Every Sunday the Hillcrest Farmers Market turns the dreaded DMV parking lot into a happy place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. About 175 vendors come together to sell produce, arts and crafts, flowers, specialty foods, and more. There are also a lot of prepared foods that you can grab to eat while strolling the market—many of them selling international fare. Be sure to visit some of my favorite vendors: Saigon Coffee, San Diego Poke Company, Na Pali Coast Frozen Organics, Flavors of East Africa, Suzie’s Farm and Bitchin’ Sauce. A folk band provides live entertainment weekly. Since parking can be tight in that area, take advantage of the free trolley that does three drop-offs at nearby parking lots.
For a sit-down brunch after cruising the market, head to Madison in University Heights. Serving Mediterranean and SoCal-inspired food, Madison has one of the coolest restaurant designs in San Diego. The high, vaulted ceilings made of cedar were constructed in the dining room for optimum acoustics. In the open air space, not only can you hear the person you’re dining with, but the background music, too. Start your meal with an orange pineapple kale mimosa or a cold pressed juice, and nibble on the brie appetizer served with apricot habanero honey and ciabatta.
If you prefer savory dishes, go for the skirt steak benedict with asparagus, spinach, avocado and poached egg on toast, served with potatoes. If you want something on the sweeter side, opt for the beet waffle. The Belgian waffle is mixed with beets and served with blackberry coconut puree and a side of bacon. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail or decide to move to the bar area after your meal, try the umbrella (green chile vodka, cucumber, lemon, club soda) or the sparrow (rum, raspberry pink peppercorn infused honey, lime). Madison is open Tuesday through Sunday, with weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m., and the bar serves drinks from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.