From ultra-luxe brunch spaces to Italian food worthy of a Michelin star and a hideout that enters the future with computerized devices at each table, here are 11 restaurants that recently opened around San Diego County that promise to leave diners satiated.
Morning Glory wakes up San Diego’s breakfast scene
Brunch spots have become a ubiquitous presence on San Diego’s dining scene. But leave it to boundary-pushing restaurateur Arsalun Tafazoli of CH Projects to shake things up with Morning Glory, a $4 million, ultra-luxe brunch spot with a heavy metal sensibility in Little Italy.
Chef Jason McLeod’s menu has reimagined and juiced up traditional brunch dishes. Options include Japanese-style soufflé pancakes, the “McDiddle” with Spam breakfast sammy, baked egg shakshuka, caviar and egg toast, smoked lox with Chinese bing bread, housemade sausage patties, thick sipping cocoa, goat tacos and a not-so-proper afternoon tea service. There’s even a vending machine dispensing mini-bottles of Moet & Chandon Champagne.
There’s coffee, of course, but the beverage program is bar-forward with sparkling refreshers, brown, foamy and creamy cocktails and a half-dozen twists on the bloody Mary.
Morning Glory opened in mid-April in a 4,000-square-foot second-floor space overlooking the pedestrian-only Piazza Della Famiglia. Designed with extravagant flair by Basile Studio, the restaurant has a wall of electronically controlled jointed windows that move in different configurations throughout the day. Louis XIV-style gold-tone sinks share space with skull-and-crossbones wall art and dishes.
The unorthodox design is perfectly in sync with Tafazoli’s unique in-your-face ethos, and diners are eating it up.
Brunch is served from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and no reservations are taken, so prepare to queue up. Word has it that late-risers may be in for a three-hour wait on weekends.
550 W. Date St., Little Italy, 619.629.0302, morningglorybreakfast.com
As part of a multimillion-dollar remodel at the Coronado Marriott Resort & Spa, this new “Cali-Coastal” bayside restaurant and bar, ALBACA, debuted on May 16. The open-all-day restaurant’s name is an acronym for Alta Baja California, and its menu, developed by chef Aaron Obregon, is Baja-inspired. Signature dishes include jumbo lump crab and huevos rancheros for breakfast, locally caught fish tacos for lunch and torta de pescado and crab bucatini pasta for dinner.
2000 Second St., Coronado, 619.522.3150, marriott.com
Del’s Hideout Food + Drink
This latest entry from Cohn Restaurant Group is a fast-casual American classics restaurant. The concept was launched in early May in the former Junk House property in Mission Valley. Dishes include burgers, barbecue, salads, grain bowls and rotisserie chicken. Diners order at the counter and can summon servers for extra drinks and service via computerized devices at their tables. Del’s has a full bar, 700-square-foot patio and a children’s play area.
5351 Adobe Falls Rd., Del Cerro, 619.255.8175, delshideout.com
On May 18, the Costa Mesa-born high-end butcher shop chain opened its first location outside Orange County in Carmel Valley’s One Paseo shopping center. Launched by Robert Hagopian and Brian Smith in 2014, the four-store Butchery chain specializes in gourmet and exotic meats, including house-ground beef and sausages, pre-marinated meats; Wagyu, bison and venison steaks; fresh-caught sustainable fish; charcuterie and artisan cheeses; and breads, salads and other market items. There is also a deli and kitchen serving hot dishes, sandwiches, salads and side dishes, as well as wine and craft beer on tap.
One Paseo, 3720 Caminito Court, Ste. 200, Carmel Valley, 858.345.1524, butcherymeats.com
Legal Restaurants opened breakfast/lunch service at this $4 million, 10,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant/park project in mid-March, with dinner service being introduced last month. Situated on the ground floor of the Kilroy Sabre Springs business park, The Florence is named for famed San Diego-born endurance swimmer Florence Chadwick, whose trophies and personal mementos decorate the beachy/coastal 200-seat restaurant/bar. Chef Ricardo Heredia’s eclectic menu reflects the many countries where Chadwick lived, trained and swam, including the U.S., Europe and Middle East.
13480 Evening Creek Dr. N., Ste. 150, Sabre Springs, 858.433.1545, theflorencesd.com
In early May, high-profile Filipino-born chef Danilo “DJ” Tangalin and his business partner Archie Soria took over the former Sarap Filipino Kitchen and revamped it into what Tangalin describes as a casual restaurant that embraces the tradition of the Filipino family dining experience, with communal tables and family-size portions. Gaya Gaya means “copy cat” in the Philippines, representing Tangalin’s goal of copying traditional recipes to honor the country where he spent the first 16 years of his life before immigrating to the U.S. The menu is purposefully clear and simple to serve as an introduction to diners not familiar with Filipino cuisine, with dishes such as beef salpicao, adobo fried chicken, pancit bihon, rice bowls, sandwiches, vegetable dishes and desserts.
The much-anticipated Il Dandy (which opened in mid-May) is a modern seafood-focused Italian restaurant helmed by father and son chefs Antonio and Luca Abbruzzino, whose eponymous restaurant in Calabria was the first to earn a coveted Michelin star in that region of Italy. Il Dandy will soon open Arama, a six-seat chef’s-table “restaurant-within-a-restaurant.” The intimate experience sits within Il Dandy and is designed to re-create the look and feel of the Abbruzzinos’ original restaurant in Calabria. At Arama, two seatings a night are offered for a 12-course prix-fixe Calabrian-style menu, completely unique from Il Dandy’s menu.
2550 Fifth Ave., Ste. 120, Bankers Hill, ildandyrestaurant.com
Blue Bridge Hospitality opened this Parisian-style bistro in its former West Pac Noodle Bar space in downtown Coronado in May. The restaurant is helmed by chef Matt Sramek, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and an alumnus of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills, Amaya at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and The Lot in La Jolla and Liberty Station. Blue Bridge founder David Spatafore said the restaurant serves traditional French bistro classics, like Niçoise salad, steak frites and escargot, but in lighter, healthier preparations. French pastries are baked in-house, there’s an ambitious cheese program and the wine list created by sommelier Tammy Hoops features French and California varietals. Lunch and dinner are now served with a seasonal breakfast menu on Fridays-Sundays coming later this spring.
1166 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.313.6003, littlefrenchie.com
Hajime “Jimmy” Kitayama, founder of Nishiki Ramen in Kearny Mesa, has opened a second ramen concept with a different menu in Hillcrest. Manten, which means “the whole universe” in Japanese, aims to re-create the taste and style of an authentic Japanese ramen shop. As in Japan, noodles are made in-house daily. Specialties include a creamy tonkotsu (Berkshire pork) broth, pork chashu and marinated slow eggs. The 90-seat restaurant includes a bar with 24 Japanese and local craft beers on tap as well as a selection of sakes and wine.
1040 University Ave., Ste. B111, Hillcrest, 619.831.0101, mantenramen.net
Chef Soichi Kadoya opened his first solo sushi bar in April at the former Circa space in University Heights. Before starting his own restaurant, Kadoya spent more than five years at Sushi Tadokoro. Soichi Sushi’s menu is a mix of a la carte and omakase dining options served in the omotenashi style, which is the Japanese word for hospitality.
2121 Adams Ave., University Heights, 619.677.2220, soichisushi.com
Son of a Toast
Gaston and Gilberto Corbala, the Tijuana-raised brothers behind the five-store Grater Grilled Cheese chain, have opened San Diego’s first all-toast restaurant and coffee bar. The 11-item food menu includes six savory toasts, including three avocado varieties, and four sweet toasts, including the Donkey Kong with peanut butter, bananas and granola. There’s also a three-toast “flight” option. And for non-toast-lovers, a couple of sandwich and other lunch specials are offered daily. Cold-brew coffees are served iced or steamed with multiple flavor options, including Creamsicle and Mai Tai (non-alcoholic).
3066 University Ave., North Park, 619.326.8125, sonofatoast.com