If there's one thing I know about dads, it's that they like to smoke things. Oh, wait, that came out wrong. But you know what I mean. Appliance Alley (1691 Hancock St. in Midtown, www.appliancealley.com), the one with the commercials featuring Sam the Cooking Guy, has the coolest smoker ever: The Big Green Egg. The design comes from that of a kamado, an ancient clay cooker, but I think it has a very 1970s feel, like something my Malibu Ken doll would have had as a beach RV accessory. I love it for its weird egg shape, but the second-coolest smoker / barbecue is probably the pink, pig-shaped one by Traeger that can be special-ordered at Iowa Meat Farms (6041 Mission Gorge Road in Mission Valley, iowameatfarms.com). And, of course, since you're already at one of the best butcher shops in San Diego, you can pick up some serious steaks to go with that smoker.
If you're looking for something more affordable on the barbecue tip, head over to Great News! (1788 Garnet Ave. in Pacific Beach, great-news.com). The store has finishing salts in flavors like truffle and serrano chili. Or, encourage Dad to go green by picking him up a Maverick solar-powered barbecue light that clips to the hood of the grill.
Make Dad feel young again with a cycle from his teen years. Adams Avenue Bikes (2606 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights, aabikes.net) has all the reproduction oldies, like the Bianchi Pista and Imola—and the item that tops my husband's Father's Day wish list, the Raleigh Record Ace. For the real (old) deal, hit Velo Cult (2220 Fern St. in South Park, velocult.com). Velo spruces up the genuine article—vintage steel frame bikes—and makes 'em new again. Both stores have smaller-ticket items, too, like Brooks saddles, messenger bags and classic wool jerseys.
Maybe biking isn't Dad's sport of choice. How about a little squash? When I was a kid, all the suave dads played squash. You can get Dad a membership to the San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club (4848 Tecolote Road in Linda Vista, sdtrc.com). It's got racquetball, a 25-meter pool, saunas, weight rooms, courts galore, a lighted running track and, perhaps most importantly, a cocktail lounge!
And if Dad doesn't care so much for the tennis or the racquet part but loves the idea of the bar, bring the bar to him. Perhaps I'm being cliché, but, generally, Dads do enjoy beer, and we live in a super beer town. To my mind, you can go two ways: Pick him up a growler at a local brewery or hit a great bottle shop and make your own gift box. (A growler is a 64-ounce bottle—a portable pitcher if you will—that a brewery fills, and refills for a cheaper price, with their house-made brews.) For this, I suggest trekking out to Alpine Beer Company (2351 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine, alpinebeerco.com) or heading to Linda Vista to the Ballast Point outpost, aka Home Brew Mart (5401 Linda Vista Road, Suite 406, homebrewmart.com), which also stocks home-brew equipment—another brilliant Father's Day gift idea.
To create your own bottled gift pack, skip Bev Mo— there are a number of small stores to visit: K& B Cellars (6380 Del Cerro Blvd. in Del Cerro, knbwine cellars.com) and the perhaps-even-better local grocery store next door, Windmill Farms (6386 Del Cerro Blvd., windmillfarms.net); South Bay Drugs in Imperial Beach (779 Palm Ave., 619-424-5559); Jr. Market (1036 Seventh Ave., Downtown, bestdamnbeershop.com); or the Port Brewing Bottle Shop (571 Carlsbad Village Drive, pizzaport.com/BottleShop.htm), located next door to Pizza Port in Carlsbad. All have terrific selections and specialized help. You can really personalize it now: make a San Diego-only gift pack or theme it around his favorite style of beer or even a region. (Is Dad of German descent? Go all Deutsch beers.) Hmm, reading back through this list, I realize I think dads are all about smoking and drinking. Sorry, dads. But—am I really that wrong? CB