Top 5: Downtown San Diego

Having been born and raised in San Diego it’s great to see the strides downtown has made in the last decade. One of my favorite spots to hang out in all of San Diego is East Village. Which probably explains why my list is filled with East Village establishments.

While we agree that East Village is one our favorite downtown neighborhoods (Melissa lives there), we have strong (and differing) opinions about our favorite downtown spots. So, without further ado, here is our Top 5…

Matthew’s Top 5

1. Java Jones

As a proponent of supporting local establishments, this 619 coffee shop hits on all cylinders. Java Jones makes their own coffee, their staff is always friendly, it’s a cool wide-open space, and they serve delicious crepes. It perfectly encapsulates what East Village is all about. I’m also a big fan of Mexican mochas, and they make one of the best in San Diego.

2. The Speak Easy at Neighborhood

On its own, I’m not sure if Neighborhood would make my top five, but its speak-easy hidden behind a secret door is a must-experience. If you really want to know how to find it, let me know, as I don’t intend to reveal one of downtown’s best-kept secrets. It’s definitely one of the swankiest spots in San Diego.

3. Basic

If I were to ever open a restaurant/bar, this is exactly what it would look like: simple, clean and industrial. Basic is at its best before sundown when you don’t have to fight the crowds. While I’m a Mission Hills kind of guy, their pizza gives Lefty’s a run for their money.

4. The Park At The Park

As great as downtown is, it doesn’t have enough parks. Fortunately, East Village has an urban oasis at The Park At The Park. Whether it’s laying out on the grass, admiring Petco Park, or playing Wiffle Ball home-run derby on the mini field (Yes, I really do. Don’t judge me), it’s a great place to spend an afternoon. Not to mention, San Diego’s best gym, FIT, is just within a stone’s throw. After a workout, it’s great to unwind at the park.

5. A tie between The Kebab Shop and Karen’s Extraordinary Desserts

At the Kebab Shop you’ll find good, solid, cheap food. What more can you ask for?? It’s literally right across the street from Java Jones, so there’s some good mojo within this pocket of East Village. The chicken donor is one of the best on-the-go meals.

I feel can i buy xanax in mexico like I could be in SoHo when I’m at Extraordinary Desserts. It’s hip, sophisticated and serves the most amazing food. This might seem strange coming from a guy, but when I get married I might have to be in charge of cake duty as the passion fruit ricotta torte is out of this world!

Melissa’s Top 5

1. FIT

As a resident of East Village, I was thrilled when FIT opened its doors in February 2008. With cardio equipment overlooking Petco Park, it makes for a truly unique urban workout. The concrete floors, artistic graffiti and unfinished ceiling combined with top notch locker rooms and an outdoor pool make for not only a good workout but an enjoyable experience.

2. The Mission

This used to be on the “fringe” of East Village, but given the neighborhood’s recent expansion it feels like it’s in the heart of it. This delicious, healthy breakfast can fuel your afternoon hike as opposed to inducing food coma. My personal favorite is their Zen Breakfast. The early bird gets the worm – be prepared to wait after 10 a.m.!

3. La Puerta

About two years ago I was strolling downtown wondering why there were no great Mexican restaurants. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear, but two large wooden doors at 4th and Market: the gateway to excellent and affordable Mexican dining. The ambience is fantastically simple, yet edgy and reminds me of Austin, TX. Beware the guacamole and chips – a deliciously deadly duo.

4. Top of the Convention Center Steps

The icing on the top of this cake is not only the great cardio workout, but also the view from the top. With the Rocky theme playing on your iPod, challenge yourself to a few rounds of stairs and then reward yourself with a stroll a few feet West to take in the bay, boat and bridge view. Time it with the sunset and you’ll know THIS is why we pay the big bucks to live in San Diego!

5. Karen’s Extraordinary Desserts

I concur with Matthew – this place takes the cake (no pun intended)! The décor and vibe pay homage to NYC’s SoHo/Village, as does a more sophisticated, international crowd. While each dessert is a work of art, some are definitely tastier than others (roasted coconut cream gets my vote). Don’t be afraid to share, and if you’re a “teatotaler”, top it off with a cup of Precious Companions.

Authored by Melissa & Matthew Hernholm

Contact Us

  • Janna Hernholm,
  • CA BRE # : 00841932
  • Melissa Hernholm,
  • CA BRE # : 01253708
  • Matthew Hernholm,
  • CA BRE # : 01874558
  • 810 W. Washington Street
  • San Diego, CA 92103
  • P: 619.299.4272
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