We are happy to bring to you our next Ethical Guide to San Diego! There is so much to enjoy in our beautiful county, but it’s all too easy to get stuck in our ways and reliable habits. So in this brand new year, we’ll guide you to finding inspiration in some new destinations to whet the taste buds, cultivate curiosity and support new, innovative businesses good for earth and the human spirit.
For this latest edition, we sought out eateries that are mapping their own course for inventive cuisine (you’ll find one housed in a historic building) and Chefs and entrepreneurs bringing Black culture to the region through elevated dining and expanded offerings of BIPOC-owned beer and wine. You’ll find some solid vegan recommendations to quench your sweet cravings and our region’s first tribally-owned brewery.
Read on to find a few free outdoor escapes to take some deep breaths and a couple shops and studios intentionally bringing new concepts of beauty and wellness to San Diego. And as always, let us know where to visit for the next edition of Thread Spun’s Ethical Guide to San Diego! If you'd like to re-visit our first guide, click here.
Where to Eat
Find this locals’ favorite Hawaiian-Korean restaurant and bar housed in the historic Fin Hotel on Highway 101 in Oceanside. Serving scrumptious and totally inventive cuisine, you can find a new meal to love for breakfast, lunch, happy hour or dinner. Try the battered and fried halibut with spicy Togarashi fries with jalapeño ponzu or stop in for Happy Hour to try vegetarian Avocado Lumpia. During World War 2 the Fin Hotel (formerly Hotel DeWitt) served as a communications center for the war effort, hence the name: ‘Switchboard’ in honor of the generation who served their country while working in this building. It’s heartwarming to see San Diego’s local history preserved in this building given a brand new life.
Head to North Park for exquisite New Orleans-style dining under the direction of Executive Chef Quinnton Austin, who came to SD straight from NOLA to open this gem and highlight its Black cuisine. Enjoy the beautiful architecture of a French Quarter-style restaurant complete with verdant plant-tastic patio seating (and none of the humidity) in our very own pleasant San Diego climate. The spirit of Mardi Gras will find you once you settle in with a Pablo Discobar cocktail, served to you in an actual disco ball!
La Mesa is home to Split Bakehouse, San Diego’s best vegan pastries of 2021 according to San Diego Magazine. Split Bakehouse pastries are outrageously colorful, a feast for the eyes before digging into their delicious flavors. Try their best selling berry pop tarts or much-sought-after ube (purple yam) frosted croissants. While you’re in town, get your steps in at the secret La Mesa Stairs. The network of public stairways are rare in San Diego County and offer great views, a fun challenge, and some post-pastry endorphins.
Where to Drink
This Escondido establishment was founded by Cassandra Shaeg, who is an earth-moving Black woman entrepreneur committed to stocking her shelves with local, BIPOC and women-owned labels. SIP Wine and Beer celebrated 5 years in business in 2021 and pioneered Escondido’s first BIPOC Beer and Wine Festival. It will be an annual event from now on taking place on Juneteenth weekend. Mark your calendars and follow @sipwineandbeer to enjoy events, limited releases and discover niche labels.
‘3R’ stands for ‘Rincon Reservation Road Brewery’ and is the first tribally-owned brewery in southern California. Visit their brand-new tasting room in Ocean Beach to savor libations inspired by their Luiseño heritage and connection to the land their ancestors stewarded for over 14,000 years.
In the heart of La Jolla find some of the most delicious and nurturing smoothies around. Trilogy Sanctuary is committed to 100% organic, vegan and gluten-free ingredients. You can be sure their wholesome flavors are free of refined sugars and prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail. Visit their rooftop location and settle in for a high-frequency experience when you need a little mind and body revitalization.
Where to Shop
Step into Santa Aroma for the sweetest sensory experience in Barrio Logan. The tiny shop has no shortage of delightful wellness and beauty goods to savor. Soaps, oils, bath bombs and salts are created by hand in small batches. it’s hard to find quality of this caliber with such attention to detail. Find some other perfectly curated treasures to take home during your visit. We picked up a mini potbelly chiminea to burn incense and candles at our last visit. Each chiminea is made by hand just across the border by an artist who produces just one a day. Plan ahead because the shop is only open Saturdays and Sundays.
While technically a studio, not a shop, Sea Level Skin Care has captured our hearts and totally revitalized our attitudes about beauty and self-care. Katrina Amato is the Ayurvedic practitioner out of South Oceanside behind this holistic skincare practice. She specializes in transformative techniques such as lymphatic drainage, Gua Sha and facial reflexology. Sea Level features Laurel products, made entirely of slow-farmed plants. If you’re battling 2 years of mask-ne (mask induced acne) or at the stage of life when seriously considering botox-head to Sea Level Skin Care first to naturally and organically resolve any self-image issues around your body’s largest organ-your skin.
We love a good shout out! Even from ourselves. :) Thread Spun is back to fully-stocked shelves after a tremendous holiday season! We are excited to offer you new spring apparel made ethically in California from sustainable fabrics we are unboxing daily. Come visit us at our sunny shop in Leucadia or browse our online website open 24 hours a day to see exquisite new turquoise jewelry, handmade home goods and all-new self care products. Remember that we set aside 10% of all profits to support our favorite non-profits, mutual aids and charities. Your purchases have helped us donate over $50K dollars over the last few years we’ve been in business. Thank you!
What to See
79 acres of open space atop a Mount Soledad hillside offer spectacular ocean and bay views. Named for Kate O. Sessions, known as the ‘Mother of Balboa Park’ this forward-thinking woman valued local horticulture and held the vision to keep this special land open for public enjoyment. The park is dog-friendly, has picnic benches, restrooms and a playground. Spend hours doing nothing at this beautiful southern California oasis. Thanks to Hidden San Diego for putting this destination on the map for us.
Visit Oceanside’s cute little Artist Alley during a First Fridays Art Walk to catch all the vibrancy and quirkiness of the local art scene. Colorful murals adorn the alley walls while streetside artist booths line the sidewalks and galleries pop-up inside local businesses. First Fridays are a free and fun family activity to get out of the house and join in a little community creativity. Follow along for updates on the event’s instagram page here.
Head to Point Loma on a sunny day to catch the best views of San Diego at Cabrillo National Monument. On a low tide, you can explore rocky tidepools in a protected cove. Visit the 1855 Cabrillo Lighthouses for a glimpse back in time or join this season’s whale watching sessions on Thursdays. When you buy a pass, you support open space preservation through our National Park Service. Fourth-graders can enter at no charge with the Every Kid Outdoors Annual Pass.
We are already compiling new destinations for our third Ethical Guide to San Diego so please stay tuned to our instagram page. Thread Spun loves hearing if you found a new place to love or have a recommendation for us to visit. Please pass along your input by commenting on our instagram or sending over a direct message. Happy trails ‘til next time!