Guide | 5 Top Things to do in Little Italy San Diego

5 Top Things to do in Little Italy San Diego

Pan Bon in Little Italy San Diego.
Pan Bon in Little Italy San Diego. (Photo courtesy of John Dole)

San Diego’s trendy Little Italy neighborhood is having a major moment. Here’s how you can get in on it.

It practically goes without saying since the neighborhood has long held the reputation of being one of San Diego’s top culinary destinations, but eating our way through Little Italy definitely hits the top of our to-do list. Expect fabulous Italian restaurants with various styles as restaurateurs adopt the cuisines from different regions of Italy. Some of our favorites include Monello’s homemade organic pastas, Davanti Enoteca’s focaccia di recco and honeycomb, Pan Bon’s housemade radicchio-filled ravioli, and Civico 1845’s salumi e formaggi with six prosciuttos and cheeses.

Don’t stop at Italian food. At Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood, experience bold and creative flavors with daily caught fresh seafood. We recommend the grilled octopus with root vegetables. Also check out celebrity chef Javier Placencia’s Bracero, which boasts modern Mexican cuisine and an enticing atmosphere with industrial and rustic decor honoring the field workers that farmed the food we eat. Located adjacent to Richard Blais’ Juniper and Ivy, The Crack Shack has not been immune to the paparazzi coverage from food critics and bloggers alike, as one of San Diego’s buzziest new restaurants. The all-outdoor concept features a chicken-centric menu and a fun-loving vibe complete with a bocce ball court.

Promise us that you’ll save room to indulge your sweet tooth! Extraordinary Desserts showcases decadent cakes, pastries, tarts, pies and more that look like gorgeous modern art creations.


M Winehouse in Little Italy San Diego
M Winehouse in Little Italy San Diego.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a glass of wine, a local brew or a craft cocktail, the neighborhood has the perfect spot for any occasion. M Winehouse is a charming 1888 Victorian house turned wine bar and serving primarily French varietals and small snacks. Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen is the destination to enjoy indoor/outdoor seating, craft beer (we love the Victory at Sea) and a sports games on one of the wide screened TVs. Waterfront Bar & Grill is a neighborhood institution and boasts the distinction of San Diego’s oldest tavern. Dating back to 1933, the tavern was opened shortly after the repeal of the prohibition and is still owned and operated by the original family. Enjoy several local brews on tap. If you’re looking for a rooftop bar to continue the evening with cocktails, head to Kettner Exchange. The bi-level hotspot boasts hand crafted cocktail, trendy, elegant-industrial style decor and a DJ on the weekends.


music box little italy san diego
Music Box

Watch & Listen
While still a little sleepier than downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy’s music scene has grown substantially with the opening of Music Box in the former Anthology space. The venue features three stories with a concert stage, second floor booths and an outdoor patio. Music will span all genres from rock and pop to Latin, bluegrass and R&B. The Casbah is the home for indie rock where guests can catch performances by local favorites, touring headliners and soon-to-be national stars.

Vocabulary Boutique little italy san diego
Vocabulary Boutique


While this may overlap slightly with our top pick on this list (#1. EAT), shopping in Little Italy must by necessity start with the farmers market (Little Italy Mercato). Every Saturday, guests purchase fresh fruit, veggies, flowers and plants right from the farmers then saunter through more than 150 booths including craft goods, artisan foods and specialty items. Then shop through the neighborhood’s numerous boutiques and galleries. We love Vocabulary boutique for contemporary fashions for women and men, leather goods, home accents and stationary. Vitreum is perfect for gifts, specializing in simple and elegant ceramics and @HOM offers vintage and modern furniture, art and home accents.
5. Explore
Wandering through the picturesque neighborhood means plenty of instagram-worthy sights and moments, but be sure take time to unplug and explore the surroundings. Head to Amici Park to practice bocce or let your four-legged family members run off some energy on the off-leash area of the green playing field. Walk through the San Diego Firehouse Museum with firefighting memorabilia dating back 100 years. Browse through the Meyer Fine Art gallery featuring contemporary art by renowned artists. If the weather’s nice, enjoy a scoop of gelato to go and sit at the Piazza Basilone fountain to take in the hustle and bustle of the sights.


Bonus: Events
Little Italy is one of San Diego’s best neighborhoods for local events including the annual Little Italy FESTA, Mission Federal ArtWalk, Taste of Little Italy, Ferragosto, Little Italy Summer Film Festival and more. Check out the full calendar line-up here.


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