A Slice of the Big Apple in San Diego’s Little Italy

 by Woman on the Loose

Are you…

…a hip tourist looking to blend with the locals?
…looking to take your mate on the ultimate date?
…an independent spirit in search of a stimulating place to wander?
…in charge of planning the next ‘man-free’ excursion for the ladies?

If so, whip out your Blackberry and start taking notes because this Woman on the Loose has just the information you need…

San Diego’s Art & Design District in North Little Italy (“NoLI” if you’re in vogue) is a mini version of New York’s Soho and Chelsea districts with a SoCal vibe. Peppered with chic boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and eclectic furniture and design stores, it’s a breath of fresh retail air. To find it, you’ll have to venture out into the wild. When you’re convinced you’ve come to the northernmost end of India Street and Little Italy is no more, take a deep breath and keep going. Cross Grape Street and look around. You are now directly under the flight path of Lindbergh Field…and, entering one of San Diego’s lesser known fashionable spots. Here’s just a taste of what you will stumble upon…

Housing an eclectic mixture of merchandise – from handbags to home decor to all things doggie, it’s pretty much impossible to leave Juniper (2130 India Street) without a one-of-a-kind treasure. Francophiles (and greeting card connoisseurs) will be ecstatic about The French Garden Shoppe (2307 India Street), San Diego’s “oldest home and garden furnishing store”. There is no unfilled crevice in India Street Antiques (2361 India Street), which is packed with vintage furniture, books and eclectic treasures of yore.

El Camino Mexican Restaurant

El Camino
(2400 India Street) is one of the best dressed Mexican restaurants in San Diego and is the ideal oasis for some refreshment in the form of a Michelada and classic Mexican fare. A stand-out among the area’s antique shops is Klassic Mid-Century Modern (989 W. Kalmia Street) specializing in vintage and new home decor with a Danish flare. To replenish depleted testosterone levels, simply walk into the Harley Davidson store (2400 Kettner Blvd.) and grab an espresso at the new MotoFuco Cafe to power you through the next block.

Casa Artelexia

Both sexes will find the climb up to Kapreeza (2400 Kettner Blvd., Suite 253) well worth the effort. Don’t miss the captivating display of original art and graphics at Meyer Fine Art…or, the opportunity to have a conversation with passionate owner and Little Italy expert Perry Meyer. Be dazzled by color, Day of the Dead trinkets, and distinctive Mexican artwork and jewelry at Casa Artelexia (2419 Kettner Blvd.).

Your liable to lose yourself inside the Mixture (2210 Kettner Blvd.), one of the most spacious stores in the district offering (tasteful) modern art, furniture, lighting, home decor and gifts. After you are culturally satiated, cross back over Grape Street, wander over to W. Fir Street, and swirl some wine around your mouth at Red Velvet Wine Bar (750 W. Fir Street).

Most of the galleries in the District are ‘by appointment only’, so if art is your passion, hold out for Kettner Nights on the second Friday of every other month from 6 to 9 p.m. (click on the link for 2011 dates…the next one is just around the corner on Friday, March 11!). Most everyone has an open door and a free snack to lure you in. The Harley store is the star of the show with a live blues band, free food, and lots of booze, of course.

Or, set aside a Saturday for some all day shopping…after stocking up on fresh produce and gourmet Italian edibles at Little Italy’s Mercato (Farmer’s Market), stroll over to the District and satiate your appetite for shopping.

Ciao…e buon viaggio!

The ‘Woman on the Loose’ is in search of merriment, culinary adventures, edgy fashions, and random ass activities. Follow her as she scours central San Diego and shares her discoveries on So Diego Tour’s blog.