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So You Want to Eat and Drink in San Diego? You Should Probably Start Here.

So in my last post, I intimated — no, I bragged — that I had some of the best food and drinks in San Diego.

Now.  I want you to read that as, “I thoroughly enjoyed the food and drinks I had at these places in San Diego” and not, “This is the absolute best stuff you could possibly get in San Diego” because frankly, I don’t know if it was the best in San Diego because I was only in San Diego for 3 days.

All I know is that what I consumed at the following choice establishments was phenomenal, as was the service and overall atmosphere.

*DISCLAIMER: Of course I inadvertently left my nice DSLR camera in my hotel room, along with my sunscreen, apparently, for the majority of my excursions, so you’ll have to settle for the dark, blurry images provided by my iPhone.

First up?

My friend Suzy, a lovely lady I used to work with during my cubicle days at Fort Bragg and who happened to be traveling to San Diego around the same time, was adamant about finding us a “craft cocktail” bar.

Suzy Craft and Commerce

In case you’re wondering, as I was at the time, a “craft cocktail” bar is a place where the bartenders — aka. “mixologists” — are encouraged to concoct a select menu of handcrafted cocktails, namely using high quality and often house-made ingredients.  It’s a “back to basics” approach, so to speak — a nod to old timey times when quality and artistry meant more than commercialism and mass production.

The place she found in her spur-of-the-moment smart phone Google search was called Craft & Commerce, and it promised, as far as we could tell, to uphold all of the above.

Plus, the bartenders wear sexy suspenders.

Craft and Commerce Bar

A quick text to Dennis, my local, confirmed that this was indeed a choice establishment.  We walked our post-happy hour slightly tipsy selves a mile-and-a-half’s worth of city blocks away from San Diego’s infamous Gaslamp Quarter to a slightly seedier part of town on W. Beech Street, but all our misgivings were forgotten when we came upon this comfortably crowded gem of a bar.

Craft and Commerce
Craft and Commerce

The whole place was done up in this groovy steampunk library-esque decor with shelves of tattered books and Edison bulb industrial light fixtures and mounted plaster heads of exotic animals.

Craft and Commerce Decor

If the bartenders’ button-down shirts and newsboy caps weren’t charming enough, a couple of gentlemanly patrons were nice enough to offer us their seats at the bar while they waited for their table, which pretty much tells me that San Diegoans — San Diegonites? — San Dieganese? are not only a beautiful but a courteous bunch.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Suzy is a curvaceous 5′ 10″-ish blonde, but whatever.

We’ll call ‘em nice.

The menu offers a wordy attempt to explain Craft & Commerce’s mission, but I can sum it up for you based on experience: Cute Boys, Delectable Drinks, Cute Boys, and The Best Macaroni And Cheese In The History Of Ever.

Craft and Commerce San Diego Menu

The cocktails were all around $10 if I remember correctly, which may sound high if you live in the midwest but is actually incredibly reasonable if you’ve ever been to say… Vegas and paid $14 for a house rum and coke.

Craft and Commerce San Diego Menu

Intrigued by the prospect of egg whites in our drinks, Suzy and I both opted for the Wimbledon Fizz, which consisted of Pimm’s, lemon, egg white, ginger, cucumber, and… uhh… fizz.  My first experience with the gin-based Pimm’s liqueur was back when we stayed with Justin’s aunt and uncle in Philadelphia (wow, I just realized I never finished telling you about that!), when they fixed us a couple of delicious fireside drinks called Pimm’s Cups.

I was hooked.

And the Wimbledon Fizz did not disappoint.

Wimbledon Fizz from Craft and Commerce

Feeling carby, we decided to split an order of the macaroni and cheese, and let’s just say it’s a good thing we did.

It was HUGE.

And awesome.

And awesomely huge.

We spent our time there carboloading on cheesy pasta, enjoying our drinks, and watching the mixologists do their thang.

