area with fairy lights, hanging ivy, and long tables ideal for groups. So bring yourself here on a day off and soak up some perfect Southern California weather while indulging in these gorgeous wines. I highly recommend their reds.
2215 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 4PM- 6PM HOURS: Mon- Fri 4PM- 10PM Sat- Sun 12PM- 10PM carruthcellars.com
DAY TRIPS ON A DAY OFF:
Here's my plug for this incredible train line that offers exceptional coastal views in a comfortable train interior with affordable ticket pricing (especially compared to the East Coast lines.) This is the perfect way to enjoy a day trip while working in San Diego. From The Old Globe actor housing, it's a quick, $5 Uber to the Downtown San Diego Station and from there you can easily get to and from all these little coastal towns. From La Jolla Playhouse your options are Old Town or Solana Beach which are a little bit more of a distance but totally worth it. You can skip the traffic and can imbibe safely on a day off with cast members or just yourself!
About a 40 minute trip via the Pacific Surfliner from downtown San Diego, Carlsbad is a perfect day-off get away. It's an adorable downtown where most things are open on a Monday, and there's a relaxed buzz of locals enjoying everything the town has to offer, from wineries, parks, brewers, and open-air cafes and restaurants. Below are some highlights just to get you started.
Carruth Cellars Urban Tasting Room
Carruth Cellars Urban Tasting Room is right off Carlsbad's main drag. Follow the chalkboard signs through an alley tucked between an adorable coffee shop, Baba, and a hip restaurant, Campfire. This little off-the-beaten-path deck/patio set-up lets you enjoy the California air while tasting some excellent California wines. The easy going service and a peaceful atmosphere make for a perfect afternoon-off treat. (Also, their weekday Happy Hour sweetens the deal.) 2727 State St #110, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Fri 2PM -6PM ($3 OFF glasses and tastings, $5 OFF bottles) HOURS: Sun- Thurs 12PM - 10PM Fri- Sat 12PM- 11PM carruthcellars.com
Baba Coffee, which is right around the corner from Carruth Cellars, is just about as close to perfection as a coffee shop can get. In addition to coffee concoctions, they boast a sexy selection of local brews as well a number of caffeine/alcohol mashup drinks that sound utterly perfect for a day-off. In a touch of west coast comfort, beautiful woven blankets hang on every seat in case the Carlsbad shade gets a bit too chilly.
2727 State St #100, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 7AM- 7PM Fri- Sat 7AM- 9PM babacoffee.com
Don's Country Kitchen
Don's Country Kitchen is a family owned and operated greasy spoon in downtown Carlsbad that will satisfy all your indulgent, diner desires. The Biscuits are Gravy here are fresh, homemade, and absolutely delicious, and their Homemade Hollandaise sauce over their Eggs Benedict ain't too shabby either. At insanely affordable prices and with generous portions, the food here is well worth a swing-by if you need a strong base for an afternoon of wine tasting around the corner.
1620, 2885 Roosevelt St, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Mon- Sun 7AM- 2PM donscountrykitchencarlsbad.com
Campfire is a gorgeous, sprawling restaurant that decided to make five sexy settings to eat and drink in instead of just one. The open air patio deck to the side, the bar seats under fairy lights out front, the handsomely appointed dining room, the epic bar sweeping right up next to the open-air-kitchen, this place is sure to satisfy any kind of afternoon or evening out, and the food and drinks are delicious. So whether you need an afternoon bite and a cocktail or a proper evening dinner with someone special, this Carlsbad mainstay will satisfy your every need.
2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Mon 5PM- 11PM Tues- Thurs 11:30AM- 11PM Fri 11:30AM- 1AM Sat 10AM- 1AM Sun 10AM- 11PM thisiscampfire.com
Witch Creek Winery/ Sleeping Tiger Coffees
Witch Creek Winery, is an award-winning boutique winery with a tasting room in downtown Carlsbad, sharing its large space with a local coffee roaster, Sleeping Tiger Coffees. In Witch Creek'sbeautiful wood-flanked interior, you will feel immediately welcome to sit and sample a few of the gorgeous wines they have to offer here. Then, get yourself a latte before continuing on with a lovely afternoon in downtown Carlsbad.
