Foodie finds near downtown San Diego
In my opinion, food experiences are enjoyed more with friends or even people at the next table. There are a couple reasons for this. First, I get to taste more food with other people willing to share plates and tastes. Second, friends, or the those at the next table, may order items I have not or would not.
My ultimate foodie sharing experience included Jacques Pepin and Julia Child, may she rest in peace. Chef Sarah Stegner hosted a dinner for food luminaries at the Ritz Chicago dining room and I was a staff member at a conference who got pulled in. Chef Stegner asked and Julia agreed to cook for us, no menus necessary. When the first plates arrived, Julia said, “Take a bite and pass to the right.” And so went the meal. Every time I share foodie experiences, I think of that meal and what Julia would do.
When enjoying a find like Lola 55 Tacos & Cocktails in San Diego’s East Village, bring lots of friends. There are so many tacos to try for everyone’s tastes—from beautiful roasted veggies and perfectly rendered pork belly to traditional asada—and the tortillas are made fresh while you watch. Order a lot so you can share because there is something on the menu for everyone. Everything is made to order and Lola knows their spices and herbs.
This next one is a twofer, offering two foodie finds in one place! I love me some great gelato. I like it better than ice cream because of the intense flavors imported from Europe, and more specifically, Italy. GelatoLove grew up in Carlsbad and expanded to East Village in 2021. They are inside RoVino the Foodery on Market Street, which specializes in big, tasty, made-to-order Italian sandwiches and has a hot case of homemade lasagna, meatballs, and sausages available in quantities that make dining in or out a breeze. At GelatoLove, you’ll find the CEO, Paola Richard, behind the counter more often than not. She is generous with her gelato and will provide you a taste or three. Bring many friends and order all the flavors, which change with the seasons.
Grocery Outlet is ubiquitous to San Diego and there is a great one in East Village that is well known for its wine selection. Get out those cell phones and scan the bar code to find some impressive Vivino scores.
Sharing all that East Village has to offer is a great outing with friends—it's known for Petco Park and the new(ish) library, but there is so much more to explore and you don't even need a car. The trolley will drop you next to the new UC San Diego Park & Market campus, which shares a space with the Media Arts Center SD (MACSD). The MACSD provides a location for the San Diego Latino Film Festival and Digital Gym. If you're looking for another way to get around, check out XION electric bikes, a startup that set up shop in East Village on Market Street.
All of the foodie finds mentioned are within a couple of blocks from each other and east of Petco Park. East Village is a great neighborhood to walk about and explore with friends who will help you eat your way through, block by block.