This article originally appeared in the March print issue of LOCALE Magazine.
Your Guide to San Diego’s Up-and-Coming Neighborhood
Just a few miles from the Pacific, nestled between Gaslamp Quarter, Barrio Logan and Golden Hill, there’s a new scene burgeoning in San Diego. San Diego’s East Village is on the rise with dozens of restaurants, boutiques, galleries and bars, offering experiences for locals or tourists of any age in the heart of downtown San Diego. East Village is no newbie to San Diego, with main staples like PETCO Park, San Diego Central Library and The Mission, but the neighborhood is evolving as a main cultural hub to eat, drink and enjoy in the coastal city.
Fashionistas roam the streets of San Diego snapping blogger-style pics left and right. East Village is nothing short of a fashion-forward photo-worthy neighborhood—don’t forget to geotag the corner of Tenth Avenue and J Street’s “Give Love, Get Love” mini-mural; it’s a must. Peruse price tags and stock your closet with the latest trends or find the perfect, stylish accessory. From window shopping at different boutiques to giving yourself the royal spa treatment, this hotspot has locals flocking to shop it like it’s hot.
Wild Dove is downtown San Diego’s new hub for fashion. Amidst a timeless brick interior, owner Rachel Hunt (who styles customers herself!) fills the walls with soft, eco-friendly fabrics, versatile pieces and statement bags and jewelry. The adorable boutique stocks feminine, but contemporary and edgy styles at a reasonable price point fit for the urban woman. Wild Dove is best known for styles you can dress up and down—perfect for a work day turned into a night out!
Rosewood San Diego
Sneaker culture is brought to life by lifelong shoe collector, Dante Rowley, at Rosewood San Diego. Rosewood boasts a range of limited edition and exclusive kicks including Jordans, Nikes, and Adidas (some pairs only had 100 made and were never released to the public!). Looking to step up your sneaker game in 2017? Head to Rosewood to snag some of the most popular items– Yeezys, Adidas Ultra Boost, Adidas NMDs, Bred Jordan 1s and Space Jam Jordan 11s.
5&A Dime is East Village’s home for men’s trendy, contemporary clothing and accessories. 5&A Dime has defined San Diego’s chill, but edgy streetwear with creative, sloganed t-shirts and hoodies and retro glasses. The boutique features all locally-made attire and accessories. The sibling owned and operated store is a staple of East Village (it’s been around for 10 years!) for the hip, young man.
Bespoke Cut & Sew
Looking to top off your look? Independently established in 2012, Bespoke Cut & Sew has made it a mission to provide well-constructed hats (using absolutely zero glue). Bespoke offers fully-customizable, quality hats of all shapes, sizes, and materials. Bespoke even offers custom, DIY straps. Other popular items include New Era, Brixton, Diamond Supply Co. and Wu-Tang hats. Bespoke Cut & Sew has expanded locations to Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Ana, San Francisco, and Redlands. #wesellhats
Pretty Seven Boutique
Pretty Seven Boutique is the place to be for young fashionistas and trendsetters. With bold, red walls filled with Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, the East Village boutique is known for being classy and timeless, while also carrying unique, flirty fashion. The boutique offers items of every occasion—workweek wear, girls’ night out dresses, Sunday brunch attire and everything in between. However, Pretty Seven is best known for statement dresses, accessories, and bikinis that cannot be found anywhere else. Bonus: the boutique offers free styling for any visitor!
Luxe Lounge & Spa
Luxe Lounge and Spa is an urban oasis amongst up-and-coming East Village and the downtown scene. You can pop in for a quick nail service or spend a day at the spa getting pampered by Luxe’s staff. The modern spa has a clean design and all-white décor, conducive to a day of relaxation. Luxe offers a range of services including manicures and pedicures (that incorporate essential oils and herbs!), customized facials, teeth whitening, cellulite treatments, body wraps, waxing and tanning. The salon has a variety of daily specials, including $5 off nail services on Tuesdays, free brow waxes with facials on Saturdays and $30 custom airbrush spray tans on Fridays.
