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Neighborhood of the Week

Monday’s Neighborhood: North Park, San Diego, CA

Sunny San Diego’s beach communities, from tony La Jolla to Sea World’s Mission Bay,  and Downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter core receive most of the national press as the city’s main destinations.

Mission Bay isn’t exactly a whole mot more than the place to spend quality time with Shamu, but the other neighborhoods do have their worthwhile spots for drinking and dining (well, good luck with finding much “nightlife” in La Jolla, but George’s is absolutely worth a dinner trip). The food & drink culture thrives in the fine weather. This is after all, San Diego, arguably the craft beer capital of the world. PBR seems to be illegal here. The most ubiquitous beer on draught at dive bars seems to be Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. They’re lucky in San Diego.

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It isn’t all just craft beer in California’s second most populated city. Far from it. It also isn’t just beaches and animals in theme parks or world renowned zoos. The eating is very swell, possibly the most underrated dining scene among America’s ten largest cities. In fact, it is without question. How many restaurants do you know in San Diego? It’s unfortunate that in this city of passionate, creative chefs every bit on par with those in that other big Southern California metropolis, the most “celebrity” of chefs runs a restaurant that will anger diners to the point of wanting to throw jalapeno cornbread muffins against the banquettes (see Malarkey, Brian).

All of the dining and craft brew influences of San Diego seem to come together in one intense eating and drinking neighborhood that is also vintage Southern California relaxed at its core: North Park. After all, the common architecture of this neighborhood is the craftsman bungalow. That must mean time doesn’t whip past this part of town. Slow down and savor the day (and the pint). (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: Kapalua, Maui

On this late April Monday, it’s snowing in Denver and still crisp Autumn weather in the Northeast. Spring hasn’t quite got the message yet that it was supposed to start a month ago (meanwhile it’s summer already in California).

Which of course then makes us think of Mai Tais and beaches in the tropics. Honolulu’s high today was a cool 82.

For this Monday’s neighborhood of the week, we say a very warm “Aloha!” to beautiful Kapalua, a resort area in the northwest corner of Maui.

Kapalua almost always is spoken in terms of golf with its 22,000 acres of luxury condos spread between the coast, two eighteen hole world-class golf courses, a golf academy, a Ritz-Carlton, and Highway 30 at the top of a steep incline to the east. Golf is in the air everywhere, you can’t escape it. Fortunately, you can be rest assured the courses are far enough from the beaches to not hear “Fore!” when sunbathing.

The Pineapple Grill's Ahi & Heirloom TomatoTartare, Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Maple-Meyer Lemon Emulsion, Local Avocado Cream, Tobiko

The Pineapple Grill’s Ahi & Heirloom TomatoTartare, Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Maple-Meyer Lemon Emulsion, Local Avocado Cream, Tobiko

The PGA golf season’s first event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, occurs the first week of January each year on Kapalua’s Plantation Course (Dustin Johnson won this year). While the rest of the country is marching back to work through snow after New Years, the golf world is savoring the Kapalua sunshine and splendid views west towards Molokai.

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On Maui’s West Coast traveling north towards Kapalua you have the New Orleans-evoking charm of the area’s “town,” Lahaina, then the decidedly un- Hawaiian skyscraper hotel-resorts of Ka’anapali, followed by the more subdued communities of Kahana and Napili Kai (for our readers’ interest, the Maui Brewing Company’s brewpub is in Kahana). Then you reach our destination, beginning with Kapalua’s Bay Course, full of Cook pine trees everywhere, with views over Napili Bay. (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: Highlands, Denver, Colorado

Tucked on a somewhat steep slope across the roaring Platte River just northwest of Downtown Denver, the Mile High City’s 250 acre Highlands neighborhood is possibly the new epicenter of what is a Boomtown today for dining and drinking. Long ago we discovered that Denver’s restaurant culture status as a “Cowtown” of old west steakhouses was obsolete. Just think about the city’s importance in the craft brewing world (and host of the country’s most important annual craft brewing event, the Great American Beer Festival) and how chefs including Frank Bonanno and Jennifer Jasinski have become city royalty, almost to Elway levels.

Highland is really the “new” Denver, both when it comes to its recent emergence on the cultural scene, and if you consider so much of its architecture.

Highlands Bridge

Highlands Bridge

A series of three spectacular, modern bridges that all look as if they were designed by Santiago Caltrava lead you from Downtown over the Millennium Bridge to Commons Park (the unofficial official place to walk your dog or go for a jog in the city it seems), the Platte River and its lack of rapids and water, and once initially in Highland, over I-25 (Denver’s closest comparison to a Los Angeles- style mega freeway).

New shiny lofts in Highlands house many of the city’s new young tech work force and the neighborhood has a very rich Hispanic heritage, adding all sorts of charm to its mostly residential streets and three main commercial areas. West 38th Avenue to the north, the Platte River to the east, Speer Boulevard and West 29th Avenue to the south, and Tennyson Street to the west roughly define what is considered Denver’s largest neighborhood.

