Historic Restaurants in San Diego

The Grant Grill

us-grant-hotelWhile the US Grant hotel is as old as 1910, the Grant Grill Opened in 1951 and was the place to power lunch with other movers and shakers in downtown San Diego. The restaurant guaranteed the place to be “men only” until 3:00 p.m.

In 1969, the men only policy was finally challenged by a group of local female attorneys who, staged a “sit-in” waving a New York gender discrimination case in hand. This was well regarded as a turning point in San Diego’s history and became known as the “The Grant Grill invasion”.

As a private club in the 1970’s, the Grants Grill ambiance gained momentum where service features included the delivery of private phones to each booth so guests could converse with other diners.

In the 80s the hotel got an 80 million dollar redesign and the Grant Grill became a three meal venue.

Now, the Grant Grill remains one of San Diego’s best restaurants.

Venice Pizzeria House

venice-pizza-houseLocated in Normal Heights, The Venice Pizza House was started in 1954 by Sam and Prudie LoMedico. Sam came to America in 1939 and worked at his brother Frank’s restaurant and bar in Detroit Michigan, there he learned about cooking, bar tendering and waitering. Four years later he married Prudie and had three daughters. In 1952, fed up with the freezing cold, decided to pick up his family and move to San Diego to start his own restaurant. The rest is history.

Sam was very happy with his restaurant and patrons for 17 years when his doctor told him he could no longer work the restaurant due to his heart condition. His wife and son-in-law took over the restaurant. Today the restaurant is owned and operated by Joe and Mar LoMedico

The restaurant is where the LoMedico family and friends gathered to share their authentic Italian cuisine. All customers are treated like family in this warm and inviting establishment. This is must stop if you are in the neighborhood.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant

cosmopolitan-hotelAlbert Seeley, a stage master, took over the building from Juan Lorenzo Bandini, one of San Diego’s pioneers who settled here in the 1800s. His mission was to create a place where travelers could have comfort, style and entertainment. In the fall of 1869, they celebrated the grand opening of The Cosmopolitan Hotel, having added a second level to the adobe structure. The architectural theme was Greek Revival. Some of the amenities of The Cosmopolitan Hotel were a bar, sitting and billiards room, a barber shop, and a local post office. The hotel’s main attraction was its grand balcony that wrapped around the second story, where guests to San Diego enjoyed seeing the crowd and activities in the town square below.

In 1888 Seeley sold The Cosmopolitan; the building became a canning facility for an olive factory in 1900. Throughout the years the building lost its value, due to lack of maintenance. Fortunately, in 1928 Cave J. Couts Jr. took over the property. A grandson of Bandini, Couts turned the broken-down building into a hotel and restaurant with added amenities such as wired electricity, gas, and a new style of decor.

During the 1950s the hotel and restaurant became an upscale tourist motel owned by James H. and Nora Cardwell. In 1968 the property was sold to the state of California; the same year the original buildings in Old Town San Diego evolved into Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Brockton Villa

brockton-villaThe first beach cottages were constructed along a formerly barren hillside above the La Jolla Cove in 1894. This house, built as a weekend retreat by Dr. Joseph Rodes, is typical of early California bungalows, with single wall construction and vertical tongue-and-groove siding of pure heart redwood with cedar shingles. A hip roof and a wraparound veranda take advantage of sea breezes.

After Dr. Rodes’ death in 1896, the house was taken over by two sisters, Olivia Mudgett and Nellie Mills, La Jolla’s first real estate agents. They rented out several beach cottages, including this one, which they named The Brockton Villa, in honor of their New England heritage in Brockton, Massachusetts.

The unusual shell-inlaid fireplace was probably built in the 1920s, judging by the fire bricks and Portland cement used. These rare, oversized abalone shells are impossible to find today due to over-fishing.

For many years, the house was occupied by Moreland MacPike, known to many as the “Turtle Lady.” She is described as a very shy woman who had a performing turtle. Rumor has it that she and her piano-playing pet once entertained President Truman at the White House.

In 1968 the Pannikin Copper, Coffee and Cookery opened at 1296 Prospect, specializing in freshly roasted coffee beans and copper cookware. Soon after opening, Cooper and Cookery gave way to tea and spice. Pannikin’s first coffee-roasting plant was located in a garage near the Cave Store just up the street from Brockton Villa. Today, Pannikin Coffee and Tea is acknowledged as being ahead of its time.

Pannikin obtained the lease to this historic but somewhat dilapidated Brockton Villa in order to renovate it and adapt it for use as a restaurant. Pannikin founder Bob Sinclair had a strong commitment to preserving the community’s architectural heritage, and has renovated and adapted other buildings for several of its locations. In 1993, Pannikin won the prestigious orchid award for preservation for its distinctive renovation of the Brockton Villa cottage. Megan (Lee) Heine, daughter of the Pannikin family, took ownership of the Brockton Villa Restaurant in 1994, and the remaining Pannikin coffee business was sold to outside interests.

2001 marked the 10th anniversary with 300,000 Coast Toasts sold! If you are in La Jolla, you have to order the Coast Toast for breakfast at Brockton Villa.

Hob Nob Hill

hob-nob-hillIn May 1944, Harold and Dorothy Hoersch opened a 14-stool lunch counter named the Juniper Café with a lofty goal – to provide quality food and exceptional services at reasonable prices.

With hard work and commitment, their goal became a reality and business grew steadily. To accommodate that growth, in 1946, the restaurant was moved to its present location on Juniper and First Avenue and named the Melody Grill. As times and tastes changed, the restaurant was renamed Dorothy’s Oven and finally Hob Nob Hill.

Today they are probably San Diego’s oldest restaurant in the same location.

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