2906 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008 Hours: Sun- Thurs 12PM- 7PM Fri- Sat 12PM- 9PM witchcreekwinery.com
The Goods (donut shop)
The Goods donut shop is your go-to for an afternoon pick-me-up while exploring downtown Carlsbad. These fresh, often still-warm creations run the gamut of familiar flavor profiles along with daring combinations. I recommend going with a friend and trying something familiar alongside something new in their cozy interior alongside a coffee.
2965 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Sun 7AM- 5PM thegoodscarlsbad.com
Vigilucci Grocery Store is where you come to fulfill all of your beach-side picnic dreams. This highly select Italian grocery can equip you with everything from great Italian wines to fresh, hand-made pastas to spreads and fresh bread and charcuterie like you won't believe. It should come as no surprise, then, that the paninis they make here from their top-notch ingredients are heavenly.
2943 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11:30AM- 9:30PM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 10PM vigiluccis.com
With locations in Pacific Beach and Oceanside as well, Barrel Republic, has taken a unique spin on how best to enjoy the blooming craft beer scene in San Diego. With a selection of fifty some-odd local craft beers on tap, you are given an electronic bracelet that allows you to scan and sample as much and as many of the beers they have on tap all by yourself. So, go to town, beer lovers and sample, sample, sample.
2961 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11:30AM- 12AM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 2AM Sun 10AM- 12AM barrelrepublic.com
Choice Juicery is located alongside a small, outdoor bar in this expansive, almost playground-esque corner in downtown Carlsbad. With lovely seating scattered throughout, along with some games, this is a perfect spot to enjoy that perfect Southern California weather with a juice and then a beer with a group of friends.
430 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HOURS: Mon- Fri 7AM- 6:30PM Sat- Sun 8AM- 6:30PM choicejuicery.com
The design and layout of 264 Fresco in downtown Carlsbad (just a block from the water) is stop-you-in-your-tacks beautiful. With a simple, gorgeous menu that boasts many a woof-fired item and a stunning cocktail and wine list, swing by this swanky establishment for a drink on the patio with friends around a fire pit or inside for a lovely sit-down dinner.
264 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Sun 3Pm- 6PM HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11:30AM- 9:30PM Fri- Sat 11:30AM- 10PM 264fresco.com
La Jolla Shores...
This stunning little seaside village is a must see if you are working in San Diego. Wait for a Monday and enjoy a full day here with a book, a friend, or just yourself.
The Cottage will be your first stop for breakfast or early lunch. Featuring scrumptious menu items like French Toast stuffed with strawberry compote and mascarpone, a Fried Egg Sandwich with lemon aioli, and a Crab Melt that's worth writing home about, this tasty spot is the perfect way to begin your day in La Jolla.
Seal Rock is a quick, convenient walk from The Cottage. Wrap around the Museum of Contemporary Art and walk along the coast until you see the buzzing of seal-watchers ahead. This stunning cove has been a haven for seals since the town first began to build itself up, and La Jolla has done a wonderful job in preserving this habitat while sharing it (from a distance) with visitors. Walk all the way out on a rough, stone walkway over the water to see the seals from above with the ocean rushing around you. The smell can be a little strong at times, but there's always a spot upwind where you can enjoy seals and their pups frolicking, napping, or taking in the sunshine.
Pannikin Coffee and Tea
Pannikin Coffee and Tea is located a number of blocks away from the cove, giving you a chance to walk through the town a bit on your way. With avenues strewn with shops and restaurants, La Jolla is a classy place that has remained pedestrian friendly. Pannikin is without a doubt a west coast coffee house. With open windows and doors and a super casual vibe, this chill joint features large wooden tables, a few scattered chess boards, and a soothing soundtrack. Kick back here for a bit or take your latte to go for more strolling.
Gelateria Frizzante is a tiny local spot that's perfect for a sweet treat to beat the midday sunshine. All their gelato is made on premises, and the walls are dotted with family photographs from Italy, making this no-frills joint a pleasant oasis before you continue your exploration.
