A nosh-and-sip tour through the heart of North Park
San Diego’s metro core is a bit removed from the ranch and coast, but it’s worth the trip for a variety of taste exploration options. Case in point — North Park. A complete evening of venue-hopping deliciousness can easily be found along the ever-evolving urban ’hood’s main thoroughfare, 30th Street.
Begin your northerly progression at The Smoking Goat. Enter a dining room that, with simple wood, brick, and chalkboard art depicting heavenly animal life, epitomizes this burgeoning neighborhood’s basic yet undeniable beauty. Allow the wafting smell of duck fat-fried, truffled potatoes to persuade indulgence in a number of expertly prepared and highly shareable appetizers such as escargots au gratin, house-made chicken liver pate, a leek and potato tart made rich with the addition of vino and soft Saint Albray cheese. Or, of course, there’s always those tasty pomme frites! (619.955.5295, www.thesmokinggoatrestaurant.com)
Next up on the docket is Ritual Kitchen & Garden. At five years young, this homey combination bar and dining room has undergone a small but significant revamp, adding an outdoor beer garden (where numerous vegetables and herbs are now grown on-site) and bringing on former Lodge at Torrey Pines chef Kyle Bergman to man the stoves. Farm-to-table’s the name of his game and that’s best exemplified in his beef cheeks braised in chocolate stout with heirloom pepper ragu, and shepherd’s pie made with natural lamb and beef plus veggies from Suzie’s Organic Farm in the South Bay. Order a local craft beer and an entrée before moving on. (619.283.1618, www.ritualtavern.com)
Nothing closes out a night on the town like dessert and a stiff drink. Both can be found at the conjoined pair of venues from the minds behind Noble Experiment and Craft & Commerce, Polite Provisions and Soda & Swine. The latter specializes in flaky crusted apple pie and creamy, soft serve goodness, while the former is all about top shelf cocktails from Bay Area mixologist transplant Erick Castro. Order your sweets at Swine, then head next door and settle into Polite’s retro posh drug store environs. It’s the current it-spot for tipples. One taste of Castro’s Rye Maple Fizz, Foxy Cleopatra (sparkling wine, cinnamon and apple lambic beer — a perfect companion for that pie) or a Casual Encounter (gin, strawberries and house-made rose petal soda) on draft, will show you why while capping off an epic evening in San Diego’s urban core is key. (619.677.3784, www.politeprovisions.com, www.sodaandswine.com) BRANDON HERNÁNDEZ