What exactly started the emergence of Highland as such a culinary neighborhood? Perhaps it was bacon caramel corn. (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: Help Restore Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York

This week’s neighborhood of the week exemplifies the meaning of a neighborhood– where strangers come together to help one another in tines of trouble. Brooklyn is full of many impressive restaurant and bar-rich neighborhoods, many of which have been greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy, along with so many other neighborhoods of New York City and the East Coast.

From the café and bar Fort Defiance to the production kitchen for the acclaimed Montréal style deli and bakery Mile High Kitchen, nearly every restaurant, bar, store, and café has been affected by storm damage. In many cases, the businesses have been shut down altogether. The area still, two weeks later, is without power.

Right along the East River by the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, just west of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, and south of the tip of Lower Manhattan, Red Hook was in a particularly vulnerable spot for the surging surf from the storm.

Red Hook isn’t backing down in the face of the storm damage. Grubstreet estimates that most businesses need at least $50,000 in recovery costs and almost none of the businesses are covered by insurance. The small business owners have come together to meet this challenge by creating the fundraising group, Restore Red Hook. (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: Dogpatch, San Francisco

Last week we covered the ballpark district around San Francisco’s AT&T Park, where the baseball crowds, diners enjoying some of the city’s premier restaurants, start-up venture workers who occupy slivers of renovated warehouses with no heat, and computer programmers who fill airy loft office spaces mingle together for one of the country’s most dynamic neighborhoods of the present day.

Of course, what happens when the renovated neighborhood starts becoming too renovated, and drives those previously attractive rent prices up and space becomes a premium?

Piccino

The same exact discover then renovate then become the latest “it” neighborhood cycle continues. That certainly is the case as you venture south on the MUNI 3rd Street street car line, leaving AT&T Park, traveling through the UCSF Mission Bay Campus’ new, shimmering buildings that make gritty China Basin’s old maritime based economy a distant, watery memory, and arrive in the Dogpatch.

Whether the Dogpatch becomes the “next” SoMa, influenced heavily by its neighboring tech-savvy neighborhood, or the Mission, its neighboring diverse and culturally focused neighborhood, remains to be seen. The Dogpatch is sandwiched between Potrero Hill and the I 280 viaduct to the west and the waterfront and its maritime warehouses to the east. While the east and west boundaries are very defined, it’s hard to say exactly where the Dogpatch starts and ends to the north and south. My estimate would be 18th St. to the north and Cesar Chavez St. to the south, roughly 10 blocks. Don’t call yours truly the official city zoning planner, though.

Mr. and Mrs Miscellaneous

For such a small neighborhood, such lavish attention has been given to this latest neighborhood in vogue for San Francisco. Of course that would mostly be for its startling wealth of restaurants, food shops, and bars, being a neighborhood not much larger than perhaps a pirate’s eye patch. (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: At&T Park, San Francisco

Halloween is still over a week away, but you can certainly tell with today’s articles that orange and black is certainly on the mind of Trev’s Bistro. Tonight is of course Game 7 of the National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants at At&T Park in San Francisco. And since the Giants will win (knock on wood), the World Series will then begin in San Francisco on Wednesday.

At&T Park is certainly in the spotlight now. It would be a treat to write this Monday neighborhood installment on the dining choices inside the ballpark. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t spending $500 for standing room only tickets, so let’s focus on the wealth of dining and drinking options that surround At&T Park. Since the ballpark opened in 2000, it is truly astonishing how the surrounding area has experienced a complete renaissance. At&T Park may be America’s premier ballpark and it is also possibly the premier symbol of how a ballpark can change a previously neglected neighborhood into a thriving one. (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: Pearl Brewery Complex, San Antonio

It’s fascinating to see the variety of old buildings who were thriving factories a century and now have been completely remodeled and spruced up for retail and often culinary purposes. You see your old steam powerhouses become nightclubs. Old carriage houses hold salons. Warehouses now seem to always become cozy bistros and artist ateliers, unless it’s the old B&O Warehouse in Baltimore, in which case it becomes part of the Major League ballpark in that city, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

How about old breweries? With the recent astronomical surge in craft breweries, it would seem to be common sense to replace an old brewery shell with a new brewery. That’s essentially what many of the world’s massive breweries have done, including Miller in Milwaukee, Budweiser in St. Louis, Guinness in Dublin, and Carlsberg in Copenhagen.

In San Antonio, they’re a little more creative with what they’ve done with the old Pearl Brewery, just barely north of the city center on a prime piece of real estate along the San Antonio River. Yes, the same river as the “river” in the Riverwalk. The Pearl Brewery is night and day from the endless tourist overload in the heart of the Riverwalk. (more…)