The Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego is a lot like Vancouver’s Gastown area. It was established in the 1850’s as San Diego’s waterfront and revitalized in the 1970’s. In 1980 The Gaslamp Quarter was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today there are restaurants, shops, art galleries and bars (many more bars than in Vancouver’s Gastown) which keep the area busy well into the night. We spent 5 nights at the Gaslamp Plaza Suites which was originally built in 1913, is well restored and contains much of the original marble and brass. Our small one bedroom suite was perfect for the stay and overlooked the corner of 5th avenue and E Street in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.
Best Place to Watch Hockey
There were 3 Canucks games on during our 5 night stay. Luckily the games were all at 5pm (so as not to disrupt any dinner plans) and the pub across the street from our hotel was showing them. The Gaslamp Tavern (5th and E) had 12 flat screen TV’s with all of the sports packages available, cheap beer, and great staff. (We got to know Amanda and Tommy who were terrific bartenders and told us about things to see and do in the area, where to eat and about great happy hours.)
Best Happy Hour
Apparently Happy Hour is not only legal in the U.S. but a competition between all of the restaurants, pubs and lounges to see who can do it best. We tried out a few different Happy Hours (usually from 4 – 7) that were recommended by Amanda at the Gaslamp Tavern. They were all good (really good and cheap food) but one stuck out above the rest – Bice Ristorante (4th and Island). This fine dining restaurant offers $5 appies plus a specialty cocktail and beer choice also for $5 from 4 – 7 pm. The specialty cocktail was made with Prosecco and the beer was Moretti but it was the food that was most impressive. We tired Spinach Gnocchi with gorgonzola and pea shoots, Bruschetta with burrata and deep fried parmesan. All three were fabulous. Three appies and four drinks and our bill was $35. I think we need to lobby harder for Happy Hour in BC!
The only place that we struggled with WiFi during our 4 weeks away was in the Gaslamp Quarter. We purchased a week from the hotel for $29.95 but the speed was horrendous. We had also relied on Starbucks in other cities but the one closest to our hotel also had a dreadful connection. We hunted around to find the best free WiFi and once we did we kept going back. The location happened to be a bar called Whiskey Girl (5th and G) that was a rocking spot at night but pretty quite during the day, so we set up shop. It didn’t hurt that drinks were $3 so I rotated between a rum in one hand and a tea latte from Starbucks in the other. (Do you think Apple will sponsor us?)
Best Late Night Music
A visit to Gaslamp Quarter is not complete without a visit to Croce’s Jazz Bar (802 5th). In honor of Jim Croce, they have live music every night of the week and on Saturday and Sunday mornings for Brunch. Though not happy hour prices the drinks were still cheap by Canadian standards and the music was great! Last call was at midnight during the week but is likely later on weekends.
Best Beer Selection
We were quite impressed by the number of mirco breweries and beer options available at most restaurants. The best place we found for an afternoon beer and snack was Yard House (4th and Broadway). Named for the 3-foot-tall glass containers originally designed in Great Britain and given to stagecoach drivers after a long journey by horse drawn carriage the beer menu contains close to 100 selections, mainly draft that is available in a 6oz, 10oz, 22oz or yard size. New favourites of ours included: Tara – Maui Brewing Mana Wheat from Hawaii and Blue Moon White Ale from Colorado. Jeff – Anderson Valley Boont Amber from California and Karl Stauss Red Trolley Ale also from California. (We also tried and enjoyed other Karl Strauss beers at the brewery restaurant in Carlsbad including Tower 10 and Windansea Wheat.)
The menu at Yard House also had some great snacks including 10 types of individual Street Tacos. On two different visits we tried Truffle Fries, California Roll, Pastrami Sliders, Baja Fish Taco and Korean Beef Short Rib Taco. The fries were great as expected (how can you go wrong with truffle oil), but the California roll was served untraditionally as one big roll and was a bit strange and Jeff was not really impressed with the Short Rib taco. The Fish Taco and the Pastrami Sliders were our favourites.
Others worth mentioning
We enjoyed a Happy Hour at La Peurta (4th and Market) that had a terrific classic Margarita and half price appetizers. We also had a fabulous fondue dinner at The Melting Pot (5th and E) which will receive its own blog post and some great Italian at Chianti (644 5th). Henry’s Pub also on 5th had a good Monday night 80’s night and was fun, loud and busy but we do not recommend ordering any food. For fancy cocktails and a well dressed crowd Searsucker (5th and Market) is the place. Overall, the Gaslamp Quarter is great for a 4 or 5 day food, beer and wine adventure.
Jeff & Tara Ciecko of CK Golf Solutions write two blogs on their website, one is their 19th Hole Blog where they share personal experiences and the Biz Blog where they share business best practices and golf industry related opinions. They have owned CK Golf Solutions for 5 years and provide marketing, social media and business services to the golf and other industries.