By David Nelson
Forget about sticking a fork in it - San Diego's restaurant renaissance ain't done. Case in point: here are two baker's dozen (26 total) new eateries that have recently opened or are coming soon.
As America's Finest city continues to become the nation's most hospitable metropolis, our collective appetite for biting into something seems yet to be satisfied. From the ultramodern iDessert, where tablet-ordered sweets come to the table at the touch of a button, to the La Jolla classic George's California Modern spin-off, Galaxy Taco (you bet Uranus it's good), there's never been more dining scene to be seen.
Burnside (opened in June)
What a delightful idea: a creative sandwich shop in Normal Heights that stuffs baguettes (Cuban and New Orleans-style), builds Veggie Portobello sandwiches on levain bread, and combines cheeses and wine-melted leeks inside country bread. (Location: former site of Country Kabob.)
3375 Adams Ave., Normal Heights
Civico 1845 (opened in June)
The only way to cook Italian is the hometown way, say brothers Dario and Pietro Gallo, who bring handmade pastas, long-cooked sauces and a vegan-friendly attitude from Consenza, Italy, to Little Italy. (Location: former site of Zia's Bistro.)
1845 India St., Little Italy
Ocean Pacific Grille (opened in June)
The diverse, distinctive flavors of the Pacific Rim come together as "Filipino Fusion" at Ocean Pacific Grille, which has been receiving rave reviews since its opening. The olive oil-poached ono is one of many standouts. (Location: former site of Encore Champagne Bar.)
531 F St., Gaslamp
Breakfast Republic (opened in June)
Beer for breakfast is one hot draw at this 7 a.m.- to-3 p.m. North Parker from breakfast meister Johan Engman. Whimsical décor complements enjoyably off-kilter pancakes, French toasts and eggs Benedicts. (Location: formerly Western Steakburger.)
2730 University Ave., North Park
iDessert (opened in July)
Say "Beam me up" at dessertier Jean-Philippe Maury's futuristic patisserie, where patrons order customized desserts, sundaes and milkshakes at iPad stations and wait briefly for the vividly flavored and colored fantasies to materialize.
1608 India St., Ste. 104, Little Italy
Galaxy Taco (opened in July)
George's California Modern founder, George Hauer, and chef/partner Trey Foshee have unveiled their out-of-this-world Galaxy Taco, which is now serving inventive tacos and mucho tequilas in La Jolla. (Location: formerly La Jolla Shores Market.)
2259 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla
Café Gratitude (opened in July)
With locations in hip-hot L.A. neighborhoods and elsewhere, this gourmet vegan restaurant has now set up shop in expansive Kettner Boulevard quarters to showcase seasonal menus partly sourced from the co-founders' farm in Vacaville, California. (Location: retail space at Broadstone Little Italy.)
1980 Kettner Blvd., Ste. 20, Little Italy
Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen (opened in July)
Feel pretty in pink at this vast Gaslamp newcomer, where frothy, fruity and frequently pastel cocktails accompany clever Asian-American cuisine from the "East-West Kitchen." The raw bar is already a pearl in the minds of shellfish fanciers. (Location: formerly Wet Willie's.)
555 Market St., Gaslamp
Bracero Cocina De Raíz (opened in July)
Perhaps the most important newcomer of 2015 thus far, Javier Plascencia's stunning two-story eatery in a Little Italy tower presents "cooking of the roots," irresistible Mexican fare like incredibly textured shrimp and bone-marrow sopes.
1490 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy
Pacific Beach AleHouse (reopened in July)
Newly rebuilt and glorious, this wave-close haven by OMG Hospitality (Union Kitchen + Tap in Encinitas and Gaslamp, Backyard Kitchen + Tap, etc.) offers serious hospitality daily and entertains at both ends of the day on weekends, when brunch starts at 9 a.m., and a DJ begins spinning at 10 p.m.
721 Grand Ave., Pacific Beach
Soda & Swine (opened in July)
"Much Ado About Meatballs" could be the motto for Consortium Holdings' revolutionary joint in Liberty Station, where Point Lomans and meat-loving visitors kick up their heels with tasty tacos, serious spaghetti and really red wines.
2750 Dewey Rd., Ste. 104, Liberty Station
Emerald Chinese Cuisine (reopened in August)
Completely rebuilt and considerably up-scaled, Convoy Street's grand palace of Hong Kong-style fare now boasts a stylish lounge, an up-to-date bar program, lively music, dim sum day and night, and
3709 Convoy St., Kearny Mesa
Lemonade (two locations opened in August)
There's everything sweet and nothing sour about the eye-catching Hillcrest and University Town Center locations of L.A.'s ultra-hip Lemonade chain, a "fast-casual" redoubt specializing in salads,
sandwiches, savory foods, desserts and deluxe lemonades. (Location: formerly Amici's Pizza in Hillcrest.)
