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Neighborhood Guide: San Diego’s Little Italy

San Diego’s Italian district is a vibrant mash-up of rich cultural experiences, foodie favorites, and an ongoing urban renaissance

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Posted 4 years agoby Julia Polloreno

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.

1. Architectural Salvage
Any fan of vintage decor 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/decor shops that draws lovers of independent art and design.

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.

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 farmers market for the freshest flowers, produce, meats, seafood (local sea urchin, anyone?), and gourmet specialties like bone broth.

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, and his company Trail Blais currently oversees them both. Malarkey’s Herb & Wood opened in 2016 with rustic wood-fired dishes and craft cocktails.

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