Monday, February 24, 2014



     I arrived early one Friday morning to search for vintage in this ever-changing San Diego neighborhood of Little Italy—a perfect morning for a refreshing walk on another beautiful, 70 degree day in San Diego that just happens to be Valentine's Day.

      My goal is to find some of the early 1900 buildings that still exist. I start by walking up Kettner Boulevard where I locate the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company, 726-734 W. Beech Street. It was built in 1911 in an Edwardian commercial style of concrete cast to resemble quarried stone. It's a great building, and fortunately I took some photos, because I found out later that the city has approved its removal. It is to be replaced by a parking structure followed by a mixed-use-mid-to-high-rise tower. Oh dear, I was already lamenting at the loss of so many old structures in this area. I guess I better move along to see what else still exists before it too is demolished.


      Continuing to walk up Kettner it would be difficult to miss the Waterfront Bar & Grill, 2044 Kettner Boulevard. It turned 80 this year and claims to be the oldest tavern in San Diego. It is 9:30 am and some guests have already arrived. I expect they are starting to celebrate this Valentine's Day a little early. Perhaps they will still be around at closing when management serves cookies at “last call.” The inside is covered with old photos and memorabilia—definitely worth a visit. They serve breakfast and coffee as well, but I passed because I am still in search of the “real” Italian coffee place.

      I continued walking up Kettner Boulevard to Kalmia Street and turned right to India Street. Here I discovered the McDonough Cleaners/City Dye Works, 2400-2404 India Street. The 1930s Spanish Revival structure still exists and is currently the El Camino Restaurant &Bar. However, the vintage plain white structure is now psychedelic. It is gray with a yellow door, pink trim and a colorful splashy design across the side—topped with carousel horses. At least the old building is still there.


      Whenever I visit Little Italy, I feel compelled to stop at Filippi's, 1747 India Street. I'm not exactly sure why I love this old Italian place, but I expect that it has something to do with my upbringing. I grew up behind a grocery and meat market that my parents owned in North Minneapolis. My parents started their market in the 1930s and sold it in 1962.The De Philippis' family first opened their San Diego business in the 1950s. The front of the store is a small packed Italian grocery and meat market with a deli and restaurant in the rear. It is colorful with lots of stuff packed in and similar to a store you might discover in Italy today.

      I decided to stop at the pleasant and quaint Pappalecco, 1602 State Street. After being greeted with a “Ciao,” by the lady behind the counter, I placed my order, and sat down at one of the plain wooden tables to sip my authentic-bold Italian coffee. Yes, I finally discovered “the place” for Italian coffee in Little Italy.

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