San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Little Italy

Once upon a time the city streets of Little Italy were home to a thriving fishing community founded by Italian immigrants. It has since evolved into one of the most modern and trendy neighborhoods in San Diego. The lively social scene makes it the perfect place to enjoy both a day and night out on the town. 

I've compiled a comprehensive list of the best 45 spots to eat, drink and be merry in Little Italy.  From the swanky high brow spots to the cool and comfy, it's all here. Plan a romantic evening with that special someone or invite your pals out for a brunch date. Bookmark this page and consider it your go-to tool for social planning in Little Italy. Don't forget to check out my neighborhood guide to North Park

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Trendy Casual Dinning in Little Italy 

Herb & Eatery - Happening hangout for sandwiches, salads & baked goods with communal tables & a gourmet market.

Loading Dock - Mellow joint pairs wine, beer & soju cocktails with eclectic bites plus live shows in the back room.

Super Cocina - El Camino - Buzzy spot offers margaritas & seasonal Mexican grub, plus an outdoor patio, happy hour & DJ nights.

Rakiraki Ramen - Ramen both classic & creative, plus rice bowls, snacks, sake & beer, in casual yet stylish environs. 

Pokirrito - Enjoy fresh poke creations including perfectly-packed sushi-burritos.

Grab & Go - Regional chain eatery offering made-to-order sandwiches as well as salads & coffee.

Prep Kitchen - Hip local chain spot draws foodies with seasonal American grub, creative cocktails & happy hour.

Burger Lounge - Modern counter-serve burger spot serving grass-fed beef, free-range turkey & quinoa varieties.

Bar One - Classy sports bar with fido friendly outdoor seating.

Isola Pizza Bar - Sleek, contemporary pizzeria & wine bar slinging inspired Neapolitan-style pies & small plates.

The Crack Shack - Fun spot for chicken & egg dishes with stylish outdoor seating, a full bar & a bocce court.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Best Boutiques in Little Italy

Stroll - Bright & airy boutique carrying bohemian-inspired women's apparel & accessories in a quaint setting.

La Belle Bloom - Oh so cute floral studio specializing in designer bouquets and arrangements using out of the norm ingredients and vision.

Vocabulary - Boutique offering contemporary fashions for women & men, plus accessories & some home decor.

Little Apple - Intimate, local boutique featuring fashionable women's clothing & accessories in a modern interior.

Walter & George - Located inside the James Coffee Co. space, this little shop offers trendy home goods and leather accesories.

Crema - Also located inside James Coffee Co. space, this boho trendy boutique is inspired by free spirits. Shop women's aparel and home goods.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Speacialty Drinks

James Coffee Co. - Hip local chain doling out coffee & espresso-based beverages crafted from house-roasted beans.

Bottlecraft - A selection of bottles from domestic & international craft breweries, plus a tasting room.

Ballast Point - Brewery & pub providing acclaimed beers, refined bar fare & to-go kegs.

Vino Carta Wine Bar - Casual wine bar & bottle shop offering retail wine sales, wine by the glass & light bites.

Pali Wine Co. - Wine tasting bar with minimalist decor & an upstairs patio serving a variety of vino & charcuterie.

Bolt Brewery - Tasting room for a local brewery serving up craft beer, pizza & bar snacks in industrial digs.

Wine House - A very quaint and special Wine Bar in the heart of Little Italy. Come have a drink prior to your dinner reservation; and why not have a drink after dinner.

Juice Crafters -  Juice bar which uses raw gourmet, 100% natural ingredients to prepare some of the most amazing freshly pressed juices.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Italian Restaurants

Barbusa - Stylish Italian restaurant with Pop Art decor & a marble-topped bar serving modern Sicilian fare.

Bencotto - Chic bi-level eatery famed for artisanal Italian eats, including handmade pasta & classic desserts.

Monello - This sleek eatery serves handmade pastas, gourmet pizzas & Italian street food plus weekend brunch.

Civico 1845 - Contemporary Italian cooking with vegan options offered in warm digs with reclaimed wood & a patio.

Napizza - Gourmet pizza is ordered by the rectangular slice at this sleek spot also serving salads & soup.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Brunch Spots

Harbor Breakfast - Breakfast specialist serving up a menu of classic favorites such as flapjacks & biscuits.

