Ah, La Jolla. It's the closest thing San Diego has to Beverly Hills, with its A-list boutiques, gourmet cuisine and exclusive hotels. What you might not know is that despite the overwhelming sense of wealth and snobbery associated with such high-end living, there are enough little gems in La Jolla to please even the most tightfisted fun seeker. In an effort to shake La Jolla's stigma of exclusivity (or reinforce it-I get paid either way), here is a list highlighting a few of La Jolla's more egalitarian cultural hot spots.
Wahoo's Fish Tacos (637 Pearl St.)-Yeah, it's trendy, and yeah, it's full of high-schoolers, but Wahoo's wraps up a mean burrito. The place is wall-to-wall surf and skate stickers and you usually have to order your food from some high school sophomore working on dropping his other testicle, but I'll be damned if it doesn't always hit the spot (the burrito, not the testicle). My personal recommendation is the Bonzai Burrito with chicken. If this place had been anywhere near Ridgemont High, you can bet Spicoli would have been scarfing down one of these in Mr. Hand's class while trying to learn about Cuba.
Darlington House (7441 Olivetas Ave.)-People need to learn about their local history, dammit! The Darlington House is a great place to start. This Mediterranean-style house was built in 1925 by Mrs. Sibyl H. Darlington. Over the years, three different architects added their own splashes of style and nuance to the house until it was bought by the Social Service League of La Jolla in 1968. Boasting touches of Spanish, Moorish, Egyptian and Moroccan influence, the house and adjoining courtyard are breathtaking pieces of San Diego history. Call 858-454-7625 to schedule a tour and get the skinny on this La Jolla landmark, and if you feel so inclined, the Darlington House is available for weddings, anniversaries and all sorts of other hoity-toity events. So go check it out and learn some history, yo!
John Cole's Book Shop (780 Prospect St.)-You can keep your Waldenbooks and your Barnes & Noble-this is what a bookstore is supposed to be. Located right next to the Museum of Contemporary Art, John Cole's is a quirky, quaint collection of literature for the bibliophile in all of us. Since 1966, the cottage-cum-bookstore has offered a satisfying collection of everything from travel to cooking to local flavors (the "Bishop's School Cookbook" and a biography of local horticulturist Kate Sessions, to name a few). The real gem of John Cole's is the children's section, brimming with Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter and Laura Ingalls Wilder, all waiting to be read over and over by yet another generation of burgeoning readers. What John Cole's may lack in selection and organization, it more than makes up for with its unique seaside charm. It's a labyrinth of tomes waiting to be explored.
Ferrari & Maserati of San Diego (7477 Girard Ave.)-I don't know about you, but sometimes I just need to get away from it all. When I get bit by the road-trip bug, there's nothing I like to do more than cruise up the coast in a $250,000 automobile. Luckily, Ferrari & Maserati of San Diego is there to take care of my insatiable thirst for speed and style. Whether you've got your eyes on a Ferrari 575M F1 or a Maserati Coupe Cambiocorsa, or if you want a car that pretty much undresses the girl for you, this is the spot. Seriously though, there are some damn cool cars to check out here if you have an hour to kill or just want to find out what a car is supposed to smell like-that slice of pizza under your gym socks in the back seat or your hatchback doesn't exactly scream "luxury."
Michael's Lounge at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla (3777 La Jolla Village Drive)-Hotel lounges are severely underrated on the quality-drinking-establishments scale. They're usually immaculately kept up, and the riffraff normally associated with a night on the town is noticeably absent. Michael's has everything for the future or seasoned alcoholic-pool tables, reasonable beer selection, a fine menu of munchies and lots of comfy chairs and couches to squeeze that expanding backside into. Being that this is a higher-class establishment (though the suggested attire is casual), they even have their own humidor and a smoking patio. So kick up your heels, light up that stogie with a flaming $100 bill, sip on some cognac and live the sweet life for a change. You've earned it, big guy.
Mt. Soledad-Despite the spectacular political turmoil involving the big ol' cross on said hill (more than enough ink has been spilled on this subject), Mt. Soledad has the best view in San Diego. If you're part of the 0.03 percent of the local population that hasn't gone to the top and looked down on the rest of the city with eyes agape, drop this newspaper right now and drive up there. On a good day, you can see all the way up to Carlsbad and all the way down to Tijuana. On a bad day, it's still the best place in town to get high-I mean altitude, you freakin' stoners.
MOS--My Own Space (7840 Girard Ave.)-This shop's only been open for about four months, but I'm betting it's gonna be huge. MOP is like Ikea for people with taste. Modular furniture and furniture-like pieces take up most of the store, but the real good stuff is the accessories. All sorts of cutesy little knickknacks, like magnetic bulletin boards and "The Book of Chess" chess sets, line the angular shelves that pepper the store's minimalist décor. The best pieces in the store are the plastic furniture by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio. He designed the ultra-cool Ball Chair that looks like half an eggshell with a cushion in it. For all you children of the '70s, you know what I'm talking about. Don't forget to pick up a set of Slang Flashcards so you can quiz yourself and your buddies on the finer points of getting "Crunk" and "Keeping it Real."
Other cool spots worthy of mention
The Shack (6941 La Jolla Blvd.)-Great little bar and grill right between Pacific Beach and La Jolla with all the beers and lots of good grub.
The Children's Pool (Coast Boulevard and Jenner Street)-There's a whole ocean out there to swim in, so just get over it. The seals have landed and since that makes the score Mother Nature 1, Humans 7 billion, let's just chalk this one up as a loss. Go look at the cute little seals. They'll make your kids smile way more than getting sea water up their nose.
San Diego Mormon Temple (7474 Charmant Drive)-No matter what your religious affiliation, this is an interesting building. Forget the fact that it's a Gothic building with Classical coloring. It's an attention grabber and that's why it makes the list. Don't ask me what it looks like inside.
Porter's Pub (UCSD campus)-Do you like beer? Do you like UCSD students? Well, even if you just like beer, this is a fun little hangout that has some kick-ass bands every now and again.
Museum of Contemporary Art-La Jolla (700 Prospect St.)-Only $6 to get in and see some modern art. Oh, and there's a really long yellow water hose in the back, but don't roll it up-it's art. Yeah, I know.
Girard Gourmet (7837 Girard Ave.)-Croissants, cookies, muffins, sandwiches, soups, etc. Good food, plain and simple.