Craft and Commerce Pouring
Craft and Commerce Stirring

Eventually Dennis and his girlfriend Melissa picked us up to take us to Dennis’s pub-by-day/50′s-swing-dancing-club by night, Henry’s Pub, back in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Henry's Pub Swing Dancing

It was a blast, but my tired self was tucked snugly into plush hotel sheets by 11:30 p.m.  (Hey, give a girl a break — it was 2:30 east coast time and I’d been on a plane all day.)

Later in the week, my friend Angie, Dennis and I met up at another restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter called Searsucker for lunch.  Knowing my affinity for “something different,” he figured a place with a menu crafted by Top Chef finalist Brian Malarkey containing bone marrow and duck fat fries would be right up my alley.

And he was right.

Unfortunately, their lunch menu was much more tame.  To speed things along, they had us order off of a looming chalkboard hanging over the hostess stand before we were seated.  We opted for bar seating, though the decor of the place was incredible and offered many lounging options in addition to regular table style dining.

Searsucker San Diego

Like Craft & Commerce, this place had an industrial vibe, only more up-scale.

Searsucker San Diego

Seriously?  Who doesn’t want those low-slung sofas?  The cool ropey light fixture?  The leather chairs?  The wooden coffee table with casters?!

Just me?

Searsucker San Diego

The interior designers captured that industrial look that’s so popular right now perfectly, without making the place feel cold and unwelcoming.

Angie and Dennis opted for the “2 Hand Burger,” which was highly recommended by the hostess, while I was in more of a piggy mood and ordered the “Apple Pulled Pork.”

While our entrées were good, it won’t go down as one of my most memorable meals.  That said, I would go back to Searsucker in a heartbeat.  In fact, I regret not going again for dinner, for the simple fact that their dinner menu looks insanely appealing, I love the atmosphere, and it’s exactly the kind of place I’d want to be if I had several hours to just be.

You know?

Well.

Now you do.

So if you find yourself in the sunny city of San Diego, California anytime soon, check out Craft & Commerce and Searsucker.

When you see the suspenders, you’ll thank me.

Craft & Commerce
675 W. Beech St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Craft and Commerce on Urbanspoon

Searsucker
611 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Searsucker on Urbanspoon

How about anyone else?  Any San Diego locals or visitors have recommendations on some of the best places to eat and drink in the city?

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Katie

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Comments

RHome410
Reply

Great looking places! Craft and Commerce looks like great fun, and Searsucker a good place to hang out, relax, and enjoy. My daughters and I have been on the quest to find places with character (also with good food and coffee drinks… the trifecta) for our occasional mom-daughter dates. We have nothing like this, but it is so nice to find unique spots without the mass, commercial ‘ambiance.’

Katie
Reply

What city are you in, again?? I love the idea of mom-daughter dates. Sounds like you have so much fun together. :)

Katie
Reply

I still dream about that mac and cheese.

And you’re right — it’s not like me to ignore a giant EAT sign. ;)

NovaBlast
Reply

I hope you didn’t take my comment the wrong way by your response I’m not sure if you understood me I didn’t mean it like it was something that you would normally do but in a general sense that it was a funny thing to point out . A big eat sign in the middle of a restaurant is comically note worthy aspect of the picture an restaurant in a general Seinfeld humour sense like putting a big DRINK sign in a bar.

Katie
Reply

Of course not! You must have misinterpreted the tone of my response. :) And it IS weird that I forgot to comment on it! I loved that sign, and it really was a striking part of the decor there. :)

Andi
Reply

I just finished writing a post about Searsucker that will publish in two weeks (look for it). We ate here for dinner during the holiday break. I loved the dinner because of the really great small plates, but hated the noise and darkness. I was hoping that lunch would be better, it certainly seems like it from a light and noise perspective, but sounds like not from their menu choices, bummer. Well at least now I know, you saved me from wasting money – thanks!

Katie
Reply

Oh wow, it was definitely a different atmosphere during the day, then. But, yes – I was SO disappointed that they didn’t have the eclectic and interesting lunch menu that they have for dinner. That said, the lunch was still delicious. Just not… BAM! :)

Liz
Reply

Ohh yum can’t wait to try out these spots! Thanks for the reviews!

Katie
Reply

I hope you like them!!

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