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Staff Picks: Our Favorite Stories of 2022

San Diego Magazine's team chooses its favorite features, food reviews, cultural discussions, photo essays and more from this year
Photo Credit: Todd Glaser
Todd Glaser, staff picks

Todd Glaser, staff picks

Photo Credit: Todd Glaser

With 2022 coming to an end, we’ve been taking a look back at what has made this year so great, what has shaped our small-but-mighty team, and what kinds of stories we’re hoping to tell in 2023.

This sparked an interesting conversation in the office as we looked back at what’s been published, both in print and digitally. When 2022 started, we had no idea what to expect (hell, does anyone know anymore?) during a year of major changes, growth and new beginnings.

But one thing we knew for sure: our north star would never change. We promised to tell great stories. Stories about our local neighborhood haunts, the daily issues San Diegans face, all things outdoors, the Davids and Goliaths shaping this town, and of course, the meals enjoyed as we caught up with friends and family.

We asked our staff to choose some of their favorite pieces from the year and as we scrolled through their responses, we realized how grateful we are to have been able to tell your stories. It’s been a damn good 12 months.

And, as owner and CEO Claire Johnson said after taking over the magazine with husband Troy: “We’re just getting started.”

We love this city and can’t wait for what next year will bring. So without further ado, here are some of San Diego Magazine’s staff favorites of 2022.

Claire Johnson Headshot

Claire Johnson Headshot

From the CEO: We’re Just Getting Started

Chosen by Nicolle Monico

San Diego Magazine‘s owner and CEO writes about her love affair with the city and discusses her vision for the nearly 75-year-old media company.

Hoxton Manor - Southeast Asian feast

The feast of Southeast Asian flavors at Hoxton Manor.

James Tran

Hoxton Manor Brings Laotian Cuisine and Goth Atmosphere to North Park

Chosen by Samantha Lacy

Bottom line at Hoxton Manor is: if you love fish sauce and the goth life, welcome to your new home. The food is largely dark (or it’s just dark in there). There’s a running-naked-into-the-fire boldness to everything you’ll eat— and when dishes hit, as they mostly do, it’s a thrill.

water warriors, hiking team

A Border Kindness group heads out just after sunrise. An average group is “usually around 8 to 12 people with an average hike length of 5 to 10 miles,” Cordero says.

James Cordero

In Search of Water With Border Kindness

Chosen by Samantha Lacy

The California-based nonprofit provides food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and legal aid to those displaced along the United States-Mexico border. Border Kindness volunteers leave water, food, and clothing in canyons, mountains, and desert flats known to be frequented both by migrants and Customs and Border Protection (CBP, border patrol).

among the stars, kat

among the stars, kat

Courtesy of Katya Echazarreta

Representing Among The Stars

Chosen by Samantha Lacy, Nicolle Monico

As the first Mexican-born woman to go to space, engineer Kat Echazarreta reminds us of what it means to humbly stay the course. One of our notable leaders to be featured on the cover of our Celebrating Women issue.

Todd Glaser, wave

Todd Glaser, wave

Photo Credit: Todd Glaser

Below the Surface

Chosen by Scott Fisk, Shelby Kalchik

Todd Glaser is one of the top Photographers in San Diego with collaborations with athletes like Taylor Steele and Kelly Slater. In our Below The Surface article, he shares his top 13 photos of all time.

Meglio Knives, hero

Meglio Knives, hero

Crafting the Knives of San Diego’s Top Chefs

Chosen by Mateo Hoke

We visited Brandon Hampton’s workshop in an industrial part of Escondido, home of Meglio Knives, where he works as owner and lead knifemaker. Right now, he’s got a 100-person waitlist for his custom knives and his skills are slowly creating waves in the hospitality industry.

Sager Hammock

Mike Sager at his Bird Rock home

Photo Credit: Ariana Drehsler

The Not-So-Lonely Hedonist

Chosen by Mateo Hoke, Troy Johnson, Nicolle Monico

Formerly itinerant journalist Mike Sager runs an independent publishing house from his Bird Rock home. A writer whose pieces are so vivid, the characters so alive, that more than a dozen of his articles have been turned into films. The day we spent with him was an adventure for all.

Sun Room Live

Sun Room Live

Courtesy of Sun Room

Sounds Like Summer

Chosen by Mateo Hoke, Nicolle Monico

After discovering them on a playlist, former One Direction band member, Louis Tomlinson, summoned this group of Point Loma Nazarene students from their life of noise disturbances to his world tour. Now they’re determined to take San Diego summers around the world.


