North Park [San Diego]

Now, I must confess. I am not an expert foodie nor have I made a conscious effort to take a million photos of every experience at the following places listed and filter them on Instagram. This is because I was too busy stuffing my face with delicious food [that I’m sure was Instagram worthy], chasing it down with a local craft beer [again, Instagram worthy], and sharing good times with my friends [who are all beautiful people and certainly Instagram worthy]. Therefore, I have very few photos to post on this blog from these places. But, I will say that I lived in North Park for almost two years and fell absolutely in love with its hipster charm and quirky shops. I spent a good amount of time trying out new places and discovering the best of what North Park has to offer. If after reading this you are shocked to not find your favorite spot, by all means, share it with me! Also something to note, I say “North Park”, but a few of these spots might technically be in another nearby district and are 5 min. away.

Where to Grab a Bite to Eat

  • El Zarape [hole-in-the-wall]
    • It wouldn’t be a true Sonnie post if I didn’t first state my favorite Mexican restaurant [in North Park]. El Zarape is this little taco shop on Park Blvd and it has incredible Mexican food. Everything is cheap and delicious. It certainly isn’t your fancy kind of Mexican food, it is more of the hole-in-the-wall kind; which is the best kind in my opinion! I always go for the carne asada burrito, but I hear that their 99 cent fish tacos are really good too.
  • El Zarape [sit-down restaurant]
    • Not to be confused with the previous El Zarape, but this restaurant is located on Adams Ave and it is a sit-down Mexican restaurant. The food here is excellent and decently priced. They also have really good margaritas served in those dangerously large glasses.
    • Authentic Mexican food is never easily located with a nice website and menu, so naturally, neither of the El Zarape’s have a link that I can share with you. So below are their addresses.
      • El Zarape [hole-in-the-wall]
      • 4642 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
      • El Zarape [sit-down restaurant]
      • 3201 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
  • Urbn
    • Urbn has amazing craft pizza with a wide variety of toppings and combos that are for sure to please everyone’s tastebuds. The pizzas are huge and the restaurant accommodates well to large groups. My favorite is their mashed potato pizza – yum! Paired with a craft beer? Double yum!
    • Menu
  • Soda and Swine
    • Right next door to Polite Provisions [mentioned later], this small little sandwich hub is always packed with people and for a good reason. It has a “build your own slider” kind of style and with so many delicious toppings to choose from, you might find it hard to make a decision!
    • Menu
  • Swami’s Cafe
    • Swami’s is a great place to grab brunch or a quick lunch before heading out for the beach. Smoothies, bowls, wraps, and tons more of fresh tasty options!
    • Menu
  • Waypoint Public
    • Waypoint has lots of unique dishes for the more adventurous palate. They also have a very impressive craft beer list along with suggestions for food pairings.
    • Menu
  • Ritual Tavern
    • This cozy restaurant has an intimate vibe that is perfect for a special night out or meeting up with a few close friends. Although the menu is small, everything on it is very good. They also have some great choices of beer on tap.
    • Menu
  • StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts, and Coffee
    • Their name says it all. They offer a wide variety of fried chicken, doughnuts, and coffee. But it wouldn’t be a true North Park restaurant without adding their own hipster twist to the food and making it above and beyond your average “donut shop”.
    • Menu
  • Underbelly North Park
    • Underbelly is another restaurant that I have yet to try but has loads of great reviews and always a long line out the door. Their slogan is “local ramen and craft beer”. Simple enough. If you make amazing ramen, why bother with anything else?
  • Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
    • With the ice cream always being freshly made, the flavors are constantly changing and there are always new ones to try! Which shouldn’t be a problem considering this ice cream shop offers ice cream flights. That’s right, ice cream flights served in mini cones – tasty and adorable.
  • Crazee Burger
    • I’m not a huge fan of hamburgers so this place never interested me much. But, it is very popular in North Park. So popular that they just changed locations for a bigger site. Along with your normal beef burger, they have other options such as kangaroo, crocodile, venison, buffalo, crab, duck, camel, and wild boar.
  • Carnita’s Snack Shack
    • Snack Shack is one of my favorite places to bring my friends! It is always a crowd pleaser with its delicious meaty menu, an adorable patio garden, and craft beer at the back bar. Have you ever tried bacon ketchup? Yes, they are that serious about their pork and it’s delicious!
    • Menu
  • Cafe 21 [on Adam’s St.]
    • I specify the Adam’s location because I think that it is far better than the Gaslamp location. For starters, they have a mimosa flight that is to die for! The atmosphere of the cafe is so cute with its earthy garden vibe and the food is always deliciously fresh. Sunday brunch with the girls anyone?
    • Menu

Just obsessing over our mimosa flight post Taylor Swift concert.

Bars and Nightlife

  • Seven Grand
    • If you love whiskey, or amazing craft cocktails in general, this is the place to be. With its old fashion decor and warm candlelight glow, this bar makes you feel as though you stepped right back into a 1920’s speakeasy. The bartenders also fit the part in their old school vest and bow-tie attire, slicked back hair, and a couple of very impressive mustaches. There are two pool tables in the main room and there is also a back room with more exclusive tables. They have a huge selection of whiskey and craft cocktails – the Ginger Daisy is one of my favorites.
  • Polite Provisions
    • This bar is another great place to grab a craft cocktail and feel like you have transported back in time. Although I haven’t frequented it as much as Seven Grand, I still highly recommend checking it out.
  • Park & Rec
    • I absolutely love this bar! It’s setting is very unique compared to other bars that you will find in the city. Someone converted a duplex house into a bar and it is awesome. The main house is a bar while the backyard offers cozy garden seating with another patio bar and a ping-pong table, and the back house turns into a dance floor later in the night. Its one of my favorite places to grab a drink on a warm summer night and enjoy the patio seating with my friends.
  • Coin-Op Game Room
    • Any arcade lovers out there? How about lovers of craft cocktails and beer? Then this is your spot! Coin-Op is a bar that is packed with old school arcade games and great people who share your love for games. Even if you aren’t that into pinball or Pac-Man, the vibe is awesome and Coin-Op always draws in a fun and friendly crowd. My favorite game there? Mario Kart racing!
  • True North Tavern
    • I wouldn’t necessarily say that there is anything special about Tavern, but when you’re looking for a good spot to watch Sunday’s game, Tavern has got you covered. They have TVs surrounding the entire bar and it always draws in a large crowd on game day. The food and drinks are good and reasonably priced, another plus.

Local Breweries

It wouldn’t be a true post about North Park if I didn’t mention all of the amazing local craft beer that this district has to offer. Unfortunately [and fortunately] there are so many breweries to cover, that I am saving that for another post. I have been to every brewery North Park has to offer and have created my very own ale trail – drunkinly tested first-hand 😉 Stay tuned for that.


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