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A Guide to San Diego's Little Italy
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A Guide to San Diego's Little Italy

Don’t know where to start exactly? Our handy guide to Little Italy is here to help. Read our guide and go for an adventure! Happy exploring!

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5 min read

October 07, 2021

A can’t-miss destination in America’s Finest City, Little Italy San Diego always exudes a sense of urban cool. The neighborhood’s main thoroughfare India Street is filled to the brim with lively cafes, chic boutiques, and a number of the city’s trendiest restaurants—getting lost here might just be the treat you’re looking for. Explore the neighborhood on foot and wander into gallery showrooms, the Fir Street cottages, and the wildly popular Mercato farmer’s market; wherever you end up going, Little Italy won’t disappoint you. 

Don’t know where to start exactly? Our handy guide to Little Italy is here to help. Happy exploring!

The Little Italy Mercato, San Diego's largest farmers market, offers farm-fresh produce, pastured eggs and poultry, meat, fish, olive oil, and more.

Stop One: Little Italy Mercato

When it comes to hidden gems in San Diego neighborhoods, Little Italy Mercato is definitely a goldmine. Open year-round, rain or shine, Little Italy Mercato is San Diego County’s largest, occupying five city blocks. Shop for farm-fresh produce, pastured eggs, poultry, meat, nuts, and honey from California farmers and try freshly baked goods from local food makers. There are also selected local artisans and gifts at each end of the market—come here for groceries (which is cheaper than supermarkets, might we add) and leave with shiny new trinkets you never thought you needed.

The vendors welcome any product questions you may have since it shows your interest in a craft they’ve spent years perfecting. And, best of all, if you happen to follow a certain diet, there are countless stands catering to your specific needs—you’ll find plenty of vegan and allergen-free products.

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Stop Two: Our Lady of the Rosary Church

Deemed the “Jewel of Little Italy,” Our Lady of the Rosary Church was consecrated in 1925 and built mainly by one man—a fisherman, who emigrated from Genoa, Italy. With the help of other immigrants from Portugal, the fisherman built a gem that personifies Little Italy California. Our Lady of the Rosary Church is adorned with beautiful paintings and murals and mesmerizing stained glass windows that illuminate the interior. Despite the fact that it’s quaint, this church is a masterclass in architecture and a must-see stop during your visit.

There are a ton of awesome shops, venues, and restaurants to explore, making Little Italy the best place in San Diego for a fun night.

Stop Three: All the Shops 

Love and Aesthetics 

Looking to up your hat game? The cozy Love and Aesthetics has exactly what you’re looking for. Located right on India Street, this cute corner store guarantees that you’re more fashionable upon exiting than when you came in. Whether you’re after home decor, jewelry, fragrances, gifts, or candles, Love and Aesthetics is a stone’s throw away from all the other Little Italy stores.

Vitreum

If you don’t want to return home empty-handed, this is the place you need to turn to. Situated on Fir Street, Vitreum is a quirky gift shop worth checking out. The store offers a great selection of trendy homeware and decorative items, including chic vases and elegant tea sets. There are so many unique finds you don’t even need a specific gift idea in mind.

Love the beach bum lifestyle? Atacama Surf Shop has a great selection of casual clothing that's perfect for a day at the beach.

Atacama Surf Shop

Since San Diego is one of the surf capitals in the world, it's only fitting that America’s Finest City boasts top-notch stores dedicated to the sport. If you’re a surfer or are interested in surf culture, Atacama Surf Shop has a marvelous selection of gear and clothing—who says a day at the beach can’t be accomplished in style?

Chrome Digital

Nothing brings a room together like an exquisite work of art. Chrome Digital is located on Kettner Boulevard that features a diverse and beautiful bouquet of fine art prints. Buying one of their works will transform your house into a home. Not only that, but Chrome Digital also offers custom printing and framing services for a personal piece of work you’d like to display at home. Want to add flair to your home? You know where to go.

Stroll Boutique

A haven for bohemian outfit construction, Stroll Boutique is India Street’s pride and joy. Offering a variety of bohemian-inspired women’s clothing and accessories, this Little Italy shop tends to your style like no other. Being chic and unique never goes out of style. 

Little Italy is the hub of one of San Diego’s most dynamic and fastest-growing food scenes with countless restaurants lining the streets.

Fall Plates from Little Italy Restaurants

Grab your pumpkin spice lattes and plaid scarfs, because Little Italy eateries are bidding summer farewell and welcoming in fall with brand-new dishes full of seasonal ingredients. And while dramatic temperature drops are somewhat of an urban legend in San Diego, it still isn’t an excuse to embrace the fall foliage.

If you’re a ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ believer, then Harbor Breakfast might be exactly what you’re looking for. Seafood lovers flock to this place for dishes such as Harbor’s shrimp diablo and lobster benedict, served with a side of fruit, hash browns, and good old-fashioned hospitality. Alternatively, if you’re looking to grab something on the go, stop by Breakfast at Stephanie’s for a start-of-the-day burrito, acai bowl, or one of the scrumptious signature mamacitas breakfast croissants.

The lively neighborhood is packed with distinctive eateries and casual cafés, helmed by old school Italian families and Top Chef alums alike.

For a hearty lunch, head on over to Nolita Hall for mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas or opt for something lighter like the dressed to kale salad, prepared with toasted almonds, local apples, and golden beet. Are you into more creative dining? The build-your-own pasta bowl at Bencotto will become your ultimate indulgence, that is if you don’t try their cheese wheel pasta tossed in a 60-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

As for dinner, indulge in a Sicilian feast at Rovino Rotisserie + Wine. This restaurant features flatbreads, pastas, and entrees like the pollo arrosto made with fresh garlic, Italian herbs, olive oil, roasted potatoes, and steamed vegetables. Comfort-food lovers should totally check out Herb and Wood to enjoy classics such as the bucatini with wild boar, duck egg, pomodoro, and chili flakes.

And finally, no meal is complete without a little (or a whole lot) of something sweet. Extraordinary Desserts lives up to its name with mouth-watering concoctions from traditional faves like the aloha pumpkin pie. Made with roasted pecan crust, this dessert will keep popping up in your dreams. Did we mention it’s topped with swirls of marshmallow coconut milk whipped cream and apple croissant pudding? And right as the spooky season creeps upon us, go ahead and shake things up with one of Salt and Straw’s Halloween-themed chocolate gooey brownies or creepy crawler critters.

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