Monday, July 25, 2011

My Little Black Book {in San Diego}

Having lived here for a good long while, I've had a pretty good chance to suss out the places I like to go to get things done.  Some of these people have become friends by now, but none of them have paid me to plug them - nor would I do so if I didn't sincerely believe in their services! This is just my way of sharing my insider information, such as it is, in the hope that both you and they can benefit.  :)
  1. Shoe Repair - Leather Magic in Point Loma - Hugo and his wife Ana do fantastic quality work for a great price.  In fact, he was recently listed in Town & Country magazine as one of the top cobblers in the world.  I took him a Hermes Kelly bag that I'd had worked on by the official Hermes repair person, and he did a better job.  True story.  
  2. Florals - Carlos at Green Fresh Florals has a gorgeous shop in Hillcrest, I can buy armloads of flowers there for no more (and sometimes even less) than they cost at Whole Foods.  Also can't quibble with Adelaides in La Jolla - it's where I get my mom's Mother's Day flowers every year.  Occasionally I will also stop by Che Bella, but I don't think it's been the same since they moved.  
  3. Dry Cleaner/Repairs - I go to the Hangers Dry Cleaner in Fenton Plaza (the Ikea shopping center) in Mission Valley.  They use a non-toxic cleaning process (no perchloroethylene) and it's worth the little extra money to me to avoid the poisons.  I think their cleaning process is harder on some silk fabrics than the traditional method, but they've never lost my stuff and they give me a 10% loyal customer discount.  They're also pretty good at getting stains out, and they have a seamstress on site for repairs.  
  4. Alterations/Seamstress - For more substantial alterations, I like Charlie's Alterations on Adams Avenue.  They can also replicate clothing items if you take them the fabric and the item.  
  5. Personal Trainer - For the last year and a half, James and I have been going to Fitness Zone, a personal training studio in Kearny Mesa a couple of times a week. James has lost almost 100 pounds in that time, and I've lost around 20.  I'm in a lot better shape though.  Rob, Kris and Heidi can make you hate life and love them at the same time which is quite a feat - they have a great Pilates studio too.  
  6. Yoga - I've been doing yoga off and on for a while now, and over the years I've been to most of the popular studios  in town.  My favorite instructors teach at Prana, La Jolla Yoga Center and The Little Yoga Studio.  Gerhard Gessner is the owner of Prana, Sara Deakin teaches at Little Yoga Studio and Prana, and Carolina Vivas and Amanda McCarroll teach at La Jolla Yoga Center.  I usually go to the Little Yoga Studio since it's just up the hill from my office downtown, but La Jolla Yoga Center is beautiful - like a spa - and has a wide selection of classes.  Prana is a little more basic, but Gerhard, the owner, teaches one of the best classes in town. Jeannie, the owner of La Jolla Yoga Center used to teach there before she opened LJYC. The Little Yoga Studio is tiny, but the effect is cozy, and it has the distinct advantage of being downtown (on Cortez Hill) just a few blocks from my office.  
  7. Salon - My relationship with Rebeca and Raquel - the owners of Sashay Salon - goes way back.  We're talking early 90's.  (We also went to the same high school, though not at the same time.)  When I moved back to town from the Bay Area in 1998 I started seeing both of them exclusively, and they opened their own salon on Adams Avenue shortly thereafter - I haven't been anywhere else since.  Adam has been doing my hair for the past couple of years, since Raquel got sick, and Rebeca does nails and skin care.  Love love love them.  
  8. Cakes - When I need a birthday cake (or someone else asks me for a referral) Jenny Wenny Cakes is my go-to source.  She does fantastic party cakes with great decorations and does not sacrifice one whit of flavor or quality for appearance.  (She even uses Schaner eggs!)  She's in the process of launching her cake business, so please support her if you can. You will not find a better cake for a better price! 
  9. Gifts - I like to keep a little stockpile of gifts on hand, but when I run out or need something quick, I usually head to Pigment in North Park, Vocabulary in Little Italy, or, believe it or not - Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy.  They have cute kid and baby items, tableware, hand creams, candles, etc.  Not cheap, but good stuff.  Pigment is great for hip housewares, and Vocabulary is a sweet little boutique with good prices - bonus, it's just around the corner from Pappalecco.  :)  
  10. Gardening supplies - When I need garden goods, I head to City Farmer in City Heights.  It's a nearly endless wonderland of plants, animals, seeds, soil, pesticides and fertilizers, and just about anything else you could need for your yard - all of it organic.   It's a great place to take kids - they have a veritable barnyard on the property and there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore.  Bill, the owner, is wonderful and full of sage advice.  I'm told he'll "taste" your soil to tell you whether it's in balance and if not, what you need to add to it.  I haven't taken him up on it yet, but I might!
  11. Veterinarian - And one more late addition to the list - our veterinarian, Dr. Dorian at Market Street Veterinary Clinic.  We first met Dr. Dorian at the Windansea Veterinary Clinic in La Jolla.  We adopted Bart at the La Jolla Farmers Market, and they handed us their card.  I had no other resources or recommendations, so I called them up.  They turned out to be fabulous, and since then our favorite vet there, Dr. Raffy Dorian, has left and opened his own practice downtown on Market Street.  It's getting harder to get an appointment when you need one, but they are worth the couple of week's wait.  Not many people I talk to say they love their vet. We've only been to one, but we wouldn't go anywhere else. 
p.s. - I'm going to do a food version of this list soon, with my favorite farmers market vendors, kitchen ware sources, cheese shops, bakeries, etc. Stay tuned!


  1. Thanks! As a new resident to San Diego this list will be super helpful!

  2. Oh my goodness, alice, what an honor! I was so excited to see your black book as its always good to find someone that does something so well, but it was a huge surprise to find myself on it!

    Thanks for this shout out and your other referrals (including a lemon almond cake with blueberries and lavender whipped cream that I made that I had trouble delivering as it seemed almost too yummy to part with!!)

  3. omg, awesome. please do the food version soon! coming to town ;)

  4. Dear Alice, thank you for the mention, but Gee Whiz what's wrong with our lovely new shop? What do you miss the most?

  5. This is amazing! I am new to SD and can't wait for your food version of this list! Thank you!!!!

  6. I love browsing in Pigment. So sad that I'm leaving North Park and San Diego for North Carolina next year :(

  7. I love this list. where have i been? I feel like i've missed some of your recent posts. I'm blaming my reader.

    I'm going to try Charlie's Alterations on Adams Avenue. I have two vintage swim suits that I need to have replicated. They are my favorites and one is on it's last leg.

    One more florist to add the list Sara is amazing. She does the arrangements for Influx. I once sent her a saipua bouquet that i liked, but told her to go wild and boy did she deliver.

    For yoga I really like Dana is great.

  8. This is a fabulous list! Love the Little Yoga Studio!