On Friday I mentioned that I’d be sharing a neighborhood guide for South Park, so here I am! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to do one on South Park, considering it’s my favorite place in all of San Diego. It’s small (comprised of just a few blocks here and there), quiet, filled with mostly small business (save one 7-Eleven!) and populated by a lot of young families. It is home to many of my San Diego favorites, but what I love most about South Park is the sense of community. Despite plenty of of hip(ster) spots, it manages to retain an Anytown, U.S.A. vibe. Oh, and it’s one of the most dog-friendly places I’ve ever seen.
If we decide to stay in San Diego, the dream is to buy one of South Park’s small, cottage-style homes. (We have one in mind and may or may not have snuck into the vacant house right before its new occupants moved in.) Here’s a look at why I <3 South Park.
Many a Saturday mornings are spent at Cafe Madeleine, which feels like a slice of Europe on an assuming South Park block. My ritual is to get a latte and croissant after a visit to the nearby dog park.
Captain Kirk’s is a small stand in a Gala Foods parking lot with big personality. The workers are friendly, dog treats and water bowls are always on hand, there’s outdoor seating and even a drive-thru! And in my hunt for the best acai bowl, theirs is the leading choice.
As I mentioned South Park is all about small businesses, and there are so many great ones. Progress is a home decor and gift store that has a well-curated selection of furniture, paper goods, jewelry and other nick-knacks for the home.
At Make Good, all the products are made by local or Tijuana artisans.
Graffiti Beach feels like a dose of L.A., and for good reason: The owner, Melanie, started it as a pop-up in Venice Beach along with a few other locations before setting up a brick-and-mortar boutique in South Park. She has a great selection of apparel (men’s, women’s and children’s), accessories and gift items.
Whenever I’m in South Park (read: always), I stop by Bad Madge, where owner Tanya fills her (newly renovated!) store with vintage furniture, clothes and other goodies, like…a unicycle! I also follow her on Instagram to see what other gems she has on hand.
Marisco’s fish taco truck is the only place in San Diego that feels the most “New York” to me (so far). The food is amazing, the space is meager, some of the staff is surly and the prices ($1.75/fish taco) are incredible. And I believe they have the best fish taco — so much better than Oscar’s and Rubio’s. (I still need to try South Beach Bar and Grill.) I like to get one fried and one grilled — and maybe share the tostada topped with a heaping portion of fresh seafood if I’m extra hungry.
Now this is a sports bar I can get behind. It has a cozy, laid-back, neighborhood feel but still has a giant big-screen TV…if you care to watch.
The family-owned Daily Scoop reminds me of an old-time ice cream parlor. All the flavors are made locally at Niederfrank’s in National City, and my reigning favorite is the brownies ‘n cream. (They have little cups of vanilla ice cream with a treat for dogs, too.)
By the way, the next South Park Walkabout, the quarterly event when all the boutiques, cafes and bars stay open late (which means 10 p.m. in San Diego!), is March 22!
p.s. South Park is also home to the most epic pizzeria, Buona Forchetta.