If you think the East Village and Golden Hill border each other, then you're overlooking the Sherman Heights and Grant Hill communities in between. Clustered in the middle of ever-evolving Downtown and Barrio Logan , which are also on the rise, this concrete jungle is often regarded as nothing more than a thoroughfare, and in the case of Sherman Heights, a gateway to the eastbound 94 Freeway.
For the most part, this region has remained unchanged despite there being progress and gentrification all around it. But what these neighborhoods lack in new, trendy businesses, they make up for with a charming array of ethnic eateries; lesser seen views of the Coronado Bridge, San Diego Bay and Point Loma ; and rich history -especially in Sherman Heights.
Sherman Heights is named after former San Diego Mayor, Matthew Sherman (1891-92), who bought the 160 acres of land in 1867. His two homes are still standing today, though the undisputed crown jewel of the neighborhood-deemed a historic district in 1987-is Villa Montezuma. The striking Victorian compound on K Street and Island, originally built for musician Jesse Shepard in 1887 as "a palace of music, art and literature," operated as a museum for years. It was closed in 2006 for renovations and has yet to reopen. According to Save Our History Organization's (SoHO) Facebook page, they're hopeful that 2015 will be the year it reopens to the public.
In the meantime, enjoy the views, and delicious flavors within this working-class community.
Grant Hill Park
This cute, hilltop park with its wide views of the Coronado Bridge, San Diego bay and Point Loma flies curiously under the radar for being just down the street from Golden Hill. Though you might want to think twice before kicking it here solo after dark, daytime yields the best views anyway. With plenty of grass, benches and a basketball court, it's a popular oasis within the urban enclave. (J Street in between 26th and 27th St.).
New to the neighborhood since February, Food For Thoughts is a modern café situated just west of Grant Hill Park. The building itself is long and narrow, making for an awesome, wide front patio with lots of shaded seating, and plant life. Inside, there's a lounge space surrounded by windows, where you can chill out with affordable house-made sandwiches and salads. Visit this bright, quiet café during the day the next time you need a tranquil, yet inspiring place to cruise the internet. 446 26th St. (619) 602-5541.
Imperial Avenue eats
Dividing Sherman Heights and Grant Hill from their neighbors, Logan Heights and Barrio Logan, is Imperial Avenue; more specifically, its stretch from 19th to 30th Streets, where you can find ethnic eats galore.
Take for instance the Columbian and El Salvadoran restaurants located right next to each other as if to pit their empanadas and pupusas against one another in a stuffed-fried-pastry battle. At these low prices, why not just try both? That's the beauty of eating in this neighborhood: You can always experience more for less.
Antojitos Columbiano: 2851 Imperial Ave., Grant Hill. (619) 237-0396. El Salvadoreno: 2845 Imperial Ave., Grant Hill. (619) 231-8254.
Diamond in the rough
Mexican food may be the obvious grub choice in this neighborhood, but that doesn't mean there aren't some hidden gems in the mix. Located in a shopping center on Market Street, La Cocina De Rosita offers a variety of comforting prepared soups and stews, from chicken mole poblano to pozole, in addition to its full menu of tacos and other Mexican classics. Every order comes with complimentary corn tortillas, pressed fresh right there while you wait; there's also indoor seating, plus a shaded patio for dining in. 2665 Market St. (619) 237-7675.