around san diego

neighborhood watch: south park

February 24, 2014


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.

cafe-madeleine-south-park-san-diegoMany 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-kirks-acai-bowlCaptain 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.

bougainvillea-californiaBougainvillea, I never tire of you.


progress-south-parkprogress-south-park-shopAs 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.

make-good-san-diego-south-parkAt Make Good, all the products are made by local or Tijuana artisans.

graffiti-beach-south-parkgraffiti-beach-san-diego-south-parkGraffiti 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.

bad-madge-south-parkWhenever 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.

South-Park-san-diego-real-estatesouth-park-san-diego-homes-purchaseI love all the homes in South Park, but the variety of homes on this one street is particularly beautiful.

best-fish-tacos-san-diegofish-tacos-mariscos-san-diegoMarisco’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.

ice-cream-san-diegoThe 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.

16 thoughts on “neighborhood watch: south park

  1. Lauren Wood

    Great guide! Sounds like I really need to put Progress, Make Good and Graffiti Beach on my shopping list. If you are looking for the best acai bowls, I highly, highly recommend the Lazy Hummingbird in OB. My husband is on a similar quest (see here:, and bowls from the ‘Bird are hands down our fave.

    1. Archana Post author

      Thanks, Lauren! Those 3 should totally be added to your list. And now I’m excited to try Lazy Hummingbird. (Though I kind of want try all the ones your husband wrote about!) Thanks for the rec!

  2. Frances

    Like you I adore South Park! &&& Buona Forchetta & Captain Kirk’s was love at first bite. For fish tacos, have you tried TJ Oyster Bar in Bonita? It’s my go-to for fish, octopus, & stingray tacos.

  3. Tanya McAnear

    Thanks for the nice write up! I appreciate you mentioning me and the store! It was lovely to meet you and I hope to see you again soon!

  4. Adrienne

    Although you can’t hear it, I squealed very loudly upon seeing this post! South Park is really a great place to live (and I’d say it’s definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in SD that I’ve lived in so far)! :) Their dog park isn’t too shabby either.

    1. Archana Post author

      Woot South Park! That place always makes me so happy. And I love their dog park–particularly during sunset. The view is so good!

  5. Barbara Smith Wilke

    Your suggestions are dangerously awesome– I live in North Park and will have to wander on down and try out those fish tacos stat! You are quickly becoming my tour guide for San Diego– thanks! ;)

  6. Fernanda

    Hi there :o))
    We are going to SD in June and we are staying at Broadway right on the corner of 25th. People told me it is almost South Park, do you have any tip? We are taking our 5 year old daughter.

    Fernanda :o))

    1. Archana Post author

      Hi Fernanda! You’ll be in Golden Hill (adjacent to South Park), so in GH itself, I would try Pizzeria Luigi for New York-style pizza by the pie or slice. They have a cute outdoor area. Balboa Park is close by, so I definitely recommend getting some green time in. As far as South Park, Buona Forchetta is located on Beech Street, and it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the whole city. (Sit outside! They have a charming outdoor patio with string lights.) Cafe Madeleine is a cute French-style cafe; your daughter can get a hot chocolate and the croissants are wonderful. Acai bowls are the quintessential SoCal experience, so I recommend getting some at Captain Kirk’s, a little stand in the Gala Foods parking lot at Grape/30th Streets. And what kid doesn’t love ice cream? Make sure to hit up A Daily Scoop! I also recommend going to the museums in Balboa Park. They’re not walking distance from where you’re staying, but a very short car ride away. Lots to keep your little one interested!


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