3958 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest, 619.293.7900
4525 La Jolla Village Dr., Ste. D35, UTC, 858.251.0912
Coasterra (opened in August)
Designed by Cohn Restaurant Group, Chef Deborah Scott and late architect Graham Downes, this behemoth, waterside restaurant and private events complex on Harbor Island specializes in upscale Mexican fare, generous cocktails and sizzling city views.
880 Harbor Island Dr., Harbor Island
Fireside by The Patio (opening in September)
Liberty Station is flaming hot thanks to The Patio Group's wise reworking of a vintage Navy structure as an indoor-outdoor setting for fire pits, wood-fired grills and family-style eats by Executive Chef John Medall.
2855 Perry Rd., Liberty Station
Yard House (opening in September)
Near the 20-screen AMC theater in Mission Valley Center, this branch of the brewsky-oriented chain will offer the good stuff everybody loves, like lobster-crab-artichoke dip and barrels of beer with which to chase.
1640 Camino Del Rio North, Ste. 157, Mission Valley
Crazy Goose Bar & Lounge (opening in September)
Complete JJ's Burger Challenge (consuming a fourplus- pound burger feast) in less than eight minutes to get your name on Crazy Gooses' Wall of Flame. Big bar, big menu, party-time vibe. (Location: formerly Quality Social.)
789 Sixth Ave., Gaslamp
Beerfish (opening in September)
The name of this soon-to-open North Parker expresses the mission statement of Sessions Public owner Abel Kaase, who transformed a former house into an airy destination for craft beer and docks-fresh seafood.
2933 Adams Ave., North Park
The Swell Cafe (opening in October)
The second location of the popular, artisan-style coffee house in Mission Beach will bring the same casual vibe, cold-brew javas, and comfort-food breakfast and lunch menus to Del Mar's upscale Flower Hill Promenade.
2670 Via De La Valle, Del Mar
The Crack Shack (opening in November)
Kind of an annex to celeb chef Richard Blais' Juniper & Ivy, this revamped toolshed coddles Jet Set foodies with eggs and chicken prepared every which way, from breakfast through dinner.
2226 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy
Flour & Barley (opening in November)
There's already a pizza kitchen installed at The Headquarters space where Mozza flopped, so this Vegas-based pizzeria will reheat the ovens to serve fancy pies and suave pastas alongside craft beers and barrel-aged cocktails.
789 W. Harbor Dr., Downtown
CRUDO By Pascal Lorange (opening in December)
Belgian-born French chef Pascal Lorange, a master of the Riviera-centric cuisine served by chic Fig & Olive restaurants, will open his Mediterranean-style CRUDO in The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch. Firsthand knowledge: this dude can cook.
5965 Village Way, Ste. E107, Del Mar
The Herb Shop (opening in December)
Brian Malarkey's The Herb Shop on upper Kettner Boulevard. won't be garden-variety. The name umbrellas the trendy Herb & Wood restaurant and the Herb & Eatery cafe-market, with eat-in and takeout foods and an on-site butcher.
2210 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy
Liberty Public Market (opening in December)
Designed to mimic such world-famous markets as Seattle's Pike Place, Blue Bridge Hospitality's sprawling space in Liberty Station will house a wonderful variety of food vendors including crafty small eateries.
2816 Historic Decatur Rd.,
Liberty Station, libertypublicmarket.com
Pueblo (opening late 2015)
Nacho daddy's kind of Mexican place, Pueblo, from onetime George's at the Cove partner
Mark Oliver, will perfume the premises of PB's long-running China Inn with new-style Baja Coastal cuisine, heavy on seafood and Baja wines.
877 Hornblend St., Pacific Beach
Blackmarket Bakery (opening early 2016)
North Park scores again with this third location of a Costa Mesa-based chain. Blackmarket celebrates self-indulgence with sky-high cakes, irresistible tarts, gingery cookies, breakfast pastries and, when sweet teeth sleep, savory sandwiches.
4686 30th St., North Park
STK Rebel (opening early 2016)
Meanwhile, back at the Andaz, The ONE Group Hospitality will open its fourth STK Rebel in the hotel's spacious ground-floor restaurant space. (The other three are in Miami, Denver and Austin.) ONE GROUP calls the concept "A modern twist on the American steakhouse."
600 F St., Gaslamp