1025 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 12PM- 10PM Fri- Sat 12PM- 10:30PM Sun 12PM- 9PM
George's at the Cove
George's at the Cove is where to go as evening sets on. With three floors, each is unique but they all boast incredible views of the water. California Modern is on the first level and boasts an elegant and exciting menu of local ingredients spun into an award-winning menu. Level2 on the second floor is a bar area with stupendous cocktails and casual plates to pair. Ocean Terrace on the top deck hosts both a restaurant and a bar area, and that's where everyone will tell you to go at sunset. Sip a tropical drink and have some shockingly fresh seafood as the sun sets over the water. You cannot take better advantage of working in Southern California.
1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037 HOURS: Sun- Thurs 11AM- 10PM Fri- Sat 11AM- 11PM georgesatthecove.com
Often referred to as Coronado Island, this landmass is technically connected to the mainland by a very, very narrow strip of land. You must take a gorgeous ride over a bridge or take a ferry to reach the town. This is an absolute must-see when working in San Diego. It's very much a resort town but with so much class and beauty, you'll want a whole day to explore. If you drive in, I recommend starting at the Hotel Del end of town. If you take the ferry, you will arrive in the Bayside side and should naturally begin there. Orange Ave is the main drag you walk to get from one end of town to the other, but if you want to drive around the neighborhoods off Orange, you'll be blown away by the gorgeous homes and stunning horticulture. Consistently named one of the best beaches in the world, bring your beach gear and your walking shoes and soak up this glorious haven on a day off.
Coronado Ferry is an easy way to get started. This stunning 15-minute trip across the bay departs from Broadway Pier and The Convention Center and arrives at Coronado Ferry Landing. Tickets are $4.75 per person per trip and can be purchased at the dock. Bring your bicycle on for free!
Hotel Del Coronado is the crown jewel of Coronado Island. This historic hotel, built in 1888, is featured prominently (though not by name or actual location) in the classic film "Some Like It Hot." With old-school glamour and truly stunning architecture, stroll through the lobby and peak into the many historic meeting rooms, ball rooms, etc. Swing by the hotel store to read about the history of the place and how it survived the Depression and beyond. Grab a coffee at Babcock and Story Bakery and walk out onto the perfectly manicured walkways that lead the glorious beach that has made this resort a destination for people from all over the world. If you can arrive to see the sunset, enjoy Del Beach Bar or Sunset Bar for drink concoctions while the radiant San Diego sun sets over the white beach in front of you. This place is pure magic.
1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118 Babcock and Story Bakery HOURS: OPEN 24 HOURS
Del Beach Bar HOURS: Sat- Sun 12PM- 5PM (weather permitting) Sunset Bar HOURS: Sun-Mon CLOSED Tues- Sat 4:30PM- 11PM hoteldel.com
During your stroll along Orange Avenue, Bay Books is a must-stop. This independently owned and operated bookstore has been around for over 20 years, and you can easily see why. Hand written notecards recommending books adorn the shelves under many titles and pique interest in a way that covers may fail to do. Grab some beach reading or something to get you through tech and support this local institution.
Wander down Orange Avenue and settle in at Wine a Bit for some local wine and beer and the friendliest, most knowledgable staff imaginable. Get some truffle fries to snack on or a spinach, artichoke pizza to share, and, Thursdays through Saturdays in the evening, you can enjoy a wine tasting in the back room and sample the full variety of what this lovely little spot has to offer.
Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge uses fresh, local, sustainable food to create a menu that truly sets this Coronado eatery apart. In casual, hip digs with a friendly, down to earth staff, you may be surprised by the high quality and care that is put into each and every dish, but the combination of excellent food in an easy-going environment make this spot a true winner. With an ever-changing seasonal menu, just know that you can always trust the seafood dishes to impress as well as the burger which is an eternal standby. During their Happy Hour midday (and late at night on Friday and Saturdays) enjoy drink specials including $5 select drafts and half off appetizers.
1015 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118 HAPPY HOUR: Mon- Sun 3PM- 6PM Fri- Sat 10PM- 12AM HOURS: Mon- Thurs 11AM- 10PM Fri 11AM- 12AM Sat 10AM- 12AM Sun 10AM- 10PM leroyskitchenandlounge.com
Coronado Taste of Oils
Coronado Taste of Oils is another ideal stop off the Orange Boulevard promenade. Sample delicious olive oils and vinegars with complimentary bread cubes and take a small bottle home.
