By Erin Goss | SDUN Reporter
With each year that passes, people celebrate old Father Time being reborn as a fresh-faced New Year’s baby. It’s a time for new beginnings, letting go of the past and, of course, lots of celebratingand revelry! What better place is there to welcome the dawn of 2011 than right here in your own community? Whether it’s popping some bubbly in Hillcrest, fine dining in Banker’s Hill or bar hopping in North Park, Uptown News has 10 suggestions to help you ring in the New Year.
1. For the soul foodie
Lucky for us famed local chef Matt Gordon is ringing in the New Year in
the kitchen. His North Park restaurant Urban Solace will host a lavish,
four-course meal with dishes such as smoked jidori chicken, farro bisque and
maple leaf duck breast. The evening will be comprised of three seatings, live
music, a midnight countdown and, of course, a celebratory champagne toast.
This is your final night before those healthy New Year’s resolutions kick
in—make the most of it.
Cost: First two seatings $50 per person, final seating $55. Reservations
Where: 3823 30th St., North Park
Contact: (619) 295-6464, urbansolace.net
2. For the fine dining aficionado
For many of us, topping off the year means dining in style. And what better way to do that than at The Prado. Known as one of San Diego’s finest restaurants, nestled in the verdant grounds of Balboa Park, New Year’s Eve at The Prado is sure to please both the historian and the epicurean. With courses including lobster bisque and pan-seared monkfish crowned by a champagne toast, this may be one of the classiest affairs in San Diego. So raise your champagne flute and welcome 2011 in style.
Cost: $59.95 per person
Where: 1549 El Prado, Balboa Park
Contact: (619) 557-9441, ext.1, cohnrestaurants.com/restaurants/theprado
3. For the Hillcrestian
The management at R-Gang Eatery, whose mantra is “Food and Fun, Refueled,” is doing something special this year. Their New Year’s Eve four-course pre-fixe dinner will include “special” New Year’s Eve tater tots. Chef Rich Sweeney, who rose to fame on season five of the hit TV show “Top Chef,” won’t reveal exactly what’s inside these mystery taters, but he did said they have something to do with New Year’s and good fortune.
The evening will feature slightly higher-end fare than usually found on R-Gang’s menu. Diners can look forward to dishes such as roasted waygu beef tri tip, sautéed sweet potato and ricotta puffs and house-made chocolate whoopee pies (for those who can manage to save room for dessert).
Cost: $60 per person or $85 per person
with wine pairing; champagne toast with final seating.
Where: 3683 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest
Contact: (619) 677-2845 reservations
required. Seatings at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., rgangeatery.com
4. For the club kid
“Our New Year’s parties are always crazy!” said manager Nicole Novak of U-31’s “White Riot” New Year’s Eve parties. “They fill up early and our crowd is notorious for having a wild good time.” This year, U-31’s cocktail lounge will include sets by DJs Ayla Simone, Havoc and Richie the Kid.
“We’re excited to have Ayla headline this year, she’s a local favorite and a master dance floor filler,” Novak said.
The event promises not to disappoint fans of house, club or hip-hop. San Diego R&B rapper Dayne Alexander will host the hoppin’ countdown. And for those planning their outfits ahead of time (who isn’t?) go white and you’ll get to roll in as a VIP with no cover before 10:30 p.m.
Cost: Cover $5 from 9-10:30 p.m., $10 after
Where: 3112 University Ave., North Park
Contact: (619) 584-4188
When: DJs start at 6 p.m.
5. For the early bird
Blind Lady Ale house
This year, patrons of Blind Lady Ale house can ring in the New Year Belgium-style—celebrating the event the same time Belgians do. Sounds like the perfect excuse to get the party started before sunset.
“If you have a family and want to celebrate New Year’s but don’t want the kids staying up till midnight … this is a great way to get your night started (early),” Blind Lady Co-owner Jeff Motch said.
Adults can expect to enjoy a vast selection of Belgium beers while kids can dig into Belgium frites or a special selection of traditional Belgium desserts. And if that’s not enough incentive to start early, the owners will be offering the first 100 drinkers the opportunity to keep their Belgian pint glasses. Cheers to that!
