There’s nothing like the great outdoors, which is the exact idea behind One Door North in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood.
The restaurant creates the ultimate “glamping” feel between the tables and the layout, and there’s even a row of tents in the back section that adds to the appeal. The 11-foot safari-style canvas tents bring in a lot of business, and each offers a unique theme inspired by the mountains, coasts, and lakes the family who owns the restaurant have visited throughout the years.
One Door North displays a cohesive feeling with a vague remnant of camping by a river, with food created to accompany the sensation. Adventure seekers and environmental lovers alike come here to eat heartily while appreciating the earth that surrounds us and often provides us with our food.
One Door North opened its doors in 2016 as the second location for Chef Fred Piehl. The name takes on a literal meeting as it opened one door north of his first restaurant, The Smoking Goat.
Born as a U.S. native, Piehl spent most of his time in Switzerland and bounced around Europe growing up. He moved to Paris after he received his business degree and attended Le Cordon Bleu, where he received his Grand Diplome for cuisine and patisserie.
His next venture landed him in San Diego and began in places like The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Nine-Ten. He initially opened the 850-square-foot Smoking Goat in 2010 before expanding into the 5,000-square-foot ode to the outdoors in One Door North.
The idea for One Door North came about from a 3-day hike, some freshly picked raspberries, and a summer storm. This sparked Chef Piehl’s interest in the nature-themed restaurant that was born from a love of the outdoors and embracing the simplicity and seasonality of quality ingredients.
The quality ingredients take the restaurant through the food, the extensive beer selection, and their craft cocktails. Every so often, there’s also live music thrown into the mix for special events.
With its inspiration coming from Mother Nature herself, One Door North always strives to provide the freshest and most quality food and sustainably sourced materials.
According to their website, Chef Piehl stated, “We take pride in sourcing our products locally, responsibly, and sustainably, which means guests can expect an ever-changing menu of delicious dishes. We find joy in the handcrafted detail in order to yield a more flavorful dish.”
Outside of the food, each of the tables in the three distinct dining areas offers beautiful hand-carved, live-edge wood tables from a sustainably logged forest in Wisconsin. This includes the bar top, which serves as the central portion of the main restaurant’s flow.
The outdoor vibe spills across the restaurant from the moment you walk in the doors. The restaurant itself is split up into three sections, beginning with the street-facing section with banquette seating. The middle section covers the central bar area, and the third is the back section with the tents. The three tents can each hold between six to ten people, or all three tents can be combined to fit up to 30.
To drink, I opted to try one of their crafted cocktails and went for the Bee’s Knees with bourbon, lemon, honey, and ginger. The drink also came with a little ginger gummy that added a little extra punch. It tasted like a spiced-up version of a Hot Toddy and produced a well-balanced flavor.
We began our meal with the gluten-free Grilled Octopus, complete with chorizo aioli, Granny Smith apples, smoked almonds, frisee, and a lemon vinaigrette. I had never had octopus before, and everything about this dish was cooked to perfection. The flavor palette of the chorizo aioli paired well with the texture of the octopus and didn’t overpower it too much, and the small salad with the lemon vinaigrette was light and tasty.
Next up, we split the Caprese Flatbread with mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil, as well as the gluten-free Spatchcock Chicken with chili rub, cheesy polenta, roasted broccolini and carrots, blistered cherry tomatoes, and au jus.
Flatbreads are partially what One Door North is known for, and the Caprese did not disappoint. The crust was thicker than most flatbreads without being thick enough to be a pizza, and the balance of cheese, balsamic drizzle, tomatoes, and basil was all expertly crafted, with no flavors outweighing the other.
The Spatchcock, however, was the highlight of the night. The chicken was moist and melted in my mouth, the broccolini and carrots were cooked just right, and the polenta had just the right amount of cheese and almost tasted more like mashed potatoes. The au jus highlighted all of the items on the plate and didn’t overpower anything.
To finish off, we went for the signature S’mores Platter that lets you legitimately roast marshmallows at your table and creates your own s’mores, complete with graham crackers and Hershey’s chocolate. This rounded out the “campfire” feeling of the whole menu and made for a fun dessert experience.
You can book your reservation for One Door North directly from their website. Parking in the immediate area can be difficult, but a few blocks away in the residential areas, it should be easier to find a space.
The restaurant is open from 4-9 Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. They stay open until 11 on Fridays and Saturdays, and they’re closed on Mondays.
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