Best of Downtown San Diego 2018

Posted: October 5th, 2018 | Featured, Features | No Comments

Downtown San Diego is known for its vibrant neighborhoods, with their mixture of conference attendees, tourists, locals and residents, all sharing together in the culture, food, music and nonstop entertainment found there.

For years we have let the readers of San Diego Downtown News choose their favorite businesses in and around the Downtown area, and awarded those through our annual “Best of Downtown” awards.

We again reached out and asked those readers to share with us their favorites when it came to the restaurants, bars and retail businesses they found and enjoyed patronizing throughout 2018.

From the reaches of the ever-expanding East Village, to the majestic Gaslamp Quarter, through the twinkling lights of the Core/Columbia and Financial districts, to the shores of the Marina District and the Embarcadero, and to the piazzas of Little Italy, once again our readers have spoken. They have chosen the best — in such categories as antiques, art galleries, banks, credit unions and financial services, grooming and beauty businesses, doctors and hospitals, hotels, jewelry, new business, florists, places for pets, keeping fit and many, many more.

Some of the winners have been servicing customers in Downtown San Diego for decades, while others just recently opened their doors and are already making an impact.

In this month’s special Best of Downtown section, we offer an assemblage of these top establishments, showcasing them with colorful ads, photos, contact information and descriptions, outlining their missions to serve.

To each of our 2018 Best of Downtown winners, we extend hearty congratulations on your recognition. We hope our loyal readers — and your loyal customers, both new and old — continue to show you patronage for years to come.

— San Diego Community News Network staff (

Business & Retail


GOLD – New Era CPAs

835 Fifth Ave., Ste. 309

SILVER – J. Stephen Hawkins & Co., CPA’s

350 10th Ave., Ste. 1000


GOLD – Dcompress Downtown

1202 Kettner Blvd., Ste. B

SILVER – Absolute Acupuncture

2560 First Ave., Ste. 202

Adult Business

GOLD – Adult Depot

3487 Kurtz St.

SILVER – Hustler Hollywood

929 Sixth Ave.


GOLD – India Street Antiques

2361 India St.

India Street Antiques


SILVER – Architectural Salvage

2401 Kettner Blvd.

Architectural Salvage of San Diego

Architectural Salvage of San Diego has been supplying adventurous homeowners, restoration enthusiasts, and designers since our inception in 1996. Run by a knowledgeable and friendly staff, our store offers an extensive, constantly changing inventory. We are preservation-oriented, emphasizing sustainable practices through reuse. And, we are fun.

We have staggering selection of amazing finds. We source locally, from across the country, and from the world beyond. Whether you are restoring a period home, creating a chicken coop, or building a palace, we have those “it” pieces that bring everything together.

The store has a reputation for astonishing all who visit us. What wonders will you find on your visit? Next time you are in San Diego, stop by and see for yourself. Why wait? Make a special trip. We aim to dazzle.

Appliances Store

GOLD – Aztec Appliance

4070 Kearny Mesa Road

SILVER – Appliance Alley

1691 Hancock St.
619-291-8452 |

Appliance Alley

Art Gallery

GOLD – Alexander Salazar Fine Art

225 W. Market St.

SILVER – Sparks Gallery

530 Sixth Ave.


GOLD – DAG Law Firm

15th Floor, 525 B St.

SILVER – Rachel P. Young

101 W. Broadway, Ste. 1950

Auto Dealership

GOLD – John Hine Mazda

1545 Camino Del Rio South

John Hine Mazda


SILVER – BMW San Diego

5090 Kearny Mesa Road

Auto Repair Shop

GOLD – A Street Auto Service

1263 State St.

SILVER – Mission Hills Automotive

308 W. Washington St.


GOLD – Union Bank

1201 Fifth Ave.

Union Bank

Union Bank is proud to serve the Downtown San Diego community. With our 150-plus year history, we are part of the community and value our clients. Thank you for voting us best bank in Downtown. Stop in to either of our two Downtown branches, 1201 Fifth Ave., San Diego or 1101 Market St., San Diego or at our other locations across San Diego.