Handcrafted silver feathers play a part in much of Stephanie Foley’s work.

Credit: Mateo Hoke

Unearthing Stephanie Foley’s Metal & Stone Work

Chosen by Nicolle Monico, Mateo Hoke

“I like to take the long, slow way,” Stephanie Foley says, her liberally tattooed arm cranking the high-dollar mill she mounted on a couple of stumps in her garage studio. The Vista resident and indigenous silversmith takes her time crafting one-of-a-kind wearable art paying homage to her Amazonian roots.

Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan

Pieter M. Van Hattem

Pulitzer-Winning Author Talks A Visit From the Goon Squad

Chosen by Jim Ely

We started a book club in 2022, and honestly, it blew up. Just as excitingly, the Pulitzer-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan, joined SDM content chief Troy Johnson for an IG Live to talk about her award-winning novel, to kick it off. We geeked.

Wolf in the Woods, hero

The yellowtail aguachile is food art and unlike other restaurants, doesn’t get abusively happy with the lime

Photo Credit: James Tran

Review: Wolf in the Woods

Chosen by Scott Fisk

Longtime San Diego restaurateur Johnny Rivera is best known for big, loud things. The table-sized breakfasts at Hash House A-Go-Go. The maple-bacon donuts at Great Maple. But his tiny eatery, Wolf in the Woods, is his best yet.

Roe v Wade

San Diegans take to the streets on Friday, June 24, 2022 to protest the overturning of Roe v Wade

Joe Orellana

Op Ed: I’m a Pro Choice Woman of Faith

Chosen by Shelby Kalchik, Jackie Bryant, Troy Johnson, Claire Johnson

This article is a well-researched op-ed written by our digital editor, Nicolle Monico, on the overturn of Roe V. Wade. San Diego Magazine covers food, music, art, and culture. However, as a media company, we also occasionally cover more substantive issues that impact the San Diego community. This is was one of those moments.


Cayuca Residential Community

Ian Patzke

Scaling Down to Level Up

Chosen by Shelby Kalchik

From Bankers Hill to Vista, local developers are refining small living with big, bold ideas. Think meticulous layouts without a wasted square inch, indoor-outdoor living, and amenities that rival boutique hotels, all in highly walkable neighborhoods. Scaling down has never felt so next-level.

Coronado Brewing

Coronado Brewing Company

Madeline Yang

Imperial Beach Rising

Chosen by Shelby Kalchik

Imperial Beach is located 5 miles North of downtown Tijuana, it’s the literal last stop before the boarder. This makes it the most southwesterly city in the continental United States and not very high on most tourists’ radar… but if anything can change it’s foot traffic with locals and tourists alike, it’s craft beer.

Melody Moulton

Melody Moulton runs a small shop filled with esoterica in the front of her South Park art gallery, Trash Lamb

Madeline Yang

Movers and Shakers of the Art World

Chosen by Shelby Kalchik

Meet the latest and greatest local tastemakers in film, theater, books, visual arts, music and new cultural spaces. The ones to watch, see, read, experience and hear.



Megan Jane Burgess

FIRST LOOK: Botanica

Chosen by Nicolle Monico

An exclusive look at the new gin-focused restaurant in North Park where dishes come with a side of NFTs. Botanica, the new hybrid bar-gallery-restaurant from Be Saha Hospitality in the Art Produce complex in North Park, schools us all on what it means to be artistic.

Chef William Bradley - Addison

Chef William Bradley – Addison

Photo Credit: Lauren Di Matteo

Addison Becomes San Diego’s First 3-Star Michelin Restaurant

Chosen by Shelby Kalchik

There are only 14 three-star Michelin restaurants in the country. California has seven. Six of those Michelin stars are in the Bay Area (French Laundry, Manresa, Benu, Quince, Atelier Crenn, SingleThread). The other is now in San Diego. The Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s Chef William Bradley got the world’s most famous restaurant award to pay attention to San Diego.


