Diego all the way

San Diego’s Hillcrest gayborhood gives off major charm and hot charisma

Tenille Taggert and  Josh San Julian Contributing Travel Writers | gaytravel.com

Hilcrest
HARD TO MISS | Hillcrest is home to a bustling LGBT community in San Diego.

Homo is where the heart is, and for San Diego’s gay and lesbian community that means Hillcrest. Spanning less than a mile’s walking distance, this easygoing neighborhood makes a perfect triangle appropriately enough. Three points and one magical means of transportation will get visitors from point A to B, and then C. Genius? We say yes. This is dubbed San Diego’s Gay Triangle, and unlike the Bermuda Triangle, you will not get lost.

Urban Mo’s, a well-known gay restaurant and bar in San Diego, offers rides on their Mo’s-Mobile to their sister locations Baja Betty’s and Gossip Grill. This comes in handy for extra exploring of the neighborhood. The Mo’s-Mobile is an open-air golf cart capable of seating six and ideal for some major bar hopping. Travelers will be in luck to get Nino as a driver. He plays classic Madonna via his iPod as the cart cruises down the avenues.

Adventures should be started at Urban Mo’s mostly for the frozen black lemonade — basically a Slurpee with booze.  Happy hour can’t come soon enough, and Baja Betty’s has figured that out. They have created the “Papi Hour” where 2 p.m. is the new 4 p.m. Affordable drinks and nibbles this early in the afternoon and the kind of deal that will assure Hillcrest newbies and visitors they will never go hungry or sober again. Betty’s is famous for their margaritas, welcoming atmosphere and cheese queso dip that has earned the not-so-attractive nickname “cheese crack” because it’s just as addictive. Just don’t smoke it.

The newest addition to Hillcrest is the Gossip Grill. This lesbian hot spot is gender friendly, but the ladies have called it home. For the obligatory cup of coffee outside, Filter Coffee House is  a must. Aside from shooting up espresso beans, a cup of joe from Filter turns out to be just as invigorating and potent and the best part — it’s open 24 hours a day every day of the year. Geared with free WI-FI and European-style seating outdoors, any homework assignment or break-up coffee date can be vanquished here.

If the dance floor is beckoning, make your way to Rich’s, the gay dance club of Hillcrest. DJs make love to their turntables, which is a good thing. The spot has an outdoor dance floor, beer garden and VIP booths. Thursdays at Rich’s is Repent night which translates into ladies night. Bacchus House caters mostly to the Latino crowd with Bear Night every Saturday. For a simple speakeasy environment, cruise the gents at Pecs bar, which was named one of the top 50 gay bars in the U.S. by Logo. Bourbon Street offers many options for men and women with club nights, live music and even dining options.

Much more than cereal at the Lei Lounge is on tap for Sunday brunch where the menu  includes petit filet mignon and eggs, stuffed French toast, an omelet bar and smoked salmon quesadillas to name a few. Also on hand will be an assortment of recovering gays from heavy weekend activities.

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LITTLE BLACK BOOK

NIGHTLIFE
Rich’s San Diego, 1051 University Ave. RichsSanDiego.com. Bourbon Street, 4612 Park Blvd. BourbonStreetSD.com. Pecs Bar, 2046 University Ave. PecsBar.com. Bacchus House, 3054 University Ave. BacchusHouse.com.

DINING
Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill, 308 University Ave.
UrbanMos.com. Baja Betty’s, 1421 University Ave. BajaBettysD.com. The Gossip Grill, 1440 University Ave. TheGossipGrill.com. Filter Coffee House, pictured, 4096 30th St. MySpace.com/FilterCoffeeHouse. Lei Lounge, 4622 Park Blvd. LeiLounge.com.

RESOURCES
San Diego Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide, SanDiego.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Aspiring queer journalist Daniel Villarreal of Dallas vies to become America’s next Gay Travel Guru

Aspiring Dallas homo-journo Daniel Villarreal is competing for his dream job as GayTravel.com‘s Gay Travel Guru, and he needs your help by July 30. We’re going to overlook the fact that Villarreal writes for Queerty.com and focus on the fact that he’s a native Texan with a lot of experience who probably deserves this opportunity. Villarreal is among 60 contestants who’ve advanced to Round 2 of the competition, and the field will be narrowed to eight next month based on this public vote. It looks like Villarreal is currently at No. 3 with 755 points, so he’s definitely viable. Above is a video about Grapevine Bar that Villarreal produced for the competition (you can watch one about Lower Greenville by going here), and below is the flier he’s been circulating in the gayborhood, which includes instructions for voting. Here’s the note Villarreal sent us on Monday:

My name is Daniel Villarreal and I’m an aspiring queer journalist and regular contributor to the LGBT blog Queerty.com. I’d like you to vote for me so I can become GayTravel.com’s travel reporter. Your support would go a long way towards helping me highlight the diversity of national LGBT culture and assisting in my continued aims of being a serious queer journalist.

A) I’m mega-qualified: I have 17 years experience in print journalism, an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, a handful of web-based comedy sketches, a vast growing social network, a love of people, and extensive travel experience around the US, Japan, India, and Europe. All of these enable me to deliver travel coverage that’s fun, insightful, and entertaining.

B) I’ll represent everyone: In my work with Queerty.com, I have always tried to give a voice to under-represented parts of the LGBT community including local activists, artists, women, trans folk, people of color, the elderly, the poor, and HIV-positive people. As a travel writer, I would give coverage not only to popular LGBT destinations but to worthwhile local venues and events welcoming of our entire community.

C) I’m a good long-term investment: This vote isn’t just about the travel job. Working with GayTravel.com would also provide me the exposure and training I need to continue developing into an asset to the national LGBT community as a serious queer reporter.

—  John Wright