Last week we met the design lover. This week’s installment of my five-part city guide series is for the lover of all things downtown, urban, and skyline-dotted. From a waterfront park marked by the San Diego cityscape to a hip Italian eatery that feels straight out of Milan, here are eight ways to dine, drink, and play like a city slicker:
Breakfast at Cafe Chloe: Yes, you’re in San Diego, but this charming cafe in the East Village feels straight out of Paris. Grab a seat on the patio and order from a bistro menu of croque madams, caramelized onions tarts, or, my favorite, the poached eggs with wild mushrooms and sage-truffle beurre blanc.
Central Library: Walk a few blocks south to the gleaming Central Library, a renovated sculptural beaut that re-opened in late 2013. Once you’re done marveling at the exterior and its fabulous dome, head inside to the 8th floor reading room, a glassed-in area with panoramic city views, the 9th floor art gallery, and The Library Shop, located on the ground floor near the courtyard. There, you’ll find stationery, jewelry, kitchenware, stylish pet gear, and yes, books. (Photo via)
Lunch at Puesto: Walk 20 minutes west towards the water until you hit The Headquarters at Seaport, the old police headquarters-turned-downtown-shopping center that houses Seaside Papery, Simply Local, Venissimo Cheese and other goodies. Once you’ve built up an appetite, settle in for lunch at the colorful Mexican eatery, Puesto. I’m usually a hole-in-the-wall kind of gal, but Puesto is the only large-scale Mexican place I trust. (It’s also an ideal choice for parents, who are less enthusiastic about shady taquerias.) My go-to is the taco trio plate, always with at least one chicken verde taco. And try the Parmesan guacamole. It sounds unusual, but surprisingly, the chunks of cheese are a genius addition. (Photo via San Diego Magazine)
Walk along the Waterfront Park: You probably went to town on Puesto’s chips and salsa, so it’s time to get active. But how do urbanites get active amongst the skyscrapers? They walk through the beautiful Waterfront Park adjacent to downtown and Little Italy, of course! Lined with fountains and splash areas, it’s a great area to bring kids, cool down, and chill out on the lawn. (Photo via)
Apertivo at Monello: Monello’s apertivo is one of my favorite San Diego activities. Pulling from Milan’s tradition of a pre-dinner drink and snack, Monello offers a fun deal from 4 to 7 p.m.: Buy a drink at full price—their house made sweet vermouth is popular with craft cocktail lovers—and get three free small bites to enjoy with your beverage. The menu depends on what the chef is feeling, so it’s a bit of a fun surprise. You also get these great lupini beans to start your meal. It’s available only at the bar or patio, the latter of which is a great vantage point for people-watching amidst Little Italy’s busy streets. (Photo by Monello)
Shopping + coffee in Little Italy: Head north on India Street until you hit this shared space that includes James Coffee Co. (above), Ajax Shoppe (men’s fashion), Homesteez (vintage mid century furniture), Specs Optometry (cool eyewear), Turquoise (leather goods), and The Urban Shave (barbershop). It’s a funky warehouse space with a lot to see in a little area.
Dinner at Juniper & Ivy: Perhaps you’ve noticed the trend: big-name chefs are flocking to smaller cities (think Austin, Nashville, etc.), and in San Diego, Top Chef winner Richard Blais has added serious panache to Little Italy with Juniper & Ivy. The restaurant is an architectural dream, with sleek banquettes and steel accents—very urban cool. The menu consists of American fare with a West Coast twist, like a gourmet toast topped with beer tartare, quail egg, and cotija. And save room for the very-shareable yodel (above), a devil’s cake with white chocolate, hazelnut brittle, and hot chocolate. And later this year next door to J&I, Blais will open The Crack Shack, a casual eatery that focuses on the chicken and the egg. #whichcamefirst (Photos by CeCe Canton)
Drinks at Kettner Exchange: I once lived in two big cities (New York and Chicago), so I’d like to think I know a bit about the urban experience, and a night at Kettner Exchange, a trendy two-floor restaurant in Little Italy, is the closest I’ve felt to experiencing that big-city flavor in San Diego. It’s pretty, filled with pretty people, gives me a chance to bust out my high heels, and offers a fun rooftop with firepits, swinging daybeds, and a DJ spinning Thursdays through Saturdays. If you’re planning on dining here, reservations for dinner are a must. (Photo by Sam Wells)
Stay tuned for the next 24 Hours guide next Thursday!