Operators of San Diego’s Caliano wood-fired pizza food truck opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in January in North Park. The no-frills, quick-service pizzeria serves slices for $3.50 and a $5 Dirty Flat Top cheeseburger that fans say rivals that of In-N-Out (but no substitutions allowed). It’s also doing occasional sandwich, rib and dessert specials and guest chef pop-ups.
4592 30th St., North Park, 619.892.7840, facebook.com/thefriendlySD
Suckerfree Southern Plate and Bar
The latest concept from the creators of North Park’s StreetCar Merchants offers a tongue-in-cheek mix of Southern cuisines, including New Orleans po’boys and gumbo, Nashville-style hot fried chicken and down-home soul food. The central dish at this spot, which opened in late January, is the fried organic free-range chicken perfected by StreetCar, sold by the piece or the whole bird ($28). Specialties include catfish, hush puppies, fried green tomatoes and a mac ’n’ cheese flight.
751 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp, 619.892.7744, eatsuckerfree.com
Patrick Murray’s popular farmers market vegan deli stand opened its first brick-and-mortar location in February. The vegan restaurant, deli and market expands on the menu found at the Ocean Beach, Hillcrest and SDSU market stands, with a wider variety of plant-based brunch items, salads, wraps, burritos, bowls and sandwiches. Murray said the restaurant is known for its burgers, faux meats, breakfast dishes and its made-from-scratch sauces, which are also available for sale. Closed on Mondays.
2611 El Cajon Blvd., North Park, 619.268.4367, anthemvegan.com
Shank and Bone
This new quick-service Vietnamese restaurant, which opened in February, serves a mix of classic and modern dishes. There are a dozen varieties of pho, including the signature Shank & Bone Bowl, which replaces noodles with bones and bone marrow in a beef bone broth. Other specialties include banh mi (sandwiches), Saigon chicken wings, bun bowls (rice noodle salad) and rice plates.
2930 University Ave., North Park, 619.458.9085, shankandbone.com
Covo La Jolla
Owner Michael Viscuso (On Broadway Event Center) recently took over the long-shuttered Amaya/Bijou restaurant on Prospect Street to create a multi-use venue that opened in March for live entertainment and a late-night menu on Friday and Saturday nights only. A street-side coffee cafe is now open daily. Breakfast and lunch service will begin at the cafe in late May. The onsite chef is Jeremy Fleming.
1205 Prospect St., La Jolla, 858.246.6767, covolajolla.com
Working Class American Diner + Bar
In keeping with its name, Working Class is a rough-hewn neighborhood bar and grill, with a front dining deck, indoor sports bar and illuminated side patio filled with picnic tables. Opened in February, the pub serves brunch plus breakfast all day, and a lunch/dinner menu of American comfort food items like wings, salads, burgers and sandwiches. There are menus for children (all dishes $7) and dogs ($6 buys Fido a beef patty or chicken breast with brown rice). The bar serves an ever-changing tap list of 25 local and regional craft beers.
4095 30th St., North Park, 619.642.0114, workingclasssd.com
OB Garden Café
From the operators of the Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market comes this new two-story indoor/outdoor restaurant/pub with a vegetarian/vegan menu, wine and beer, and Sunday morning yoga classes on the roof deck. Specialties of the house, which opened in March, include a BBQ jackfruit bowl, black bean and quinoa burger, vegan pot pie, Portobello tacos and veggie noodle dishes. There are also smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, breakfast dishes and coffee drinks.
4741 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach, 619.255.1193, obgardencafe.coop
5th Avenue Kitchen & Tap
This new hamburgers-of-the-world bar and grill opened in March, replacing the shuttered Spitz Mediterranean restaurant in Hillcrest. Chef and co-owner Andrew Boyer butchers and grinds all his own meat for burgers and sausage in-house. He’s also making his own bacon, potato chips, fresh-cut fries, sauces and marinades. Burger buns are baked to order and the French bread is shipped from New Orleans. Among the unique burger offerings is the Parisian, topped with grilled pears and blue cheese; the Surf and Turf, with fried shrimp and tomato bacon jam; and the Porkinator, with ham, house sausage and pork belly.
3515 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest, 619.578.2873, 5thavesandiego.com
The L.A.-based Northern Chinese barbecue chain opened its first San Diego location on Convoy Street in March. Focus specializes in serving skewered meats and vegetables grilled over charcoal. Other specialties are noodle bowls, roasted noodles, spicy crawfish and casseroles and authentic items like sheep kidneys, pork feet and chicken gizzards. Focus BBQ serves dinner only, with the kitchen open from 4 p.m. until 3 a.m. daily (closed Tuesdays).
3904 Convoy St., #101, Kearny Mesa, 858.430.6186, facebook.com/Focus-BBQ-san-diego
In March, Eat.Drink.Sleep. hospitality group reopened its JRDN fine-dining restaurant at Tower23 Hotel in Pacific Beach after a remodel and menu revamp. The new interior features a glass-enclosed sushi kitchen and an updated “elevated beach chic” interior. But the biggest change is the menu. The new sushi/raw bar menu has been expanded with new rolls and a build-your-own poke bowl concept. The main has been fully refashioned into a shareable format with small plates of items like smoked maitake mushroom tempura to large plates, serving up to three people, with items like glazed halibut and Wagyu New York Strip steak.
Tower23 Hotel, 723 Felspar St., Pacific Beach, 855.901.0002, t23hotel.com/jrdn
Prep Kitchen, the La Jolla-born farm-to-table restaurant company, will open its fourth location by month's end. Prep Kitchen replaces the 3,000-square-foot San Marcos commercial space recently vacated by the short-lived Stella Public House and Halcyon Coffee Bar in Block C, part of the North City mixed-use community near Cal State San Marcos. Founded in 2009 by Whisknladle Hospitality, the Prep Kitchen restaurants are now owned by IAM Hospitality of Las Vegas. Service includes brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner as well as beer, wine and cocktails.
Block C at North City, 250 N. City Drive, San Marcos, 760.798.8778, prepkitchenlajolla.com
The couple behind Lemon Grove’s just-opened Giardino Neighborhood Cucina expanded into Imperial Beach in April with Verandina, another Italian neighborhood eatery. Sicily-born chef native Marco Provino and his wife, Karina Kravalis, have created a coastal Italian-inspired menu for lunch, dinner and brunch. Specialties include octopus a la plancha, truffle arancini, linguine ai Ricci, swordfish alla Palermitana, orecchiette cime de Rapa and salmon and veal burgers. The two-story restaurant offers ocean views from the upstairs deck and a street-side patio on the ground floor.
710 Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach, 619.271.6795, verandinarestaurant.com
Partners Anthony Viveros and Douglas Hamm of the Black Swan Hospitality Collective (based in Marina Del Rey) named their “elevated beer hall” for its location in North Little Italy (known by locals as NoLIta). The 180-seat glass-topped restaurant/bar, scheduled to open in early May, gives a Southern California twist to Italian cuisine. The bar, overseen by Brian Prugalidad (formerly of Polite Provisions and Bracero), serves a dozen Italian-inspired custom cocktails, 22 beers on tap and 10-15 beers in bottles and cans. Chef Jordan Herigstad is using an Italian Forza Forni brick oven to turn out wood-fired pizzas topped with roasted seasonal local veggies and proteins, as well as entrée salads and desserts.
2305 India St., Little Italy, nolitahall.com