Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Great Food
Written By: Jennifer Lee
Photographed By: Josie Gonzales Liberty Station
One of my favorite places in San Diego to spend time at is Liberty Station. It is full of historical significance as well as shops, restaurants, galleries, and a public market. It’s one of the “must visit” spots I always recommend and bring visitors to.
As a food blogger who has lived in San Diego for more than a decade, I spend quite a lot of time at Liberty Station, whether it be to check out the latest restaurant opening, buy ingredients for a recipe I’m developing, or spend a quiet afternoon relaxing, people watching, and taking in the beautiful view.
Liberty Station used to be the home of the Naval Training Center (NTC) for San Diego. When the Navy closed the NTC in 1997, Liberty Station gradually began to transform to what it is today: a mix of preservation of history as well as a destination for dining, shopping and entertaining.
Mess Hall is located inside Liberty Public Market, and the name is a nod to the former mess hall for NTC. I love wandering the halls of Liberty Public Market, San Diego’s own public market (think Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco), which is filled with permanent local artisan stalls.
The spacious dining hall is divided into three casual, counter-service concepts. The Mess Hall Bar features a seasonally-driven and market-sourced menu. Pi Bar specializes in pizza pies, pop pies, and hand pies. Grape Smuggler is a wine bar serving wine and tapas.
Solare is a family owned and operated Italian restaurant featuring authentic Southern Italian cuisine. On a nice day, I like to dine on the patio. It’s the perfect spot to people watch, and it was also one of the locations for the filming of the movie Top Gun (though it wasn’t Solare yet back then). The dining room offers a more intimate experience, and for a special occasion, you can even reserve to dine in the wine room, surrounded by bottles of Italian wine. One of my favorite things to eat is the Gnocchi all’Arrabiata Rivisitata. The entrée includes pillowy soft morsels of house-made gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese and fresh basil.
I spent half my childhood on the East Coast, so one of the first things I did when I got to San Diego was try to find the best lobster roll the city has to offer. Hands down, Wicked Maine Lobster serves my favorite lobster roll in San Diego. The restaurant is owned and operated by two brothers from Maine, and they offer both Maine-style (chilled lobster mixed with mayonnaise) and Connecticut-style (warm lobster mixed with hot butter) lobster rolls. Both are delicious though I’m partial to the Maine-style I grew up with. The lobster rolls are served on toasted New England style rolls and filled to the top with sweet lobster meat from Maine.
Moniker General is where I go when I need to get some work done or meet someone for coffee. The space is both a craft coffee bar and a home goods store. It’s very spacious, with plenty of tables, chairs, and couches for relaxing. I am an avid coffee drinker, and I especially seek out places that make nice latte art. Moniker General serves wonderful coffee and delivers on the latte art as well. I don’t care how many photos I’ve shared; I never get sick of taking pictures of my lattes for Instagram!
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Stone Brewing is where my beer-loving friends always request to go to when they visit me. It’s one of the largest craft brewers in the country and this second restaurant location is huge, with 23,500 square feet of dining space (both indoor and outdoor) and an 11,315 square foot garden.
There are always about 40 beers on tap to choose from. If you’re looking for something special, check out their seasonal releases. The Stone Pataskala Red X IPA was released in mid-February and is a very dry-hopped take on a red ale.
Soda & Swine is a playful restaurant that specializes in meatballs. The atmosphere of the restaurant is very fun, and the dining space even has a 20-foot long foosball table. While the meatballs are always tasty, one of my favorite bites is the pork belly slider. Sandwiched between their slider bun is a thick cut of pork belly, paired with pickled shallots, cucumber slices, and hoisin sauce. It’s a spin on Asian-style pork belly buns and reminds me of my childhood.
I have been following Stuffed! since they were a gourmet food truck roaming the streets of San Diego, so I was thrilled when they opened a permanent storefront inside Liberty Public Market. As the name suggests, their decadent burgers are absolutely stuffed with ingredients. If you’re feeling ravenous, The Bacon Mac n’ Cheese Burger is the way to go. It’s packed to the max with a grass-fed beef patty, thick strips of bacon, and a generous amount of creamy macaroni and cheese. It’s also very Instagram-worthy!
Like many San Diegans, I love to eat brunch on the weekends. There are so many amazing brunch spots in San Diego, but my favorite is Breakfast Republic. The menu features many fun spins on brunch classics, along with cocktails, beers and coffee drinks. Whenever I eat here, I have to order the Pancake Flight. If you’re dining with a group, it’s perfect for the table to share. (Though I still order it even if it’s just me!). You get to mix and match any three of their specialty pancakes, such as cinnamon roll pancake, Oreo cookie pancake, churro pancake, plus seasonal choices too!
Nine styles of yoga offered, including Acro Yoga.
Seven types of group fitness classes including cycling, bootcamp, circuit.
Register online to receive a complimentary guest pass.
Towel service, saunas, massages, showers and executive lockers for members.
Personal trainers to help you meet your fitness goals.
Expected to be completed in 2019.
$20+ million project.
80-room hotel restoring former Navy barracks.
Collaboration between McMillin and Untitled Hospitality.
A unique opportunity for guests to stay where sailors used to live.
A luxury cinema for dining and watching movies.
The theater features reclining leather seats.
It occupies the former LUCE Auditorium, a place for entertainment for the NTC.
Dine at the whole glass-enclosed café open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Order from the theater menu while inside the movie theater to enjoy food while you watch your movie.
2640 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Where to Stuff Your Face at Liberty Station
Josie Gonzales studied Art History and Photography at University of San Diego. She works as a freelance photographer covering fashion shows, theatre, weddings and other events.