Embrace the holiday spirit — and recharge — with a meal at the mall, including Westfield UTC, One Paseo, Fashion Valley and Westfield Plaza Bonita
Online shopping may have its benefits, but it doesn’t have dumplings.
Shopping at the mall during the holidays can be stressful, but San Diego County malls also offer delicious ways to recharge. Whether you’re looking for barbecue from celebrity chefs Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry at One Paseo, handmade xiao long bao soup dumplings at Westfield UTC’s global phenomenon Din Tai Fung, Korean fried chicken at Fashion Valley’s Bibigo Kitchen or over-the-top fare from Westfield Plaza Bonita’s Funky Fries & Burgers, we’ve got your dining choices in the (shopping) bag.
7007 Friars Road, Mission Valley. simon.com/mall/fashion-valley
What’s new: Bibigo Kitchen. This new, elegant, fine-casual concept offers a modern Korean menu, that includes Korean fried chicken, steaming hot bowls of steak kimchi fried rice, mandu dumplings, seared octopus, Seoul bibimbap, Korean barbecue, wine, beer, cocktails and much more. (619) 419-2150. bibigousa.com/bibigokitchen/locations
Chic choice: North Italia. A pretty, always-bustling spot for fresh pizzas, pastas, salumi boards, grilled veggies, salads, sandwiches, entreés, happy hour, brunch and decadent desserts. Don’t miss the addictive white truffle garlic bread. (Also at One Paseo.) (619) 343-2301. northitaliarestaurant.com/locations/san-diego-ca-fashion-valley
Sweet pick-me-up: Godiva. Godiva is known for its delicate Belgian chocolate truffles and bonbons in the red-ribboned, gold boxes, but the introduction of sensational soft serve sets a new gold standard. With waffle cones, toppings and parfaits, it’s like a full-on ice cream shop. But we’ll stick with the pure pleasure of Signature Godiva Dark and a spoon. (Also at Westfield UTC and Las Americas Premium Outlets.) (619) 293-7492. stores.godiva.com/us/ca/san-diego/7007-friars-rd.html
Healthy option: True Food Kitchen. Fresh, nutritious fare in a stylish setting (indoors and out), True Food uses high-quality ingredients in such well-executed dishes as the organic Tuscan kale salad, grilled salmon, or the seasonal dashi ramen and butternut squash pizza. (Also at Westfield UTC.) (619) 810-2929. truefoodkitchen.com/sandiego
4545 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego. westfield.com/utc
Cult favorite: Din Tai Fung. The Union-Tribune’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year, this global dumpling powerhouse is always busy and never disappoints. Among its greatest menu hits is the bright cucumber salad, magical shrimp and pork pot stickers, vegetable and pork wontons in a delectable spicy sauce; not-too-sweet chocolate and mochi xiao long bao (XLB), and those world-famous steamed pork XLB soup dumplings. Pro tip: reserve or get on the “live wait list” online through Yelp. (858) 375-5988. dintaifungusa.com
Civilized retreat: The Winery. With 13 sommeliers on staff, The Winery’s focus is naturally on the dancing juice, like the proprietary Rhône blend “The Boyz,” from Paso Robles’ Halter Ranch. But we’re equally impressed with the menu that includes the flavorful YG Alsatian Pizza, Hawaiian ahi poke and crispy Kurobuta pork belly lollipops. (858) 230-7404. thewinerylajolla.com
Hip respite: Raised By Wolves. An amazing bottle shop with stunning speakeasy in the back is the last thing you’d expect in a mall but maybe the first place you might want to head when you’re shopped out. The world-class cocktails are served by polished pros who also all happen to be bartenders. (619) 629-0243. raisedxwolves.com
3725 Paseo Place, Carmel Valley. onepaseo.com
Flavor to spare: International Smoke. The first San Diego restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina, and his celebrity partner Ayehsa Curry, International Smoke brings more than pedigree to the table. This global barbecue restaurant packs a flavor punch with such stellar dishes as pork belly bao buns, Mama Mina’s falafel and hummus, Ayesha’s fresh-baked cornbread with Thai red curry butter, woodfired shellfish with miso butter, Thai curry soup and whole-roasted cauliflower, with tehina, golden raisins, za’atar and pistachios. (619) 331-4528. internationalsmoke.com
Retro sweet: SusieCakes. Serving up nostalgia in the form of dessert, SusieCakes crafts traditional baked goods like Grandma used to make. Must-haves are the moist, old-fashioned, six-layer chocolate cakes, dreamy banana pudding with vanilla wafers and one of the best peanut butter chocolate cupcakes on the planet. (858) 299-2253. susiecakes.com/stores/delmar
Fast-casual fresh: Sweetfin. An L.A.-based chain that gets the poke trend right, Sweetfin’s composed or custom bowls are made with high-quality ingredients and sustainable “pole to bowl” freshness. All the signature dishes — spicy tuna, yuzu salmon, Sriracha tuna, miso eggplant and mushroom — let you get creative with your choice of six add-ons. (Also at Westfield UTC.) (858) 810-6050. sweetfin.com
3030 Plaza Bonita Road, National City. westfield.com/plazabonita
What’s fresh: From Mexican to Filipino, five new eateries have joined Chipotle, Dairy Queen/Orange Julius, The Broken Yolk Cafe, Outback Steakhouse and more in Plaza Bonita’s lineup. Here’s a snapshot of the recently opened spots.
- Sarku Japan. Quick-casual Teppanyaki-style Japanese, with teriyaki combos, sushi and bento boxes. sarkujapan.com
- The Buffalo Spot. Wings and buffalo fries are the stars here, along with 13 signature sauces. thebuffalospot.com
- Gerry’s Grill. Traditional Filipino specialties include pancit, lumpia, pork sisig and colorful halo halo. gerrysgrill.com
- Burros & Fries. A homegrown Mexican grill concept serving burritos, street tacos, fries and more. burrosandfries.com
- Funky Fries & Burgers. Come hungry for this local chain’s outrageous burgers and fries. funkyfriesandburgers.com