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San Diego/Mid-City

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San Diego : Mid-City
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San Diego/Mid-City

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One of the many decorative neighborhood signs in the area

Mid-City is the eastern part of the city of San Diego, bordered by I-8 and Mission Valley to the north, National City to the south, Downtown, Balboa Park and Hillcrest to the west, and La Mesa to the east. Mid-City has both trendy urban neighborhoods, like Kensington, North Park, Normal Heights, and University Heights, and quieter neighborhoods, such as Golden Hill and South Park. Mid-City consists of a number of interesting neighborhoods - those of particular note are:

  • City Heights, a historic and ethnically diverse community, centered around the intersection of Fairmount and University Avenues.
  • College Area, on a plateau overlooking Interstate 8 on the northeastern corner of the Mid-City area, home to San Diego State University (SDSU).
  • Golden Hill, a small, quiet neighborhood of historic homes, directly east of Downtown and south of Balboa Park.
  • Kensington, a trendy neighborhood with many shops and restaurants, centered around Adams Avenue east of Interstate 15.
  • Normal Heights, an urban community that's home to plenty of unique stores and festivals, centered along Adams Avenue between Interstates 805 and 15.
  • North Park, an urban neighborhood located north of Balboa Park, centered around El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue near 30th Street.
  • South Park, a quiet residential neighborhood southeast of Balboa Park, along 30th/Fern Street north of SR-94.
  • Talmadge, a historic neighborhood with eclectic architecture situated between Kensington and SDSU.
  • University Heights, a scenic urban neighborhood centered around the intersection of Park Boulevard and Adams Avenue, filled with restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and art studios.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Given the size of the Mid-City, traveling by car is the most reliable way to get around. SR-94 passes east-west along the southern edge of the area, providing quick access to Downtown to the west and the suburbs to the east, while I-8 cuts across the northern edge of the area through Mission Valley. SR-15 and I-805 pass north-south through the area, crossing each other in Mid-City. Major east-west streets include El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and (in the northeastern part of the region) Montezuma Road. Major north-south streets include Fairmount Avenue, Euclid Avenue, 54th Street, and College Avenue.

By public transit[edit]

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) [7] operates transit service in the city. There are a number of routes which serve Mid-City, but given the size and often sprawling nature of the region traveling by bus can be difficult. Plan your route carefully. Many routes that go through Mid-City terminate at the transit center at SDSU, which is also a stop along the San Diego Trolley [8] Green Line service from Old Town to the eastern suburbs.

See[edit][add listing]

