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A Guide to San Diego's Little Italy

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!


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

Affectionately known as the "Jewel of Little Italy," Our Lady of the Rosary Church stands as a testament to dedication and community spirit since its consecration in 1925. This architectural marvel was primarily constructed by an industrious fisherman from Genoa, Italy, who, with the support of fellow immigrants from Portugal, crafted a landmark that embodies the essence of Little Italy in California. The church is a visual feast, decorated with exquisite paintings, murals, and captivating stained glass windows that bathe the interior in vibrant colors. Though it may be small, Our Lady of the Rosary Church showcases exceptional architectural prowess and is an essential visit for those exploring the area.

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.


Looking for the perfect souvenir or gift? Make sure to drop by Vitreum on Fir Street. This distinctive gift shop is a treasure trove of fashionable home goods and ornamental pieces, boasting stylish vases and refined tea sets among its finds. With its array of one-of-a-kind items, you're bound to discover something special, even without a preconceived gift idea.

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

Given San Diego's reputation as a premier surf destination globally, it's no surprise that the city is home to exceptional shops catering to surfing enthusiasts. For those passionate about surfing or keen on embracing surf culture, Atacama Surf Shop offers an impressive array of equipment and apparel. Who says you can't hit the waves in style?

Chrome Digital

A stunning piece of art can truly make a space feel complete. Nestled on Kettner Boulevard, Chrome Digital presents a captivating collection of fine art prints that can turn any house into a warmly inviting home. Beyond their existing artworks, Chrome Digital specializes in tailor-made printing and framing services, allowing you to bring your own cherished pieces to life in your living space. Looking to enhance your home's ambiance? Chrome Digital is your go-to destination.

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

Time to cozy up with your favorite fall beverages and wrap yourself in warm scarves because the restaurants in Little Italy are saying goodbye to summer and hello to autumn with their latest culinary creations, featuring the best of the season's produce. Even if the chill in the air is more of an urban legend in San Diego, it's still the perfect reason to enjoy the beauty of autumn leaves.

For those who firmly believe that starting the day right with a hearty breakfast is essential, Harbor Breakfast is your go-to spot. This place is a haven for seafood enthusiasts, offering mouth-watering options like the spicy shrimp diablo and decadent lobster benedict, all accompanied by fruit, hash browns, and a welcoming atmosphere. On the other hand, for those in a rush but still craving something delicious, Breakfast at Stephanie’s offers quick and tasty options like their energizing start-of-the-day burrito, refreshing acai bowl, or their famous 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 an unforgettable lunch experience, swing by Nolita Hall where you can savor the flavors of their wood-fired pizzas, or choose a lighter fare like the "dressed to kale" salad, featuring toasted almonds, local apples, and golden beets for a fresh twist. Looking for a customizable meal? Dive into the build-your-own pasta bowl at Bencotto for a truly personalized treat, but don't miss out on their spectacular cheese wheel pasta, perfectly swirled in a massive 60-pound Parmigiano Reggiano wheel.

Come dinner time, treat yourself to a Sicilian adventure at Rovino Rotisserie + Wine, where the menu boasts delightful flatbreads, pastas, and main dishes such as the pollo arrosto, lovingly prepared with fresh garlic, Italian herbs, olive oil, alongside roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables. If you're craving soul-warming dishes, Herb and Wood is your destination for comfort food with a twist, like their bucatini paired with wild boar, duck egg, pomodoro, and a hint of chili flakes.

To cap off your dining experience, indulge in the sweet creations at Extraordinary Desserts, where traditional favorites and innovative treats, such as the aloha pumpkin pie with its roasted pecan crust, promise to haunt your sweetest dreams with their decadence, complete with marshmallow coconut milk whipped cream and apple croissant pudding. And as Halloween approaches, don't hesitate to explore the seasonal delights at Salt and Straw, featuring chocolate gooey brownies or the whimsically eerie creepy crawler critters for a festive treat.

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