Union Bank is a member of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). MUFG is headquartered in Tokyo and has a global network that includes more than 1,800 locations in more than 50 countries. With close to 150,000 employees and approximately 300 entities worldwide, MUFG provides access to commercial banking, trust banking, securities trading services, credit cards, consumer banking and finances, asset management, leasing, and other services.

Through close partnerships with its operating companies, MUFG aims to “be the world’s most trusted financial group” by responding flexibly to customers’ financial needs, serving society, and fostering shared and sustainable growth for a better world.

SILVER – Chase

308 W. Washington St.


GOLD – Floyds 99

5658 Mission Center Road

Floyd’s 99 Barbershop


SILVER – The Barbery

1604 State St.

The Barbery

Best Local Community Event

GOLD – Yoga on the Midway

401 B St., Ste. 100

SILVER – Art Walk

2210 Columbia St.

Best MMA or Boxing Gym

GOLD – Undisputed

4151 University Ave.

SILVER – City Boxing

1059 14th St.

City Boxing

Bike Shop

GOLD – Electric Bike Central

1851 San Diego Ave., Ste. 100B

SILVER – Wheel Fun Rentals

333 W. Harbor Drive


GOLD – Upstart Crow

835 W. Harbor Drive, Ste. C

SILVER – Verbatim Books

3793 30th St.


GOLD – Vocabulary

414 W. Cedar St.

SILVER – Boutique de Marcus

205 G St.


GOLD – Inner Balance Institute

1764 San Diego Ave., Ste. 140

SILVER – Gaslamp Chiropractic

500 Third Ave.



4355 Ruffin Road, Ste. 200
858-576-2996 |

SDRC, Cannabis 21+. San Diego’s premium recreational destination. Voted San Diego’s No. 1 dispensary. Adjacent to the Hotel Circle, we are located across the Interstate 8 from the Mission Valley mall offering easy access to the Interstate 805, Interstate 15, Interstate 5 and state Route 163. The largest licensed shop in town, we have 10 checkout lines for no wait and no hassle. Pet friendly, and group friendly, we welcome all. All persons 21 and up are welcome with valid ID, no doctor recs required. All out-of-state IDs accepted. Carrying the top brands and consistently beating competitor’s prices, we have the widest range of quality cannabis products. SDRC has the best flowers, concentrates, edibles, and cartridges to meet all of your cannabis needs. Offering 10 percent off for all veterans, medical patients, and seniors. SDRC Cannabis 21+ Hablamos Espanol. Delivery coming soon, check out our website for updated menu and deals.

SILVER – Harbor Collective

2405 E. Harbor Drive

Consignment / Resale

GOLD – Consignment Classics

1895 Hancock St.

SILVER – Karen’s Consignment Gallery

4051 Voltaire St., Ste. A

Cosmetic Surgeon

GOLD – OB Waves Salon

4989 Voltaire St.

GOLD – Avalon Laser

2445 Fifth Ave., Ste. 220A

Avalon Laser


SILVER – Gypsy Magic

Credit Union

GOLD – San Diego County Credit Union

6545 Sequence Drive

San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) is San Diego’s largest, locally owned financial institution serving San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties.

SDCCU has assets of $6.7 billion, more than 279,000 customers, more than 35 convenient branch locations and 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs. SDCCU is the leading way, offering free checking with e-statements, SDCCU Mobile Deposit, mortgage loans, auto loans, Visa credit cards and business services. Federally insured by National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Equal housing opportunity, equal opportunity employer. For details, visit

SILVER – Mission Federal Credit Union

P.O. Box 919023

Day Spa

GOLD – Alleviating Whispering Waters Day Spa

550 Cedar St., Ste. 102

Alleviating Whispering Waters Day Spa


GOLD – B Medical Spa & Wellness Center

3033 Fifth Ave., Ste. 105

SILVER – Sente Bella Spa

220 W. G St.



GOLD – East Village Dental Group

1455 G St.

SILVER – Fifth Avenue Dental Arts

450 A St., Ste. 200


GOLD – Dr. William Heimer

3737 Fourth Ave.

SILVER – Michael R. Lerner, M.D.

