Oct. 16 2012 11:33 AM

The perfect day: Snooze, Sunset Cliffs, Wine Steals, Señor Mango's, Balboa Park, Mint Shoes, Mimi & Red, Café Chloe, Red Fox Room, Whistle Stop and El Tinieblo

alex
Sunset Cliffs
Photo by Alex Zaragoza

I was sitting in my underwear drinking wine out of a coffee mug when I heard the news. The damned Mayans were right. We're all goners in a day. Immediately, the image of Linda Hamilton tearing at a chain-link fence, screaming as she burned alive from some planet-melting disaster, came to mind. Only it was my Judgment Day. No cyborg assassins would be traveling back in time to protect me or anyone else in this world. Hasta la vista, planet Earth. After the requisite freak-out, I decided it was time to enjoy my last day of living; luckily, I live in a beautiful city full of things to appreciate.

For my last breakfast, I'd go to Snooze in Hillcrest (3940 Fifth Ave.) for its amazing eggs benedict. Because all the suckers will be gathering useless bottles of water and jars of peanut butter for their bunkers, there isn't the usual two-hour wait. I'd get the Bella Bella Benny—layered Taleggio cheese, a poached egg, fresh arugula and thick balsamic glaze on open-faced ciabatta bread, all drizzled in a savory cream-cheese hollandaise. I'd top it off with Snooze's deliciously fluffy pineapple upside-down pancake. I'm going to die, and therefore am allowed to have dessert with every meal.

After that belly-fi lling breakfast, I'd take one last tour of my home city. I'd hop on my scooter and ride through Downtown, along the harbor, through Point Loma and Ocean Beach until arriving at Sunset Cliffs. I've never been that fond of the beach, but under these circumstances, it seems like a good idea to jump in the water and say goodbye. Besides, the view at the cliffs is breathtaking. This area is what San Diego is all about: beautiful beaches and the relaxation they bring.

After my dip, I'd head back to Hillcrest and stop in at Wine Steals (1243 University Ave.) to pick up some
wine. The bar is a favorite because of its yummy cheese plate, great happy hour and large, affordable wine selection. I'd grab a few bottles and head to Señor Mango's in Normal Heights (4607 30th St.) and grab a pork torta de lomo, Mexico's version of the Vietnamese bahn mi. I'd ride over to Balboa Park to gorge on both on the lawn in front of the botanical garden, the only spot in the park where getting daytime drunk is allowed. I've spent many a day there picnicking with friends amongst the beautiful buildings. I'd sprawl out and take in one of the city's most beautiful creations.

Sufficiently tipsy, I'd decide that if I'm going to meet my maker, I want to do it in style. I'd go to Mint Shoes in Hillcrest (525 University Ave.) and pick out a funky pair of platforms from the display wall covered in adorably unique shoes. To top off my look, I'd ride to Mimi & Red in North Park (3032 University Ave.) to get a dress fit for the end of times. This store has always been a favorite, thanks to its cool accessories and colorful, sexy dresses that have a bit of a mod aesthetic. I've always felt bad for people who die in their laundry-day underwear or stained sweatpants, so I'm glad I got warning of my impending doom.

Looking good, I'd go to my favorite restaurant in town, Café Chloe (721 Ninth Ave. in East Village), for a
beautiful dinner. I'd still be pretty stuffed from breakfast and lunch, but I can't go out without eating at one of San Diego's best eateries. The little French café would be dimly lit, as usual, with soft music adding to the romantic ambiance. Since the menu changes regularly, aside from a couple of mainstays, I usually go with whatever the seafood option is—it's never let me down. But the mac-and-cheese appetizer is a must. It's life-changing, and this is a life-ending day.

Adequately food drunk, I'd feel loose enough to sing some jazz at the Red Fox Room at the historic Lafayette Hotel (2223 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park). Stepping inside the hotel bar is like going back in time. That might be due to the fact that many of the wood pieces that make up the room, including the large fireplace, are from 1642. A piano player tickles the ivories every evening, accompanied by a rotating
lineup of wind players. They add the jazzy "waa waa" sound to a clarinet with a mute, which contributes to the cabaret feel of the place. I'd order a Brandy Alexander and give them my song request. The mood of the place lends itself perfectly to the ultimate Liza impersonation. The crowd will go wild.

Amped up from my performance, I'd head to Whistle Stop Bar in South Park (2236 Fern St.) for a '60s dance party featuring The Amandas, a cover band fronted by a fiery redhead who commands you to shake your ass. It's like going to the secret party barn in Dirty Dancing, only the dancers here are a little less professionally trained, evident in their awkward moves. That's OK; they're too busy sweating and having a good time. The city's coolest soul DJs are on the 1's and 2's in between sets, playing the best of Motown, classic R&B, mod and soul. This is a place to let loose, have fun and tip your hat to rock 'n' roll history.

No last day on Earth would be complete without traveling to the magical place that ignites excitement and fear in many: Tijuana. Street tacos are exactly what I want in my stomach as my final meal. I'd head to El Tinieblo (Calle Sexta 8320 in Zona Centro) to swivel my hips to loud cumbia music in the velvet-draped bar. I'd drink some of the signature martinis and wait for the final blast. Until then, I'll continue to have a blast. So long, cool world.

Write to alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also bug her on Twitter.

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