As luck would have it, I am slowly reclaiming my weekends thanks to a few key turn of events at work that have, in many ways, worked out in my favor. With these new (and likely temporary) changes coming into effect within the next few weeks, I figure it's also prime time to take full advantage of them since Jason and I finally have synchronized schedules!
We're finally ticking things off that have been on my want-to-drink and want-to-eat list for forever now, and while it's sort of hitting at our wallet a bit, it's also time well spent together since it's what we both enjoy doing, and we're spending this time together taking photos and exploring while we're at it as well. And while I do have *more* and *bigger* things envisioned in terms of day trips, travel, and the like, we're still saving our bucks in the meantime since our grand ol' Iceland trip is fast approaching — 25 days!
Onto the coffee!
So when I say I'm no longer a morning person, I am definitely not a morning person. When people (I assume morning people) say GOOD MORNING! to me very enthusiastically at 8 or 9 AM, this is essentially my endearing response:
I mean, I used to be! I used to be the one to wake Jason up, as soon as the sun peeked through the cracks in my window, in order to squeeze in absolutely as many things in our day as we could. As time went on (a.k.a. as soon as I hit my late 20's), things went downhill. Can anyone else attest to that as a "thing" or is it just me? I swear, once I turned 25, everything changed. Finances, responsibility, work-life balance, hobbies, things kind of took a 180 and shuffled around and sort of settled into where I currently am now. Anyway, I suppose a lot of this is due mostly in part because I actually live with my spouse now, so time isn't as limited as it used to be where I'd have to get ready, then we'd have to meet at one another's homes, then actually travel to where we'd need to be and at the end of the day, we'd need to travel back to our respective homes. Now, its more like... take it easy, wake up on our own time, get ready on our own schedule, and leave the home and go about our day as it suits us—and it's just how I like to spend our days off.
So we made our way back to COMMUNAL COFFEE in North Park, which we haven't been back to since 2016 I believe, when we first met with (and booked!) our wedding videographer! Yikes, it's been a while! Even after noon this place was packed, but we still managed to grab the same seats we sat in previously, and I even opted to try some food this time! And of course, being one of the most Instagrammable coffee shops in San Diego doesn't hurt either.
Salted caramel latte it was for me, and a cortado it was for him. Communal's got some new breakfast bagel sandwiches, so we split an avocado dill bagel sandwich — so yum! If you're looking for something that tastes light and refreshing, but is also filling, this was the perfect amount of food. My only recommendation next time? Don't share :)
My salted caramel latte was laced with a beautiful buttery caramel flavor, and the salt was the perfect added touch. I also love how the coffee wasn't too hot to drink when I got it either, because the added temptation of having to wait for your drink to cool down before it scalds your tongue is almost torture!
We couldn't leave without first ogling the bunches of fresh flowers NATIVE POPPY had in their display (which, if you didn't know, was also conveniently located within the same storefront as Communal). We didn't purchase anything, but I have been on the hunt for a low, wide planter to replant all of my succulents in (see last blog post here) so it didn't hurt to take a gander! The shop was so busy and I didn't want to get in the way of any patrons waiting anxiously for their coffee though, so I only snapped a few quick photos.
Wouldn't it be the life if you could walk to the local coffee shop and bring home bunches of fresh flowers every day though?! 😍 Too bad I don't live anywhere nearby and I probably can't afford such a luxury, but it sounds like the kind of life I'd 100% be down for.
With our appetites wetted and our consciousness awakened quite a bit by the hustle and bustle of the shop and the coffee, we decided we were just about due for lunch and more drinks (obviously). In the area, our choice was to make our way to our favorite beer bar and second home, HAMILTON'S TAVERN. The playoffs were on, and we also chose the most opportunistic time to go, because there were also 5 awesome dogs there enjoying the dim ambience. It didn't take much for me to express my excitement over every dog that came in, but needless to say, I think the dogs provided me more entertainment than the game did!
Anywho, tried another amazing IIPA from Beachwood (what's new?) and Jason got to finally drink Pliny side by side next to Nelson since both were on tap that day. They're definitely not in the same category so I wouldn't recommend making a side by side comparison if that's what anyone is after. Both good beers, but not two of the same shoe.
We came with the intention of finding some more grub to munch on, but couldn't really decide on anything we wanted since we were already partially full from our bagel and coffee ordeal... so just beer it was!
Happy hour... on a Sunday!
Once our beers were finally half full, we figured out where we wanted to eat! Sort of... we totally forgot it was restaurant week, but got lucky when we randomly picked LION'S SHARE off my long list of Yelp bookmarks that I've never gotten to. Fortunately enough for us, they'd just opened their doors but because all of their tables for dinner were reserved, we were directed to the bar where they were still holding their daily happy hour! SCORE! I don't think I was ready for a full on 3-course meal anyway, so this ended up working out perfectly.
And since we're rarely ever in downtown, let's just take a minute to appreciate the city for a sec - it's so nice when it's not crowded! Maybe that's just me, but I could do without big crowds. The sun was still pretty high in the sky, but it was starting to get chilly by the time we'd gotten downtown already. Parking was a little difficult to find, but we just had to walk a few blocks over and we got to see a few dogs along the way so it wasn't bad at all. Got to see the trolley zoom by and cross the tracks too, so it was a short-lived sightseeing experience for us locals too.
I started with a cucumber gimlet — absolute perfection. And if any of you love popcorn like I do, you have to get their house popcorn. I could literally not keep my hands off of this bowl, and if I wasn't in a public setting, you bet I would've been using more than 2 fingers to eat this thing up. Truffle through the roof! It was sooooo delicious. I could probably eat it by the handful. I'm salivating as I write this. We already have a happy hour date planned a few weeks from now, and I cannot wait to eat this dang POPCORN again. Yes, excited for popcorn. It's what happens when you're almost 30 I guess?!
Jason went with their awesome burger + beer combo, and was very pleasantly surprised. He was raving about how well executed the burger was — the caramelization was perfection, and the flavor was simple but so well done. He was through the roof with the gold mine we'd stumbled upon, but so was I, munching happily as can be on my truffle parmesan popcorn and sipping my gimlet. We were stoked. He wasn't thrilled about the Victory pilsner the combo came with, but for future reference, you can sub in any draft for $2!
We couldn't pass on another round of drinks, since it was still happy hour, so I opted for another signature drink of theirs, called True Blood, made with Pimm's. Jason opted for the Federal Buffalo Stamp, and really loved the ginger root and ginger candy garnish that really spiced up his drink. Our last and final round consisted of a Pimm's cup for me and a Gold Rush for Jason.
You'll notice we tend to stick to our respective liquors — bourbon, whisk(e)y, rye for him, and gin or vodka for me. I can't say I won't try his drinks, but I just can't get into it! Still working on it, but gin's my drank!
I think it's safe to say we found our new favorite happy hour spot. Drinks were on point, food was good, yes it's farther than we'd like and parking isn't the greatest, but we're the type of people that can only make it for happy hour on the weekend anyway, so weekend happy hour it is! And since we're not morning people really, maybe that'll be our thing. Those weirdos that eat and drink midday. Yup that'll just be us.
If you have any recommendations for super solid happy hours, please let me know! I'm always down for a quality deal :)