A Guide To Celebrating New Year's Eve in San Diego
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition, you don't need to ring in the new year watching celebrations and other cities on TV, we've got a lot going on right here in San Diego. We have family-friendly events, historic celebrations and glamorous good times. First let's start with the fireworks, the New Year's Eve Spreckles Centennial concert in Balboa Park. Joining us to preview tonight's event is any the city councilmember Todd Gloria. And Todd Gloria welcome to the show. TODD GLORIA: Hello Maureen, happy new year. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Happy new year. The question is will you be appearing at the organ Pavilion before or after the bagpipes tonight? TODD GLORIA: Before, after, during, all of that. I am all in tonight for the Balboa Park and our Centennial launch. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now what is the bagpipe procession, tell us about that. TODD GLORIA: Well it's going to kick off the concert for for the listeners who want to be there get there at about seven. We are going to have a procession of the bagpipes as you mentioned from the house of Scotland, one of our tenants there and that Cameron Highlanders pipe band. We are going to march into the organ Pavilion there will be historic photos preceding the concert which starts promptly at 7:30 and then we are going to have a brief program, a wonderful concert and will be topped off by fireworks in Balboa Park which is a very rare thing but we were happy to arrange it for the special occasion. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the entire party begins its Centennial celebration year. This event is focused specifically on the organ pavilion in the park. Now, that is also turning 100, isn't that right? TODD GLORIA: That's exactly right, it's turning 100 and throughout the park we want to leave the park better than we found it we want the future generation of San Diego is to look back on what we did in 2015 the same way we do with those who did incredible actions in 1915. So tonight, a part of our event tonight is accepting of a number of new improvements for be organ, specifically some restorations, some additional pipes, some other needed philanthropic improvements in keeping with John Spreckles original gift to the city of the organ Pavilion just to give your listeners a preview of it, he himself will be there, maybe not exactly he himself someone enacting him will be part of the fun of the festivities tonight at the park. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now on this birthday celebration for the organ Pavilion, because it is turning 100 to the day I do believe, can you remind us, Todd Gloria a little bit about the Spreckels organ? Was that a gift to San Diego? TODD GLORIA: It was as I said from John Spreckels which folks may know from Spreckels Theatre and the organ Pavilion, the philanthropist of his day and that kind of philanthropy that helped launch the 1915 really part of also 2015 where you see philanthropic efforts to reopen the California Tower, to introduce public Wi-Fi into the park all of which led to philanthropy that started 100 years ago with Spreckles and with other wonderful philanthropist like Kate Sessions and others. So yeah, it's turning 100 years old and thinking Mr. Spreckels, we are grateful for your investment and the good news is that we are making some new investments this year to make sure that the pipe organ is still here 100 years from now. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Balboa Park is in your district. Would you say there's a lot of interest surrounding the 2015 Centennial events? TODD GLORIA: There's incredible interest. I mean there have been certainly increase from all throughout the communities to put on events in the Park, to make contributions to the park. You know Maureen what your listeners may not know is that at this point we have accounted for roughly $63 million in new improvements to the park. In time for the Centennial. That is everything from the restoration and preservation of the Cabrillo bridge to new LED lighting that is lighting up the buildings at night throughout the park. The list goes on and on, so that kind of contribution is not a mistake. It's really the power of the community coming together out of sheer interest of the park and love for the Park and absolutely every San Diegen whether you live in my counsel district or someone else's loves Balboa Park. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In your mind us again what tonight's event will be like there'll be the procession there will be the about pipes and then there is a concert, right? With a world premiere composition. TODD GLORIA: That's exactly right. That wonderful Civic organist Dr. Carol Woodlands who is a performing, we have 150 person choir, some new material, some old material and of I say it starts at 7:30 and it should end I don't know, about nine or so and we will have a wonderful fireworks display in the Park. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's free, right? TODD GLORIA: It's free and open to the public. And that's one of the great things that I want to think the Spreckels organ Society to help make that possible. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any predictions on how many people might be attending? TODD GLORIA: I think we are going to have a full house despite the weather. But actually for some of your listeners who may not be a native San Diego and understand what 40° there might do. We actually will be carrying that concert live on you stream so folks can watch from the comfort of their home but I would encourage San Diego is to come out. 100 years ago there was a wonderful gathering of San Diego and in what became the city's crown jewel, let's give it another go. Let's do it again tonight. Let's be there for the celebration and let's make the memories that people celebrate 100 years from now. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Find the mittens in the bottom of the closet and brave the weather. TODD GLORIA: Mittens, scarves, the whole routine, yes and I will be wearing that so please don't judge what I'm wearing. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with San Diego city Council members Todd Gloria, happy new year. Thank you for speaking with us. TROY JOHNSON: Thank you, Maureen. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now I'd like to introduce Troy Johnson, he's dining critic and editor at large for San Diego Magazine. Try, welcome. TROY JOHNSON: I prefer large. