If a thriving food scene is what you're after, don't miss San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood, where you'll find restaurants opened by former Top Chef contestants, craft breweries, and a robust farmers' market. Use our guide below for ideas on where to eat, shop, and browse.

Pascal Shirley

1. Architectural Salvage
Any fan of vintage décor will love looking for treasures among the store’s weathered hardware, reclaimed windows, and other salvaged finds.

2. Stroll
Locals declare this the “it shop” for on-trend male and female apparel as well as unique jewelry at reasonable prices.

3. Kettner Arts & Design District
Check out the cluster of small art galleries (some are by appointment only) and home design/décor shops that draws lovers of independent art and design.

Pascal Shirley

4. James Coffee Co.
Come for artisan roasted coffee and stay for the boutique shopping in this collective space that includes trendy men's accessory store ZB Savoy, Brotures bike shop, and other local brands.

Pascal Shirley

5. Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church
Built by immigrant fishermen in the 1920s, this tiny church is adorned with hand-painted frescoes evocative of the Italian Renaissance.

6. Little Italy Mercato
San Diegans come to this European-style farmer’s market for the freshest flowers, produce, meats, seafood (local sea urchin, anyone?), and gourmet specialties like bone broth.

Pascal Shirley

7. Extraordinary Desserts
Desserts—including cookies, tarts, cakes, cupcakes, chocolate, and ice cream—are elevated to an art form at this longtime hot spot.

8. Top Chef Alley
Two stars of Bravo TV’s popular Top Chef—Richard Blais and Brian Malarkey—chose Little Italy as the location of their highly acclaimed restaurants. Blais opened Juniper & Ivy in 2014; a year later he established chicken- and egg-centric The Crack Shack right across the street. Malarkey’s Herb & Wood opened in 2016 with rustic wood-fired dishes and craft cocktails. Recent Top Chef alum Giselle Wellman returned to San Diego in 2016 to run the kitchen at Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen.