The STANDARD H Travel pages are our version of city guides presented by our founder, Wesley Smith. These are places he's traveled, enjoyed, and recommends, so they're all vetted and what we refer to as STANDARD H verified. These lists will evolve, so check back often and travel safe!
444 W Cedar St, San Diego, CA 92101
Lofty's owner Eric launched his business right around the time I moved from LA to Encinitas in 2012. It's been so awesome to witness his growth, especially since he built out the initial space, himself. Now there are 5 locations: the above address being the only one downtown/closest to STANDARD H headquarters. Their in-house espresso blend is called "Keeping it Classy" and it's my go-to bag of beans I have ground and drink using my Bialetti every morning. If I visit, I'm an espresso guy, but if you can take a hint of spice, definitely get the Aztec Mocha. It's delicious. Lofty's pastries are made from scratch every day, as well, and my go-to on that front is by far the Banana muffin.
777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
Located through a door inside the Neighborhood Bar, this tiny speak-easy cocktail lounge feels like something out of NYC that only a select group of people are informed of. Let's say you're on a date with your special someone and they don't know about this place...this is the kind of intimate environment that will delightfully surprise them. You will no doubt need a reservation, so plan ahead.
Herb & Wood
2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
If you Google Herb & Wood, it'll state it's a Mediterranean restaurant, but I'd (cop out and) simply describe it as eclectic. Honestly if you can't find something to eat here, just stay in. I really enjoy the atmosphere as it kind of plays to everyone, even if it is a lively volume. The bar feels open while the dining area to the left feels intimate. The dining section behind the bar offers room for large parties, so Herb & Wood can really accommodate just about any situation. The cocktails are wonderful, and the food is delicious. It's a great selection from seafood to pizza...so again: something for everyone. I love the build-out of this place with it's phenomenal balance of a home-like feel with it's rustic touches beneath an open-rafter ceiling with spherical pendant lights dangling.
3019 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
This is the coffee spot I go to when I'm not making coffee for myself. It's close, the staff is awesome, and the espresso is great. Their "Edge of Normal" blend is the in-house espresso, and I really like it, especially paired with one of the pastries made by Natalie who also works as a barista there.
3260 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
A couple years ago, I was snowboarding in Lake Tahoe with one of my oldest friends who has a house nearby in Truckee. He knows I'm a fan of espresso and he said, "I can't wait to take you to my favorite coffee spot. You're going to love it." We drive to downtown Truckee, park the car, and I get out and look at the extremely familiar logo of a horse head wearing a suit. Yep, it's the same company as the one less than a mile from my house. The Truckee location was their second location. Crazy. The one near me is the other place I get my caffeine fix when I'm not making it at home. Darkhorse has several locations around San Diego, and I'd highly suggest trying one of their doughnuts if you're into that sort of thing.
3015 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
A local spot we often choose for happy hour and appetizers, Et Voila also has a really great brunch on the weekends. The service is awesome, and we usually sit in the open-window by the bar looking out towards the street. The wine selection is great, though their Huckleberry Bourbon cocktail seems to be the recent move. It's a French restaurant, so as you may imagine, the bread & butter is amazing. Though I love my bold flavors, sometimes achieving that is really a function of less is more, and Et Voila has it in spades. My favorite happy hour item, however, is absolutely the Crevettes au Citron Vert - lime infused shrimp with a risotto cake & arugula pesto. If you're there for dinner, the lamb is fantastic.
2321 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
This is our favorite well-rounded sushi spot in San Diego. We eat sushi weekly, and this is where we like to go with friends. The dishes are inventive, and it's a great place as long as you're not expecting Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Realizing inventive rolls strays away from traditional sushi snobbery, the Are You Kidding Me roll is ordered 100% of the time. The Pon Hama is also a go-to alongside the Crispy Rice + Spicy Tuna.
1360 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
Located above the Brigantine at Portside Pier downtown, this place is a favorite for afternoon drinks and a couple of items from the Small Plates menu. TopSail has an outdoor lounge atmosphere which is just perfect for San Diego, especially that close to the water. Whether with your significant other, or in a group, it's bound to be a good time.
