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Neighborhood Spotlight: Downtown San Diego - 92101

Downtown San Diego - 92101

Neighborhood Spotlight


Founded in 1850, San Diego is now the eighth largest city in America, and the downtown area is the epicenter of it all. Nicknamed “America’s Finest City”, San Diego offers an enormous amount of sightseeing, shopping, food and entertainment. We’ve lived in the downtown area for 3 years now and have loved every minute of it. In this community spotlight we’re going to take a look at what downtown San Diego has to offer.


Although the San Diego mailing address covers a very large area, downtown San Diego only consists of a few neighborhoods. Each pocket has it’s own unique feel.



This is the central-west district of downtown that stretches from the bay to 11th street and is home to many businesses, apartments, and hotels. If you head down B street you’ll find yourself surrounded by many of the big financial companies such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Merrill Lynch. The Core-Columbia neighborhood is also home to some great arts attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the San Diego Civic Theatre and the San Diego Symphony. If you’re in the neighborhood in the morning, don’t miss the chance to try some of the best donuts in the world at the famous Donut Bar. Come early if it is a weekend or holiday or be ready to wait in line, but as a regular of Donut Bar myself, I can vouch that they are definitely worth the wait! If you’re looking for a healthier option in the neighborhood, check out Tender Greens. It’s a soup, salad, and sandwich type joint that is not only healthy, but delicious.  If you’re interested in historical landmarks, you can find the U.S. Grant Hotel and the Santa Fe Depot in this part of town, both are still in operation today.


This is a small neighborhood located in the north east area of downtown San Diego and where we have personally called home for the past 3 years. Cortez Hill mainly consists of apartments, condos, and hotels. You won’t find too much in terms of restaurants and nightlife in this neighborhood, but this secluded pocket nestled between the 8 and 5 highways offers it’s own getaway from the city. The biggest landmark here is the old El Cortez Hotel, which is now condominiums, that sits atop the hill with it’s iconic “El Cortez” sign. At the foot of the hotel is a nice little italian restaurant and coffee shop, Sole Luna Cafe.

East Village

The east district of downtown San Diego is home to Petco Park and the new downtown San Diego Library. This is an area of town that has seen some incredible growth, particularly after Petco Park was built. Just in the past 3 years that we have lived in the downtown area, we have seen the East Village come a long way. We’ve seen a lot of new developments going up and young professionals moving in. With all the growth, there has been an influx of newer bars and restaurants. One of our favorite places to frequent in the East Village is Quartyard. Quartyard is an “urban park” built from shipping containers that includes an outdoor community space, a coffee shop, restaurant, dog park, beer garden, music venue, and hosts an assortment of food trucks. This place is incredibly cool and is the perfect spot to hang with friends. If you do find yourself at the Quartyard, I highly suggest getting one of the incredible sausages from the S&M Meats shipping container, you won’t be disappointed.

Quartyard isn’t your only option for drinks and nightlife in this neighborhood, if you’re looking for some killer cocktails, look no further than Noble Experiment. A “secret” bar located in The Neighborhood restaurant, they’re known for whipping up incredible craft cocktails. Heads up on this bar though, if you plan on going, you have to book in advance or you won’t get in. If you enjoy the idea of a “secret” bar but don’t want to deal with the hassle of booking ahead of time, there is another great option close by called Fairweather, located on the rooftop of Rare Form. This is an outdoor bar that overlooks Petco Park. Fairweather is another one of our favorite spots that has a great ambiance and some awesome sandwiches, just don’t get lost as you wind yourself through the back hallways to find it.

If you’d rather enjoy a nice craft beer and are looking for a place with tons of options, check out Monkey Paw. They have an enormous list of craft beers, many of them local, and there is a great atmosphere, as well. They also have what I consider to be some of the best waffle fries I have ever had! Last, but certainly not least, we have Hodad’s. Although it is not their original location, (that one is in Ocean Beach), it still serves up San Diego’s favorite, massive hamburgers and milkshakes.