Mammoth mountain

Mammoth mountain

Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Calling

Chosen by Mateo Hoke

Snowboarder Julie Brown Davis has a love for two things: the sea (you’re in the right place, Julie) and the snow (uh oh). So she signed up for UCSD’s Ski and Snowboard Team, an anti-fraternity social club that’s giving her the community she was looking for.

my own private ride, skater at sunset

my own private ride, skater at sunset

Madeline Yang

My Own Private Ride

Chosen by Mateo Hoke, Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy

The Draper family—Mark, Sarah, and their two young children—live on a peak that overlooks the Dehesa Valley, a rural area nestled deep in East County San Diego. The location is perfect; but for a skateboarder…not so much. So they got in touch with Jim Bell, the longtime veteran ramp builder behind Jim Bell Skate Ramps. Now they get their skate fix and the opportunity to take bigger risks, right at home.


Chris Broomell of Vesper Vineyards is dry-farming vines (relying on rain) to avoid irrigation as drought becomes the norm in SoCal.

Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger

Old Drought, New Wines

Chosen by Mateo Hoke, Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy, Troy Johnson

The difficulties of turning water into wine during drought in San Diego County and Valle de Guadalupe are causing vineyards and business owners to innovate. Luckily, the top winemakers in the region see these changes as more positive than negative—pushing the boundaries of what people do.

Tristan Shone, hero

Tristan Shone, hero

Christina Liu

Author & Punisher Gets Back on the Road With Newest Album

Chosen by David Martin

Tristan Shone reveals the softer side of his blistering one-man metal band. In contrast to the screams and terrifying synths of Shone’s 2018 release Beastland, on Krüller he decided to incorporate more contrasting sounds, IRL instruments, and a wider range of vocal styles. It’s the sonic equivalent of the (San Diego) sun peeking through storm clouds.



Photo Credit: Domenic Biagini and Gone Whale Watching

Consider the Whale

Chosen by Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy, Troy Johnson

Executive editor Mateo Hoke spent the day whale watching off the coast of San Diego in pursuit of the lessons these ocean giants might teach us about ourselves and the world. It’s a beautifully written piece that will make you laugh as you learn about these oceanic giants—while also vowing to boycott balloons for good.

Influencer Doctors-Spine

Influencer Doctors-Spine

Stacy Keck

The Doctor Will Tweet You Now

Chosen by Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy, Nicolle Monico

As an epidemiologist at UC San Diego who specialized in infectious disease in sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller was paying attention to the early spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and sensed what was coming. We tell the story of how the pandemic convinced us all to adopt telehealth, made San Diego’s top docs social media stars, and changed healthcare forever.



Photo Credit: Peggy Peattie

Photo Essay: Studio of The Streets

Chosen by Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy, Troy Johnson, Claire Johnson

Award-winning photojournalist Peggy Peattie has been telling the stories of the nation’s unhoused for more than 30 years, many of them here in town, where she teaches journalism at City College and San Diego State University.


Fresh oysters with lemon, salted kiwi, and absinthe foam

Eric Wolfinger

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Chosen by Nicolle Monico

In the sexy French bistro that is Wormwood, logic and skill are no match for the way it makes you feel. Heavy saucings, mythical spirits, and pretty significant magic fill the North Park eatery.


Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner runs between San Diego and Santa Barbara, with ocean views and plenty of conversation, if desired.

Railway Runaway

Chosen by Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy, Troy Johnson

Finding herself in California riding the rails, writer Nylah Burton once again fantasized about starting over. She decided to attempt traveling through the state solely by Amtrak and other public transit, even though she was unsure how feasible that would be. She was searching for much more than just adventure though.



I Will Never Eat Another Apple

Chosen by Jackie Bryant, Samantha Lacy

In September, owners Claire Johnson and Troy Johnson noticed a large white spot on the roof of their son Jasper’s mouth—about the size of a nickel. What transpired following that discovery is a story on how to age 100 years in just a few weeks as a parent, and why their son is the inspiration and confirmation of why we know San Diego’s doctors are the best around.

Fishmonger - Tommy Gomes Point Loma Home

The Fishmonger star Tommy Gomes among the treasures of the sea in his Point Loma home

Robert Benson

How ‘The Fishmonger’ Star Tommy Gomes Rose From the Depths

Chosen by Jackie Bryant

This fifth-generation fisherman lost everything on his way to becoming a TV star. From 10 years in prison, to the top-rated show on the Outdoor Channel. Meet Point Loma’s Tommy Gomes.

By Nicolle Monico

Nicolle Monico is an award-winning writer and the managing digital editor for San Diego Magazine with more than 15 years of experience in media including Outside Run, JustLuxe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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