Southwest to San Diego

San Diego is as close to urban paradise as I can imagine. Specifically, the Gaslamp District is a fantastic downtown experience. I’m not a fan of traveling outside of San Diego, and I’ve not actually traveled outside San Diego, thus I cannot really be a fan of something I’ve no experience with.

A small San Diego condo building near the Gaslamp

San Diego has marvelous apartment buildings. Lots of glass, balconies, and any room above the 3rd floor would have a view to kill for. Maybe. I can envision some people might not be comfortable staring out their window into the bedroom or living room of the apartment in a building mere yards away. A cozy relationship with your neighbors could possible result in tossing a ball between buildings, that is how close some of these buildings seem to be.

Nonetheless, I would live in downtown San Diego should Fortune or the Kentucky Lottery smile upon me. Sea breezes are cool and inspire meditation and contemplation of the Universe. My recent stay did not allow me to do so but under other circumstances I sleep with my windows open. Hotels without balconies do not have windows to open.I appreciate the symphony of the streets, from the sirens of police and fire trucks to the gaseous discharges of the city buses. I took my first San Diego city bus this trip, by the way, and I will probably never take a taxi nor shuttle again. For $2.25 a traveler can meet the bus at San Diego airport and be downtown in about 20 minutes. No better deal anywhere.

Sun, breeze, mild temperatures, the type of weather for drinking coffee in the morning and Guinness in the evening. Wearing long sleeves in the evening isn’t a bad idea. Nights are chilly. I passed a small girl, pulled along by her father, chanting “cold-cold-so cold, cold-cold-so cold.” Thermal heaters grace the outside eating areas but away from these sitting in chilly air can be uncomfortable.

Living downtown is not cheap. I found a place I could rent for about $1,280/month. Not too bad. Most of the condos I found were about far and away more expensive. When in downtown areas which have been redeveloped I wander around looking into realty offices hoping to get a sense of property values. The area around San Diego’s Gaslamp district is prime real estate. Not as prime as London, but nice places are a premium. I’m sure lease rates are dependent upon view, seaside versus downtown. Expect to pay one-quarter to over 3 million dollars for a downtown condo. I suspect the closer to the top also puts sale prices near the top-end, too. I’m not sure where “regular folk” live. Next time I’m around downtown I’ll ask.

East River Crossing, playing at the Field

Grocery stores, like Ralph’s and neighborhood bodegas are handy. 7-Elevens, Wendy’s, Subway litter downtown. My suggestion, don’t waste your time. OK, 7-Eleven is a valid stop for snacks, coffee, and emergency beer. I’d rather recommend a few other places. At 5th and Market is The Field a favorite hang-out of mine when in San Diego. On a recent Monday night, the band “East River Crossing” was playing. A huge group of girls packed the joint and sang along to all the traditional Irish tunes. Sang along because they knew the words – to the Irish folk tunes – all the words. Even the audience response lyrics. 30-some-odd girls, all dolled-up, singing Irish folk songs like they knew them by heart. And, they did know the words by heart, as they turned out to be Irish girls on Study Abroad and were soon heading home.

Another favorite of mine is Dublin Square, at 4th and Market. Again, great food and cold Guinness. One of my favorite memories of San Diego goes back to my first trip. I found DS by accident and wanted Guinness and Shepards Pie for dinner. What I discovered I’ll never forget. A young woman had brought her harp. Not the little hand-held harp but the stand-up floor model. Then, she sang. Her voice silenced the room, her soft wailing Gaelic lilt mesmorized every patron. Passersby on the sidewalk outside slowed and stopped, her soft melodies putting them under her spell. That was 15 years ago. Both places can pour a Guinness the proper way, though both can get a little sloppy when the bar gets busy. Remember, ordering a Guinness can take 6-10 minutes just for the pour; 2/3rds for the initial pour, allow the beer to rest, then top off and allow to rest. Don’t be a bastard and give the ladies a hard time. Guinness is not Bud Light.

Drunken Noodles and Sake

I have a new favorite restaurant. My buddy Dewayne sat for some new ink on Pacific Beach – a good place for new ink, just so you know. The tattoo artist recommended a new Asian restaurant, Gaijin Noodle and Sake House. Unless you are on a date, sit at the bar beside the grill. Watch the girls prepare your food. Everyone who works here is from Southeast Asia, or has roots in Southeast Asia, everyone except the head chef. He is from Italy. The girls will chat up a storm and will tell you all the details about their food. I ate drunken noodles and bacon-wrapped asparagus and three samples of sake. I really wanted the grilled pork kimchi yet they were out, so I was told, until I saw our chef lay some on the grill. Watching food grill to succulence on a grill is hard to resist and I didn’t. I tried the grilled teriyaki beef tongue, which was marvelous; like chewy bits of steak. And, they have S’mores on the menu for dessert and really roast large marshmallows over an open flame. Definitely will be back for seconds, or fourths.

If you are headed to San Diego anytime soon, and you enjoy Irish food, Guinness, or are looking for some new Asian cuisine, I’ve given you some food for thought. The prices are good, food is good, quickly served, and hot. Expect to watch football (soccer), or rugby on the tellies, perhaps the Olympics.

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