East Village Eats
Come hungry to this ‘hood. As we all know, San Diego is a foodie’s haven, encompassing true diverse hot plates in and around the city. Nonetheless, this area is slowly becoming the go-to choice for dinner plans. With an abundance of options from NY-style to Italian traditional dishes to craft beer sips, East Village is jampacked with cool and craveable cuisine. This isn’t only a spot to visit during the Padres’ season; good food, good libations, and good company is located here all year around.
Neighborhood transports San Diegans to a New York-style casual gastropub with high ceilings, chalkboards and slightly grungy, comfortable vibe. The lively restaurant and bar serves an eclectic assortment of locally-sourced food and quality craft beer. Neighborhood’s must-have menu items? Nashville Hot Chicken, The Hood Burger, and Shaved Brussel Sprouts! Top your meal off with a beer from local brewers, including AleSmith, Coronado Brewing, Fall Brewing Co., Modern Times and 32 North. Bonus: There’s a secret speakeasy hidden inside. Shh!
East Village locals and visitors alike are tortellini in love with RMD Group’s recently-opened Italian restaurant, Salvucci’s. The restaurant stays true to its heritage, serving up traditional, homemade Italian pasta and pizzas among a wood-and-concrete setting. While guests aren’t munching on their plates, they can enjoy photos of the original Salvucci family and fun photos of celebrities eating pasta. The must-haves? The Shrimp Scampi, Salvucci’s Lasagna and the Scaloppine di Pollo Piccata. Bonus: Wine Wednesdays—delectable bruschetta options and half off select bottles of wine!
Dog Haus Biergarten
Hot Dog! Dog Haus Biergarten is East Village’s new hotspot for gourmet sausages and hot dogs. Originally founded in Burbank, the fast-casual restaurant expanded to San Diego, serving up hot dogs alongside local beer and shakes in a family-friendly, warm environment. Dog Haus Biergarten’s must-have menu items? Our top dogs are The Little Leaguer, Scott Baioli and Another Night in Bangkok.
Bottega Americano is East Village’s triple threat with a European twist – a restaurant, bar and marketplace. Located on the corner of Park and Island and decorated with ‘50s-style photos and black and white to evoke glamor, this triple threat combines the elegance of fine dining with the convenience of a European style market. The entire menu is prepared at interactive stations, including a salumeria, pescaria, wood-fired oven and a pasta bar (think upscale farmers market). Bottega Americano’s menu must-haves? The Pappardelle with Braised Lamb Sugo and Di Stefano Burrata. Bonus: Bottega Americano offers incredible grab-and-go options.
Stella Public House
“Farm to Pizza” is the underlying concept at rustic and charming Stella Public House. The restaurant has partnered with dozens of local growers, ranchers, and purveyors to offer the most sensible ingredients to customers. Stella Public House serves Napoletana style pizzas baked in a Forno Bravo Modena oven using oak and pecan wood. Guest favorites include the Mushroom, Texas Bee Sting, and Spicy Italian Fennel pizzas. Bonus: Stella Public House is the perfect spot for East Village locals to head over with their dogs. Stella borders Faultline Park, so guests can enjoy happy hour while their pups play.
BASIC Urban Kitchen & Bar
BASIC Urban Kitchen & Bar is a staple among East Village locals and surrounding office employees. The no-nonsense restaurant and bar offers New Haven-style pizza (think: thin crust) and craft cocktails in a casual, open, urban warehouse. The neighborhood hangout hosts weekly art shows on Tuesdays, and DJs provide entertainment for the urban crowd on weekends. BASIC Urban Kitchen & Bar’s menu must-have? Mashed Pie AKA a white pie with mozzarella, mashed potato, and bacon.
Bootlegger is the place to be seen in East Village. Bootlegger hosts an expansive craft beer selection and comfort food classics in an atmosphere reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy. San Diego’s official Alabama bar also hosts $10 Build Your Own Nachos on Tuesdays, and $10 Build Your Own Burger on Thursdays. But, don’t forget to head out with your crew on Fridays for local DJ sets. Bonus: Bootlegger serves bottomless mimosas for under $15 on Saturdays and Sundays. Cheers!
Explore This Weekend
San Diego in general is America’s Finest when it comes to activities and keeping busy with the 365 days of sunshine. But, the cat is out of the bag, East Village is a hub of cool things to mark your calendars for, so round-up your faves and hit the town. We’ve pretty much planned your weekends here for you—get rolling and go bowling, catch a fly ball at Petco Park, rent a community garden pot, explore a new artist’s exhibition, and rock out at a local concert—possibilities are plentiful. It’s all here and waiting for you to explore!