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you prefer that? TROY JOHNSON: Thank you very much for having me, Maureen. Happy almost new year. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: happy almost no you have some indoor food celebrations for this New Year's Eve, isn't that right? TROY JOHNSON: Yes. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What's happening at Juniper and Ivy? TROY JOHNSON: Okay, so Juniper and diabetes is one of the best arrivals that San Diego has seen in a long long time. And San Diego has seen a lot of dining options arrive with the big-name chef and a lot of money behind it and good design and they failed miserably. This one didn't and this one is fantastic. It's a little Italy and really heralded the arrival of Little Italy as the ultimate place you know, to dine in San Diego now. It is the hottest part of town for food by far. So chef Richard [Blaze] is doing a four course prefix menu tonight there's really only a few seats available from five to 6:30 PM. But they're going to do some of their standout hits from this year. And it's going to be seriously your, one of the last chance obviously 2014 to check out the best restaurant that has arrived in a few years. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And also one of the other restaurants that you mentioned, and these two were also on your best new restaurants list for 2014 is the Ironside fish and oyster. TROY JOHNSON: Oh, Ironside, this along, in tandem really would Juniper and Ivy are just the two crowning jewels now of Little Italy's emerging booming dining scene and this place, this is perfect for New Year's Eve because the designer Paul Basil did this place up. It looks like the hull of the Titanic is put inside of Grand Central Station. It's got this F Scott Fitzgerald meets hipsters and grandma sort of feel. It's a really great place. They do amazing cocktails. Everything is super fresh, really inventive, classic cocktails and the chef Jason McLeod is a two star Michelin chef. So he knows how to do seafood. This is going to be a really seafood centric sort of, they will do swordfish Oscar and also to a roasted squab, which is a different take for a seafood restaurant too, and-based Alaska for dessert. That sort of thing. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What might be tips for people who are hearing your and things yeah really want to get into those restaurants. Are they taking reservations, is it too late for reservations? What is the deal? TROY JOHNSON: These people, I contacted the reps for both the restaurant and they said that the earlier, usually they do to seatings and the early seatings are still available. New Year's Eve, you have to get an early start, just aspect 489 hours, get the five hour energy and do what you need to do. But usually the early seatings they are still taking reservations for and these both had openings. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay then and so let's move on. We are moving out of Little Italy and going into the gaslamp Quarter. What is New Year's Eve without a pub crawl. There is one. TROY JOHNSON: Oh yes, so this is the annual New Year's Eve pub crawl and it starts that taste and thirst which is on fourth Avenue downtown at 6 PM. My family actually has, a shout out to the Johnsons, I think we started this tradition many many years ago. We actually invented the pub crawl. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I think there are many claimants to that. TROY JOHNSON: There might be but I we've been doing in annual pub crawl downtown, my family and I for a long time in this resembles that. I mean downtown obviously is a great place, but you know it can be overwhelming if you're just trying to get into one place. So you go to something like this up pub crawl, you can go in, dine and dash almost, get a drink and they have great drink specials and everything else and get out and go to another one. Go to 10, 15 different places. You've got [inaudible] and Joe's, Sidebar, Fuse, a few different places and you can MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And how much does it cost? TROY JOHNSON: That is $15 and up. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It depends on how many places you want to go? TROY JOHNSON: Exactly, and different drink specials for every menu. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And you pick up the wristband at the taste and thirst? TROY JOHNSON: At 6 PM and is good till 2 AM. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay some living from the Johnson's favorite activity TROY JOHNSON: Pub crawl, we are proud family MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: For top drawer classy there is the Hotel Del. What are they doing tonight. TROY JOHNSON: They have a new chef, this is the Hotel Del. Think about New Year's Eve, you think about grand old beautiful places and every time I go to the Hotel Del even as a native San Diegan I'm just reminded of how amazing that place is. Just the history, the architecture, the grandeur of it, that to me is New Year's Eve and they have a new chef. She is chef Meredith [inaudible], she's got a four course New Year's Eve menu that she is doing. She came from a long line of four seasons hotels. She is really well pedigreed chef and she's doing a grilled filet mignon with truffle cauliflower purée. That doesn't sound awful whatsoever. White truffle risotto. Black bass and Dungeness crab ravioli. I'm going to read that just kind of like a steamy romance novel. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I like it. How much is that going to set you back? TROY JOHNSON: That is going to be an expensive one but everything New Year's Eve at the end of the day when people complain about prices there are great things you can do for very cheap, New Year's Eve is not one of them. So it's going to be 110 per person. If you want wine pairing it is 160. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And is that still open for reservations? TROY JOHNSON: Yes, as I believe it is, yes. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was going to mention two other high-end New Year's events taking place, one at the US grant Hotel it is the winter white night and partiers are urged to wear white. That starts at $75 and goes up and there's a 1920s themed New Year's Eve event that's part of the celebration at the Lafayette Hotel. It sounds really kind of interesting. They are setting up a room as a speakeasy and so forth. Their prices start at 50 for general and that goes up as well. TROY JOHNSON: And that's a great price for New Year's Eve and a cool funky old building MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you've got some mad men clothes you can go over to the Westgate Hotel they have a madman celebration. So you have your stilettos. TROY JOHNSON: I love the Westgate, so ornate, so German. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now you wanted to mention a couple kid friendly events too. There's a restaurant, the Waypoint public that both kids and adults. TROY JOHNSON: Yes but here's a great thing, you think about look I'm somebody with a 3 1/2- year-old child at home and I'm leaving her at home but you don't have to. But you that that is the point you that San Diego doesn't have to a lot of restaurants are really taking kids into account. Waypoint tavern is in North Park. It's been it took over the Linkery space, gray corner space in North Parkway on and they actually built a really cool designer place for kids that they've had in there all along and 30th they are actually creating a four course menu for your child at their 5 PM sitting. So, and it's relatively inexpensive I mean it's $45 for New Year's Eve, that's inexpensive. And they're really catering toward the kids which I think is a great move just because hipsters have worn tight jeans their entire lives doesn't mean they cannot procreate. So they are-- MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So they say. TROY JOHNSON: So they say so they are having children and the creative subset of San Diego is really designing events for kids and then you have Legoland, California Legoland... MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes exactly. I wanted to say there is an after party at that Waypoint public TROY JOHNSON: Yes there is, so have the kids come you know, for dinner and have a babysitter, grandma, come and pick them up and then you go to the after party from 11 to 1. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now Legoland the idea of this is a little daunting considering the weather but let's go there. TROY JOHNSON: Thermals, scarves, the one time of the year you do not want to look ridiculous in San Diego wearing a scarf. You can actually wear it tonight, so Legoland has the annual brick dropped for the kids at 6 PM they've actually got his band it's Justin Roberts and the rhesus monkeys. This guy used to be in they might be Giants for any indie rock fans or alternative rock fans from the 90s they might be Giants were the quirkiest, nerdiest, coolest band on the planet, triangle man versus rectangle man was one of their songs. And now they sing about kids, they sing for kids so my kids don't have to have god-awful sing songy music. They can have one of the most creative guys play music from the 90s creating music for them and they are putting on a big concert tonight. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A big concert and the brick drop is sort of a kid simulation of the ball drop, the Times Square ball drop at midnight, only it takes place at 6 PM. TROY JOHNSON: Yes, 6 PM is like midnight for kids. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, now one last place I think we have time to squeeze in and that is a steakhouse Inc. are not of that you wanted to talk about. TROY JOHNSON: Yes oh in Coronado I mean one of Blue Ridge hospitality has done a really good job they have the blue time creamery, a couple of Leroy's in Coronado, they're really giving Coronado this year some of the best dining options they just opened up the neo-modern steakhouse. And Timothy Coleco is the chef there used to be at the Lodge at Torrey Pines which has a great culinary pedigree and he's doing a four course prefix tonight. The idea being that it's not just a slab of protein with a side of broccoli served by a man in an old tux. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, that is your New Year's Eve. TROY JOHNSON: Exactly, so this is more composed dishes and more thoughtful. I mean there is one dish on hear from stake that they are doing the flaming on with duck liver Patty and truffle sauce. I mean, that's what New Year's is all about. You will never eat that again in 2015, but tonight MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: but tonight it's rich enough and is New Year's Eve enough. TROY JOHNSON: Your F, your Scott, your Fitzgerald. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: okay and I want to let our listeners know that you can find a listing of New Year's Eve events online from San Diego Magazineand in the events section at KPBS.org. Troy, it's been a pleasure as always. Troy Johnson dining editor at large with San Diego Magazine thank you for coming in and doing this. TROY JOHNSON: Great to see you.
You don't need to ring in the New Year watching celebrations in other cities on TV. We've got a lot going on right here in San Diego.
We have family-friendly events, historic celebrations and glamorous good times. San Diegans will be welcoming 2015 in a variety of ways from downtown pub crawls, to winter white soirees to a recreated 1920s speakeasy.
Troy Johnson, a food critic with San Diego Magazine who also has a show on Food Network, said on KPBS Midday Edition that Little Italy is "the hottest part of town" for food. At the top of his list of recommendations is Juniper and Ivy, which opened in March.
"This is one of the best arrivals in San Diego's scene in a long, long time," Johnson said. "They're going to do some of their standout hits from this year."
San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria who represents the area told KPBS Midday that a procession of bagpipes from the House of Scotland will take place before the concert.
"We have a 150-person choir. I think we're going to have a full house despite the weather," Gloria said. "It will be topped off by fireworks in Balboa Park, which is a very rare thing."
The concert is free and open to the public.
Various options of transportation are also available for San Diegans. Metropolitan Transit District officials said buses and trolleys will be running until 2 a.m. The North County Transit District's Coaster and Sprinter are free after 6 p.m. with the last train leaving downtown at 12:45 a.m.
Check out our list for New Year's Eve hot spots and family fun for more tips on what to do in San Diego County.