The New Normal: A Normal Heights Revival

What once was strictly laundromats, liquor stores and a couple greasy burrito shops is now seeing hip traffic pave trails into even hipper locales. The burgeoning neighborhood of Normal Heights seems to be following in the footsteps of next-door communities Hillcrest and North Park, opening a slew of bars boasting craft cocktails and shops with a heavy local focus. It’s the new normal, and it’s ready for you to explore.

To Eat

Soda & Swine: Nationally-acclaimed Chef Jason McLeod brings the meatballs to this new joint, one-half of a dual-concept that also includes the cocktail bar Polite Provisions (more on P.P. below). The eatery bows to two classic staples of ‘Main Street America’: meatballs and apple pie. The menu lays out your options in plain text: Choose a meatball (classic beef, smoked pork, chicken, vegetarian, chorizo), pick a sauce (marinara, mushroom cream, chipotle, primavera), select your cheese (provolone, mozzarella, pepper jack or feta) and pick a style (slider, smashed or on a roll). Crispy Polenta and Mac & Cheese are some of the sides and small plates that can be added to the order. 2943 Adams Ave.;

To Drink

Sycamore Den: Dad’s bar is on its way to the area, and you’re invited to throw back some beers with your old man. Nicholas Zanoni (whose success with Thrusters in Pacific Beach speaks volumes) is opening this new classic cocktail lounge modeled around a family den straight from the ‘70s. A real fireplace will keep you cozy as fake shotguns line the walls. Bells & Whistles were the chosen designers for this project, a team that has turned heads with their aesthetics in Starlite Lounge and The Smoking Goat. Get ready to dive into pure ‘70s bliss in this homage to the all-American pop. Opening April 2013. 3391 Adams Ave.;

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters: The doors are finally open at this highly-anticipated small-batch coffee roaster. Pour-over coffee lovers are flocking to this new joint that’s small in size, but big in heart. Owner Daniel eagerly shares his passion (sans pretention) for the brews, which right now include El Salvador and Papua New Guinea. 3260 Adams Ave.;

Polite Provisions: This cocktail bar (part of the Soda & Swine combo-pack from Consortium Holdings) takes on the old-time virtues when neighborhood drugstores reigned and soda fountains were revered. Erick Castro helms the bar, earning his spot with a resume that includes Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco as well as self-taught studies of vintage pharmaceutical books. The bar is causing a stir with their homemade soda pops, syrups and bitters, and the gigantic 46-custom tap system that features 18 craft beers on tap, eight white wines, nine red wines and even one handle for ice cold coffee. 4696 30th Ave.; (Main Image)

Heights Tavern: Plenty of beer, grilled bites and brunch will be served at this new tavern. Here, find a comfortable space to relax with friends, sit on the back patio or sidewalk patio, and catch the game on interior TVs. The food will be of finger-licking proportions, including Beer Basted Brats, Grilled Chicken n’ Bacon, a Chili Burger and Wet Fries (house cut fries topped with chili and the trimmings). They’re also planning a vegetarian menu for those with animal-aversions. A full-service bar will celebrate the craft culture in San Diego, offering over 20 brews on tap. Opening March 2013. 3377 Adams Ave.;

To Shop

Aveanew: Skaters are stoked about the new shop that opened doors in Normal Heights a few months ago. This skater owned-and-operated site carries skate and lifestyle brands that include Brixton, 4Star, Stereo, Traffic, Birdhouse, Thrasher and more. 3215 Adams Ave.;

To Live

Streetcar Row: CityMark is developing a three-story condo building complete with retail space, to be called Streetcar Row. Located on the corner of Adams Ave. and Idaho (which is also considered part of the University Heights community), the project will include 12 town homes on Antique Row, just a few blocks down from Soda & Swine and Polite Provisions. Streetcar Row is slated for completion by October 2013.

Looking back

Bine & Vine is almost one-year old. This wine and beer shop sells rare, hand-picked bottles that also include artisan cider, mead and sake. 3334 Adams Ave.;

Village Vino sells specialty wines by the bottle, glass or taste. In addition to the wine selected by owner Rita Pirkl, Village Vino has been offering educational seminars and classes. They’re almost one-year old. 4095 Adams Ave.;

Elos Shoes is a top shoe shop with a focus on what’s artistic, fashionable and sustainable. The footwear is affordable, and continues to be at the top of everyone’s list of best shoe store, including winning Readers Choice in Uptown News for 2012. 3404 Adams Ave.;

Discover more local tips and trends in our San Diego lifestyle blog



Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules