San Diego sits very pretty on the Pacific Ocean in sunny Southern California. With a burgeoning culinary scene, we wanted to get the scoop on a day of drinking from day to night with one of the area’s experts, cocktail influencer Efren Agustin aka @imefren. Here is what he had to say about his ‘hood.
“San Diego may be best known nationally for its beaches, craft beers and delicious tacos but don’t let those palm trees fool you,” jokes Agustin. “Our city has become a thriving dining and craft cocktail destination over the years. Blessed with the bounty of the Pacific Ocean, farm-fresh produce year-round and excellent hospitality, our sprawling laid-back neighborhoods are home to some of the best food and drinks in the country. Whether you’re looking for a fast-casual eatery, a day drinking destination or a late-night snack, here are some of my favorite spots.”
The ‘Hood Guide: San Diego Edition with Drinkstagrammer Efren Agustin
Start Your Day at Pop Pie Co. (4404 Park Blvd) @poppiecosd
I’m not usually a big breakfast eater but when I need a morning sipper I love stopping by here to grab a cold brew or matcha latte. Admittedly it’s hard to walk away without one of their savory (Green Hog & Cheese) or sweet pies (Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie).
Lunching or Brunching at Ironside Fish & Oyster (1654 India Street) @ironsideoyster
Fresh seafood caught by local fisherman delivered daily? Sign me up! Come for the lobster roll which has over a pound of Maine lobster mixed with brown-butter mayo, crispy onion strings and chives housed in a house-made buttered roll. Stay for the equally delicious cocktails including The Man in the Yellow Hat featuring tequila, mezcal, lime, cayenne-pineapple gomme and falernum.
Happy Hour / Sunset Drinks at George’s Level2 (1250 Prospect Street) @georgeslevel2
No visit to San Diego would be complete without a view of the Pacific Ocean. Enjoying an $8 cocktail, $7 glass of wine or $4 draft beer during happy hour while enjoying the sunset at this bar is truly one of nature’s greatest gifts. If you’re feeling adventurous Level2 GM Sam Anthony Peters and Spirits Director (and USBG local chapter president) Stephen Kurpinsky can make you a cocktail from their Neighborhoods of San Diego cocktail menu including one of my personal favorites which has blanco tequila (infused with dried mangos, lime zest and chilies), lime, agave syrup and saline ice cube with suspended seaweed called “La Jolla”.
Essential Eats for Dinner & Drinks at Campfire (2725 State Street) @campfirerestaurant
I have nothing but great things to say about this restaurant. In fact I just dined here again two nights ago. Chef Andrew Bachelier and his team expertly cook their dishes consisting of market-driven ingredients using live fire! It’s probably one of the few places where get excited about vegetables that come out of the kitchen. Equally as amazing is the cocktail program led by bar manager Leigh Lacap. Lately he’s been part of the zero-waste cocktail movement, utilizing “throw away” ingredients for cocktails like his take on the Eastside cocktail featuring gin, mint/cucumber pulp syrup, lime, dash of spirulina and sea salt.
Crafty Cocktail Strolling at Polite Provisions (4696 30th Street) @politesandiego
As the old song goes “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name”. If you’re ever looking for me when I’m not at home, chances are I’m in this neighborhood bar chatting it up with the staff and fellow bar patrons on any given day or night. Erick Castro put together an excellent bar program that caters to everyone from the vodka-soda guy (you know who you are) to the cocktail geek who loves that hand-cut ice. Don’t know where to start? Try the Pina Verde! If you get hungry you can order food from next door (Soda & Swine) and they will deliver it to you at the bar.
Late Night Libations at Turf Supper Club (1116 25th Street) @turfsupperclub
If you’re looking for a late-night meal and stiff drinks head on over to this industry favorite spot. The odds of you stumbling into one of your favorite bartenders here will be pretty darn good. There is no other place like it, anywhere. Order an $8 Sneaky Tiki (rum, amaretto, sweet & sour, pineapple and orange) and grill yourself a piece of meat while you’re at it.
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