An Afternoon in Little Italy San Diego

San Diego City Skyline
San Diego Skyline

What to do?

When you have an afternoon to yourself and the sun is shining beautifully, you do what any common sense person would do…. You head to Little Italy San Diego!  Over the past few months I have been longingly looking at the Instagram and Yelp posts of all of the amazing looking restaurants and cafes in Little Italy.  The few times that I attempted to venture down there to find one of those amazing spots, I was quickly dismayed at the amount of traffic in the area.  So much so that I left the area after 30 minutes of being stuck in traffic in a 2-block radius.

Little Italy, much like many other of the older San Diego neighborhoods, has seen exponential growth in the past decade. Fresh, new shops and eateries have moved in.  Posh condos have gone up.  Outdoor seating areas have been laid.  Conversely, traffic is a nightmare. Rental costs have skyrocketed.  The cost of a meal has become pretty ridiculous.  But, I will leave all of that to another article.  We are here to talk about my bright sunshiny day.

Historic Little Italy, San Diego
Historic Little Italy, San Diego

Herb & Eatery!

Since it was a weekday holiday, I had my fingers crossed that the traffic wouldn’t be as bad.  Luckily, my gamble paid off! I decided that the first stop would be Herb and Eatery, a beautifully photographed spot in North Little Italy, with a super delicious menu.  Oftentimes I will see an eatery on Instagram or Yelp that look amazing! The food looks so good that I have to keep myself from licking the screen, and the interior of the place looks like it could be a movie set. So, I make plans, get super hype, only to be extremely let-down.  Either by the food, or the interior; often by both.

Decor in Herb & Eatery, Little Italy San Diego
Decor in Herb & Eatery, Little Italy, San Diego

Insta-Perfect or Fabulous Fail?

Yes, I will go to a café or a restaurant because the interior looks nice.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the most amazing food spots are little hole in the wall places that you couldn’t find a good angle, even if you tried.  However, the difference between those places and the Insta-perfect places are longevity.  El Cotixan taco shop has been there for as long as I can remember and it is the go-to taco shop.  I don’t need to see a picture of the seating area to know that their carne asada nachos are amazing.  Definitely don’t care if their décor is kitchy and eye-catching.  I care that my chips have a good meat to guac to sour cream to cheese ratio.

Those places, those staples, don’t need Insta-worthy stories to bring in customers.  But, the new restaurants, the ones that are trying to carve out a piece in an already, extremely, over-saturated market, have to think a lot more critically when trying to attract new customers.  It is obvious by looking at the ever-changing restaurant names that it is an extremely difficult business.

SD Turkey Club at Herb & Eatery, Little Italy, San Diego
SD Turkey Club at Herb & Eatery, Little Italy, San Diego

The Photos Didn’t Lie

Well, Herb & Eatery definitely is every bit as awesome in person as it is in the photos.  When we first walked in, I felt like I walked into an Instagram photo.  The space is bright airy and the décor was just the right touch.  After ordering a SD turkey club and a bucket of bubbles (basically bottomless mimosas-because… why not?), my friend and I wandered around to find a nice spot to sit and enjoy the day.  We ended up settling on 2 oversized chairs upstairs, overlooking the eatery.  I was pretty surprised that no one else had snatched up the chairs.  They were so comfy! And, the best part? There was a huge unicorn standing right next to us! What more could you ask for?

Bucket of Bubbles at Herb & Eatery, Little Italy, San Diego
Bucket of Bubbles at Herb & Eatery, Little Italy, San Diego

Chats over Champagne

There’s something about enjoying lunch with an old friend, that really puts the mind at ease.  We sat there for about an hour, sipping mimosas, people watching, and catching up on our hectic lives.  Once we finally went through the bottle of champagne we decided to venture out into the sunshine to find another eatery that I had seen on yelp.

The GPS told me it was 5 blocks away, and if we were anywhere else, I probably would have moved my car closer, but I didn’t want to risk losing my spot and ending up stuck in traffic.  Luckily the sun was shining, and the breeze was blowing, the perfect San Diego day, so our 5 block walk was an easy stroll.  Most of it anyhow… there was a slight hill on the way that reminded me that I needed to spend more time in the gym and less time in eateries. *womp womp*

Chocolate Chocolate Ganache Cupcake from Frost Me Cafe and Bakery
Chocolate Chocolate Ganache Cupcake from Frost Me Cafe and Bakery

On to More Delicious Things…

Enough about that negativity though, let’s talk about cupcakes and chocolate!  I have a serious sweet tooth, so much so that anytime I travel (beyond the usual adventuring and exploring), I will usually seek out a pastry/treat shop.  I have had my eye on Frost Me Café and Bakery for a while now; it was the main reason that I had attempted to traverse the Little Italy traffic on several occasions, so I decided that today was the day!

Frost Me Cafe and Bakery

Frost Me Café and Bakery is located within the Piazza della Famiglia, a fairly recent addition to Little Italy.  Piazza della Famiglia officially opened in March of 2018 and it offers seating areas for people to enjoy their food, their company, the beautiful weather, or a combination of all 3.  There are quite a few restaurants and shops that line the Piazza, so we definitely looked like tourists trying to find our destination.  Thankfully it didn’t take too long to find it because my sweet tooth was in need of a sugar fix.

Pastry Case in Frost Me
Pastry Case in Frost Me

Frost Me has every bit of the modern style that has swept through most of the hip, new, San Diego restaurant scene.  I didn’t really look around too much because as soon as I walked in the door, I zeroed in on the pastry case.  Sometimes the hardest part is deciding which treat to get.  I settled on the Chocolate Chocolate Ganache Cupcake and the Chocolate Mousse.  My friend told me that she didn’t want anything, but I knew better.  We also decided to order white wine sangrias because…. Because we wanted to.

Sangrias and People Watching at the Palazzo
Sangrias and People Watching at the Palazzo

People Watching and Sunshine

The café has an enclosed patio area that sits facing the Palazzo; and luckily, we were able to snag a nice little table in the corner.  Perfect for people watching.  Sunshine, Sangria, Cupcake, and people watching.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.  After another hour spent chatting and enjoying the day, we decided to venture through Little Italy and take a look at some of the other restaurants in the area to add to our list for another time.

Big Red Chair, Little Italy, San Diego
Big Red Chair, Little Italy, San Diego

Perfect Day for a Stroll

As we strolled down India street, one of the main arteries through Little Italy, it took everything in me to not walk into any of the pizza places.  I reminded myself that my belly was full and I didn’t need any more food! After taking a few snapshots of the famous Little Italy sign, we came across the big red chair.  We decided that you can’t visit Little Italy and not take a picture in the big red chair.  What kind of touristy adventure would it be without silly touristy photos to go with it?

Quintessential San Diego
Quintessential San Diego

There Will Be More….

By that point traffic was starting to pick up in the area so we decided to call it a day.  I already have a pretty long list of places that I want to visit on a return trip, so there will definitely be a part 2 and probably a part 3 to Little Italy San Diego.

Thank you for coming along on all my crazy adventures.  Be sure to follow me on Instagram, and YouTube.

Until the next Adventure,
Reyna

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