For my second guest post, my best friend Katie takes you on a tour through her Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego. There are so many people that visit SD, but they often don't even know that Little Italy exists, which is such a shame. I love staying with her as often as I can. She doesn't currently have a blog, but please check out her Instagram if you like what you see! She's quite the tour guide, and often shares photos of her adventures in San Diego. I hope you find this helpful. Enjoy!
Ciao Bella! My name is Katie and I have been lucky enough to call myself Noelle's best friend for well over a decade now. When she asked me to do a guest post on her blog, I was thrilled. We both bonded over a creative writing class in high school and I think that is when we met the two loves of our lives- writing...and each other. After high school, we each went our own path and I found myself in San Diego, where I met the third love of my life- this city.
I currently reside in a little borough outside of downtown proper known as "Little Italy". Let me tell you, all the years I spent in college and into the first half of my twenties, I didn't even know this neighborhood existed. Then when my husband and I made the leap and traded beachside living for city life, we stumbled upon an ad for an apartment in Little Italy and the rest is history. It was our little hidden gem that in recent years has grown so much.
Little Italy is about as charming as it gets. Streets lined with lights year round, bustling coffee shops and wine bars galore, boutiques that offer unique finds, all only a block from the harbor. Art is found on sides of buildings, painting classes are offered weekly. The association throws festivals year round. The restaurant and bar scene feels like something out of a movie. Everywhere you look is just a unique twist on a standard novelty. Even my nail salon is in an old home from the turn of the century. My flower lady, (La Belle Bloom) is in a warehouse next to a bar. Dogs are welcomed almost everywhere, because most local residents have a dog. It's a neighborhood that has a personality all its own. If it were a person, it would probably be a really cool, hip, artsy, diverse, cultured, animal loving individual that has the kind of personality that people are just drawn to and want to be around.
So, next time you find yourself in this great city, take a day to visit Little Italy. Here are some of my favorite establishments that are worth paying a visit to:
1. El Camino- a funky cantina restaurant/bar, decorated with Dia de los Muertos meets Virgin Mary meets seventies' funk scene. Best day to go in my opinion is Sunday. Pull up to the outdoor bar and order some bottomless mimosas for $12 from Jorge. Wait for the DJ- Kanye Asada to play his tunes outdoors on the patio and hang out with the best group of staff and people watching you can find. Go. Try the California burrito and corn on the cob. You won't be disappointed.
2. Bencotto- If you want traditional italian food- like from Italy (not the Americanized kind)- go here. Fresh pasta made daily, a cool, modern environment. You can bring your own bottle of wine too. Try the squid ink pasta. No complaints there.
3. Bracero- An authentic Mexican restaurant (again not Americanized Mexican). The owner has another restaurant just the flip side of the boarder and has been featured on Top Chef. If you want to venture into cool craft cocktails, an octopus appetizer and a beef tongue taco, all while overlooking the bustling street below, this is the place to go.
4. The Crack Shack- Can you picture fried chicken, an all outdoor restaurant in the dirt, a giant chicken statue and The Beatles next to a bocce court? Well then come here! Awesome food, even better sauces, cocktails and all outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather. This is the creation of Richard Blais (Top Chef). Try the Coop Deville. Yum.
5. The Waterfront and the waterfront- let me explain. If you walk a block west, you will hit the water and see the oldest sailing ship still around- The Star of India; cruise ships pulling into port and a massive waterfront park. It's beautiful. Now if you want a stiff cocktail and a dive bar to rest your feet at, walk back up a block and go the The Waterfront- San Diego's oldest dive bar and never a bad time. Try the bloody Mary- Waterfront style- oh and the popcorn.
6. Little Italy Mercato aka The farmer's market: Every Saturday from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., the streets turn into one of the best farmer's markets around. Pick up some fresh flowers, Bitchin' Sauce, uni and oysters on the half shell, crepes and even some unique handmade jewelry and soaps, all in a two block radius.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of what this great neighborhood has to offer. So next time you want to visit Seaport Village or the Gaslamp, do yourself a favor and take the exit before and drive down India Street. You can take in an art gallery, a wine bar, some authentic food, craft beer, boutiques and an ocean view all on one street while walking less than a mile. There are worse places you could go.