When great gifts abound Downtown, why shop anywhere else?
Alex Owens | Downtown News
Living or working Downtown has its perks, and Christmas shopping is one of them.
The area is chock-full of interesting shops and businesses with unique gifts that are hard to find anywhere else.
And that’s what gift giving is about, right?
The best way to find gifts is to go walking around the Gaslamp Quarter, East Village or Little Italy, but here are a few quirky gift ideas that caught our eye.
Fishy gift cards
Gift cards are usually the last resort for buyers who are stumped what to get for that someone. However, Spike Africa has taken the concept up a notch by including them in special tuna-like cans.
Alcohol is always a great holiday gift, especially some locally brewed craft beer. Mission Brewery on L Street sells 32-ounce cans in a variety of styles.
If you’re not hopping to buy beer for the holidays, San Diego Cellars on Kettner Blvd. buys grapes from growers in San Diego County and other parts of California and then crushes, ferments and bottles them in Little Italy. Currently, they have Pinot Rosé—pinot noir mixed with rosé—that is designed to be a red wine that goes with turkey.
The U.S. Grant Hotel has a craft bottle-conditioned cocktail created by Director of Venues Jeff Josenhans. Called the “Mule Sur Lie,” it mixes up vodka, ginger, muscat and hops into a champagne-style cocktail. A bottle is $35 and available onsite.
Venissimo Cheese at The Headquarters at Seaport offers classes in cheese making, or, if you prefer, they can ship out a cheese lover’s box of gourmet cheeses to wherever you need.
Meow’s the word
Sushi isn’t a good thing to put in anyone’s stocking but Katsuya Japanese Restaurant does sell something that ships a little better: Lucky Cats that supposedly bring good fortune to the owner (they don’t exacerbate feline allergies either). The cats sell for $100 and $150, a small price to pay for lots of luck.
Sometimes, the smallest gifts have the most meaning, such as the mullet wigs made by Mullets on the Go based out of Cortez Hill. The company’s business is mostly online, but the flagship product can be purchased at Urban Outfitters.
Looking for something to please a pet owner? Alexander Salazar Fine Art on Broadway is the place to commission customized pet portraits of your dog or cat. A 4 x 4 work sells for $4,000 while the 8 x 7 goes for $6,500. Drive by to see samples through the gallery windows.
Homemade pastries are a great gift in theory, but wait until your loved ones get a taste of the biscotti made at Bencotto in Little Italy using an ancient recipe. A $7 bag is the perfect accompaniment to espresso or even a glass of sparkling wine.
Because spice helps life
Looking for something special for the grillers and chillers in your life? The Blueprint Cafe in Barrio Logan sells spice rubs made by the Tomorrow Project, a Bankers Hill charity that aims to give homeless women jobs that will ideally help transition their lives for the better. The women hand-assemble the spice rubs and deliver them to Blueprint. The spice rubs are available in Tropical Lime Pink Peppercorn, Indonesian Curry and Cabo San Lucas Carne Asada flavors for $7 each.
Sweet tidings indeed
Chocolate is a gift that everyone appreciates. Dallman Confections in The Headquarters at Seaport Village uses special recipes that are only known to a handful of chocolatiers such as a fine blend of hazelnut nougat and pistachio marzipan surrounded by bittersweet Swiss couverture that is dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Seeing is believing
Anyone with glasses knows that picking out the right pair can be a challenge. The Alexander Daas Showroom that just opened on J Street makes it easier for Gaslamp shoppers by showcasing some truly magnificent luxury eyewear. It’s the second-generation optician’s first retail showroom.
Once a slightly sleepy tourist attraction, Seaport Village has become the go-to spot for truly unique San Diego shopping, thanks to a great combination of artisans and shops. It’s worth exploring for yourself, but some of our favorites include:
• Star lamps and ornaments from the Tin Smith:
• Panama hats from the Village Hat Shop:
• Wooden toys from Apple Box Toys: for baby
• Ghost pepper hot sauces from Hot Licks:
• Mineral Salt Scrubs & Bath Bombs from Sinfalicious
• Truffle oil gift sets from Seaport Oil & Vinegar.
Whatever you decide to give your loved ones, remember you have the greatest gift of all: you live in San Diego.
Alex Owens is a San Diego based freelance writer.