March 5, 2020

A Little Italy, San Diego Travel Guide

FILED IN: Lifestyle, Travel

The last time I visited San Diego was my freshman year of college. I drove down there with my boyfriend at the time for his fraternity formal. I was 18 or 19 (that was 10 years ago for reference) and we ate at Chipotle. That was the extent of the trip. So basically, when Carté Hotel in Little Italy, San Diego invited me down for the weekend, I had no idea what to expect.

After a little bit of research, and a lot of recommendations from Instagram friends (San Diego locals, obviously), I realized that we wouldn’t have enough time to even scratch the surface. Everything was so cute and I needed to see it all, but that was unrealistic in three days. Of course, everywhere we did visit was so good— so it warranted a blog post.

But, first thing’s first: the hotel.

To stay

Carté Hotel is a new luxury hotel in the heart of downtown San Diego. And when I say new, I mean new— they opened their doors in September 2019. The interior is the best mix of modern and trendy with pops of blue accents, which you already know I loved.

It is conveniently located near Little Italy, and we were able to walk to nearly everything. And I mean everything, from the harbor to the best bars. That’s a major win in my book. That said, you really won’t want to leave the hotel, because it has top-notch amenities.

The rooftop bar at Carté is to die for. They have fire pits around a large projector TV screen, a covered lounge area, and cocktail tables on the rooftop patio so you can take in the city views and coastal sunsets. There are few things I love more than a rooftop bar at sunset. Did I mention they have a killer rosé selection? That’s saying a lot coming from a rosé snob.

The Carté pool was very minimalistic, but very chic. Think black and white striped cabanas and umbrellas. My only regret was that it was raining and I couldn’t take full advantage. Next to the pool is the most extraordinary hotel gym I’ve ever seen. I’m talking boxing bags, an outdoor area with free weights and ropes, and a plethora of other equipment. It is every fitness enthusiast’s dream— if you’re into working out on vacation.

Long story short, Carté is one of my favorite hotels I’ve stayed at in a while. 10/10 recommend you check it out if you find yourself in the Little Italy area.

To eat

Queenstown Public House — We went here because my best friend (who happened to be with me on the trip) had been before. We both got salads and shared a side of fries. You guys. They. Do. Not. Skimp. On. The. Serving. Sizes. One side of fries can easily feed four people, and I wanted to eat them all. Queenstown is super eclectic, and a good stop for a chill (but yummy) lunch.

Barbusa — Okay, this place definitely wins for Italian food. We were in Little Italy, so I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong anywhere you eat, but Barbusa is it. It was packed (because it’s that good), so I’d recommend making a reservation, but you have to go if you love a good pasta. This place came highly recommended, and it was hands down my favorite meal of the trip.

Craft and Commerce — I’m not going to lie, Craft and Commerce isn’t the best restaurant for vegetarians. I think I only had a few options on the menu, and I settled on a broccoli salad which was just mediocre. We also shared a fondue platter, which I thought was good, but nothing spectacular. That said, it’s a cool spot, and I think carnivores (meat eaters) would appreciate the menu more. It’s worth a visit if you’re stumped on where to eat.

Morning Glory — I think 129748174 people recommended we go to Morning Glory, and wow, I am so glad that they did. This place is goals for every girl’s Sunday morning brunch plans. It’s pink, and feminine, and retro, with an open patio overlooking the city. The bellinis are a real treat, too. It’s just overall a total dreamboat. So fun. This place is a must for me.

To drink

False Idol — If you know me well, you know that tiki bars are my number one favorite thing. My best friend obviously knew that, so she suggested we try False Idol for cocktails after dinner. It’s located inside Craft and Commerce, which makes it super convenient if you’re dining there. I’d go back here 21483891 more times. The vibe was on point with dim lighting, vintage tiki decor, and a packed bar. And the rum packed a punch, too.

10 Barrel Brewing Company — We were fortunate enough to be invited for a complimentary lunch at 10 Barrel. The menu is updated bar food, in the best way. But their beer is reason enough to visit, in my opinion. I’m a beer girl, so I love trying craft beers from local breweries, and 10 Barrel was no different. Go grab a cold one and sit on their rooftop patio, you can’t go wrong.

Born and Raised — This was the fanciest bar with the prettiest decor. You literally feel like you’re walking into a banquet room on the Titanic. We didn’t eat here, but I imagine the food is top notch (in taste and price). It seems like a nice spot to celebrate a significant event or birthday. Also, it’s one of the best espresso martinis I’ve ever had (a close second to Paris).

Carruth Cellars — If you’re anything like me and live for patio season, you have to check out Carruth Cellars. If you couldn’t guess by the name, it’s a wine bar with a really cute back patio. Grab a glass of wine and thank me later.

Cloak and Petal — If you follow me on Instagram, Cloak and Petal is the restaurant with really pretty cherry blossom trees right smack dab in the middle of the bar. To be blunt, we didn’t eat here and our skinny margaritas were awful, but the vibes made up for that. I’d be willing to give it another shot because it was just so dang pretty inside. Be warned: it’s definitely more of a hip and happening club meets restaurant scene.

For coffee

Lofty Coffee — We got croissants and coffee here one morning and they were delicious. I don’t think the actual coffee shop is anything special, so grab your pastry and caffeine to go and take a stroll down by the harbor.

Parakeet Cafe — We didn’t make it here, but we walked by, and I think it’s worth mentioning. Parakeet comes up pretty high on Yelp, and we saw plenty of people walking around with to-go cups, so I’m almost positive the coffee is good. Also, the inside is very Instagram-worthy.

Better Buzz — While this isn’t specifically in Little Italy, did you even really go to San Diego if you didn’t get Better Buzz? Better Buzz is like the Alfred’s (a very popular cafe in Los Angeles, incase you live under a rock) of San Diego. Even if you go on the way to the airport, you should go.

Until next time, San Diego. Cheers!

xx, jordan

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