Overview: Hillcrest is a neighborhood that has everything but for this guide, it's lunch, dessert, dinner, dessert, snack, dessert and a few... more »
Hillcrest is a neighborhood that has everything but for this guide, it's lunch, dessert, dinner, dessert, snack, dessert and a few... more » book stores. I've also included a place to buy an antacid in case you really eat at all the fantastic restaurants.
The best things to do in Hillcrest happen near Fifth Avenue. This whole walk will take you ten or fifteen minutes but I've included time for meals (a lot), snacks (a lot) and desserts (a lot!).
One of the best restaurants in San Diego is on this walk as are the two best book stores in the world. So if you like to eat and read, this walk is for you. less «
Parking is tough in Hillcrest, which is why you'll start at City Deli. It offers validated parking in the Pernicano's lot.... more » Pernicano's is a non-operation la restaurant, described in this tour.
The best time to see Hillcrest with kids is day time. While the restaurants are open late, the book stores close fairly early and there's a vibrant bar scene that gets going after 9pm.
Also, Hillcrest is the epicenter of San Diego's gay neighborhood. Those cool stores and great restaurants draw everybody in. It is good to remember that people come from all walks of life. less «
Mr. Pernicano is an odd old man. He is still a minority owner of the San Diego Chargers. He owns three restaurants in San Diego, including this one. Oh, and this one has been closed for years, although the parking lot recently opened for business, much to the relief of area drivers who previously wasted time (and gas) driving around waiting for... More one of the few parking spots to open up.
Inside the restaurant, the fixtures are still in place. It is rumored that the basement runs under the entire place -- something odd in San Diego where no one has a basement.
There are other rumors about Pernicano's, including the people who used to eat there in the old days, that Mr. Pernicano had a small cottage in the parking lot (this is true), that he used to sleep there until the 80s, and that he does not like what the neighborhood has become.Less
City Deli has been around since the early 80s but the recipes have been around much longer. The owner's Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) passed the recipes to him.
All the food is good here but I recommend the New York-style pastrami and the chicken soup.
The owners proclaim that their desserts are fat, sugar, guilt and truth-free. There... More are a lot of characters at The Deli as we call it but, hey, you're in Hillcrest.
The Deli employs a full-time pastry chef who, like every mother everywhere, thinks you're too thin. Eat, eat!
City Deli's prices feature kids meals from $3.95 all the way up to dinners for $29.95.
Hours: Sunday - Thursday 8 a.m. - Midnight
Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. - 2 a.m.Less
That's how they spell it in... uh... Hillcrest!
So you've had a meal and probably a dessert. So now it's time for (it's always time for) chocolate.
This place can sometimes have slow service but it might be because the chocolate is so tasty. It's also hard to find a seat.
It's worth the wait and any hassle because you will get great... More chocolate, very good coffee and some of the best gelato in San Diego. In the picture of the gigantic Hillcrest sign, Chocolat is in the lower right corner.
Prices aren't cheap but the rich desserts are worth the average $15-20/person.
Hours: Mon-Sun 9 am - 11 pmLess
You're going to need a break from all the eating -- and there's a Greek Restaurant next -- so go shopping. Babette Schwartz has a few secrets for you: 1. She has better taste than you; 2. Even though the things are inexpensive and cute, you will not be able to find them anywhere else, so but them here; 3. She's a he.
Seriously, though, the stuff... More at Babette Schwartz is worth the trip. You will find yourself thinking about people (cool people) whose birthdays are coming up so you can have an excuse to buy more stuff.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 am to 5pm on Sundays. Says Babette: "However, hours may vary slightly for holidays, inclement weather and bad hair days."Less
I have to mention Alexi's for three reasons: 1. It's right here; 2. It is the best Greek restaurant in San Diego; and 3. The prices are also the best in town.
You can get a great meal for less than $20/person.
Oh, no. Four reasons: Alexi's mom is the cook. She's a precious little old Greek lady, who, I don't think, speaks a word of English. ... More That's all right. Alexi is there and he speaks English.
This is really good food and they do hamburgers too, if you don't like the excellent, home made Greek food.
OK, you need to digest. Look at you -- two meals, one dessert and a bunch of Chocolat. That's OK. Wash your hands because it's time to look at books.
Fifth Avenue Books is my second favorite book store (in Hillcrest, in San Diego, in the world). The selection is great, the layout is easy to understand and there's room to spread out and read.
... More There is something for everyone but the selection of coffee table books and interesting photo books is particularly good.
The staff are pretty knowledgeable and pretty nice. They love that you read books. So do I.
Books range in price from $3 to $30.Less
Yes, this is my favorite book store and it's right across the street.
(A note on crossing the street in Hillcrest: it is illegal if you decide to do it in the middle and the police have been known to write tickets for j-walking.)
Now, about the books. They are great!
For a smaller store, Bluestocking seems to have a better selection. Or... More maybe that's because it's heavy on literature, has a lot of classics, contains an excellent biography section and the nonfiction is as well-selected as the fiction.
The people who work there read books, love books and love that you read books too. They are super friendly and super knowledgeable. There are too few chairs on which to sit and read and that is really the only thing I don't like about this place.
So I buy books and run to a coffee shop. If they add a beanbag they'll never get rid of me.
Books cost around $5. More for larger or hard-to-find books. I usually go in with a not-to-exceed budget...
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Saturday & Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.Less
This is the best place for dinner in Hillcrest. The food is great, the chef cares, the wait staff care almost as much and there's something called the butter burger. Yes, I said that.
The butter burger is, well... Here's a description right from their menu: "Half pound of fresh lean ground beef, stuffed with a garlic, tarragon, basil,... More parsley butter… Then we broil the burger and top it with a little more of the butter… Then we top it with some cheddar cheese and melt it… Then we top the cheese with a garlic mayonnaise made with a dash of paprika, cayenne and cumin."
They have a Chicken Pot Pie that is to die for, great salads, great dinners and excellent specials. Though you can't see the chef behind the counter, he's there so ask him what's good. Then have that.
This is pricier food but still on a cafe budget. You can get two people very satisfied for about $35 without drinks.
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to midnight.Less
OK, so you've hat a lot to eat. There's a drugstore right across the parking lot here. Just saying.