2881 Fourth Ave.


GOLD – Dr. Robert Houghton

1855 First Ave., Ste. 200B

GOLD – Barbara Denysiak, M.D.

3969 Fourth Ave., Ste. 203

SILVER – Dr. Miranda Sonneborn

300 Fir St.

Dry Cleaner

GOLD – MAK Cleaners

1351 G St.
619-677 2800

MAK Cleaners


SILVER – 7th Ave Cleaners

644 Seventh Ave.

Financial Planner

GOLD – Mary Stockton

4365 Executive Drive, 8th Floor

Mary Stockton

Mary Stockton has been a successful financial planner for nearly 20 years. In 2009 and 2012, she earned the Agent of the Year award for her local office. She has also been awarded Top Producer, Mutual Fund Leader, Annuity Elite Champion and the Life Star Award, among others.

San Diego Pride also acknowledged her in 2011 with the Pride Community Service Award and the Tom Homann Law Association gave her the Outstanding Service to the Award in 2012.

In 2009, she was awarded the Mind Masters Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Prior to moving to San Diego, she owned a woman’s bookstore — Crones’ Harvest — in Boston. Her business became a valuable cultural center and she was honored with the Helen Diner Community Leadership Award.

Here in San Diego, Mary has served on the boards of Stepping Stone, The Center and Diversionary Theatre. She currently serves as treasurer for the board of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. Mary is married to Alison McManus, a doctor in nursing practice and an activist in her own right. They live in North Park.

SILVER – Define Financial

750 B St., Ste. 1750


GOLD – La Belle Bloom

2034 India St.

La Belle Bloom


SILVER – Allen’s Flowers and Plants

5225 Lovelock St.

Furniture Store

GOLD – Living Spaces

8730 Rio San Diego Drive

SILVER – Jerome’s Furniture

1190 W. Morena Blvd.

Garden Supply

GOLD – Armstrong Garden Centers

1364 Morena Blvd.

SILVER – City Farmers Nursery

3110 Euclid Ave.

Gym / Workout Studio

GOLD – Fit Athletic Club

350 10th Ave.

Fit Athletic Club


SILVER – 24 Hour Fitness

3965 Fifth Ave., Ste. 100

Hair Salon

GOLD – A Robert Cromeans Salon

200 Harbor Drive, Ste. 105

A Robert Cromeans Salon


SILVER – Salon De Marcus

685 Second Ave.

Hardware Store

GOLD – ACE Hardware

675 Sixth Ave.

SILVER – Home Depot

3555 Sports Arena Blvd.


GOLD – Sharp Healthcare

7944 Birmingham Drive

SILVER – Scripps Health

10140 Campus Point Drive


GOLD – Andaz Hotel

600 F St.

Andaz Hotel

Andaz San Diego is a lifestyle boutique hotel designed for the creative and progressive traveler. With its sleek style and fresh attitude, our hotel offers personal and uncomplicated services to help you explore, relax, recharge and make the most of your time in “America’s Finest City.” True to the Andaz concept, our hotel seamlessly blends within the neighborhood, offering vibrant social spaces that reflect the spirit of San Diego.

Lounge poolside, sip on one of our creative signature cocktails and enjoy a delicious lunch in your private cabana.

By day, The Rooftop by STK will sweep you away with stunning city views and creative regional cuisine. Using organic, locally sourced ingredients, our rooftop restaurant serves breakfast and lunch featuring American dishes with a cool SoCal spin.

By night, The Rooftop by STK is San Diego’s ultimate rooftop destination and nightlife experience high above the city. Enjoy calm furniture with a fire pit and blankets to stay comfortable. This cool sky-lit lounge is the place to be seen in San Diego.

SILVER – Omni Hotel & Resorts

675 L St.

Insurance Broker

GOLD – Cavignac & Associates

450 B St., Ste. 1800

Founded in 1992, Cavignac & Associates is a leading risk management and commercial insurance brokerage firm providing a broad range of insurance and expertise to design and construction firms, law firms, real estate-related entities, manufacturing companies, nonprofits and the general business community. Its focus is on commercial insurance, risk control, surety bonds, employee benefits and personal lines of insurance.