Cost: Varies based on drink
Where: 3416 Adams Ave., Normal Heights
Contact: (619) 255-2491, blindladyalehouse.com
When: Doors open 11:30 a.m., Belgian New Year’s toast 3 p.m.
6. For the budget-minded
The Whistle Stop Bar
The neighborhood bar that brings you Booty Basement dance-fever every Saturday night appears to be no less hardcore in its approach to New Year’s Eve. Proclaiming that “other places gouge you, but the Whistle loves you,” its management aims to be kind to your wallet with cheap drinks and a $5 cover. In addition, DJ Lethal Ethan and to-be-announced guests will be hosting an array of house sets in hopes of working the dance floor even more than usual. So forget the uncomfortable cocktail dress and expensive cab ride downtown. Just bring your dancing shoes.
Cost: $5 cover
Where: 2236 Fern St., South Park
Contact: (619) 284-6784, whistlestopbar.com
7. For the rocker looking to get punked
Bar Eleven, (owned by Scot Blair and Dennis Borlek of Hamilton’s Tavern and Small Bar), is a self-proclaimed “neighborhood rock ‘n’ roll joint.” Naturally, it has planned a rocking New Year’s bash. Visitors and longtime music fans will have another reason to rejoice, as the evening will peak with a set from West Coast punk pioneers The Zeros, who recently reunited.
It may have been a few years since their first go-round, but Bar Eleven manager Louis Mello said the years have been extremely kind to the band’s sound.
“Their songs still retain their wide-eyed teenage feel, and they still play with the ferocity of teen angst,” he said. “Now, they just play with a much greater skill level.”
Several local buzz bands, such as Gunrunner, The Dabbers and New Mexico will join The Zeros, providing live music lovers a long night of punk and rock.
Cost: $15 cover
Where: 3519 El Cajon Blvd., Normal Heights
Contact: (619) 450-4292
8. For those looking to ‘dive’ into 2011
The Kensington Club
The Kensington Club is a low-key little dive that has been serving cocktails to patrons since 1935. As a music scene, The Ken Club or Ken, as it is known to locals, features a wide range of sounds on any given evening, from Latin reggae to punk rock. The Ken Club also includes a jukebox, a full bar and pool tables in the back—all the key facets of a dive bar.
On New Year’s Eve, The Ken Club will feature the local band, Tiltwheel, along with Sam I Am and The Situation. There will be a party favor giveaway and champagne toast at midnight.
Cost: $14 to $15 cover
Where: 4075 Adams Ave., Kensington
Contact: (619) 284-2848
9. For the wannabe songbird
The Lamplighter is Mission Hills’ oldest karaoke bar. Well, it may just be its only karaoke bar. The waiting list usually fills up quickly so sign up ahead of time if you’re looking to test your vocal cords. This is a cash-only establishment, but the bar provides an ATM machine. New Year’s crooning
will be accompanied by hats, noisemakers and a champagne toast.
Cost: No cover, $ 4 well drinks, $3 domestic drinks
Where: 817 W Washington St., Mission Hills
Contact: (619) 298-7372
10. For the tribute band geek
The Ruby Room
The Ruby Room offers a variety of activities from drinking to gaming and themed karaoke. Formerly known as the San Diego Sports Club, this longtime, community-based venue features live music and DJs, offering a laidback atmosphere that often combines culture, art and fashion all in one night.
For New Year’s, Ziggy Shuffle Dust will perform David Bowie songs, while The Spyders from Mars will tackle Beastie Boys tunes. For old school hipsters, Geezer, a Weezer tribute band, will be sure to “destroy your sweater,” as they perform favorite Weezer hits in old fogy attire. Don’t miss the free champagne toast and party favors at midnight.
Cost: $20 cover with all you can drink wells from 9 to 11 p.m.
Where: 1271 University Ave., Hillcrest
Contact: (619) 299-7372, rubyroomsd.com