There's a lot of culture and diversity packed into the neighborhoods of southeastern San Diego. The area is home to many ethnic communities, including Latinos, African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders.
Located between the 94 and the 805 freeways, Chollas View is an urban neighborhood named for the cholla cactus that once covered the landscape. Market Street is the main thoroughfare and where you'll find the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and Market Creek Plaza, home to a rich array of concerts and events at an outdoor amphitheater. While at Market Creek Plaza, make sure to check out the Sempra Children's Art Wall which runs along the back side of the amphitheater. A copper-inlaid tree spans the wall, decorated with hand-painted, tile leaves created by more a thousand children living in the area.
Also look for the annual Diamond Street Fair, which draws thousands to the area and includes food stands, vendors and multiple stages for performances. Another can't-miss festival is the annual FilAmFest. Held every October, this celebration of Filipino American arts and culture features two stages of live entertainment and a culinary pavilion with Filipino specialties.
For theater buffs, the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park maintains a technical center on Market Street. The 32,000 square foot building serves as a scene shop for building props for Old Globe productions. Further down on Market Street, the Malcolm X Library and Performing Arts Center is another performance hub in the neighborhood. Members of the San Diego Symphony have performed there, as well as other local musicians, many of whom cater to children and families. The family fun continues on the first Tuesday of every month when kids are invited to come read to animals, including guinea pigs, cats, dogs and rabbits! And, of course, author talks and book signings also take place at the library.
Southeast of Chollas View is the Mount Hope Cemetery. Stroll through its rolling hills and you'll see the graves of many famous San Diegans, like the Horton family, Marston family and Kate Sessions. Bibliophiles will be thrilled to know they can visit the grave of legendary short story writer Raymond Chandler at Mount Hope.
To the east of Chollas View, you'll find Encanto, which means "enchantment" in Spanish. Encanto actually comprises two distinct neighborhoods: north and south Encanto. South Encanto is home to the Wat Lao Buddharam, a Lao Buddhist temple serving the Laotian community in San Diego. The temple hosts festivals and New Years' celebrations where guests can experience traditional Laotian dance, music and dress. Regular concerts at the temple are also open to the public. At many of the events, visitors have the opportunity to try typical Laotian cuisine, like green papaya salads and pork sausages.
Excellent ethnic food is easy to come by in southeastern San Diego, as are delicacies from the American south. The Imperial Fish Market is a go-to spot for southern style fried fish. Their motto, "You Buy, We Fry," encourages customers to pick out their own fish for the fryer. The menu also features jumbo shrimp, catfish, fried okra and hush puppies.
All in all, there are boundless options for the intrepid urban explorer in the neighborhoods of southeastern San Diego.
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