Candelas on the Bay is your stop way way WAY on the other end of Orange Boulevard. Located between the pristine Centennial Park and Coronado Ferry Landing Park, the floor to ceiling windows and outdoor deck area of this restaurant offer views of the bay that will make you sit back, relax and breath a bit. Enjoy wine or a local brew alongside some small plates and soak it all in.
Some folks may tell you this is a tourist trap, and that may be partly true, but Oldtown is well worth a visit on a day off. Boasting tons of restaurant, museums, historical sights, shopping, even a theatre, it has more than enough to occupy you for a full day-off. Called the "birth place of California" this town is now considered to be the first permanent Spanish settlement in the state. Founded in 1769, this Mission was the first of many that would dot the California coast and colonize the state. Old Town now tries to pay tribute to its the indigenous people of the area who lived here for over 9,000 years as well as all the groups that immigrated and influenced the settlement over time.
El Agave Tequileria
El Agave Tequileria is your stop for top-notch Mexican fare. This is where I had mole for the first time, and it knocked me flat. Get something you've never had before on this menu. It features staples of Mexico City restaurant cuisine as opposed to street food and will open your eyes to a whole new world of flavors. Also, the tequila selection here is tremendous, over 200 varieties, so try some in the bar area before you sit down for your meal, it'll be a treat.
2304 San Diego Ave B, San Diego, CA 92110 HOURS: 11AM- 10PM elagave.com
An hour's drive east of San Diego, the tiny town of Julian was founded in the mountains to mine the gold discovered there in 1869, but nowadays the reason to make the journey to Julian can be summed up in one word: pie. Come hungry, come ready to take some home with you. The pie scene in Julian is second to none, and all three spots I've listed below consistently vie for the title of "best pie in town" without a clear winner ever emerging. So, my advice, hit up all three spots, and decide which one is your favorite. Then digest all that fruit filled flakey goodness with a local craft beer or wine flight. It'll be a treat.
Apple Alley Bakery
So, let's start at the beginning. Apple Alley Bakery is the only top-tier Julian pie shop that hasn't branched out to other locations in California or decided to ship to local farmer's markets. So, you can only get their pies in their bakery in Julian, and damn is it worth a stop. Their Caramel Apple Pecan was a particularly exceptional, and their Apple Cherry was a surprise sensation as well. And a taste of their Apple Crumb felt imperative in a town where Apple Crumbs still reign supreme.
2122 Main St, Julian, CA 92036 HOURS: Mon- Sun 8:30AM- 5PM
Julian Pie Company
Julian Pie Company is arguably the most well-known of the Julian pie establishments, and I need to offer you some advice about this spot: arrive as early as possible because when it's gone here, it's gone. Baked fresh on the premises every day, this mecca for pie lovers bakes as much as humanly possible and sells out by around midday. Also, there WILL be a line here, but, don't worry, it will be well worth it. The Caramel Dutch Apple here is divine but other specials include their Apple Mountain Berry Crumb as well as their Strawberry Rubarb.
2225 Main St, Julian, CA 92036 HOURS: Mon- Sun 9AM- 5PM julianpie.com
Mom's Pie House
Mom's Pie House is the third contender in the race for Julian pie champion, and it sure does hold its own. Yet again, you are guaranteed lines out the door, but hunker down and stand awhile so that you can partake in the golden, fruit-filled deliciousness you can watch them making through the clear glass windows out front. Their Bumbleberry pie with blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberries is a local favorite as well as their Chocolate Pecan.
2119 Main St, Julian, CA 92036 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 7AM- 5PM Fri 7AM- 5:30PM Sat 7AM- 6PM Sun 7AM- 5:30PM momspiesjulian.com
Blue Door Winery
For $12 at The Blue Door Winery Tasting Room, you can sample a flight of five of their dry red wines along with expert commentary at the bar. This rustic, friendly tasting room boasts robust and mature wines with grapes sourced from Santa Barbara Wine Country and fermented nearby. Their Syrah is particularly delicious and drinkable, but, truly, all of their wines are. Pull up a chair, and a dog will most likely plop down into your lap to help you enjoy your glass in this tin-roofed escape in the heart of town.