Davanti Enoteca - Rustic-chic hot spot known for its large patio, happy hour & diverse menu of refined Italian eats.

Craft & Commerce - Taxidermy & old books line the walls of this hip gastropub, serving seasonal eats & craft cocktails.

Monello - This sleek eatery serves handmade pastas, gourmet pizzas & Italian street food plus weekend brunch.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Sweet Treats

iDessert - Sleek shop for high-concept desserts made with your choice of crust, gelato and flavored creams.

Pappalecco - Panini, gelato & coffee served in charming digs or on the outdoor patio at this cozy Italian cafe.

Extraordinary Desserts - From coffee cake to crème brûlée, this airy eatery offers a range of desserts, plus savory options.

Solunto Ristorante & Bakery - Italian cafe serving baked goods, pizza, gelato & more in a modern space with colorful mosaic tiles.

Yogurtland - Go with classic frozen yogurt or choose fun fruity flavors like guava and pineapple. 

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Afternoon Date at Café Gratitude

When news traveled that hip LA chain Café Gratitude opened up a location in San Diego, I immediately made plans to visit. This popular spot offers creative plant-based fare and my favorite kombucha on tap. The modern clean digs set the scene for a perfect cool-chic outing. My boyfriend and I had an late afternoon lunch date.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego
Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Fancy Date Night Restaurants

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar - Seafood fare & cocktails offered in a renovated warehouse with quirky, nautical design accents.

Indigo Grill - Chef Deborah Scott's creative spins on Latin cooking are served up in funky, rustic-chic digs.

Juniper & Ivy - Spacious, modern restaurant serving imaginative New American fare & drinks in woody, arty surrounds.

Herb & Wood - Sprawling, upscale locale serving rustic, wood-fired dishes & old-school cocktails.

Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen - Thoughtfully sourced New American fare served in an expansive, eco-chic space with outdoor seating.

Gennifer Rose - Little Italy, San Diego

Check out these stylish San Diego hotels:

Explore these San Diego tours and adventures:

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Celebrate the flavor and heritage of San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood on this walking and wine tasting tour. Learn how Italian immigrants who came to California in the 19th-century created a thriving community around fishing that has evolved into one of San Diego's trendiest food districts.

Visit three of the area's best wine bars to taste fine Italian and boutique California wines, paired with traditional Italian appetizers like cheese and panini.

San Diego Tour- Hop-on Hop-off Trolley.jpg

Explore some of the top highlights of San Diego with this one- or two-day pass for the city’s Hop-on, Hop-off Trolley Tour. Choose your own adventure as you get on and off the trolley at any of the 10 included stops, covering famous sights including the Gaslamp Quarter, the San Diego Zoo, Little Italy, and many more.

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Discover the sun-drenched attractions of San Diego on this 4-hour city tour covering the city’s top neighborhoods, historic sites and parks.

Over the course of your trip, you’ll check out the museums of Balboa Park, admire the historic architecture of the Gaslamp Quarter and Old Town and explore the mansions and beautiful coast in La Jolla, plus much more.

It’s a great chance to pack in lots of landmarks in a short period of time. This San Diego sightseeing tour also includes round-trip hotel transport, a guide and optional upgrades.

Baja California Coastal Day Trip.jpg

Add a little Mexican spice to your visit to California during this 9-hour San Diego to Baja day trip.

La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak Tour.jpg

Enjoy the sublime coastal scenery as you spot abundant marine life during this 2-hour trip kayaking in La Jolla’s sea caves.

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Spend the day shopping for bargains and sightseeing south of the border during this 5-hour day trip to Tijuana from San Diego.

Check out some of the city’s top sights, including its Old Bullring, Plaza Rio, Avenue of the Heroes and Tijuana Cultural Center. Then enjoy a Mexican taco snack and bargain for some souvenirs along Revolution Avenue (Avenida Revolución).

Your Tijuana trip also includes round-trip air-conditioned transport from your San Diego hotel, guide and a snack.

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See more from San Diego:

Still want more ideas? Checkout my San Diego Pinterest Board!

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