San Diego State University campus
  • Ken Cinema [9]. Watch an independent or classic film in this old style theater here. They play one movie per week, with the occasional one-time screenings and premiers. This also the home to the LGBT FilmOut festival, which runs in mid April.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • San Diego State University Aztecs, SDSU campus (located on College Avenue just off of I-8), [10]. College basketball enthusiasts will recognize a familiar face coaching this team, National Champion Steve Fisher. They play their home games at the Viejas Arena (formerly Cox Arena) in the SDSU campus. The Aztecs college baseball team plays at Tony Gwynn Stadium (also on the SDSU campus) and the college football team plays at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.
  • The Adams Avenue Street Fair, Adams Ave. between 32nd and 35th Streets, +1 619 282-7329 ([email protected]), [11], Held over the last weekend in late September, showcases local business and organizations, various food and tchotchke vendors, and six stages of live music across the three blocks of this main drag in Normal Heights. Entrance is free, but the food and beer gardens can be a bit pricey.
  • Kensington is a small community with much charm. Instead of going here for excitement, you should go to Kensington to relax. Take some time to walk around the neighborhood and see all of the old houses and their well kept gardens. Get a cup of coffee at Kensington Coffee and then enjoy it at the park that surrounds the local library. Around dinner take the time to eat at the local restaurants and then either have a few drinks at the Club Kensington or see an indie or foreign film at the theater or rent one from Kensington Video.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Kensington Video, 4067 Adams Ave, +1 619 584-7725, [12]. If you want to rent or need a rare video that the chain stores do not carry this is the place to go. If they do not have it they will find it for you. A definite stop for the movie buff.
  • Adams Avenue Book Store, 3502 Adams Ave, +1 619 281-3330, [13]. This is one of the few remaining book stores on Adams Avenue. The easy to recognize green tarp welcomes you to a large two-story store stocked with everything from liturature to theology. Soothing classical music plays and the two friendly house cats never fail to brush up against you. Look out for the old kitched on the second floor stocked with recipe books and the large children's section in the back.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Kensington neon
  • The Big Kitchen is at Grape and Fern in the neighborhood of South Park (located southeast of Balboa Park), [14]. This restaurant is so named because the kitchen is bigger than the rest of the restaurant. "Judy The Beauty (on Duty)" is usually there serving up great food (mainly breakfast, but also lunch), with a cheerful attitude. Take time to appreciate the bumper stickers and celebrity posters on the walls - Whoopi Goldberg once worked here. To get there, start in North Park and travel south on 30th Street (which will become Fern Street) until you get to Grape Street.
  • Green Tomato, 4090 Adams Ave, +1 619 283-7546, [15].
  • Just Fabulous, 4116 Adams Ave, +1 619 584-2929, [16]. For some really good desserts come here. They also serve a very good breakfast and lunch.
  • Kensington Grill, 4055 Adams Ave, +1 619 281-4014. Call and make reservations because this place can fill up fast. It has a full bar and both indoor/outdoor seating. Make sure you have plenty of cash because even though it is really good it is also pricey.
  • Ponces Mexican Restaurant, 4050 Adams Ave, +1 619 282-4413. Ponces has been recently renovated, offering a new bar and better seating but it still offers some of the best American Mexican food in San Diego. Not authentic Mexican food, but good American Mexican food. Get there with enough time to wait and if you don't want dine in call for take out.
  • Zia Gourmet Pizza, 3311 Adams Ave, +1 619 284-4320, [17]. Zias is home to some of the most unique and tastiest pizzas in all San Diego. You can order by the slice or a whole pie. The types of pizza range from the traditional cheese (three types) to the most famous, eggplant (cranberries, walnuts, yogurt, and eggplant). All food served is kosher and halal and there are vegan options as well. The owner and head chef constantly walks around and asks how everything tastes.
  • Bleu Boheme, 4090 Adams Avenue, 619.255.4167, [1]. Charming, rustic neighborhood French brasserie in the heart of Kensington. They feature a prix fixe Bohemian menu every night from 5-6pm, all night on Tuesdays. Try the moules frites in Roquefort sauce.  edit
  • Swoon Dessert Bar, 3139 University Avenue, 6195280875, [2]. 10am-11pm. Creative desserts freshly prepared in a front of you. Weekend dessert 3-course tastings. Most desserts are available gluten free. Coffee from multiple local roasters. House made latte flavorings.  edit
  • Woodstock's Pizza, 6145 El Cajon Blvd. , San Diego, CA 92115, (619) 265-0999, [3]. 11 AM - Midnight. High quality pizza at an affordable price. Also serves a variety of appetizers, desserts, salads, and brews.  edit
  • Pho Hoa, 4717 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115, (619) 283-6431. 7am - 8pm. Authentic, no frills pho restaurant that has long been a staple of the local Vietnamese community. Offers a variety of decisions, but best to stick with the pho soups. $.  edit
  • Red Sea Restaurant, 4717 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105, United States, [4]. 12pm - 10pm. No frills Ethiopian food that is a good introduction to the vibrant community from the Horn of Africa around City Heights.  edit
  • Tom's Chinese BBQ, 4414 University Ave # A, San Diego, CA 92105, United States, 619-563-8225. Simple take-away BBQ pork and duck at low prices. Chinese name, so look for the "Tom's BBQ" sign in the window. $.  edit
  • El Salvador Pupuseria Y Restaurante, 3824 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105, United States, 619-282-3018. 9:30am - 9pm. No-frills introduction to the Central American community in City Heights with good pupusas and sopa. $.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Club Kensington, 4079 Adams Ave, +1 619 284-2848. A quaint Hipster bar that offers music on the weekends.
  • Kensington Coffee, 4141 Adams Ave, +1 619 280-9114. This coffee shop, loved by the locals, serves coffee, tea, food and even spumoni. This is a definite stop in Kensington.
  • Lestat's Coffee House, 3343 Adams Ave, +1 619 282-0437. Lestat's never closes, ever. Aside from the specialty coffee drinks and the local pastries, the walls are covered with art for sale, and the next door stage has nightly shows and open mics. Free wifi attracts all sorts of local characters and the back is always packed with people. They have a sister location in University Heights along Park Avenue.
  • Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Avenue, 619-255-2491, [5]. 5pm-12am. With a pub vibe and aesthetic, Blind Lady's a fantastic place to drink a wide selection of local craft brew and munch on some pizza. During the week it's not nearly as crowded--you'll be able to find a spot on the long wooden tables. If you ride your bike there, you can get a 10% discount when you show your helmet at the bar. $$.  edit
  • Small Bar, 4628 Park Blvd San Diego, CA, (619) 795-7998, [6]. Part gastropub part alehouse. This bar is a University Heights staple. Come for the craft beer and return the next day to nurse that hangover with their Bloody Mary's and brunch food. $$.  edit
  • Black Cat Bar, 4246 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105, United States, 619-280-5834. 2pm - 2am. Unpretentious local bar with beer and specialty cocktails, along with pool tables and jukebox. $.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Best Western Lamplighter Inn & Suites, 6474 El Cajon Blvd, +1 619 582-3088, [18].
  • Inn Suites Lafayette Hotel, 2223 El Cajon Blvd, +1 619 296-2101, [19].


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