Trends | Normal Heights is San Diego’s Latest Hot ‘Hood

Trends | Normal Heights is San Diego’s Latest Hot ‘Hood

normal-heightsWith coffeehouses, shops, eateries and bars popping up left and right, Normal Heights is growing into San Diego’s trendiest neighborhood.

-By Sarah Daoust

Slightly off the beaten tourist path, Normal Heights is not always included on the “must see” list for visitors to San Diego. In-the-know locals will tell you that’s a shame. Nestled due south of Mission Valley between Interstates 805 and 15, with Adams Avenue as its central vein, the community is home to quaint coffeehouses, shops, eateries and bars, including popular mainstays Sabuku Sushi and craft beer den Blind Lady Alehouse. The area’s low-key attitude is part of its charm, which in turn has attracted a fresh new crop of hangouts. San Diego’s hidden gem of a ‘hood is officially open for business. Sabuku Sushi, 3027 Adams Ave., 619.281.9700, Blind Lady Alehouse, 3416 Adams Ave., 619.255.2491,

Soda & Swine / Polite Provisions
Located side by side on the corner of 30th Street and Adams Avenue, Polite Provisions bar and Soda & Swine eatery are technically two separate businesses that just so happen to be owned and operated by the same staff. If you’re thirsty, start at Polite Provisions, where owner Arsalun Tafazoli has partnered with Nathan Stanton and brought on revered mixologist Erick Castro to capture the nostalgic era of Main Street America—where people gathered at the local drugstore to catch up. Think: milk shakes, egg creams and malts, as well as beer cocktails. An ornate bar designed by Paul Basile and a custom 46-tap system dispense wine, handcrafted sodas, spirits and medicinally inspired cocktails. If you’re hungry, head next door to Soda & Swine for “smashed” meatballs, apple pie and softserve ice cream. Polite Provisions, 4696 30th St., 619.677.3784, Soda & Swine, 2943 Adams Ave., 619.269.7632,

Sycamore Den
Picture a retro, 1970s-style family room that serves cocktails and comes with a gnarly collection of banjos and shotguns (nonfunctioning replicas, that is) adorning the walls, and you’ve got Sycamore Den. The new bar is the latest foray by Nick Zanoni, who opened Thrusters Lounge in Pacific Beach back in 1999. Now a married father of two, Zanoni envisioned a cozy hangout that was both a refuge and homage to “Dad.” Outfitted by progressive interior design firm Bells & Whistles, the space is accented with sunken seating, plenty of wood paneling, macramé, a functioning fireplace, cigarette machine and wooden piano. Sip a classic cocktail by mixologist Eric Johnson of Noble Experiment, while folk music fills the air. Dad would approve. Sycamore Den, 3391 Adams Ave., 619.563.9019, 

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
Pour-over coffee is all the rage, and Dark Horse Coffee Roasters gets it right. The wood-paneled décor is small, rustic and free of frills; coffee is the star here. Owner Daniel Charlson, who grew up in Kauai surrounded by coffee fields, roasts his own beans and is usually on hand to offer suggestions. Our picks: the El Salvador and Brazil pour-overs, as well as the cold-brew iced coffee and homemade vanilla-bean syrup. Sip your tailor-brewed selection with one of Dark Horse’s famed vegan donuts or a chocolate-pecan scone, and you’re guaranteed a good morning. Dark Horse Coffee, 3260 Adams Ave., 619.344.6962,



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