Much of the LGBTQ scene in San Diego is centered in Hillcrest, where thousands of people gather to support the LGBT community during the annual San Diego Pride. The colorful neighborhood north of Balboa Park is home to dozens of bars, great shopping, and some of the best restaurants in town. While tough to narrow down the list, here are 10 of our favorite hotspots in this bustling borough.
Morning, noon, or night, Hillcrest’s restaurants have you covered. Try ultra-popular Hash House a Go Go for breakfast or brunch. The wait is worth it, and a morning cocktail at The Loft a couple doors down will help pass the time. Baja Betty’s boasts an impressive weekend brunch buffet and you can’t go wrong with bottomless mimosas and sangria.
Looking for something a little later? Hillcrest has an abundance of international flavors to choose from. Choose from cozy French café La Bonne Table, Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro, or Rakitori Japanese Pub & Grill. Also in the Hillcrest area, you’ll find one of So-Cal’s most popular women’s bars, lesbian-operated Gossip Grill with great happy hour specials and outdoor fire pits.
Shop the boutiques peppered throughout the neighborhood. Hunt for fabulous finds at vintage emporium Flashbacks or designer duds at Manfest. If all of the shopping has you thirsty, stop by Martinis Above Fourth for one of their supersized signature cocktails and live cabaret acts or hit up happening hangout Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill.
For a taste of San Diego’s cultural offerings, there’s the world famous La Jolla Playhouse and Old Globe Theatre, which each boast Broadway-bound shows throughout the year, as well as one of the country’s oldest LGBT Theaters in the Country, Diversionary Theater. Its stated mission is to “provide an inspiring and thought provoking theatrical platform to explore complex and diverse LGBT stories, which influence the larger cultural discussion.”
Nearby, Balboa Park is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West,” as it contains the largest concentration of cultural institutions outside of The Smithsonian. Here you will find the city’s major art, photographic, science, aerospace and history museums set among acres of open space and gardens perfect for picnicking, wandering and picture-taking. It is also home to the World Famous San Diego Zoo.