Shelter Island Drive boasts two of my favorite hangouts where you can always count on finding boaters of every stripe — the Red Sails and the Wine Pub. Both have a welcoming, casual vibe and offer pet-friendly patios, popular happy hours and consistent, good food. Yet they’re a contrast in approach, style and atmosphere.
The older Red Sails Inn is a true San Diego waterfront institution, so “salty” that The Log even got its start there in 1971, as a plaque posted near the fireplace attests, before moving next door, former editor Capt. Pat Rains recalled. The inn, originally founded in the 1920s on the waterfront at the foot of G Street near the current Fish Market Restaurant, moved to its current spot on Shelter Island in 1957. The restaurant serves a traditional menu of seafood, steaks, chops, burgers and salads, plus appetizers and soups along with vegetarian options. It opens daily for breakfast at 7 a.m. and serves both lunch and dinner.
Current owner Bill Dargitz’s family acquired the restaurant about 30 years ago and his father Jack still helps out, although officially retired. Most of the staff have worked there for years and know all the regulars, both boaters and locals, who make the trek from all over the region and beyond. The bar is often a first stop for customers seeking reliable recommendations of craftsmen to work on their boats.
With its walls adorned with historic photographs depicting San Diego’s long seafaring tradition and its red and blue sail-shaded patio overlooking the boat-filled harbor, the Red Sails oozes maritime warmth. It’s a popular destination not just for sailors, boaters and waterfront lovers but also for marine industry workers. Dargitz scheduled his happy hour early, from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, because so many marine workers finish their workdays mid-afternoon.
The inviting Wine Pub, tucked in a corner at Scott Street and Shelter Island Drive, is just over five years old, yet it’s been embraced by Point Loma residents and boaters alike, attracting many liveaboards, particularly sailors, who don’t want to cook but still crave a good, home-cooked meal, explained owner Sandy Hanshaw. Many regulars stop by daily, making new friends at the bar.
Executive Chef Malissa Sorsby makes everything from scratch daily, and their up-to-date varied gourmet menu changes seasonally. The pub, which serves a rotating selection of craft beers, including many local brews, opens daily at 4 p.m. with its happy hour running until 6 p.m.
Regulars come for the live music, an acoustic guitarist, every Thursday and Friday evenings on the patio, and know to bring their dogs for “Woofer Wednesday,” when 10 percent of their checks is donated to the pub’s annually-chosen dog rescue, currently The Rescued Dog. Hanshaw and her bicycle-enthusiast husband Andy are parents to two beagles, whose photo adorns the wall.
They regularly stage fundraisers benefiting local organizations and host many private parties — including dogs’ birthday parties — and public holiday-related celebrations, plus monthly painting classes, on their heated patio.
Hanshaw, a hospitality industry veteran and a life-long student and lover of wine, took advantage of an unexpected layoff from her hotel job to pursue her dream of opening a wine bar in 2009. The Wine Pub offers 30 wines by the glass, with the wines changed quarterly and draft brews monthly.
The Wine Pub also sells wine by the bottle, to consume on-site or take home, and offers bicycle deliveries of wine to boats or homes, with a six-bottle minimum.
Many other Shelter Island spots also welcome boaters, who will encounter warm and tasty hospitality at these friendly local hangouts.