There’s something for everyone—baseball fans, beer lovers, and bibliophiles—in this thriving downtown hood.
The East Village is an easy visit for anyone in SoCal: It’s 4 miles southeast of San Diego International Airport and 1 mile from the Gaslamp Quarter, just off 1-5.
Local writer Archana Ram shares her five favorite East Village finds, below.
The East Village owes much of its revitalization to Petco Park. The Padres’ home stadium (100 Park Blvd.) opened in 2004, but in the past few years, it has attracted hot new restaurants—not only in the surrounding area, but inside it as well. Cruising the concession stands is akin to a citywide food crawl. Cheer on slugger Matt Kemp and the home team, and sample Hodad’s burgers, Lucha Libre tacos, Phil’s BBQ, and Baked Bear ice cream sandwiches. Stone Brewing Co. and Ballast Point’s Draft taproom provide the requisite game-day beer.
Since its relocation to the East Village in 2013, The San Diego Central Library (330 Park Blvd.) has amassed a diverse résumé that goes way beyond the book. The nine-story design gem, capped by an intricate latticework dome and rooftop gardens, includes an art gallery and well-curated gift shop and offers free arts and crafts classes and concerts. Two blocks down, a vacant lot was transformed last year into the Quartyard, an urban park composed of a beer garden, coffee shop, dog park, night markets, and more (1102 Market St.). Four blocks away, Silo in Makers Quarter, a 25,000-square-foot community event space (753 15th St.), hosts everything from craft-beer tastings to plays.
Notoriously laid-back San Diego is finally embracing the artisanal coffee trend, and two East Village shops are at the center of the buzz. Bean Bar (1068 K St.) is committed to educating customers, and a seat at the cafe’s slow bar is your ticket to learning about the pour process firsthand from a barista. Local favorite Coffee & Tea Collective, meanwhile, recently joined forces with trendy Juice Saves to champion coffee, cold-pressed juice, and healthy eats in one shared space (631 Ninth Ave.). Claim a seat at the natural-wood table with your laptop (there’s free Wi-Fi) and you can comfortably cruise through breakfast, snack, and lunch time.
Pasta and pastrami
Last year, three new eateries turned the East Village into a bona fide dining destination. The always packed Bottega Americano (1195 Island Ave.) specializes in traditional Italian fare, such as velvety soft gnocchi, which you can enjoy at one of the marbletopped tables lit by copper pendant lamps. Nearby, Rare Form (793 J St.) puts a gourmet spin on deli sandwiches, with hefty specialties like Rare Form 44, an ode to the New York–style pastrami sandwich, on your choice of bread or waffles. In a sprawling indoor-outdoor space, Halcyon and Stella Public House combine multiple foodie delights under one roof (1429 Island Ave.). The former focuses on coffee, cocktails, and tableside-roasted s’mores; the latter features a “farm-to-pizza” menu and craft beers.
Suds and spirits
Housed in the 1894 Wonder Bread building, Mission Brewery (1441 L St.) is ground zero for beer lovers. Retaining much of its industrial style, the warehouse has a diverse beer lineup (Belgians, Germans, IPAs, and beer cocktails) along with games of cornhole and shuffleboard. If your tastes lean more cocktail than craft beer, head to Cuban-influenced Fairweather (793 J St.), a rooftop bar overlooking Petco Park. The focus is on sunny-weather drinks—margaritas, mai tais, and mojitos—and top-notch ingredients.