Gaslamp Quarter

Don’t let the size of this little part of town fool you, this neighborhood is home to much of San Diego's nightlife. Packed with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, the Gaslamp Quarter is where the party is! During the day you can enjoy a stroll down 5th Ave and window shop many of the boutique stores. If you find yourself in the Gaslamp Quarter and you’re looking for something to satisfy your hunger, you won’t need to walk far to find delicious food. Head into Barley Mash if you’re in the mood for some traditional American food and enjoy the sports bar environment. If you’re looking for a nicer restaurant, perhaps for a date night, check out Searsucker for some delectable food and drinks.

For a quick bite to eat, check out Berkeley Pizza; they’re known for their deep-dish pizza that gives world-famous Chicago pizza a run for their money. Once you’re fueled up for the night, you’re ready to hit the town. A great place to start your evening is The Tipsy Crow, a bar/lounge that has a great atmosphere along with games you can play with your friends. Or, if you’re interested in live music and entertainment, head over to the Shout House. This place is always full of energy with dueling pianos and other live instruments playing your favorite classic tunes and new hits. Seriously though, if you haven't been to the Shout House, you've got to check it out - these guys play every song under the sun and the crowd is awesome, you may even find yourself on stage at the center of it all!

If you’re ready to take your night to the next level, head over to one of the many nightclubs located in the Gaslamp Quarter. Some of the larger ones are OmniaFluxx and Parq, where you’ll find some of the bigger local DJs and major acts coming to these clubs. Analog and Vin De Syrah are two smaller clubs that are also great for a night out with friends. No matter the day of the week or time of day, the Gaslamp Quarter is a great place to enjoy food, drinks, and entertainment.

Little ItalY

This little part of town is located in the north-west area of downtown, and is one of our favorite spots in San Diego. Not only does Little Italy have tons of great restaurants, it is also home to the best farmers market, in our opinion, that you will ever go to! Held every Saturday from 8-2, the Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market is quite large and if you do stop by, make sure you go hungry because you will find it hard to resist all the samples you can grab from the many local stands! Being in Little Italy, you are, of course, surrounded by many great Italian restaurants. Some of the popular spots include Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Buon Appetito, and Davanti Enoteca. If you’re looking for something other than Italian, you’re still in luck, as Underbelly is a fantastic spot for some authentic ramen. You can always head over to Queenstown Public House for some New Zealand inspired food, or if you’re in the mood for some killer seafood, head to Ironside Fish & Oysters. Not only does Ironside serve outstanding food, the restaurant itself has a super cool vibe - it feels as if you’re dining in an old-school cruise liner, I encourage you to check it out for yourself!

Marina District


Last but not least, is the Marina District of downtown San Diego. Located in the south-west part of town, along San Diego Bay, the Marina District is home to many major attractions including the San Diego Convention Center, Seaport Village, and the USS Midway. Built in 1989, the convention center brings many people to the city each year with the events that are held there. The most notable event that is held annually at the San Diego Convention Center is the original San Diego Comic-Con, which attracts over 130,000 people in recent years. If you’re feeling a bit touristy, Seaport Village is a pocket filled with more than 70 shops, galleries, and eateries, all located right along the water. While walking along the water’s edge in Seaport Village, you get a great view of Coronado across the bay and the huge Coronado Bridge that stretches across the water. If you're a history lover, spend a few hours on the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that was in operation for 47 years. It’s fascinating to wander through the tight, convoluted hallways under the ship and be able to see the different fighter jets and helicopters on the flight deck.

We love sharing all that San Diego has to offer with others. Reach out if you’re interested in moving to San Diego or even if you just want to visit! We’re happy to provide suggestions on things to do, see, and try!


The Home Buyer's Checklist

The above real estate information on Downtown San Diego - 92101 was provided by John and Melissa Steele. John and Melissa can be reached at steelesandiegohomes@gmail.com or by phone at 619-887-4429.

Considering buying or selling a home? John and Melissa of Steele San Diego Homes have a passion for Real Estate and would love to share their expertise with you!

Steele San Diego Homes services all of San Diego county and also works with out of area clients to connect them with a strong local agent. Whether you’re interested in buying, selling, investing, or just want to learn more, John and Melissa Steele are here to help you.

Source for Downtown San Diego Neighborhood Map: Centre City Development Corporation

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