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Best of San Diego: Expert Insight

Leaders in news, television, sports, and the arts reveal what they love most about living in San Diego


They’re names you know well from the worlds of sports, news, television, and the arts. They’re also real San Diegans who, like the rest of us, have their own favorites when it comes to where they eat, play, entertain, and de-stress. Compare notes with Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Sanders, NBC 7 San Diego meteorologist Dagmar Midcap, and San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare to see how their lists stack up to your own, and who knows? You just might bump into them the next time you’re out.  By Deanna Murphy & Mia Park

Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove #44 walks off the mound at the end of the inning against the Washington Nationals at the PETCO Park on August 20, 2022 in San Diego, California

Joe Musgrove

As the only pitcher to toss a no-hitter in San Diego Padres history, and just months after his 2021 acquisition, San Diego native Joe Musgrove instantly endeared himself to the Friar Faithful — and earned an added bonus of a lifetime supply of beer from Ballast Point Brewing and a mural in his honor painted at his alma mater, Grossmont High School. Following it up with an All-Star appearance this year and a contract extension through 2027, Musgrove will remain a fixture both on and off the field, as his contributions to San Diego extend far beyond the magic he makes in uniform. 

Ranch & Coast: What’s your favorite way to spend a day off in San Diego?

Joe Musgrove: Paddle boarding on Mission Bay.

R&C: What’s your go-to local restaurant?

JM: OB Noodle House Bar 1502.

R&C: As a native San Diegan, are there any traditions you enjoy that tie to your hometown? 

JM: Growing up, all the way through high school, I went to the Over-the-Line tournament. I hadn’t been in the last ten years, but this year’s tournament fell during a series where we were at home with a night game, so I went over in the morning and watched. That, and the Del Mar Fair is a big one. When I was a kid, I went to a performing arts school and we used to do acting, theater, tap dance, all that stuff, so we actually performed at the Del Mar Fair a couple times. More recently, we just go for the attractions and the good food.

R&C: Tell us about your connection with Challenged Athletes Foundation.

JM: A friend of mine, Eric, is a filmmaker. He hit me up about this kid he had been working with, [CAF athlete] Landis Sims, making a film about his life and his journey to play high school baseball. We brought him out to San Diego, and I worked with him for an hour or two and I was blown away by not only his ability with the limitations he had with not having hands and feet, but his attitude, his personality, the liveliness he brings to the room and the people around him. Getting to meet some of the other athletes and doing some of the events and seeing how impactful Challenged Athletes Foundation has been for all the people that were either born with these disabilities or were once your everyday athlete and had a tragic accident that put them in this situation…I really fell in love with that organization.

Jerry Sanders

Jerry Sanders

A name arguably synonymous with San Diego, Jerry Sanders has led a life of public service for five decades. The SDSU alumnus joined the San Diego Police Department at the age of 22, becoming SWAT Team commander before ultimately serving as one of the youngest police chiefs in the city’s history. Sanders then became CEO of the United Way of San Diego County, where he increased fundraising by 20 percent. Three years later, he chaired the board of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. In 2005, San Diegans elected him Mayor of San Diego and in his two terms, Sanders led the city through financial recovery, streamlined operations, and implemented repairs of long-neglected city infrastructure. Now in his ninth year as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the tireless Sanders received two impressive honors within the last month alone. On September 15, The San Diego Rotary Club presented him with the 2022 Mr. San Diego award, and on September 24, the San Diego-Imperial Council Boy Scouts of America honored him at their annual Champions of Scouting Celebration aboard the USS Midway Museum. Perhaps the only question that remains is: What’s next?

Ranch & Coast: What is your favorite local restaurant? 

Jerry Sanders: Rolberto’s Taco Shop on Adams Avenue — their bean, rice, and cheese burritos and rolled tacos are the best. 

R&C: How do you spend your days off in San Diego?

JS: Working in the yard and spending time with my grandkids.

R&C: What parts of San Diego do you most enjoy sharing with out-of-towners?

