Karina’s Cantina opens in Gaslamp

The dining room of Karina's Cantina Gaslamp, seen from its second floor.
(Karina’s Group)

San Diego’s Karina’s Group has taken over a two-story Gaslamp Quarter restaurant space this month to open its latest concept, Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp.

The 7,000-square-foot location at 755 Fifth Ave., formerly occupied by Tocaya Organica, features a full-service restaurant and bar, private dining room and meeting spaces, an outdoor patio, house and guest DJs and weekly live music. The new location will serve the Karina’s menu of ceviche, Mexican seafood and steaks along with new options like surf ‘n’ turf burritos and tacos, aguachile and more.

Karina’s Group was founded in 1981 by Arnulfo Contreras and his wife Maria Ines Curiel, who named their first restaurant in Spring Valley after their eldest daughter, Karina. Now in its second generation of family ownership, the company owns seafood, ceviche and taco restaurants as well as Savoie Italian Eatery, Taka Sushi and Saffron Thai.

Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp is open from noon to 10 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from noon to 2 a.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. Closed Mondays. Brunch will be introduced soon. Visit

Kragen writes about restaurants for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at