Three individuals make up what is the excellence of Waypoint Public; John Pani, Amanda Baumgarten, the executive chef; and Brian Jensen, the beverage manager. Each partner brings something unique to the table with their combined experience and commitment to excellence in the food and beverage industry. They’re the backbone to Waypoint Public’s success. The ambiance, food, and beverages of this restaurant have been featured in over a dozen publications in the last two years; the San Diego Magazine, West Coaster, and San Diego Union Tribune are just a few of them. Waypoint is a come one, come all kind of place for friends and families; their mission is to be accessible and authentic, celebrating all that is California from the mountains to the beach.
Traditionally, “waypoints” are navigational by nature; essentially, stopping places on life’s journey. This ideal is celebrated at Waypoint Public where locals wandering down the street and wistful travelers passing through are welcomed with open arms. Waypoint Public draws you in before you even enter the door. Massive glass garage doors raise to make the front and side walls virtually non-existent, except for long chestnut counters that run their perimeters; patrons seated at the counters on black cushioned bar stools, eat, drink, and engage in lively conversation as you walk by outside. The all wood bar takes center stage inside the restaurant, surrounded by vibrant blue bar stools. Three plasma TVs hang above one of the most impressive draft beer systems you have ever seen; Waypoint has 30 beers on tap, many of which are San Diego local craft beers.
Several light oak tables with white chairs are scattered about the front of the restaurant between the door and the bar; along the left wall are communal picnic tables. Just behind those is a little children’s play yard complete with artificial turf, a small picnic table, beanbag chair, books, Legos, and toys, and surrounded by a low picket fence. The entire left wall is a series of giant 3D collages made from wood; various kitchen utensils hang from each one. Intriguing wood art pieces such as one in the shape of California adorn the other wall. Waypoint has an outdoorsy feel like you’re hanging out in the local park or your own backyard, but with a contemporary twist, pops of vibrant colors, modern amenities, and excellent customer service – all reminders you’re in a great restaurant.
With a menu that changes roughly every six months, every time you eat at Waypoint Public can be a new experience. Executive Chef Amanda Baumgarten has over a decade of culinary experience working and training at several prestigious restaurants. She utilizes her extensive culinary expertise with Asian, Latin, and European influences to continuously create fresh and dynamic seasonal dishes. Once she’s made her creations, beer expert Brian Jensen chooses from his highly curated list of bottled and craft beers from all over the world to pair with each dish.
A great example of Waypoint’s interesting menu is the delectable Po’ Boys Tacos appetizer consisting of fried oysters, French fries, jicama, jalapeno slaw, aioli and smoked tomatillo sauce. It is a unique flavor creation you don’t want to miss that pairs perfectly with a Belgian Pale Ale or Rauchbier. Really reach outside your comfort zone and try the starter Roasted Beets & Pork Belly Salad made of crispy pig’s ears, tangerine, and Frisée lettuce, paired with a Belgian Wit or Flanders Red. For your main event, check out the Waypoint Burger, one of Eater’s 19 Best Burgers in the United States. It’s an eight-ounce beef burger with mozzarella, pulled pork, tomatillo salsa, a fried egg, and picked vegetables, on a ciabatta bun that pairs perfectly with a hoppy IPA Brown. Order any dish with a side of baked jalapeno and bacon mac and cheese and you’ll be in heaven. End your night with a delicious dessert like Waypoint’s Apple Turnover; rosemary apples in a cheddar puff pastry with caramel ice cream, or try a twist on a childhood favorite The S’morelaska; milk chocolate malt ice cream, graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, and campfire carmel.
Waypoint Public serves dinner and drinks Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. On the weekends they start serving their delectable brunch menu at 10:30 a.m. and close at 1 a.m. Their North Park urban location makes it hard to find parking, so taking a cab, walking, or riding a bike would be preferable. They have plenty of bike parking out front. If you’re worried about seating, simply make a reservation with the Open Table app, or call them directly. Waypoint Public is a family-friendly restaurant that goes so far as to provide stepstools in the bathrooms so little ones can wash their hands like the big kids.
Waypoint Public, located at 3794 30th Street in North Park, is centrally located along the 30th Street corridor, known nationally for its craft beer culture. Men’s Magazine called it “easily the best nation’s best beer boulevard.” Food and Wine Magazine said that it is “one of the most dynamic beer scenes in America and arguably the world.” Waypoint Public is an active participant in this fun craft brew culture. The pedestrian dense 30th Street corridor features restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops, and runs along the west side of the Ray Street Arts District, home to many art studios and galleries. This hub of North Park’s emerging arts community has been compared to SoHo in New York City. You’ll enjoy the eclectic Ray Street Arts District anytime, but if you’re around the second Saturday of the month, attend the Ray at Night art walk. It’s the longest running art walk in San Diego and often draws more than 1,500 visitors to 30 galleries and businesses.