We decided to skip holiday gift giving this year, and took our friends on a culinary adventure instead, discovering Market on 8th Public Market, less than a six-mile drive from Coronado in National City. When you have 12 food options, it is simply a must that you go with a group, so you can sample the wide array of food offerings.
The new food hall, which opened in late October, was created by Developer Joel Tubao, whose family has been operating Pacific Point Properties in the area since the 1960s. Ironically, Tubao was born in Coronado, with his father in the Navy and his mother a nurse at the hospital. He grew up in the South Bay and wants to “help create stepping stones to put National City on the map,” he shared, noting that this project has been in the works for three years.
The former furniture store at 41 E. 8th Street, next to the famous Niederfrank’s Ice Cream, has been transformed into an amazing 9,000-square-foot food hall, with a 2,000-square-foot beer garden, complete with vintage photos, a mural representing National City, created by Tubao’s daughter, communal tables, and colorful food and retail spaces. “We created a family-friendly atmosphere where people feel at home and can enjoy good conversation, along with food and beverages around a table or firepit,” he commented. Tubao says the response has been positive and the community has been very receptive.
We all enjoyed the varied dishes that we sampled, starting with La Central Mexican offerings of chicken, veggie, and carne asada tacos, as well as the loaded carne asada fries, piled high with delicious toppings (they have two locations in Chula Vista as well). One of my personal favorites was the veggie pancit from the Serbesa Filipino Kitchen. Their menu has a range of other familiar Filipino dishes, which I plan to try on another visit. We sampled three slices of pizza from Pizza Kaiju, which was previously a popular pop-up, and all favored the loaded baked potato slice, but we didn’t save room for their sinfully delicious-looking cookies. Ping Yang Thai Skewers and More is run by Thunchanok Peralta, whose relatives own other Thai restaurants, with this being her first venture. With an emphasis on Thai street food, the combo plates come with your choice of meat, and artfully presented vegetables and rice. We fought over, and quickly devoured, the savory Garlic Pepper Chicken with rice and veggies, as well as the Chicken Satay with peanut sauce.
My friend Kari raved about the Tori Paitan Ramen from Weapon Ramen, which is run by South Bay native and experienced chef Phillip Esteban. Offering breakfast, Japanese sandwiches, ramen, and grab-and-go bento boxes, they also have a location in Liberty Station Public Market. He also opened a culinary shop, called Wordsmith, which offers cookbooks, cooking supplies, plants, and future book signings. The other retail option is The Fresh Yard, which offers a variety of clothing and accessories, with another location in North Park.
You won’t go thirsty with the variety of libations. 20 taps and grab-and go beer selections, hard seltzers, and kombuchas are available at Novo Brazil Brewing Company. After dinner, we sipped warm mochas and chai tea lattes from Moe Coffee, which also has locations in Little Italy and North Park, featuring a wide variety of organic coffee drinks and pastries. Our friends Todd and Kari slipped next door and brought back Niederfrank’s Ice Cream, which has been churning out cold scoops since 1948.
We definitely plan to return and sample more delicacies. Additional options include Café Indonesia, which is new to San Diego. It’s headed by Robert Alfonso, who was born in the Philippines, where his family ran a restaurant for two decades, but he was raised in Japan, so the recipes reflect diverse flavors like adobo fried chicken sandwiches on Japanese milk bread. Other culinary choices include Pacific Poke from Poway, and Smitty’s Taste of the Bayou, a Louisiana-style barbecue, that previously operated in North Park. For dessert, check out MNGO café, which also has a location on Convoy Street.
The first full-time Public Market concept was brought to San Diego by Coronado’s own David Spatafore, with the creation of Liberty Station Public Market in 2016. Others have popped up around the county, like Carlsbad’s Windmill Food Hall and Del Mar Highlands Sky Deck. I highly recommend that you come hungry to Market on 8th Public Market with family and friends, to experience and savor all it has to offer. For details, check out marketon8thstreet.com