2608 B St, Julian, CA 92036 HOURS: Tues CLOSED Wed- Mon 12PM- 5PM https://thebluedoorwinery.com/
Julian Cider Mill
Julian Cider Mill is your stop for all things locally produced in Julian. From warm cider to walk around town with to local honey to apple butters to jams and marmalades, this is a candy store of delights. Stock up here on some delicious, locally sourced pantry items to take home with you.
2103 Main St, Julian, CA 92036 HOURS: Mon- Thurs 9:30AM- 5PM Fri- Sun 9:30AM- 5:30PM juliancidermillinc.com
Julian Beer Co.
Julian Beer Company makes some solid brews to pair alongside their BBQ and large, heavily topping-ed pizzas. This place ain't cheap. They know they're an important part of the Julian ecosystem offering casual food in very large, expansive digs (they have two whole dining rooms in large, barn-like buildings), but this is the ideal spot to grab your lunch or dinner while in Julian (if you have any room left after all that pie). Take advantage of their $5 and $6 beers and split a pizza with one of their delicious Cesar Salads or try their Pulled Pork Sandwich with a side of coleslaw.
2307 Main St, Julian, CA 92036 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Thurs 11AM- 8PM Fri 11AM- 9PM Sat 11AM- 11PM Sun 11AM- 9PM julianbeercompany.com
A 15-minute-drive from La Jolla Playhouse or a 30-minute-drive from The Old Globe, Del Mar is a stunning gem of a SoCal seaside town with an upscale vibe that should in no way deter you from visiting. Imperative to any visit to Del Mar is a wander along its beautifully manicured oceanside park. Then, if you get peckish or want to indulge in day off drinks on a roof deck overlooking the water, this town has everything you need.
Del Mar Pizza
In a town with an impressive number of upscale dining options, Del Mar Pizza is an ideal spot to take care of your craving without breaking the bank. These delicious pies have made Del Mar Pizza a favorite amongst the locals, and, alongside a local craft brew, just steps from the water, this is the perfect addition to any Del Mar excursion.
211 15th St, Del Mar, CA 92014 HOURS: Mon- Sun 11AM- 9PM delmarpizza.com
Balboa Park and all the tremendous things it has to offer will be possibly be the biggest treat to anyone who works at The Old Globe, but, even if you are working elsewhere, make the trip down because it can never disappoint. That being said, for a few precious weeks in March/ April The Rose Garden blooms and makes an already special place even more glorious.
The Rose Garden
Inez Park Grant Memorial Rose Garden is in bloom March through December. With over 1600 roses in 130 different varieties, it's well worth a wander. Featuring a gorgeous view into the gorge nearby as well, the scent of this stunning garden will make you want to sit and stay for awhile.
Timken Museum of Art
The Timken Museum of Art is my personal favorite of all the museums that Balboa Park has to offer. This may sound absurd as there are far more impressive museums in the park, but this tiny gem of a place is something very very special. The carefully manicured art collection here is laid out with so much care and attention, it makes you feel as though you were is someone's home at times. Aid your stroll with their audio guide ($5) and really dig into each of these incredible works of art from Dutch masters to Renaissance art. Admission here is also free!
1500 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Sat 10AM- 4:30PM Sun 12PM- 4:30PM timkenmuseum.org
San Diego Museum of Art
So, now that I've rattled on about the Timken, The San Diego Museum of Art is also a very impressive museum and a gorgeous structure. Well worth a visit and a few hours of your time, these collection galleries span the centuries from 'Art of the 20th Century' to 'German Expressionism' to 'Impressionism and Post-Impressionism'. Their 'American Art' wing is extensive, their 'Art of Iran' collection is incredible, and their 'Art of South and Southeast Asia' is also notable, but mostly you should have gotten the impression by now that is a great art museum. Visit at least once. Admission is $15 unless you're working for The Old Globe and then it's free!
1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92102 HOURS: Mon- Tues 10AM- 5PM Wed CLOSED Thurs 10AM- 5PM Fri 10AM- 8PM Sat 10AM- 5PM Sun 12PM- 5PM sdmart.org
This gorgeous little village tucked away in Balboa Park is a collection of art galleries showcasing painting, pottery, and jewelry all made by local artists in individual bodega huts. Well worth a stroll, get a coffee or tea from David's Coffee Stand in the central plaza and take your time wandering.
