San Diego’s many farmers’ markets offer top notch produce, that’s for sure. But you’ll also find fresh seafood, flowers, prepared food, clothing, jewelry, holistic health products – and the list goes on! The Little Italy Mercato Market is by far one of the most popular, located in the heart of the neighborhood at the Piazza della Famiglia and surrounding streets. If you’re looking to procure local artisan goods or just want to browse, read on for our tips on how to make the most of your trip to this year-round market.
Tip #1: Arrive Early.
This market doesn’t just get busy, it gets crowded. Get an early start when vendors open at 8 a.m., as things start to pick up around 9. The same rule applies for parking. A safe bet for two-hour street parking is near Laurel and India Street, on the North end of the Little Italy. Need caffeine? For serious early birds who get to the market before opening, opt for Cafe Italia or Lofty Coffee, both a block away from the Little Italy fountain. Or grab a coffee at the market from Joes on the Nose: just look for the bright orange food truck! For an alternative pick-me-up, look for Superfood & Company’s booth. They serve their signature Superfood Coffee, kefir soda, and Superbooch kombucha on tap in tasty flavors like blood orange and kumquat ginger. And for the ultimate health junkie, stop by the Greenfix Organic Smoothie booth to get your swiss chard and dandelion greens in just after sunup.
Tip #2: Come Hungry.
There will be free samples galore at the market, but will samples sustain you? Grab breakfast or lunch where vendors run the gamut from avocado toast to crepes, and tamales to tikka masala! The sparkling San Diego bay as the market’s backdrop may have you craving seafood. Grab freshly grilled oysters at the Captain Jack’s booth or duck into the Little Italy Food Hall for some Wicked Maine Lobster. Vegetarians may enjoy seasonally inspired bites at the FaVe Tacos booth, or a warm caprese sandwich from the Seb’s Panini booth. Wash it down with a salty lemonade from – you guessed it – the Salty Lemonade booth, or sugar-free handcrafted soda from the Domaine Santé booth.
Tip #3: Bring a Reusable Bag.
Chances are you’ll find something special that you want to take home! Swing by the Little Italy Mercato welcome booth where you can pick up a bag and similar swag. There’s also a Market Basket Shop next to the piazza fountain. Plenty of vendors sell travel-sized items so you can take a little bit of San Diego home with you. There’s mini containers of honey from Mikolich Family Honey, granola to-go at Love Granola, and spicy-sweet relish at Celeste’s Jalapeno Relish booth. You’ll also find loads of goods for your home: resin art of all sizes at The Art of MVP, dainty rings and necklaces from Friction Jewelry, and essential oil candles from the Bella Vie Candles booth. We could go on an on about the options at the Little Italy Mercato Market…but you’ll just have to see for yourself!
P.S: Not in town on a Saturday? Little Italy also has a Wednesday Market from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It’s a more condensed version of the weekend market, but still offers lots of options from local farmers and makers.