Happy hours are a great invention. Diners can try a new restaurant without splurging. I have always loved tapas, because you get to try a lot of little dishes. When in a new city, I always look out for good happy hours. I recently visited San Diego’s Little Italy…where happy hours are abundant. 

San Diego’s Little Italy becomes a bustling destination at night

Here are some of my favorites:
Allegro is my top pick. My husband and I stopped in for a quick bite before we met up with friends. It had a beautiful fresh ambiance. Lemon themed, the fruits were found dangling from the ceiling within a sea of greenery at the main entrance and more prominently in “the Lemon Room.” They were even featured on the wall paper in the bathroom. 

The Lemon Room at Allegro

The restaurant decor was charming with a great bar area, an open kitchen, and an outside patio, where you could people watch.

Keeping with the lemon motif…we ordered the Grilled Artichoke (local mint, capers, citrus, white wine). It featured a brilliant lemon wine sauce – so good. I expected the artichoke hearts to be small. These were large with full stems which were also as tender as the delicate inner leaves. Displayed as flattened flowers, the presentation was beautiful and the taste was out-of-this-world. Magnificent!!

We also ordered another appetizer that was much larger than expected. The Fig and Prosciutto Crostini included three large pieces of ciabatta bread with prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, and fig jam. This was also delicious.

Allegro’s Grilled Artichoke; Fig and Prosciutto Crostini; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG;

My husband enjoyed a Peroni, while I enjoyed a delicious house red. I wish we didn’t have plans, because the oysters and the Charcuterie Board (also on the happy hour menu) looked amazing. Be sure to stop in for a happy hour or book a dinner date at this romantic eatery. 1536 India St, SD, 92101; https://www.allegro-sd.com

Another happy hour that offers a great value was found at Isola. We ordered a Pizza Margherita (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil), a Pizza Salamino Picante (tomato sauce fresh mozzarella spicy salami calabrese, basil). These were both on the happy hour menu…yum! Both were perfectly cooked, the crust was soft and chewy, and offered a tasty crunch.

Isola Pizza Margherita; photo by Richard Bilow; courtesy of ETG;

We also enjoyed two other dishes from the HH menu – Rostelle di Agnello (lamb skewer, rosemary, garlic, salsa verde) as well as the Salumi Misti (mix salami, olives, fresh facaccia). Wine and beer is also available at discounted prices. 1526 India St, SD, 92101; https://www.isolapizzabar.com

Sorrento and Solunto Ristorante and Bakery are owned by the same owner – Antonino Mastellone. Sorrento Ristorante provides salads on their happy hour menu which is unusual. If you are a healthy eater, enjoy a De La Casa Salad (Spring mix salad, fennel, tomato, balsamic vinaigrette dressing) or a Tre Colore Salad featuring Arugula, belgium and dive, radicchio, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and Italian vinaigrette. 1646 India St, SD, 92101;  FB PageThe latter offered very interesting options: Gonfietti & Prosciutto (fried pizza dough, parmesan, thin sliced prosciutto), Polipo & Ortaggi (sautéed octopus with olives, artichoke hearts, and zucchini). 1643 India St., SD, 92101; https://www.soluntoristoranteandbakery.com

Devanti Enoteca’s happy hour includes several chef specialties such as a pizza of the day, Bruchetta, Prosciutto and Veal Meatballs, etc. House wines, cocktails and draft beer are discounter. 1655 India St., SD, 92101; https://www.davantienoteca.com

Be sure to try these restaurants out while you are visiting San Diego. Your wallet will thank me. 

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