The Japanese Friendship Garden was a constructed as an expression of friendship between San Diego and her sister city, Yokohama. The Garden sits on a 12-acre plot with sukiyaki-style buildings, a tea room with an outdoor patio deck with seating, koi ponds, brooks, cherry blossom trees, and a gorgeously manicured garden that you will want to spend many afternoons wandering through.
2215 Pan American Rd E, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: 10AM- 6PM DAILY niwa.org
Museum of the Photographic Arts
With current exhibitions like American Cathedrals: Photography and the National Parks, Point/Counterpoint: Contemporary Mexican Photography, and Ansel Adams: a Life's Work as well as many others, The Museum of the Photographic Arts in Balboa Park is a peaceful sanctuary of a museum that displays works by masters and new and innovative young artists alike. Give this museum a wander one afternoon. It is filled with stirring images that will encourage thought and introspection. And admission here is pay what you wish!
1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 HOURS: Mon CLOSED Tues- Sun 10AM- 5PM mopa.org
The San Diego Zoo
This is the King of the Zoos. The San Diego Zoo is an incredible place, supporting rare or endangered species and caring for animals around the world. This is a zoo worthy of your support as it really does practice what it preaches. It connects care centers for rare of endangered animals all over the world to advance animal medicine and care and to fund education in how we can stop the destruction of natural habitats and poaching. So, think of that as you wander through this enormous complex that will easily take you an entire day to wind through and enjoy incredible animals from all over the world.
One day adult passes start at $54, but, if you're lucky enough to work at The Old Globe, you will be gifted pass that gets you into the Zoo as well as all the museums in Balboa Park. It's a beautiful thing.
I had no idea when visiting San Diego for the first time that there was any more to The San Diego Zoo than the zoo, but, boy, was I wrong. A truly magical San Diego Zoo park lives up the road in Escondido: Safari Park. This jaw-dropping place is a vast landscape mimicing natural landscapes that these animals call home. A wildlife sanctuary that's home to 3,000 animals representing 300 species and an expansive botanical collection. Use the Safari's website to customize your day ahead of time (yes, it is that intense) and schedule a safari cart or safari caravan trip through the animal reserves or visit the tremendous gardens on site or even zipline for 2/3 of a mile over the zoo itself for a bird's eye view of things. This place is mind-blowing and make sure to set aside a whole day to do it right.
One day passes for adults are also $54 here, but that golden ticket from The Old Globe Will get you in for free here as well!
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027 HOURS: 9AM- 6PM DAILY sdzsafaripark.org
Named for the unique family of trees covering it, Torrey Pines National Park is a stunning way to appreciate the breathtaking natural landscape of this area. Torrey Pines has a hiking/trails area as well as a gorgeous beach, meaning you can wind your way through beautiful pines, and sometimes out amongst jagged, coastline rocks over the water, and then meander down to the coast itself to spend some time on this rugged beach. The views, the sea air, and the pines all combine to make this gorgeous spot addictive.
12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037 HOURS: 8:30AM- 6PM torreypine.org
BONFIRE ON THE BEACH:
This a must. Especially if you are working at La Jolla Playhouse. Go after the show one evening, and snag one of the precious firepits. Below are the local restrictions but bring snacks, bring blankets and bring bathing suits for a quick dip. This is an ideal cast and crew hang out at the end of a long week.
The burning of rubbish is prohibited.
Only wood (no pallets), charcoal or paper products may be used as fuel.
The fire must be extinguished before leaving the beach.
Fires are not allowed between midnight and 5 a.m.
Coals must be removed or deposited in hot coal containers.
Open beach fires outside containers are prohibited.
No alcoholic beverages
No glass containers
No disturbing noise
No overnight camping
No dogs (From November 1 through March 31, dogs are NOT allowed on the beach between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. From April 1 through October 31, dogs are NOT allowed on the beach between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.)
La Jolla Shores is located at 8200 Camino del Oro (between Vallecitos & Lee Ln) in la Jolla, CA 92037.