Ahead of San Diego Pride, which is held in mid-July, here’s a guide to some of the city’s most LGBT-friendly restaurants, bars and other attractions in and around the Hillcrest neighborhood and the Hotel Indigo San Diego-Gaslamp Quarter.
Food and Drink
For killer cocktails and a top-notch sit-down dinner in Hillcrest, you can’t do much better than at Trust. The menu revolves around wood fire cooking and creative twists, like wood-grilled octopus with Castelvetrano olives, salsa verde, fresh pepperoni and chilled legumes.
Maestoso is a modern Italian restaurant that operates under a serving model it calls “chef to table.” This means its chefs rotate from the kitchen to the floor, helping with food preparation while chatting up customers and taking orders.
One of Hillcrest’s most popular bars is Uptown Tavern, which also doubles as a dance club and sit-down restaurant. Uptown offers daily specials or themes, such as half-off happy hour all-day on Tuesdays, as well as weekend brunch.
The Rail (former The Brass Rail0 opened as San Diego’s first gay bar during the 1930’s in downtown, eventually moving to its current location in Hillcrest in the 1960s. Today, it boasts a rowdy party scene along with a heavy dose of pride-worthy history.
Near the Hotel Indigo are Cafe Chloe, a French corner cafe that specializes in steak frites and other bistro classic; Biga, a farm-to-table Italian restaurant; and Neighborhood, a gastropub with an emphasis on craft beer.
In Hillcrest, Martinis Above Fourth is known for offering over 100 different kinds of shaken and stirred martinis, as well as nightly cabaret performances featuring local and nationally known talent.
On the border of Hillcrest and its adjacent neighborhood, North Park, is The Merrow, a storied venue that programs everything from drag shows and DJ nights to rock and folk acts.
Closer to the hotel (and accessed through an under-the-radar law office door) is Prohibition Lounge, a 1920s-style speakeasy with live jazz acts.
Diversionary Theater launched in 1986 during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, in order to give a voice to issues facing the local LGBT community. It remains a staple for mainstage productions and other arts events, continuing to tackle topics directly related to LGBT life.
Just at the southern edge of Hillcrest lies Balboa Park, a vast expanse of green land in the middle of San Diego. In addition to housing the San Diego Zoo and numerous hiking trails along with other amenities, the park also plays home to a variety of world-class museums, includingthe San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Photographic Arts.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego offers more than 4,000 works, including painting, sculpture, photography, and video — all produced since 1950.
A stunning example of California Modernism can be found in the Design Centerbuilding, which is the work of architect Lloyd Ruocco, who moved to San Diego in the 1920s and designed over 100 projects in the city over the course of his career. It was partially destroyed during a fire in the 1980s and, using blueprints, was painstakingly refurbished by architect Leonard Veitzer in 1988.
In Little Italy, Klassik Mid-Century Modern sells a range of vintage furniture and accessories that will give any home a designer’s edge.
Owned by a local printmaker, woodworker and gallerist, Creative Crossroads is a Hillcrest shop and gallery that features works by over 50 local artisans and craftspeople.