We had so much fun last weekend in San Diego! Even though I grew up in a suburb of San Diego, there are so many things I have yet to explore in the area. My husband and I wanted to visit some craft breweries, many of which existed when I was living down there, but I was too young to partake! And I’m not going to lie – I’m only just now beginning my adventures in learning about the large and diverse world that is craft beer. So we made plans to visit my hometown for a weekend and hit up a bunch of cool spots that we have been hearing so much about. Our search for craft beer and vegan food in San Diego began with a beautiful drive down the coast:
Friday night we arrived in San Diego around 7pm after a 4-hour trek(escape) from LA. We had to find a bite to eat quick, so we could get to Alesmith and Societe before their early closing times of 9pm and 10pm. I had originally wanted to check out a vegan place called Loving Hut, but due to our time restraint we ended up opting for an indian place we looked up on yelp that was closer to our destination.
Tucked away in the middle of a business park, we were surprised to see a line out the door when we pulled up. Even though we were rushed for time, we took this as a sign that the food would be worth any extra wait. I ordered the okra and a curry made with potatoes and peas. The flavors were delicious but the spice was almost too much to handle. Most indian restaurants I’ve been to warn you about which items are spicy or ask what level of spice you want. This place gave no warning and it wasn’t until I was sweating profusely and felt like my mouth was on fire did I realize what I had gotten myself into! I powered through, with the promise of some refreshing craft beer waiting for me at Alesmith.
We tasted a few beers at Alesmith, my favorite was the ‘Lil Devil, a Belgian pale ale. We didn’t have much time there because we wanted to check out Societe before they closed. So we headed over there in time to try a few of their beers. The vibe was cool – an open atmosphere that places the patrons in the same vicinity of the fermenter tanks used to brew the beer. It’s cool to be able to see the place where the beer was actually made.
When Societe closed at 10pm, we headed back to the hotel, but we were not ready to call it a night. We decided to check out Toronado in North Park, a beer bar affiliated with the one we visited last month in San Francisco. We got an Uber to pick us up and get us there safely.
I was happy to find a sour beer on the menu called Monk’s Cafe Sour. If you’re never tried a sour beer before, it’s exactly that – sour! This one tasted like a sour grape fun dips – yum! We ended up making some new beer geek friends at the bar who were nice enough to share a fancy bottle of sour beer they had ordered from Cascade Kriek.
After we left the bar and were waiting for our Uber, I glanced across the street and saw a food tent set up with the words “100% plant-based.” WHAT!?! Words cannot express how excited I was to see a vegan food stand right outside – that literally never happens, even in LA! Right then, our Uber driver pulled up. I could not pass up this opportunity to get vegan street food and luckily, he was willing to wait. So we ran over and checked out the menu.
The food stand was called Anthem Vegan and I was pleasantly surprised at how many options they had on the menu. My eyes honed in on biscuits and gravy but, unfortunately, they only serve that in the mornings when they are at the farmer’s market. So I asked the guy what he recommended and I got a quick response – the Steak and Bleu Sandwich. Ok! I also ordered the cheezy tators because, why not?
The food was really good – and the perfect thing after tasting some craft beers. I was really surprised at the flavor of the “bleu” cheese and the texture of the “steak.” The sandwich was piled high with fresh tomatoes, onions and spinach. I’m trying to remember now if it was organic – but I think so – which is even better! If you’re ever in the North Park area of San Diego and in need of vegan food, check out their Instagram to see if they’re around.
Saturday morning, we slept in and I did a little yoga on the patio. We were close enough to the ocean to get a nice sea breeze and it was a wonderful start to a fun day. The first thing on our list of plans was to find coffee. I love supporting local businesses and we found one right down the street, Zumbar Coffee, where they roast all of their own coffee beans in the store! Delicious coffee and friendly people.
We got on the road up to Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, where we planned to take the tour of the brewery and explore the facility we had heard so much about. On our way up, we drove through the area I grew up in and I got a little nostalgic. It’s hard to believe I haven’t live there in over 12 years! My family and a lot of my friends have since moved away also. But luckily, Stephanie, a good friend from high school still lives in the area and was meeting us for lunch.
When we arrived, we were surprised at how big it seemed. The parking lot was huge and completely full – it almost felt like we were going to a theme park! I was glad I had called earlier to make a reservation for the restaurant and we were lucky enough to grab one of the last spots on the 2pm tour. While we waited, we sipped on a beer and explored the gardens.
Our tour guide was friendly and talked about some things I already knew, because of Shane’s interest and knowledge in craft beer, but also a few things I didn’t. I really liked when he talked about their small batch beers where they experiment with crazy beer ideas such as adding super hot peppers – an idea that they turned into two beers, “Crime” and “Punishment.” These beers were so hot and disliked that they ended up turning it into hot sauce which they now sell in their store. I almost bought some because I liked the story so much but I ended up getting one of their fancy mustard sauces instead, which I plan on using in a recipe I’m creating soon!
After the tour we met my friend for lunch in the restaurant. Our waiter was really friendly and helpful and the food was tasty. My only complaint was that there were not more vegan options. I ordered the kimchi and hummus to start. I also ordered the spinach salad but was disappointed that after removing the non-vegan options I was left with a $12 plate of leaves. It would be nice if they were a little more creative – salad is the easiest thing to make vegan! Regardless, the food was still good and we enjoyed everything else about our visit there!
After Stone, we headed down the road to The Lost Abbey and tried a few small samplers of their beers. I really liked the Red Barn Ale, which is a Saison with hints of ginger and orange. Really refreshing! We then headed to Churchill’s for their “Renaissance” event, where they were serving up a huge variety of highly sought after beers. I was thrilled to see Supplication 2013 from Russian River and even more excited to see a vegan brat on the food menu, both of which I ordered.
Two days in a row of cool vegan finds! The vegan brat was topped with mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and queso. Not the healthiest thing I’ve ever eaten but I could not complain! We played a few songs on the jukebox and chatted with a few of the locals before heading back down South toward Ballast Point.
Our last stop of the evening was one of my favorite places from the trip (second to Stone). The atmosphere at Ballast Point was really cool – high ceilings and dim lighting. Stylish interior, but still comfortable and welcoming. I love the art that they use on their bottles and they had some incorporated into the decor and for sale in their shop. I was thrilled to see a sour beer on the menu called Sour Wench. Lovely. It poured beautifully, a dark purplish red that looked almost like wine. The flavor was well-developed and exciting to the taste buds! We picked up a 6-pack of their Grapefruit Sculpin to bring home. Pale Ales are meant to be drunk as fresh as possible, so getting this directly from the source was a must!
The next morning, we packed up our things, sad to leave. But our one last stop and most-anticipated for me, was Trilogy Sanctuary in La Jolla. I’ve always loved La Jolla – who wouldn’t? Spanish for “jewel,” this town is aptly named! Trilogy is located on the top floor of a building, with views of the entire area and the ocean. As we walked across the deck, we passed an aerial yoga class – awesome! The cafe had large opened windows with an ocean breeze flowing through. I was drooling over everything on the menu but eventually decided on their Spectacular Spaghetti Squash with swirls of roasted sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes and onion and smothered in a cheezey sauce. The menu said it was topped with eggplant bacon which I realized later had not been on my plate 🙁 At the time, I was too obsessed with the delicious meal to notice!
Shane ordered the tacos with quinoa chorizo which were also amazing:
I loved everything about this place, from the yoga, to the food and the environment. They had couches for lounging and even a small library of cool books like this:
Even though we were sad to leave San Diego, I reminisced about our experiences on the drive back home. I had originally planned to visit many vegan-specific spots and only managed to do that once. But I think it’s cool that I was surprised with vegan finds in unexpected locations. These surprises made the trip even more enjoying and fun than having everything rigidly planned-out. I’ve been reminded a lot lately about how going with the flow is so important. Letting things happen, saying “YES!” to the universe and being open to receiving has been proving to be a wonderful way to live. I can’t wait to see what happens next!