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San Diego has some amazing little neighborhoods, and Barrio Logan is one that I only recently discovered. The area, which sits under the shadow of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, is home to Chicano Park, which contains the country’s largest collection of outdoor murals. The Park’s vibrant artwork pays homage to the predominantly Mexican American and Mexican immigrant community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in San Diego County.
With nearly 8-acres of hand-painted murals, unique sculptures, earthworks and architectural features it’s a hidden gem worth discovering. You’ll want to fuel up for the morning’s art-bound adventure with a proper cup of fair-trade coffee from Café Virtuoso. When you’re ready for a lunch break later in the day, The Blueprint Café is the perfect spot to get your fill. Located at 1805 Newton Avenue, the bright and cozy shop serves up tasty comfort food created with fresh, local and sustainably harvested ingredients prepared by Chef/Owner Gayle Covner.
For a hearty bite try Gayle’s massive, and much lauded burger featuring a half-pound of grilled Meyer Ranch Angus beef piled high with cheddar, bacon, avocado and tomato with spicy chipotle sauce. Be sure to save room for a side of sweet potato fries and a pint of Ballast Point Pale Ale. If lighter fare is what you crave then the signature salad is sure to please. The tender grilled chicken has just a hint of spice that tastes so nice when mixed with the sweet red onions, tangy cranberries, toasted piñons and crisp romaine tossed in chili lime dressing.
Lunch is served at The Blueprint Café from 11am to 3pm Mondays through 11am – 3pm.
Some of the best breaks can be found in Oceanside, and after a day of surfing I love to refuel at The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen just a few blocks from the waves. Run by husband and wife team, Roddy and Aaron Browning, the power couple is no stranger to fine farm-to-fork cuisine. They've brought the slow food movement to the Pig where their fresh, locally sourced gourmet fare is presented in a truly friendly, not at all pretentious, and totally soulful way that I find refreshing.
The place has a rustic, quirky art gallery vibe with brightly painted mismatched walls adorned by vintage kitsch and rummage sale funk. Menus are pasted inside old album covers and none of the dishes or silverware are of the same pattern. It’s the kind of place that I feel comfortable coming to with salty tresses and jeans paired with flip-flops. On at least two occasions I have spotted well-known celebrities at the Pig who were dressed much the same. It’s that kind of relaxed yet hip place, and clearly the word has made it as far north as LA.
Perhaps what makes the Pig so popular is the friendly service. Roddy makes a point of getting to know his patrons and often greets them by name. Then again it could be the amazing cuisine, which – as the name would suggest – has a heavy emphasis on pork. The bacon mac-n-cheese is just such a dish. Served in a mini-skillet the top is golden brown and slightly crisp with creamy bacon-loaded goodness beneath it. I also dig the molasses glazed brussels and bacon, the fresh ground pork burger with tempura onion, molten cheddar, spicy ‘626’ sauce, and (oh, yes) a fried farmers egg.
Being a pub, the Pig has plenty of San Diego craft drafts on tap to pair with all that pork. The selections of suds are ever changing and always delightfully diverse. Those who prefer lighter fare complemented by fine wine will be pleased with the wide of array of creative field-fresh salads and the impressive wine cellar. Vinos vary day to day and are served by the glass or by the bottle.
If you plan to visit the Pig be sure to arrive early (pub opens at 4:30 pm, kitchen at 5pm) or call ahead for a reservation. This fun neighborhood eatery is quite the hot spot and fills up rather quickly. It's not unusual for there to be up a 45-minute wait for a table, even on a slow Monday night. If you see Roddy while your there, please tell him I said hello. Oh, and eat some vinegar fries for me, too. You'll be glad you did.
The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen
626 South Tremont St
Oceanside, CA 92054
Tel: 760 453 2940