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Thursday, March 23, 2023



By Thomas Shess
--For umpteen decades, the west side of the 3700 block of 30th Street in San Diego’s historic North Park neighborhood has been occupied by a row of small architecturally dull shops. 

For several decades many of the one-story shops were consolidated into a create a bigger space that housed a used appliance store. Other spaces--not used to sell stoves and refrigerators--were occupied over the years by a variety of tenants: used computer store, art supplies emporium, and a real estate office. Nothing to write home about. 

Then came North Park’s renaissance beginning in 2010 when retailers eager to cash in on North Park’s emergence as the craft beer center of Southern California began to lease space in and around 30th and University. With an increase in craft beer tourism other retail real estate began to be invaded by welcomed new businesses. Cool became synonymous with vintage North Park. 

A drapery store became Pigment, a stylish gift store emporium, a religious book store became Mike Hess Brewery and Armstrong’s thrift store blossomed into the beloved Caffe Calabria. And, the check cashing joint at 30th and University became Encantro, a popular open-air style café. Even the aforementioned small strip along 3700 block of 30th showed signs of good gentrification. And soon enough the appliance store that took up perhaps four spaces began shrinking. 


Capps & 30th in May 1958.  In 2023, the 3700 block of 30th is undergoing a revitalization.  The corner shop (see photo below) will soon open as a French style bakery/cafe.  Up the street to the right is where you'll find Mabel's Gone Fishing restaurant. 

An enterprising couple opened Subterranean Coffee house across the street from Verbatim Books (a former credit dentist). A well-designed pastry shop at 30th & Capp has grabbed the corner spot (it will open soon) and Subterranean has expanded into another space. And, finally to the point, two spaces have been resurrected into a restaurant and wine shop. 

 But the biggest news event on the block has been the success of Mabel’s Gone Fishing, the Euro-sized restaurant that in less than a year of operation has put a shine on the 3700 block. The Mabel’s team, led by Chelsea Coleman and Rae Gurne recently earned attention from the Michelin travel guide folks by being added to the 2023 Michelin Guide California. 

 Mabel’s and the next door Bodega Rosette wine shop form a delicious team with The Rose Restaurant in South Park. Also owned by Coleman and Gurne. As a result of Mabel’s success, walk in seating is very limited. 

 Call ahead and be prepared to wait a week or more for a seat. That’s what happens when a Michelin quality establishment moves into North Park. Speaking of cuisine, Mabel’s culinary brain trust has been influenced by Spanish seafood and gin. The menu like the planet changes daily. 

Capps & 30th Street March 2023.

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