'Brothels, Bites and Booze' tour offers downtown's colorful history
by Kai Oliver-Kurtin
Published - 04/07/11 - 01:22 PM | 5118 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bianca Jaime regales tourists with the details of the Gaslamp Quarter’s past, when the neighborhood was a haven for brothels and other places of ill repute. Photo courtesy Tim King
Bianca Jaime regales tourists with the details of the Gaslamp Quarter’s past, when the neighborhood was a haven for brothels and other places of ill repute. Photo courtesy Tim King
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Brothels, Bites and Booze, a historic walking tour of the Stingaree district by So Diego Tours, points out buildings that once held brothels in the former red light district. Launched last October, the tour gives locals and tourists alike a taste of food and adult beverages offered by various Gaslamp hotspots.

Beginning at Horton Plaza, the tour begins with the history of the city and Alonzo Horton’s major contributions, including Horton Plaza Park and Horton Grand Hotel. It continues to historic institutions such as The U.S. Grant, Wyatt Earp’s Historic Gambling Hall and Saloon, The Keating Hotel, William Heath Davis House, San Diego Convention Center, PETCO Park and the illuminated Gaslamp Quarter sign.

“I’ve been frequenting Gaslamp Quarter locations since I was 16 years old,” said Bianca Jaime, tour director of So Diego Tours. “Our tours show San Diego on a more intimate level and explore the city the way a local insider would.”

Growing up in San Diego, Jaime was fascinated with the city, especially the hustle and bustle of downtown and its constantly growing list of new destinations. After studying business at the University of San Diego, Jaime worked for a few downtown businesses so she could immerse herself in the city’s lifeblood.

“I noticed that every time I was out in the Gaslamp, I would usually bounce around to at least four different venues,” she said. “And that’s how the idea of my first tour, a dinner restaurant hop, came about.”

Pounding the pavement, Jaime cherry-picks business included in the tours.

The first food stop on the Brothels, Bites and Booze tour is for a slice of hand-tossed New York style pizza at Krust Pizzeria, 820 Fifth Ave., a subsidiary of The Keating Hotel. Employee Tom Miller gives a brief history of the building’s architecture and interior design, and describes the fresh ingredients put into every pie.

The tour continues to Tequila 100 at 756 Fifth Ave. for a Mexican street taco and a sample of one of their exotic fruit-flavored margaritas.

Taking a gastronomical break, the group heads to Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery at 401 G St. to join Jason Stockberger, head brewmaster, and sample a flight of handcrafted beers.

Continuing on to another ethnic food delicacy, the tour walks over to Royal India at 329 Market St., to feast on a plate of traditional food from their buffet.

Since no meal is complete without dessert, the last stop on the tour is Crunch Time at 611 K St., where store founder Kim Pinkney hands out samples of her homemade ice cream and gourmet popcorn.

The 2.5 hours tour costs $45 per person and is available Wednesday through Saturday at 11 a.m. for groups of four to 12 people. Beginning in April, the tour, which covers one mile of flat terrain, will be available in the evening, featuring five different venues.

So Diego Tours leads restaurants and nightlife tours, wine tastings and bar crawls, and bicycle, bus and boat tours in several areas of the city from Little Italy to Coronado and the beaches. For more information, visit www.sodiegotours.com.

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