When food leaves you speechless and the atmosphere has you lingering past the arrival of the check, a restaurant quickly becomes a favorite. By definition the majority of the restaurants in downtown San Diego are a little more rugged than the refined decorum of its northern counterparts, but ruggedness is not to be associated with mediocrity of food or service. Downtown San Diego is a culinary hotspot filled with fine dining and casual hangouts, and the choice of anything from gastropubs to French bistros as well as anything sandwiched between. Craft and Commerce pushes the proverbial boundaries of casual dining with a space that evokes a quirky cheekiness that matches the smarts of the chef’s creations.
Book lined shelves, mounted deer heads, and cheeky sayings that bring a smile to a customer’s face? That is the only a fraction of the magic of Craft and Commerce. A constant hum of voices fills the space since opening at 4:30pm and upon crossing into the threshold of the main dining space this is the place to be. Specialty cocktails, local beers, and bowls galore, Craft and Commerce delivers on the pub end of the deal, but is the food worth it? Your next free night you should go and then this will no longer be a question. The food is phenomenal; there is no other adjective that could adequately describe the simple, yet smartly woven flavors of all the dishes. Social plates such as deep fried pickles and buttermilk biscuits are examples of why simple ideas done well are the best option. The pickles are fried in a cornmeal batter that is light, but with enough crunch to make the experience splurge worthy and is an interesting twist on the idea of French fries. The biscuits on the other hand make me think of breakfast, but when dipped in the spicy cheddar fondue sauce that accompanies, biscuits seem like such a great idea for dinner. And these are no wimpy biscuits as one biscuit is equivalent in size to a small plate. Cheese sauce or jam on my biscuit? A true dilemma.
Talking truly about getting enough bang for your buck, the farmer’s plate is a great choice, which is up to the chef’s whim and what a wonderful whim it is. The nightly special when I stumbled across this gem was a smothered veggie burrito of black beans, farro, peppers, onions, guacamole, sour cream and the most addicting enchilada sauce ever created in a non Mexican restaurant. Roughly three pounds, this burrito is a week’s worth of food for one person, and at $11 leaves one wondering why this is not the meal of the week every week. The brilliance of Craft and Commerce could be expounded upon endlessly, but there is really only one thing needed to be said: it is one of the top 5 restaurants in San Diego, which coming from someone who eats a lot, should not be taken lightly. Hop in your car and go to Craft and Commerce, this is not a joke. I repeat not a joke when biscuits are discussed.