Down on the bay near the convention center, Vela, at the new Hilton San Diego Bayfront, conveys serenity in a warm and contemporary room with views of the bay and the docks of the Port’s Tenth Avenue Terminal. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you just might see a Dole freighter unloading its cargo or the lights of Coronado while you dine. The bar doesn’t have the view, but on a quiet Monday, Buzz was able to enjoy a taste pour ($5) of Barth sparkling wine from Germany along with an appetizer of butternut squash tortellini in sage butter (the pasta needed a minute or two more in the water) and a rich wild mushroom risotto ($18). Vela is a place where you can have a quiet meal and watch the world go by. Best yet is their Vela Society for locals that includes complimentary valet parking while dining, seasonal discounts for large parties and much more–and membership is free.
Had a chance to try the new Hane Sushi on Fifth Avenue at Olive Street. The room exudes simplicity…some may say they wish for something more on the blank wall behind the sushi chefs with only a floral arrangement at which to gaze. Buzz loves the lack of visual candy and the contemporary design. There is a separate small bar area, and the sleek sushi bar doesn’t allow the diner to see the fish as most places do. Sushi Ota devotees may find a favorite chef or two working here as Hane’s owners are part of the Ota clan. If you’re in the mood, special sushi and sashimi dishes and a good selection of cold sakes go beyond standard fare found at other places…but don’t expect bargain prices for creativity, quality, freshness and gracious service. 2760 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, (619) 260-1411.
Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights seems to be a hit with the neighborhood, especially on a recent Sunday night. The menu reflects simple pizzas, roughly 12 inches cut into six pieces. It’s very casual; you order from a choice of 20 beers on tap in one line and pizzas in another line where you get a number so the pizza can be brought to you. Plates, napkins and utensils are in the middle of the room and it’s up to you to set your table. Pizzas are European in style with thin crusts and a lighter hand with toppings–though one with butternut squash and shitake mushrooms needed more zip. House-made sausage, chorizo and Fra Mani salami are main ingredients for three different pizzas, and vegan alternatives are available including one for pesto. Pizza prices range from $7 for marinara to $14 for the chorizo with chiles and fontina. 3416 Adams Ave., (619) 255-2491. Dinner only from 5pm, closed Monday.