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All Points North

North Park’s favorite gastropub worships at the (housemade) altar of craft food and drink.

Waypoint Public's colorful streetside dining room

You’d definitely call them the hot seats—that is, if the custom bar seating that looks onto 30th Street and North Park Way wasn’t cooled by the evening breeze blowing in through roll-up windows. Perched on one of the bright blue iron and wood stools, a craft beer in hand, Waypoint Public patrons become part of the twilight urban landscape, which makes the restaurant—not yet a year old—quintessentially North Park. And the neighborhood loves it.

With its southwest corner corralled (covered in AstroTurf and stocked with beanbag chairs, Lincoln Logs and kiddie lit), Waypoint shows it’s studied its demo: hipster parents and their foodie progeny. Even without the mini-mes pulling down the age average, the crowd skews young, or at least young at heart. And while North Park is well represented, diners are flocking in from all regions of S.D., especially now that there’s a private back room for social soirees. Is the restaurant a scene? Does your little Django or Tallulah like kale and charred octopus? Of course it’s a scene.

But it’s also earned its cool-kid status. The brainchild of hospitality entrepreneur John Pani, beer guru Brian Jensen (who owns the Bottlecraft bottle shops in North Park and Little Italy) and chef Amanda Baumgarten, Waypoint is charting new gastropub territory. Food is hardly an afterthought, and beer pairings are emphasized. When Jensen, also a trained somm, is fielding suggestions, his selects from the resto’s 30 taps (plus nearly 100 bottles of suds) veer toward contrasting flavors. Baumgarten, on the other hand, favors complementary pairings. So what goes with her famed oyster po’boy tacos? Jensen picks a Rauchbier Belgian pale ale. “But I like the Lost Abbey Red Barn ale,” says Baumgarten. “It’s crisp and herbaceous.”

That local brew was on offer when Waypoint recently launched a series of monthly brewery dinners, kicking off with one starring the San Marcos brewmaster. Nine courses in, fans were raving. More dinners are on the books, including one with Delaware’s Dogfish Head on June 18, and San Diego’s own AleSmith on August 20. 

Chef Amanda Baumgarten, a former Top Chef contestant

One note, though: They’re for adults only. Parents, book that sitter.

Waypoint Public
3794 30th St., San Diego, 619.255.8778

Dealmakers
Smoked tomato minestrone & grilled cheese........$13
Mussels & pork belly........$17
The s’morelaska dessert.......$8