Golden Hill’s silver lining

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series reviewing some of San Diego’s eclectic neighborhood hot spots. Part Three – Golden Hill

City Times

It’s hard to say exactly where the perimeters of this neighborhood begin and end, since much of what used to be considered Golden Hill is now grouped with South Park (because of its skyrocketing real estate). Lately it’s been defined between Juniper Street, I-5, 34th Street and Route 94. Still rough around the edges, Golden Hill is already altering its scruffy aura to present a cleaner, more inviting image. Town renovations bring crowds and on the verge of exploding, Golden Hill’s freshly polished image still manages to maintain enough of its boorish self to keep things interesting.

I’ve got the Golden Ticket

Where the turf “meats” the mirth – Isn’t the whole point of going out to eat that someone else does the cooking for you? The Turf Supper Club (1116 25th St.) quickly answers back that cooking your own food is all part of the fun. Its hula lounge/ Rat Pack aesthetic is laden with heavy handed bartenders and extra friendly clientele. This steakhouse (chicken and veggie options also) poses as anything but the normal “sit down” meal. The large griddle stands in the middle of the dining room for everyone to share, throwing the entire restaurant into motion with its constant flow of people leaving their tables to check on the food. Conversations, while waiting for garlic bread to toast, have you buddying up with strangers and feeling like old pals by the time your steak is medium rare. The interactive nature brings a personal aspect to dining out that rarely comes with a chef cooked meal and is the perfect venue for some serious socializing.

The Life of Pie – Luigi’s Pizzeria (1137 25th St.) breathes life into San Diego’s pizza scene and is somehow still undiscovered. They’ve precisely replicated East Coast style pizza and are one of the only accurate portrayers in the area. It’s not just about thin crust. It’s about the distinct nuance of pizza oven flavor and the coarse corn meal textured bottom. Walk into a simple storefront equipped with a few ovens and a display case filled solely with pizza. Their spinach pie with ricotta and garlic is light, fresh and a delicious detour from the traditional red sauce. Barbeque chicken pizza with red onions and their hearty sausage/tomato pie also make for an appetizing change of pace. Sold whole or by the slice, it makes for a cheap, filling and impressive meal.

Fall through the Krack’s – Krakatoa (1128 25th St.) sits right on the main drag, but upon entering the porch of this transformed craftsman, you feel transported to an open roofed tree-house as greenery sprawls over the outside deck. A secluded back table under “nature’s roof” has you listening for rain forest noises under its overgrown, yet well kept foliage and feeling like a character in Swiss Family Robinson, if they served coffee. The interior also seems oddly out of place, but in the most delightful way. It’s as if someone set up a pastry case in the living room and no one had the audacity to mention it. Both elements bring a fantastical, but simple flare to this ordinary, little shop. Their smoothies, not the healthy fruit ones (that they do offer), but indulgent choices like the peanut butter and banana smoothie with frozen yogurt is worth taking some time to enjoy and if you’re feeling lucky, punk, then try the strawberry cheesecake smoothie- it’s a little rich (cream cheese will do that)! They also offer sandwiches made with telera rolls, whole wheat Mexican bread and serve it toasted with butter and cinnamon sugar. It makes for a warm breakfast treat at this hideaway that’s still on the beaten path.

An Outpouring of Emulsions – Influx (1948 Broadway) is the exact opposite of a surreal tree-house with its sheik air of Soho minimalism. It does stand out on its own as a coffeehouse with a quaffed Manhattan-esque quality and museum-like ambiance. Heels sting hardwood floors and simple tables line the wall, as a red sofa becomes the focal point against stark white walls. This is a good place to get some work done or think serious thoughts while sipping a potent Mexican mocha. There’s nothing like brooding over a good book with two shots of espresso mixed with brownie. It gets the juices flowing and so do the Italian sodas, mixing the flavored syrup of choice with sparking water-a unique treat and oh, so European. Their “croissant melt” drips brie and black forest ham with honey Dijon on the side. It’s as decadent and fabulous as it sounds. The “goat” salad blends goat cheese, cranberries and candied pecans and is by law a winning combination. Sleek and modern, the simplicity allows focus on the food and drink while feeding your sophisticated side.

Golden Tip

The annual Halloween Block Party (Oct. 28 this year) takes place on 21st St. between B and C streets and features live bands, food and drink.

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Golden Hill’s silver lining