JS: We often take out-of-town guests to visit the Hotel Del [Coronado] and walk along the beach in Coronado.

R&C: What makes our city such a vibrant place in which to live and work?

JS: The many diverse communities that make up San Diego — they each add their own unique character to our region and make San Diego a very welcoming place. 

R&C: Which local nonprofits or charitable organizations really speak to you personally?

JS: The Barrio Logan College Institute and SDSU’s Campanile Foundation.

Dagmar Midcap

Dagmar Midcap

The NBC 7 San Diego meteorologist with the distinctive name is also a passionate conservationist whose series, Down to Earth with Dagmar, showcases her investigations of creatures large and small in addition to climate and weather-focused explorations both local and global. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, the outdoor-loving Midcap makes the most of the active lifestyle that’s endemic to her adopted hometown. 

Ranch & Coast: What is your favorite local restaurant? 

Dagmar Midcap: I rarely eat out, but for a Friday night treat in-between newscasts, nothing cheers me up like Havana Grill.  The lively music, smiling faces, and of course the mouthwateringly flavorful, organic, and thoughtfully selected meals — it’s a joyful place, and always takes the edge off a dark day of news.

R&C: How do you spend a day when you’re not in the NBC studio?  

DM: If the house is clean (and that’s a big “if”), I’ll pile the pups in the car for a two-hour romp through some of my favorite nature trails. It’s where I recharge. 

R&C: Do you have a favorite place to take out-of-town guests?  

DM: It depends on the guest, but the visit usually consists of a tour of San Diego’s natural beauty.  

R&C: In your opinion, what makes San Diego such a vibrant place in which to live and work?  

DM: Our communities that take on the attributes of our spectacular and varied geography.  We are blessed with some of the most diverse topography and climate zones in the U.S., all smashed into about 50-by-80 miles! Unique communities from Julian to Barrio Logan to Escondido provide unending outdoor and cultural adventures. 

R&C: Which local charitable cause(s) are near and dear to your heart?  

DM: Anything creature related — too many to list just one.  From the human standpoint, organizations such as Voices For Children. Really anything that speaks for those who do not have a voice to speak for themselves. 

R&C: Is there anything else you really love about San Diego that we’re not asking you?  

DM: The weather, of course.

Rafael Payare

Rafael Payare

A graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004. He was awarded first prize at the Malko Conducting Competition in 2012, is renowned as one of the most exciting conductors of his generation, and has led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, and London Symphony, to name a few, before signing on to direct the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s 82 full-time musicians in January 2019.

Ranch & Coast: Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

Rafael Payare: That would be Callie, and it’s fantastic. The chef, Travis Swikard, is amazing. The way that he cooks and uses local produce is really phenomenal. Whenever I’m in San Diego I make one or two or three — or sometimes four! — appearances there.

R&C: Where will we find you on your days off?

RP: Sometimes it is nice just to have a walk on the beach, and in San Diego you have many different options. Sometimes it would be with my daughter, Ariadne. There’s dog beach — it’s great for kids because there’s no current, nothing to be worried about. 

R&C: Do you have a go-to place here that you like to share with others?

RP: I almost always take people to The Rady Shell. And then we just go and cross the bridge to Coronado Island to eat. It’s fun to walk through the promenade there, where it is so beautiful and peaceful. I also love the [Torrey Pines] Gliderport because they have this dramatic cliff, and you can see the ocean and look at the sunset. 

R&C: What else do you really love about life in San Diego?

RP: San Diego is a wonderful city that gives you the space to be completely disconnected and surrounded by the beautiful nature, but also a place where you can experience art at the highest level, from music to theater and so much more. And there’s baseball, of course, which I love. It’s a fabulous, cosmopolitan city and a truly beautiful place to live. 

Featured Photo Rafael Payare
Image Credits Joe Musgrove: Photo by Matt Thomas/ San Diego Padres; Jerry Sanders, Dagmar Midcap: Photography by Vincent Knakal; Rafael Payare: Photo by Gerard Collett


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