While the San Diego Chargers may have left, San Diegans can still cheer on the San Diego Padres at their home stadium in East Village, Petco Park. Fans can soak up the sun and beautiful views of downtown at the city’s ballpark. Throughout recent years, Petco Park has upgraded their menu, adding offerings from local favorites like Hodad’s, Board & Brew, Brigantine, Mr. Softee and Phil’s BBQ. Local tip? Snag a ticket at the Western Metal Supply warehouse, the park’s location for luxury boxes along the left-field pole. The San Diego Padres begin their MLB season against the San Francisco Giants on April 7 at the stadium.
SMARTS Farm has taken root in East Village as the city’s latest, instrumental non-profit urban garden and center that connects the community while supporting a healthy and productive lifestyle through community outreach and various programs aimed towards underserved youth. Recent programs included garden exploration, art and photography classes, bug and animal interaction and cooking classes. This year, SMARTS Farm will expand to include an on-site farm stand with fresh produce and fresh eggs, as well as immersion and certification programs in the gardening arena for local youth. Bonus: SMARTS Farm leases out community garden plots in the heart of the city!
Space 4 Art
Space 4 Art is the creative epicenter of East Village that brings visual and performing artists across varied backgrounds together to transform and grow the surrounding community. The gallery hosts artist residencies, as well as rotating exhibitions from diverse artists across San Diego. The nonprofit also hosts community outreach programs, as well as partnerships with AIGA Link, High Tech High and So Say We All. Pro Tip: Exhibitions and Event proposals are evaluated by the tenant-artist led Curatorial and Events committee every 3-6 weeks.
Constructed from repurposed shipping containers in a vacant lot, Quartyard is San Diego’s outdoor community hot spot for drinks and music every day of the week. Quartyard hosts a coffee shop, restaurant, and beer garden. Guests can enjoy a drink in the fun and relaxed atmosphere while watching their pups play in the space’s dog park. Quartyard hosts a number of events, including concerts (most recently, Beat Street), farmers markets and film festivals.
East Village Tavern & Bowl
Lace up your bowling shoes and keep your East Village party rolling with a stop at East Village Tavern & Bowl, which caters to the late night crowd with hours till 2 a.m. on weekends! East Village Tavern & Bowl merges lounge with a bowling alley, offering 12 bowling lanes, HD flat screens, and a restaurant. The restaurant’s extensive menu includes filet mignon tacos, salads, baby back ribs, gourmet pizzas and a range of craft beers to fuel up between games.
Barre So Hard
Relive your childhood dream of becoming a ballerina and break a sweat at Pure Barre East Village. The full-body, ballet-barre-based strength workout is complemented by Pure Barre East Village’s friendly, high-energy atmosphere and motivating music. Bonus: new clients can sign up for one month of unlimited classes for only $99!
Travel around East Village’s up-and-coming bars with the San Diego Passport Program. The pocket-sized field guide is packed with 2-for-1 craft beverage specials, so you and your friends can take a self-guided tour and explore the San Diego neighborhood’s evolving food and beverage scene.
San Diego’s first European café transports diners to Paris with a bistro-style menu, gourmet coffee, boutique wines and a cozy, urban atmosphere. Enjoy a caramelized onion tart or croque madame in the sunlit dining room for brunch, or splurge on toasted farro risotto and foie gras torchon at a candlelit table for dinner.
Coming Soon: UC San Diego Hub
Slated to open in 2020 on the corner of Park and Market, UCSD’s Innovative Cultural and Education Hub will connect its wide range of programs to the downtown community and diverse neighborhoods at the city’s urban core. The center will offer academic and outreach programs for middle and high school students, a venue for arts events and exhibits, business incubation and entrepreneurship resources and courses, workshops and seminars relevant to San Diego’s growing workforce.
Hit a Homerun During the 7th Annual East Village Opening Day Block Party.
Join The East Village Association and San Diego locals for the 7th Annual East Village Opening Day Block Party on Friday, April 7 from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 8 from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Local vendors and restaurants will be in attendance to celebrate opening day at PETCO Park.