Cavignac & Associates employs a unique risk management process called the TotalRISK Approach, which consistently yields positive results for its clients. The company invests three times the average amount of other brokerages on educating its staff, so they can better serve clients. It also presents ongoing educational seminars for clients to help them better understand their exposures to loss and how to manage those exposures.

Cavignac & Associates employs a staff of 55 people at offices located in Downtown San Diego. In various “Best Places to Work” competitions, it consistently has been scored high by employees, based on its desirable work environment and staff camaraderie. The company is dedicated to being the best, and continually seeks ways to improve its productivity, technical expertise, and the services it delivers to its clients.

SILVER – Let’s Insure

550 W. C St., Ste. 1690


GOLD – Stuart Benjamin & Co.

7510 Hazard Center Drive, Ste. 405

Stuart Benjamin & Co.

A rare gem in the jewelry industry for more than 20 years as one of San Diego’s exclusive jewelers, Stuart Benjamin & Co. Jewelry Designs has helped people express the special moments in their lives together.

Business partners Stuart Benjamin and Barbara Wasserstrom share a love and knowledge for jewelry style and design that is rare in today’s market. Together, they guided Stuart Benjamin & Co. Jewelry Designs as a full-service jewelry store that is known for the finest custom designs, fashion jewelry, engagement rings and exquisite diamonds. For unsurpassed service, they also have an on-site jeweler who can do repairs in one day in most cases, along with the only certified professional jewelry appraisals in San Diego.

Their service and integrity have been rewarded by becoming an American Gem Society (AGS) member, which only five percent of jewelry stores in the nation qualify for. In addition, they are all Graduates of the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), which means you can feel confident with your purchase and know they stand behind their jewelry and reputation of quality.

SILVER – Robbins Brothers

7717 Friars Road

Manicure / Pedicure

GOLD – Lena Nails

1770 Kettner Blvd.

Lena Nails


SILVER – Belle Paris

307 W. Beech St.

Belle Paris


GOLD – Bodhi Massage & Wellness Center

3678 Fourth Ave.

SILVER – Happy Head

200 Market St.

New Business

GOLD – San Diego Regional Center

4355 Ruffin Road, Ste. 200


950 Sixth Ave., Ste. C


GOLD – Urban Optiks Optometry

3788 Park Blvd., Ste. 5

SILVER – Downtown Optometry

330 K St.

Personal Trainer

GOLD – Flex Training

740 13th St., Ste. 503

SILVER – Vai Fitness

1460 Seventh Ave.

Vai Fitness

My name is Silvia Giamanco and I own and operate Vai Fitness, a female-focused fitness studio located in Downtown San Diego.

Just a little background about the studio … we offer an array of services to help our clients achieve their goals. Tailored one-on-one personal training, small group training (six-seven person max), body transformation, nutrition guidance, Mat Pilates and reformer classes, and much more! Our mission is to change the lives of the clients we work with. We empower women to love and embrace their bodies, realize their own potential strengths, and make their lifestyle an enjoyable and positive experience. We encourage, support, and guide our clients into becoming stronger, and more confident women.

Pet Boarding / Day Care

GOLD – Amici Pet Hospital

2135 Columbia St.

Amici Pet Hospital

Amici Pet Hospital of Little Italy, in Downtown San Diego, is committed to quality pet care, teamwork and client service. We have the experience and compassion to understand the bond between our clients and their pets, and we are dedicated to providing the highest level of care for our patients.

We look forward to welcoming you and your pet at Amici, where we strive to provide excellence in veterinary care, and professional and personalized service.

Veterinary services provided by Amici Pet Hospital of Little Italy include the following: wellness exams, surgery, vaccinations, spays and neuters, flea control, microchips, dental care, digital radiology, lab work (blood, fecal, urinalysis, etc.), pharmacy, vet consultations, diet (advice and products) and more!