Leucadia Donut Shop
1604 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
I lived three blocks from here for 5 years. Though I wasn't a weekly visitor, I wanted to be. They have my absolute favorite maple glazed donuts, period. However, they do them two ways: a yeast maple "bar" and a cake-style donut. I traditionally prefer yeast donuts, but Leucadia's round, cake-style maple donut is my favorite. The other donuts are great, too, so if maple isn't your thing, you'll still have something delicious to choose from. Pro tip: get there as early as possible. They're a cash-only business that closes when they sell out which is typically by noon, and if you're there after 10am, the selection is minimal. Some things are worth getting up for. Bonus points for those who find the STANDARD H sticker and tag us on Instagram when you visit.
Born and Raised
1909 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
I'm a big fan of what the restaurant group, Consortium Holdings, offers us locals here in San Diego. The corporate chef, Jason McLeod, has become a friend, and was even gracious enough to be a guest on the STANDARD H Podcast (click here). Born and Raised opened a few years ago, and it is a site to be seen. The architecture alone is a conversation in and of itself. Taking in the predominantly wood and brass building as an architecture fan invites your gaze the same way a big wave surfer would want to survey a 40'+ wave. My wife and I love the upstairs balcony/patio outdoor set-up, especially for drinks. The table-side tartare is one of my favorite things on the menu, and you can't go wrong with whatever your choice cut of steak is. And if you like French 75's, this is your spot.
3015 Adams Ave #102b, San Diego, CA 92116
My neighborhood spot for ramen. Having grown up in North Carolina, I certainly enjoy rich flavors, and Tajima serves up my favorite ramen in San Diego. They have multiple locations, so perhaps give them a Google, but this one is my neighborhood location. I go with one of two bowls: the Spicy Sesame Ramen which is a chicken and pork broth or the Carnitas Ramen which originally used the carnitas meat from a former local favorite that has unfortunately closed. The carnitas ramen is here to stay, however!
2087 San Elijo Ave, Cardiff, CA 92007
If you've rented an AirBnb and/or have access to a grill, you may want to check out this grocery store. Located in "North County" Seaside Market is a staple among my friend group for pretty much one thing only and that's their "Cardiff Crack" which is the best tri-tip you've ever tasted. We always get it rare and grill it ourselves. We have spent plenty of evenings with friends hanging out in the kitchen, drinking wine and snacking while it cooks, and then quite literally eating this stuff straight from the cutting board because we couldn't even wait to plate it!
The Crack Shack
2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Not sure what it is about "crack" around here, but if fried chicken is what you're craving, this is your spot. They have some delicious biscuits there, as well. I love the open air atmosphere there and it's family friendly. My favorite time to go is a weekend afternoon when I'm not rushed and can hang out and have a few beers. There are a couple of tv's at the bar, and there's usually a game on worth watching. They also have another location in Encinitas.
4574 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
Great food in a very casual environment, Parkhouse offers my favorite brunch in San Diego. There are other places, but you'll wait 2 hours to get in....I know, ridiculous, right? Brunch often follows "a good night out" so a long wait isn't something I'm particularly fond of. Menu favorites include the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, the Pork Belly Benedict and/or the Carnitas Stuffed Roasted Polenta Cake. Rumor has it Parkhouse will soon have their liquor license, though they currently serve beer, mimosas, and Soju-based cocktails.
San Diego Padres Game
100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
By all means, if you're into baseball, you must take in a game at Petco Park. It's been voted best stadium in baseball and with good reason: there isn't a bad seat in the house and the concessions are amazing. San Diego is very well known for its beer scene, but it's also the aforementioned "Cardiff Crack" sandwiches available at the Seaside Market locations in the stadium that are the move if you're not grabbing a Friar Frank (hotdog) with your beer. The stadium is located right downtown within plenty of bars and restaurants to pre-game at, as well. If you're looking to make it an all-day affair, stop by Bub's at the Ballpark located just outside the stadium at 715 J Street.