Oct. 16 2012 04:35 PM

The perfect day: Krakatoa Café, Spanish Village, the Coaster, Bull Taco, Farenheit 451, Beacons beach and Q’ero

Farenheit 451
Photo by Jenny Montgomery

I’m going to need a boost of protein to kick off the big, beautiful day I have planned, and since this whole crazy dance will be ending shortly, damn the sugar content!

I’ll start the morning by ducking into the red-walled confines of Krakatoa Café in Golden Hill (1128 25th St.) and picking up a Peanut Butter Banana smoothie, topped with a toothy helping of granola. Oh, what a thick and sweet concoction this is, not to mention the fact that if it’s all going to end, shouldn’t one of
the last flavors to pass the palate be creamy, nutty, childhood-evoking, all-American peanut butter?

The tattooed gang at The Krak can brighten my morning with their rumpled sweetness and homemade treats, from scones and brownies to great sandwiches and the best red-potato salad this side of Idaho. I’ll keep it simple, though, and order a Pinatubo to go with my smoothie. Two slices of pillowy telera bread are toasted and liberally buttered, then covered with cinnamon and sugar.

Nothing restores my faith in our doomed humanity like visiting a vibrant hub of working artists. The Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park sits in an oft-missed corner between the zoo and all the museums. The holidays are creeping ever closer, and though the Earth will be a charred and smoldering husk by the end of the year, this is still a great place to do some festive shopping!

There are more than three-dozen galleries and workshops, home to upwards of 250 artists. And this isn’t goofy craft-fair stuff you’ve seen again and again. San Diego is home to some exceptional talent. You don’t have to dig that deep to find a reasonably priced piece of art for the home. I’ll wander around and visit glass blowers, painters of silk, potters, metal workers, jewelers and even eggshell artists.

As car-obsessed Southern Californians, mass transportation is sadly still a bit of an anomaly. This is probably why I still get a thrill taking the Coaster. If I have only a few more chances to take in my favorite stretch of California coastline, this double-decker choo-choo is how I’d want to take it all in.

Responsible drinking before 9 p.m. is allowed on board, so pop open a Karl Strauss Woodie Gold (my official Doomsday beer) and chill out. Watching a slender snowy egret take off from the San Elijo Lagoon is a majestic scene, and the romance of seeing it from a train window never gets old.

I’ll hop off the train at the Encinitas station and head south to San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Tucked inside the campgrounds is Bull Taco (2050 S. Coast Hwy. 101, ). Amazing tacos should be a part of any San Diego-based End of Days itinerary. Bull Taco proudly serves up “inauthentic Mexican,” and I have to say, the honesty is refreshing. I like cheese and sour cream on my tacos—I’m a monster. I might go big and have a lobster, bacon and chorizo taco, or simplify a bit and go for my favorite—shrimp tacos with cheese, salsa, onions and cilantro.

The vibe at the San Elijo campground is relaxed and friendly, from glassy-eyed surfers to boisterous families. I’ll perch above the bluffs and watch the waves, or take my taco outside the campground gates and see what sort of ridiculous get-up The Cardiff Kook is wearing. We all need a laugh come the Apocalypse.

There’s been much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth about the death of the brick-and-mortar bookstore. Bibliophiles who still value the expertise of the staunchly devoted bookseller should pay a visit (or two) to Farenheit 451 in Carlsbad (325 Carlsbad Village Drive). The owners are passionate defenders of the in-store book experience. As they say on their sweet and simple website, “Life-long readers know that the most awesome, life-changing books you’ll ever find are the ones that find you, not what Oprah, the New York Times or the book clubs tell you to read.”

This is the key to the bookstore experience. Don’t pass through the doors planning to buy the latest bestseller. They might have it; they might not. I’ll wander among the shelves of vintage titles, new releases and dog-eared favorites and see what jumps out, be it through a colorful cover, a quirky title or
an eye-catching font. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but a cover might cause you to pick a book up and discover something new.

My perfect San Diego day involves my perfect beach: Beacons in Leucadia. Oh, I’m sure there’s more pristine sand elsewhere, maybe even better swimming or surfing. And there are certainly easier beaches to get to. It’s a small smudge of sand, with a steep switchback path leading to the bluff-top parking lot (I’ll be sweaty and cursing while climbing back up with cooler, beach chair and wet towels), but its intimacy is what brings me back. I’ll enjoy the always-unique cast of characters: the guy doing full yoga headstands in very small shorts, the lady who takes her cat for a walk on the bluff and the elderly couple walking hand in hand who live just down the street.

I can’t end a perfect San Diego day without a perfect meal, and the lomo saltado at Q’ero Peruvian restaurant in downtown Encinitas (564 S. Coast Hwy. 101) is as good as it gets. There’s nothing trendy or complex about this hearty stew of beef and tomatoes, but I find myself wanting to bury my face in this creation. Q’ero elevates the humble tomato, pairing it with onions, garlic and red aji chiles. The vibrant concoction is married with flank steak and the resulting stew is exquisite. Q’ero is quite small, which is part of its cozy magic. The tables are always packed on weekends, so plan ahead and make reservations.

With a belly full of meat, a glass of a South American red, and a soundtrack of Peruvian pan flute, after this perfect San Diego day, I’m ready to greet any ancient Mayan prophecy head on.

Write to jennym@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennymontyinsd.