Over the past 15 years, waves of development have turned Little Italy, North Park and Liberty Station into thriving dining and drinking destinations.
A similar renaissance is now under way in Pacific Beach, where three new venues are transforming the waterfront area at the foot of Grand Avenue and Garnet Street.
Eric Lingenfelder, a partner in the just-opened Mavericks Beach Club, started his restaurant career in P.B. as a bar back in the early 2000s. Now he’s part of the wave of progress sweeping the beachfront community.
“People are investing in Pacific Beach again,” said the Verant Group’s Lingenfelder. “The community is just getting rolling again in a great direction and we’re excited to be a part of that.”
Here’s a look at three new projects that have opened in P.B. since January.
Mavericks Beach Club
The biggest addition to P.B. this year is this two-story, 15,000-square-foot restaurant/bar/nightclub that opened in early March. Mavericks was built from the bones of the old Pacific Beach Bar and Grill, which shuttered in April 2015.
Co-owners Lingenfelder, Mark Cirillo and David Cohen have reconceived the former dive bar into an all-ages old-fashioned beach bar with a central courtyard, five bars, 38 TVs, an all-day Baja-inspired menu that Lingenfelder calls “a casual but quality cross between Rubio’s and Chipotle.”
Lingenfelder said Mavericks is designed to reach a diverse crowd with quieter family dining on the downstairs patio, large bar crowds in the afternoons and evenings and live music and dancing at night.
Two features make Mavericks unique.
To recreate the days when beer could still be consumed on the beach in P.B., all the beers served at Mavericks are in cans (ask for a “six-pack” and it arrives in a plastic cooler). And for locals who arrive on two wheels, Mavericks has P.B.’s first “bike valet,” a free secure storage service that can hold up to 48 bicycles.
Mavericks is the latest project of Verant Group, which operates taverns and restaurants countywide, including Barleymash, Tavern, Westroot, Ginger’s, Sandbar, True North Tavern, Smoking Gun and Spill the Beans.
860 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach. (858) 999-0348. maverickssd.com
Boasting one of P.B.’s best, unobstructed beach views, Waterbar is a “seafood-forward” restaurant and bar that held its grand opening in late January.
Waterbar was built in the former Joe’s Crab Shack location, though the building was so entirely re-imagined that its construction delayed the planned opening by nearly a year.
The ground floor of Waterbar is now reserved for parking, so diners and drinkers can enjoy an elevated view of the ocean through the second floor’s western wall of windows.
The 6,700-square-foot restaurant/bar seats 225. Chef Steven Lona, formerly of Tasting Room Del Mar, has created a shared plates menu centered on sustainable, regionally sourced seafood. Bar manager Brian Gaudet has developed a sea-inspired cocktail menu with most bitters, syrups and juices made in-house for its two full-service bars.
On weekdays, Waterbar’s customer base is mostly diners. On Friday and Saturday evenings at 10 p.m., a DJ draws in a bar and dance crowd, and on Sundays, a lively brunch and afternoon crowd.
Waterbar is co-owned by three local hospitality industry veterans: Eric Leitstein (Union Kitchen & Tap, PB Alehouse), Todd Brown (Bub’s at the Ballpark, Blind Burro) and Joe Vaught (Verant Group).
4325 Ocean Blvd., Pacific Beach. (858) 888-4343. waterbarsd.com
JRDN restaurant opened on the ground floor of P.B.’s upscale Tower23 Hotel in 2006. To give it a fresh look and menu, the Eat.Drink.Sleep. hospitality group closed the oceanfront JRDN in January for a two-month renovation.
Open since March 5, the new JRDN (pronounced “Jordan”) has a new multistation glass-walled sushi kitchen to spotlight chef David Warner’s new menu focus of fresh and raw seafood.
“The dishes blend California cuisine, with its focus on seasonal ingredients, with Japanese and Baja flavors in surprising ways,” Warner said.
Signature dishes include a build-your-own poke bowl option, miso glazed halibut, shrimp dumplings and Wagyu steak. The bar menu includes Japanese beers, sake and craft cocktails and Japanese-inspired desserts like the futomaki chocolate date cake and mango “poptart.”
4551 Ocean Blvd., Pacific Beach. (858) 270-5736. t23hotel.com/dine/