A waypoint is a reference for navigation, a term commonly associated with a GPS landing spot or an item of interest. It's also part of a clever name for a new restaurant, a cleverness only slightly deflated by my inability to find it by name on Google Maps on the media-preview night. That's not irony, but it's amusingly close.
Waypoint Public (3794 30th St.) has emerged from the ashes of The Linkery (there are some who say the grounds are haunted by the tortured ghosts of displaced sausages) as North Park's newest bistro and beer bar. It's a welcoming space, at least as welcoming as a restaurant can be with decorative meat cleavers on the wall. Fear not, though, as the unusual decor is just an extension of Waypoint's eclectic vibe.
Surveying the menu is like attending an upscale potluck, where all the neighbors trot out their personal specialties (even the Johnsons, who usually just dump an Entenmann's crumb cake on a platter as if we wouldn't notice). Everything looks intriguing, and even dishes you've had before seem unfamiliar on closer examination. However, all those disparate offerings are unified by the boundless magic of beer pairings.
The pairings cite brew styles rather than brands, putting the onus on servers to not only understand the characteristics of those styles, but also be aware of the nuances of current beer offerings that populate them. That's no small feat when they're contending with something like the Waypoint burger, a beef burger stacked with mozzarella, pulled pork, tomatillo salsa, spicy pickled vegetables and a fried egg. However, one Waypoint burger and Gigantic IPA later, I found my faith was well-placed.
(As an aside, should you order that burger, be sure to get it with a side of fries. They're fantastic in their own right, and, more importantly, they can be lashed together to form a rudimentary life raft to protect the bottom of the bun from the copious drippings this sandwich generates. This is not a burger designed to leave your dignity intact as you mow through it.)
The beer menu is likewise a grab-bag of craft-brew selections, offering everything from kristalweizens to milk stouts. The 30 taps, including two nitro lines, have a gravitation toward San Diego brewers, but I saw as many hoppy beers represented from out of town as local ones. They may not have your favorite San Diego IPA, but given the quality of the selections, it seems they'll always have something just as good from elsewhere. If nothing immediately inspires your passion, they proved to be generous and speedy with sample tastes.
Trying to be everything to everyone is usually associated with satisfying none, but it's a big part of Waypoint's soul. It's both artisanal dining and a casual, family-friendly restaurant (courtesy of a kids menu and a play area tucked in the corner). The menu confidently assembles everything from duck, leek and date terrines to po' boy tacos. The restaurant is a cramped, boomy bar at its nucleus and open-air dining along the periphery. And how do they pull it all together? I'm not sure. Voodoo, probably. But they do.