Well, so much for that diet. This summer we embraced the moment and ate our way through a host of new San Diego restaurants, from Burlap in Del Mar to Union in Encinitas, The Range in Hillcrest, and Bootlegger in East Village, just to name a few. It was an indulgent season of opening parties, multi-course dinners, and a few too many glasses of wine. And as it turns out, that was just the beginning.
As the weather chills out and we fall back into our regular routines, one thing is for sure: we will be very well fed. More restaurants opening this month include Davanti Enoteca in Little Italy, the first San Diego project from Scott Harris, a James Beard Restaurateur of the Year semi-finalist with a thriving foodie empire in Chicago. Up the coast, Crush Italian Kitchen and Wine Lounge breathes new life into the former Pacific Coast Grill in Solana Beach; and Matt Gordon opened doors to Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, his sustainable project at Pacific Station in Encinitas. House of Blues announced a new dining concept, Crossroads, and island flavor is heating up in Coronado with the opening of Leroy’s.
Sip and savor the flavors of fall at the best new San Diego restaurants.
Davanti Enoteca in Little Italy
It’s officially time to meet the Francesca Group’s first San Diego restaurant, Davanti Enoteca, described as an urban Italian wine bar with the seasonal cuisine of Italian farmhouses and fishing villages, handcrafted by chef and owner, Scott Harris, a James Beard Restaurateur of the Year award semi-finalist. The Francesca Group operates several award-winning restaurants in Chicago, and is now taking the San Diego food scene by storm. Located in the former Zagarella’s space, Davanti Enoteca boasts a cozy, energetic indoor ambiance and a spacious outdoor patio built for people watching in the vibrant Little Italy community. Menu items range from a starter insalate with shaved hearts of palm, lolla rosa, lemon, chili oli and pink peppercorn; to the “24 Hour Risotto” with arborio rice, toasted onion and veal glaze; and inventive entrees including the Bistecca con Ravanelli e Funghi – oven roasted wagyu tri tip with roasted radish, grilled oyster mushrooms, saba and salsa verde. Pair your dish with your choice off the extensive international wine list. The Francesca Group’s second local project, an additional Davanti Enoteca and Mia Francesca, will open in Del Mar Highlands this September. (pictured)
Saltbox Restaurant in San Diego
Turning a new page, Saltbox, a Kimpton restaurant, is set to transform the former Suite & Tender space this fall. Saltbox is a New American gastro-lounge under the culinary direction of Executive Chef Simon Dolinky that is slated to open doors on Friday, September 23. What will really bring this old venue new life is Executive Chef Simon Dolinky’s New American gastro-lounge menu, featuring versatile shared plates that can be custom ordered larger or smaller, to fit the size of your party. The ingredients-driven “social plates” will be flavorful, simple, playful and fresh, and will all be priced under $25. On the menu you can expect to see highlights such as Lobster Corn Dogs with ginger remoulade; Beef Cheek Tacos with snap pea kim chee; and Crispy Fried Asparagus with poached egg and paprika vinaigrette. Get more details here.
Solace & The Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas
North County foodies are rejoicing over the recent opening of Solace & The Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas, the latest project from partner and chef Matt Gordon, of Urban Solace in North Park. Located at Pacific Station just off Highway 101 in central downtown Encinitas, Solace & The Moonlight Lounge is a LEED silver certified mixed use project that brings this historic landmark to life with thoughtful, sustainable cuisine, house-made craft cocktails, and a selection of organic, bio-dynamic wines. Stand-out items on the new dinner menu include the Grass-fed Steak Tartare starter, with poached chilled EbenHaezer egg, capers and shaved parm; the House-Made Ricotta Fonduta starter, with oil cured black olive puree and roasted garlic toast; the BBQ Glazed Duroc Pork Belly entree with creamed corn, herb puree and pickled tomato salsa; and the Mustard Crusted Local Halibut entree with farro stew and toasted black pepper sauce. Get excited for the new Saturday and Sunday brunch menus, launching in September. Embrace the Encinitas spirit at Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, and make sure to stroll along Moonlight Beach before or after your dining experience.
Crush Italian Kitchen and Wine Lounge in Solana Beach
The new Crush Italian Kitchen and Wine Lounge in Solana Beach is the SoCal sister to the popular restaurant of the same name in Chico, now recreated in San Diego by partner John P. Luciano. Located in the former Pacific Coast Grill space in an otherwise suburban shopping center, Crush has upgraded the venue with a clean, contemporary design that celebrates the spirit of the coast while playing with rustic undertones and honoring Italian tradition, as orchestrated by local designer Karin Clark of InDesign Interiors. Executive Chef Jason Colabove and Head Chef Mike Lina developed a menu of Italian-inspired seasonal cuisine. Dinner starters and small plates to try include Ahi Tuna Tartare, Giant Roasted Mussels, Gorgonzola Chopped Salad, and Venus Clam Linguine. Entrée selections include Eggplant Parmigiana – crispy eggplant, provolone, pomodoro and basil; and Lamb Shank – ancient grain polenta, aged cheddar, fresh produce and hand cut fries. Get more details here.
Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge in Coronado
The new kid on the block in Coronado is Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, an urban venue that aims to introduce the island to sustainable, farm-to-table dining, paired with craft beer flights aplenty. Executive Chef Mel Ford created a playful menu that highlights many local ingredients. Stand-out items range from the Local Beets salad with bucheron, spicy almond brittle, watercress and lavendar vinaigrette; to the Bacon Pepper Prawns, with roasted corn salad and hot pepper jelly; and the Lamb Pappardelle with mushroom confit, zinfandel, peas and parmigiano-reggiano. And now for the important stuff: craft beer on tap. Your local and national selections include Coronado Brewing Co. Orange Ave. Wit, Mission Brewery Blonde, Rogue American Amber from Oregon and much more. If you can’t decide, enjoy a flight trio. Leroy’s also offers a few must-try signature cocktails, like the Kama Sutra, with Jamaican rum, mint, mango and lime. Get a taste of the new Coronado at Leroy’s on Orange Avenue.
Crossroads at House of Blues San Diego in the Gaslamp Quarter
The House of Blues has introduced a new corporate-wide dining concept, Crossroads, which launched first right here in San Diego on August 15. The new menu, created by celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez from “Best Thing I Ever Ate” and more TV cooking shows, combines international dishes with updated, classic staples from the previous menu. Relax HOB lovers, favorites such as Jambalaya and Shrimp and Grits aren’t going anywhere; rather, they are getting improved with fresh takes from Chef Aaron. Soul food takes center stage at Crossroads, with delicious items such as Cornbread with Maple Butter, Pulled Pork Sliders, Basil Pesto and Tomato Flatbread, Street Tacos, Meatball Sliders, Seared Tuna Tostadas, Chile Braised Short Ribs, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Smoked BBQ Bacon Burger, and Bourbon Bread Pudding. Get more details here.