Sometimes, all you really need in a meal is some good, homey, old-fashioned comfort food.
Fortunately, San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood plays host to Common Stock, a fast-casual dining experience that provides just that to anyone who enters their doors.
Located along the popular 5th Avenue strip, Common Stock has paved its way into one of the most popular and re-visited restaurants in the area. People come here for the comfort just as much as the food, and the restaurant delivers both every time.
Common Stock initially opened its doors back in September 2018 with the angle of providing scratch-made dishes rooted in American nostalgia.
Anderson Clark and Brian Douglass, both Ivy League graduates and former employees of the Hillstone Restaurant Group, brought their ideas together to bring Common Stock to life. Their location in the Hillcrest neighborhood took over from the former Salt & Cleaver and has maintained its status throughout the pandemic.
As this was the first solo project for Clark and Douglass, they decided to find a blend of fine dining and fast-casual with Common Stock’s approach, which offers both sit-down and counter service. They drew on New York City and Copenhagen minimalism when considering the design and bring sustainably-made comfort food directly to the table, with the majority of their ingredients sourced locally and rotating upon availability.
Besides the dining-in option, Common Stock also offers delivery services that came to a helm during the pandemic when Clark and Douglass decided to offer free meals to laid-off industry workers. What had initially started as something meant to be temporary turned into people donating money to help feed the workers and keep the restaurant afloat during all of their free giveaways.
Before the pandemic, success came swiftly to Common Stock, and within a year of being open, they’d already planned to open a new location. Although the coronavirus slowed the production of the second location, they’d initially signed a contract in Downtown’s Park 12 apartment complex in East Village. As we move further toward regaining “normal” life, the plans for opening the second location should hopefully come underway again soon.
For the most part, the last four years have rendered Common Stock as a casually sophisticated restaurant meant to feel neighborly and welcome with “obsessively sourced ingredients.” Their focus on genuine hospitality, quality of food, and speed of service has helped them maintain their status as one of the more popular restaurants in the Hillcrest neighborhood.
All of the food at Common Stock is made in-house from scratch, including all of their sauces and marinades.
The Chicken on the menu comes from Jidori Chicken, who raise their chickens in a free-range setting while being fed natural grains without any meat by-products. Using this Chicken combined with their specialty recipe also garnered them the accolade of Best Chicken Sandwich in California.
The bulk of the vegetables come from the local Farmer’s Markets, with some coming from other local produce companies, as well. The bread comes from local company Bread and Cie, who are a common choice among a lot of the sustainable restaurants in the area.
In addition to the sustainable food, they also use compostable bags and containers for their to-go and delivery options.
I knew we were within the window of Happy Hour when we arrived but was additionally excited to find out that Monday nights were Happy Hour all night.
Although we didn’t stick solely to the Happy Hour menu, what we did experience was exceptional. I’m a sucker for a good tater tot, so I quickly ordered us a round of the Togarashi Tater Tots that were drizzled with a chili aioli. We also ordered the Pimento Grilled Cheese which was entree-sized and filling, as well as the Chicken Sliders with the house-made comeback sauce. As for the grilled cheese and sliders, fans of spicy food would definitely feel right at home, as both of those (especially the comeback sauce) brought in enough heat to have me sweating.
Off of the main menu, we tried out the Charred Cauliflower appetizer with mango vin, pickled Fresno chilis (again a hit for spicy fans), harissa cream, masala almonds, and coconut. We also tried out the Philadelphia Pork Melt with pork shoulder, dijonnaise, charred broccoli, and muenster cheese, as well as the Nashville Hot Chicken with the Creole buttermilk slaw. To finish off, we tried out the Adult Dunkaroos with chocolate drizzled won tons, roasted almonds, and cannoli cream with little bits of chocolate added for extra dipping.
Everything was delicious and affordable, especially given the amount of food we tried. This is a great option for people who want a good, hearty meal without breaking the bank but also enjoying sustainably produced food along the way.
The restaurant itself is intimate and well decorated, with ivy hangings welcoming you through an archway as you enter, gray brick walls, and a small bookshelf on top of the bar. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating available, and the staff works well as a team to make sure everyone is well taken care of.
Common Stock doesn’t accept reservations at this time, so it is a come as you are and first come, first served experience.
They are open daily from 11:30 am. They close at 9 pm Sundays through Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Saturdays; they stay open until 10.
Parking can be a bit hard time come by in this area, so be sure to allow yourself some extra time to find a place, although some paid lots are nearby.
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