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San Carlos/Del Cerro (SD)

DiningDiva Sep 21, 2008 01:55 PM

Neither San Carlos nor Del Cerro are much of dining destination. In fact, we locals have been known to travel far and wide in search of edible eats 'cuz the pickin's are pretty slim. And while there are still not that many desirable options, the times they are a-changin' (sorry Mr. D).

The Del Cerro liquor store changed ownership about 3 months ago. The new owner, a trio of up and coming youngsters with loads of energy, gutted the old place and are in the process of opening a new wine store and bar that will eventually have multiple dining spaces. They raised the roof and are building a dining space overlooking the store below. The old deli will continue to function as such for a while longer but will eventually become the wine tasting area with the usual nibbles that accompany wine tasting. There are also plans to push out to the front area and create some patio dining. I've been in twice now watching the progress. Love the feel that's developing in the store and like the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone I've spoken to so far. They are keeping one wall filled with liquor, but the rest of the store has been turned over to wine and craft beer. 10,000 bottles of wine at their last count. Del Cerro liquor is located next to Windmill Farms on Del Cerro Blvd. 1 block northeast of the I-8/College exit. Right now they've got a hot air balloon on top of the store, so it's pretty easy to spot.

San Carlos and Del Cerro are so under served even Starbucks passed them by (and Allied Gardens, too!). That's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, just indicative of the lack of mainstream services. Also open about 3 months is Cowles Mountain Coffee in San Carlos. It's located at the intersection of Golfcrest and Navajo Rd. literally right across the street from the parking lot for the trail head up Cowles Mountain and a stones throw from the Mission Trails Regional golf course. They offer the usual coffee drinks, Stash teas and a cooler full of assorted soft drinks, waters, alternative beverages and energy drinks. They're using an imported Italian coffee (LaVazza) for their espresso and espresso based drinks and as one of their house coffees. I tried the Italian house and liked it quite a bit. It was medium bodied and robust with a pretty smooth finish, totally devoid of the over-roasted, bitterness of some coffees. They're also using coffee from a roaster out in El Cajon whose name I did not recognize and can't now remember. There is a small selection of muffins and energy bars and a couple of very pleasant and comfortable shaded tables at which to sit and relax. On weekends there is often some low key entertainment. This morning it was a jazz saxophonist playing some Joabim and other jazz standards out of the 50s and 60s. On Oct. 11th they're sponsoring a local art and crafts show on site. If you're headed up the mountain, or just coming down, Cowles Mountain Coffee is a nice little place to stop and have a beverage.

We've got better coffee and wine options now, hopefully the really good food won't be too far behind.

  1. j
    JRSD Sep 26, 2008 01:35 PM

    Is CMC in the shopping center with the Doughnut place and El Cojita or is it on the other side of Navajo? I was driving by there today and didn't see it, but didn't have time to stop either.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JRSD
      DiningDiva Sep 26, 2008 03:37 PM

      Other side of Navajo. Look for the brown building with the "NICO INSURANCE" sign on the front. The owners got permission from the property management company for the building to do the build-out in an unused space that's kind of tucked away off the parking lot for that building. Entrance is on Golfcrest. They've got a sandwich-board type sign in the median of Golfcrest and a bunch of those triangular palstic flag banners tied to the trees. It's directly across Golfcrest from the parking lot for Cowles Mountain. Owners are really nice, I hope they make it in that location.

      1. re: DiningDiva
        j
        JRSD Sep 26, 2008 04:35 PM

        I will give it a try this weekend. I like Jitters, but it will be nice not to have to go to La Mesa for a cup.

        BTW - San Carlos does have a starbucks in the shopping center on Navajo with the Fresh and Easy and LA Fitness. Not that it is worth getting coffee at, but at least we can feel like part of the rest of the world... (ha ha)

        1. re: JRSD
          DiningDiva Sep 26, 2008 04:37 PM

          Yeah, I know where the Starbucks is but that's barely San Carlos; it's about 10 feet from being in La Mesa or El Cajon ;-)

    2. thirtyeyes Aug 27, 2009 01:31 AM

      In the spirit of keeping a San Carlos thread alive...has anyone tried McCarter's? A new place and perhaps the only Sports Bar in the area. It's by Navaho and Lake Murray.

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