Heavy-hitting restaurants continue to open around San Diego as the year blossoms into the spring. And speaking of opening days, a few of these new spots will be great to check out now that the Padres have launched their season at Petco Park — the team’s 50th anniversary, too.
Here’s a look at 14 new places to eat, drink and bask in the sunlight the spring is sure to bring.
Cesarina, Point Loma
Open since February, this authentic Italian trattoria has won raves for its lasagna and tiramisu, among other family recipes brought from the homeland of its young expatriate owners, Rome-born Niccolò Angius and Naples-bred cousins Giuseppe Scognamiglio and Giuseppe Capasso. The restaurant’s menu features a build-your-own pasta plate, with choice of housemade pastas, sauces and other toppings.
4161 Voltaire St., Point Loma, 619.226.6222, cesarinarestaurant.com
Himmelberg’s, East Village
The Patio Group reopened its former Harvest by the Patio restaurant on March 25 as Himmelberg’s, a rock ’n’ roll surf-style fast-casual restaurant/bar with live music. It serves a sustainably sourced menu of American comfort foods and custom-made Himmelbrew beer. Both the restaurant and beer are dedicated to owner Gina Champion-Cain’s close friend Joey Himmelberg, who died in 2016.
369 10th Ave., East Village, 619.541.8301, himmelbergs.com
Hiro Nori Craft Ramen, Hillcrest
This Orange County-based ramen shop opened its first San Diego County store in February in Hillcrest. The four-store chain was started in Irvine in 2017 by Japanese-born ramen chef Hiromichi Igarashi and businessman Tadanori Akasaka. It’s known for the authentic Japanese flavors in its tonkotsu and shoyu ramen dishes, pork buns and vegan offerings.
3805 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest, 619-241-2856, hironoricraftramen.com
Holy Matcha, East Village
Geraldine Ridaura opened the first location of this Asian-inspired healthy café and matcha green tea room in North Park in 2017. Her second location opened in early March in the Park 12 development near Petco Park in East Village. Like the original, the new pink-walled Holy Matcha shop is certain to be a popular spot for Instagrammers. The new location has a unique menu with additional matcha drinks, snacks, toasts and soft-serve desserts. Read PACIFIC’s interview with Ridaura here.
201 Park Blvd., Unit 105, East Village, holymatchasd.com
Louisiana Purchase, North Park
Grind & Prosper Hospitality opened this New Orleans-inspired courtyard restaurant and Southern cocktail bar in March. A recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of New Orleans, chef Quinnton Austin has created a menu featuring alligator cheesecake with crawfish cream sauce, Andouille-fried red beans and rice with chipotle mousse and Southern-style BBQ shrimp.
2305 University Ave., North Park, 619.255.8278, louisianapurchasesd.com
Medina Moroccan Baja Kitchen, North Park
Chef/owner Alia Jaziri credits her North African and Chinese/Indonesian heritage and her passion for Baja cuisine for the eclectic Mediterranean/Mexican menu at this new fast-casual restaurant and wine bar that opened in October. It offers lunch and dinner service and brunch service will be added soon.
2850 El Cajon Blvd., Ste. 4, North Park, 619.230.5037, medinakitchen.com
Mustangs & Burros, La Jolla
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa reopened its signature restaurant in February with a new look and new coastal-inspired menu. Signature dishes include blackened swordfish tacos, charred Spanish octopus, pineapple-achiote pork ribs and ceviche negro.
Estancia La Jolla Hotel, 9700 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, 858.964.6537, meritagecollection.com/estancia-la-jolla
One Paseo, Carmel Valley
The first phase of this mixed-use community project opened its first group of restaurants in March and will continue opening more throughout April. They include Shake Shack, Salt & Straw ice cream, Parakeet Café, a healthy foods venue, Blue Bottle Coffee, Susie Cakes, Joe & the Juice bar, Mizukiyama Sushi, Tender Greens and The Butchery meat, grocery and seafood market. Read the latest about One Paseo here.
12860 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley, onepaseo.com
The Owl Drug Co. Social Eating House, downtown
In January, restaurateur Jason King took over the food side of the business at the 1-year-old Bell Marker brewpub. He relaunched the restaurant operation in March as the Owl Drug Co. Social Eating House, an elevated brew pub serving American comfort food. The existing brewery operation, run by the Artisinal Brewers Collective, has remained onsite. The name comes from the original tenant of the 1908 historic building, a drugstore that over the years was used as a bowling alley and a café.
602 E. Broadway, downtown, 619.756.7598, owldrugco.com
The Porchetta Shack, North Park
After eight years running Carnitas’ Snack Shack in North Park, married co-owners Hanis Cavin and Sara Stroud shuttered their original pork-centric outdoor fast-food restaurant to give the outlet a refresh and new name. The Porchetta Shack, which opened in March, has a new menu focused around the porchetta pork loin roast. The menu will also feature sandwiches, burgers and side dishes. The bar menu now includes cocktails. The Carnitas’ Snack Shack locations on the Embarcadero and at Petco Park are now under the ownership of the Grain & Grit Collective, which launched a new menu on March 12.
2632 University Ave., North Park, porchettashack.com
Richard Walker’s Pancake House, Carlsbad
Third-generation restaurateur Richard Walker Jr. of San Diego has opened a North County outlet of the family-owned gourmet pancake house concept in the new Square at Bressi Ranch shopping center. Launched in Illinois in 1989, Richard Walker’s is known for its oversize oven-baked omelettes and Granny Smith apple and cinnamon pancakes. Everything on the 70-item menu is made from scratch daily with never-frozen ingredients. Read more about the Carlsbad restaurant here.
2656 Gateway Rd., Carlsbad, 760.893.8400, richardwalkers.com
Sister Ray’s, Sherman Heights
In January, Balboa Bar & Grill owner Tom Logsdon and Pizzeria Luigi owner Luigi Agostini took over the lease on this American comfort food kitchen and craft beer spot in Sherman Heights. Since then, they’ve revamped and expanded the menu with a mix of burgers, chili dogs, sandwiches and vegan options.
549 25th St., Sherman Heights, 619.237.8041, facebook.com/sisterrays
Storyhouse Spirits, East Village
Co-founders Matt Kidd and Steve Kuftinec opened this two-story urban distillery and restaurant in February. The 7,600-square-foot project houses a distillery and production facility and a full-service bar, tasting room and lounge. Chef Nick Paulerio’s menu features seasonal plates, mostly cooked in a copper wood-fired oven. Read more about the East Village distillery here.
1220 J St., East Village, 619.241.2780, storyhousespirits.com
Small Bar, University Heights
Longtime Small Bar owner Karen Barnett partnered this year with the Trust Restaurant Group to revamp her 10-year-old restaurant/bar, with a refresh to the interior, updated menu, new staffing and a new cocktail program overseen by new part-owner Frank McGrath, formerly of Polite Provisions. It reopened in late February.
4628, Park Blvd., University Heights, 619.795.7998, smallbarsd.com