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Hob Nob Hill

2271 First Ave., San Diego, CA - (619) 239-8176
Posted By Michael Stern on 1/7/2004 7:44:00 AM
Embroidered bywords on the wall behind the cash register of Hob Nob Hill offer this assurance: “Pleasures in Life are Few, One of Ours is Serving You”. There isn’t a more benevolent restaurant in America. Its gentle dining rooms put us in mind of mid-century domestic science brochures that offer advice for the new bride who wants to please her husband and create a happy home: Set an attractive table, cook wholesome meals to keep your family healthy, add a pleasant little garnish to every plate that shows you care. So it is at Hob Nob Hill, the quintessential comfort-food restaurant and one of the last of a special breed of place that once thrived in Southern California – the deluxe urban coffee shop.

Outfitted in uniforms with crisp white aprons, the ladies who attend tables are brisk and kindly; and they are guided in their work by an almost imperceptible loud-speaker system utilized by hosts who patrol the floor and rush to a microphone whenever they see a customer who needs something. The hosts’ broadcasts are made in old-fashioned numeric code like police dispatchers on “Highway Patrol” once used, so the sensitive ears of customers are not exposed to the nitty-gritty details of dining-room upkeep. “101 on 20,” means table 20 needs service. “50 on 10” summons a bus boy to table 10 immediately. “104 to the counter” alerts the staff that someone at the short counter in the first dining room needs a check.

Pause a moment to admire your Waldorf or spinach salad when it's set down. A moment later, the waitress will return with a plate topped with a linen napkin on which are placed chilled forks for your salad-eating pleasure. Yes, chilled forks.

Everyday dinner entrees include prime rib and chicken croquettes and hot turkey with sage dressing; but there is a whole rotation of specials by which regular customers set their clocks: corned beef and cabbage on Monday, beef stew Wednesday, pot roast and leg o' lamb Sunday.

Most San Diegans think of Hob Nob Hill as a breakfast spot; and if you can eat but one meal here, that’s the one. It is a joyous place in the morning; and to start the day with freshly squeezed juice and good coffee and a wedge of blackberry coffee cake or a pumpkin muffin, is a taste of Pacific Coast heaven. Amidst the rush and crowds, waitresses liven up the room by schmoozing with customers they have known for years as enthusiastic pastry-hounds rhapsodize out loud over the individual bundt cakes and caramel pecan buns and sweet rolls in the glass case that everyone admires while they wait for a table.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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This is one of the reasons we especially love breakfast at Hob Nob Hill: a warm, gooey, nut-smothered pecan roll.
"This is one of the reasons we especially love breakfast at Hob Nob Hill: a warm, gooey, nut-smothered pecan roll."
Michael Stern





Turkey dinner is on the menu seven days a week.
"Turkey dinner is on the menu seven days a week."
Michael Stern


Note the time on the huge wall clock. We tend to eat at Early Bird hours anyway, but on this day at Hob Nob Hill we had a good excuse: we were still on Eastern Time. Note also the pleasant art on the walls and lovely chandeliers.
"Note the time on the huge wall clock. We tend to eat at Early Bird hours anyway, but on this day at Hob Nob Hill we had a good excuse: we were still on Eastern Time. Note also the pleasant art on the walls and lovely chandeliers."
Michael Stern


There is always coffee cake available for breakfast. On this day, it was blackberry.
"There is always coffee cake available for breakfast. On this day, it was blackberry."
Michael Stern


Both Corned Beef Hash and Roast Beef Hash were available for breakfast. We chose the former, of which here is a close up.
"Both Corned Beef Hash and Roast Beef Hash were available for breakfast. We chose the former, of which here is a close up. "
Michael Stern


'Do you serve regular or Belgian waffles?' we asked our waitress. 'We have the old-fashioned kind,' she said, adding, 'You know, it is hard to find a thinner waffle nowadays.' Amen to that, sister! We have often gone on record as preferring the traditional small-tread waffle over the bloated Belgian. Hob Nob Hill's is a beauty, here blanketed with chopped pecans and waiting for butter and syrup.
"'Do you serve regular or Belgian waffles?' we asked our waitress. 'We have the old-fashioned kind,' she said, adding, 'You know, it is hard to find a thinner waffle nowadays.' Amen to that, sister! We have often gone on record as preferring the traditional small-tread waffle over the bloated Belgian. Hob Nob Hill's is a beauty, here blanketed with chopped pecans and waiting for butter and syrup."
Michael Stern


Homestyle food? Nope, Hob Nob Hill serves a style of meal unlike home. Here is the cuisine of the mid-century Southern California coffee shop. A cultural treasure.
"Homestyle food? Nope, Hob Nob Hill serves a style of meal unlike home. Here is the cuisine of the mid-century Southern California coffee shop. A cultural treasure."
Michael Stern


Hob Nob Hill has been a San Diego favorite since 1944. On weekends especially, people waiting for a precious table will often line up out the front door.
"Hob Nob Hill has been a San Diego favorite since 1944. On weekends especially, people waiting for a precious table will often line up out the front door."
Michael Stern


All dinners come with a choice of salad: Waldorf, Caesar, spinach, etc. We love this classic globe of Waldorf, made especially fine by the chilled fork that is presented with it.
"All dinners come with a choice of salad: Waldorf, Caesar, spinach, etc. We love this classic globe of Waldorf, made especially fine by the chilled fork that is presented with it."
Michael Stern



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