Celebrate Hillcrest’s best bites this week
The week of San Diego LGBT Pride marks a time when thousands of locals and tourists cast aside their diet regimens to indulge in the vast culinary options found at every turn. A range of restaurants set along the beaten track play heavily into the Pride experience, whether you’re seeking fast-casual grub or wishing to recharge your jets over lobster in a sit-down atmosphere.
With the full return of San Diego Pride events taking place July 9-17, after a two-year hiatus, our “gayborhood” kitchens are eager to serve up their latest and greatest dishes to the droves of revelers who will turn out for what is considered one the nation’s most multifaceted Pride celebrations.
Below are a handful of dishes we recommend and where to find them.
Engage in “foreplay” or “go all the way” when sating your appetite at San Diego’s acclaimed and centrally located lesbian bar, Gossip Grill. The former menu category includes items such as deviled eggs and prosciutto-wrapped prawns. If you proceed to home base, you’re looking at heartier fare like bacon burgers with onion jam, Korean-style fried chicken, and rigatoni with vegan cashew marinara—all of which you can wash down with provocative libations such as “pussy punch” and “coochie coolers.” 1220 University Ave., 619-260-8023; gossipgrill.com.
Nashville hot chicken
We’re smitten over several dishes at Common Stock, a centrally located restaurant in Hillcrest that flaunts a friendly bar in the middle to boot. Some of those favs include the grilled artichoke hearts and the Philadelphia pork melt. But the menu king is the ultra-crispy and reasonably spicy Nashville hot chicken. It comes with either cheddar waffles or Creole buttermilk coleslaw. If your budget permits, we recommend both. 3805 Fifth Ave., 619-310-5298; eatcommonstock.com
Also in the central village area of Hillcrest is Crest Cafe, an all-day diner that may very well be the only place in San Diego slinging butter burgers. Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featured it on his show several years ago and captured the herb-infused butter oozing from the innards of this flavorful char-grilled half-pound patty. Put away your calorie meter and try it. 425 Robinson Ave., 619-295-2510; crestcafe.com.
When Danish transplants Bjerke Frandsen and Tina Fabrin opened Taste of Denmark several years ago, they vowed to “keep the DNA in Danish food.” Indeed they did with dishes that are often accompanied by super-hearty rye bread made onsite. Their Danish meatballs with dark-brown gravy are delightful, as are the chicken tartlets complemented by roux sauce and the fluffy “pancake balls” known as aebleskiver, which are served with decadent berry jam. 142 University Ave., 619-209-3636; truetasteofdenmark.com.
The LGBTQ+ sandwich
Look no further than bustling Uptown Tavern on Hillcrest’s main thoroughfare to find the queerest and most decadent version of a BLT. Here, the sandwich strikes a match to the LGBTQ acronym with inclusions of lettuce, garlic aioli, bacon, tomato, and queso. Squeeze in the “A” for asexual/aromantic/agender somewhere in the lettering for avocado and you’ll be well fueled to paint the town. 1236 University Ave., 619-241-2710; uptowntavernsd.com.
Australian hot stone steak
Self-sear, then self-indulge, with an 8-ounce aged filet mignon that you cook to your liking on a super-heated stone at InsideOUT. The table side spectacle allows you to jazz up the beef with a choice of seasoned salts, infused butters and various sauces. If you haven’t been to this stylish haunt in the east end of Hillcrest, you will discover that its name makes perfect sense the moment you step inside. 1642 University Ave., 619-888-8623; insideoutsd.com.
From the operators of Gossip Grill comes Barrel & Board, which opened across the street to the tune of exquisite meat, cheese and veggie boards. Some are augmented by snazzy frills such as balsamic caviar, grilled pears, pepito romesco and more. And brunch boards adorned with eggs, smoked salmon, and assorted veggies and spreads are also in the offing on Sundays. 1027 University Ave., 619-902-4646; barrelandboardsd.com.
Tableside marshmallow pancakes
Our gayborhood has many good options for pancakes, such as what you’ll find at Snooze (snoozeeatery.com), Breakfast Bitch (eatbreakfastbitch.com) and Crest Cafe. But if you want a more highfalutin flapjack experience within a pink and flowery atmosphere, head over to Breakfast & Bubbles. The champagne-centric cafe is where marshmallows toasted tableside join forces with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate sauce for a buttermilk pancake treat that rivals any s’mores you’ve ever eaten. 3831 Park Blvd., 619-269-6281; breakfastandbubblessandiego.com.
Spiny lobster, known otherwise as rock lobster, rule the day at Ortega’s Mexican Bistro, which is located at the west end of Hillcrest. Presented within an attractive full-service environment, the Baja lobsters are steamed and then flash-grilled with butter, lemon and subtle seasonings. The creatures average between one and one-and-a-half pounds, and the meal includes tortilla soup, grilled lime, rice, beans and flour tortillas. 141 University Ave., 619-692-4200; ortegas.com.