Amici Pet Hospital

Amici Pet Hospital of Little Italy is your neighborhood veterinarian. We proudly serve the Downtown neighborhoods of Little Italy, Marina, Cortez Hill, Columbia District, Gaslamp Quarter and East Village, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods of Bankers Hill, Mission Hills, Hillcrest, North Park, Park West, South Park, Point Loma and beyond.

Come visit your friends at Amici Pet Hospital! We have plenty of free onsite parking, and our Little Italy location offers convenient freeway access.

Amici Pet Hospital, “Excellence in care today, for a healthier pet tomorrow.”

SILVER – Camp Run-A-Mutt

3265 India St.

Pet Groomer

GOLD – Doozydog! Club

634 14th St., Ste. 104

SILVER – EarthWise Pet Supply

1051 Market St.


GOLD – Pilates of San Diego

310 K St.

Pilates of San Diego


SILVER – Studio FLO Pilates

4010 Morena Blvd., Ste. 224


GOLD – Bill Howe

9085 Aero Drive, Ste. B

SILVER – Ideal Plumbing Heating Air Electrical

5161 Waring Road

Real Estate Agent

GOLD – David Stone

639 Kettner Blvd.

For the fourth year in a row, David Stone — founder of Greater Good Realty in Downtown San Diego — has been voted the Best Real Estate Agent in San Diego! David has lived in the Metro San Diego area for more than 17 years and is widely regarded within the industry for his professionalism and knowledge of the real estate market.

Not only does David have a keen eye on determining property values, his excellent negotiation skills continue to exceed his client’s expectations. As a result, his many five-star reviews can be seen on Zillow, Google and Yelp. David also donates 10 percent of his commissions to local charities and nonprofit organizations throughout San Diego County. He hopes to make a difference for those in our neighborhood. To learn more about David Stone, please feel free to stop by his Downtown office, email him at, or give him a call.

SILVER – Francine Finn

560 First Ave.

Real Estate Office

GOLD – Greater Good Realty

639 Kettner Blvd.

Greater Good Realty is a boutique real estate brokerage located in Downtown San Diego, specializing in residential real estate. Greater Good Realty is focused on providing exceptional service to their clients, which include investors, first time homebuyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants.

This is Greater Good Realty’s fourth time in a row winning “Best Real Estate Office” in the Best of San Diego Downtown. Not only did Greater Good realty win the “Best of Real Estate Office” and “Best Property Management,” but founder David Stone also won “Best Real Estate Agent” in San Diego for the past four years. Greater Good Realty is highly recommended by their clients with their five-star reviews on Yelp, Zillow and Google. To learn more about Greater Good Realty and its mission of giving back to the community, check out their website or call them at 619-206-1551.

SILVER – Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

560 First Ave.

SILVER – Berkshire Hathaway

890 W. Washington St.

Solar Energy

GOLD – Solar Energy San Diego

750 B St., Ste. 3300A

SILVER – Coastal Home Improvement, Inc.

8880 Rio San Diego Drive, Ste. 800

Tanning Salon

GOLD – The Tan Banana

1550 Front St., Sola Salon Studio #17

SILVER – Sunless Revolution

544 Sixth Ave.

Sunless Revolution

Tattoo / Piercing Studio

GOLD – Church of Steel

1433 University Ave., Ste. A

Church of Steel Body Piercing and Tatoo


GOLD – Buju Tattoo

914 W. Washington St.

Buju Tattoo


SILVER – Superfly Tattoo

439 Broadway

SILVER – Lucky’s Tattoo Parlor

1000 Broadway

Lucky’s Tattoo Parlor

Veterinarian / Veterinary Hospital

GOLD – Amici Pet Hospital

2135 Columbia St.

SILVER – VCA Animal Hospitals

633 Seventh Ave.

Waxing or Threading Salon

GOLD – Elixr Wax Bar

917 East St.

SILVER – Brazilia Skin Care

1606 State St.

Yoga Studio

GOLD – The Little Yoga Studio

702 Ash St.

SILVER – Ginseng Yoga

2985 Beech St.

Leave a Comment