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San Diego’s 20 most anticipated restaurants of 2021

Chef Travis Swikard
Chef Travis Swikard stands on an eighth-floor patio of the East Village building where his restaurant, Callie, will open in 2021.
(Howard Lipin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Despite the pandemic, many new restaurants are lined up for takeoff this year

While 2021 will most likely be a year of painfully slow recovery for San Diego’s restaurant industry, 20 new restaurant projects are on the horizon countywide. Due to the pandemic, projected opening dates may be delayed by public health orders. But here’s a look at some of the most anticipated projects, in alphabetical order.

Cinnamon roll pancakes at Breakfast Republic
Cinnamon roll pancakes at Breakfast Republic, which will add two more locations in San Diego in 2021.
(Courtesy photo)

Breakfast Republic/Eggies, La Jolla & Hillcrest

San Diego’s Rise & Shine Hospitality Group will open dual-concept breakfast/brunch spots at two new locations this spring. Breakfast Republic, with 10 locations in Southern California, offers sit-down brunch fare and mid-day cocktails. Eggies is a four-store grab-and-go breakfast sandwich and jarred food concept. 637 Pearl St., La Jolla; 416 University Ave., San Diego. breakfastrepublic.com, eggies.com

Callie, East Village

The opening of chef Travis Swikard’s long-delayed project in the former Bottega Americano space was pushed back again last month, with the goal of debuting when both the pandemic and restaurant market stabilize. Formerly the right-hand man to Michelin-starred French chef Daniel Boulud in Manhattan, Swikard returned to his native San Diego in 2018 to open his own restaurant. Cohn Restaurant Group’s David Cohn and chef Deborah Scott have partnered with Swikard on the large-scale project that will be an affordably priced, contemporary California-Mediterranean restaurant. 1195 Island Ave., San Diego. calliesd.com

An array of desserts at Cesarina Ristorante in Point Loma.
An array of desserts at Cesarina Ristorante in Point Loma. The owners of the 2-year-old restaurant are planning a “brand expansion” nearby in 2021.
(Courtesy of James Tran )

Cesarina expansion project, Point Loma

The co-founders of Cesarina, a 2-year-old Italian restaurant in Point Loma, are planning to open a yet-to-be-named “brand expansion” project in Point Loma sometime this year. The owners are mum on the new concept, although co-founder and chef Cesarina Mezzoni is widely known for her Italian pastry-making skills. Could a stand-alone bakery be in her future? New location has not been announced. cesarinarestaurant.com

Chef Richard Blais at his home in Del Mar
Chef Richard Blais, photographed in 2017 at his home in Del Mar, will helm a new restaurant opening at the Park Hyatt Aviara resort in Carlsbad in 2021.
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune )

Ember & Rye, Carlsbad

Richard Blais, the Del Mar celebrity chef who helped launch Juniper & Ivy and the Crack Shack eateries in Little Italy before moving on a few years ago, will open Ember & Rye, a “vintage” surf-and-turf-style restaurant in March at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad. It will replace the hotel’s Argyle Steakhouse overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon. The menu will feature locally caught seafood and aged steaks, with a good share of its ingredients sourced from West Coast purveyors and farms. 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad. hyatt.com, richardblais.net

Sam "The Cooking Guy" Zien holds of the burgers from Eats by Sam
Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien holds of the burgers from Eats by Sam, a takeout-only business he co-founded with Grain & Grit Collective in fall 2020.
(Courtesy photo)

Flavored French toast at Fig Tree Cafe, which will open its third location in 2021.
Flavored French toast at Fig Tree Cafe, which will open its third location in 2021.
(Courtesy of Fig Tree Cafe)

Fig Tree Cafe, East Village

San Diego’s Rise & Shine Hospitality Group will open its third location of the beachy-vibe breakfast/lunch concept next summer in East Village. The first Fig Tree café opened in 2008 in Pacific Beach. A second opened in Liberty Station in 2013. Since then, the company has focused its expansion efforts on the Breakfast Republic concept. 695 Sixth Ave., San Diego. figtreeeatery.com

The Hangar, Oceanside

Solana Beach’s Carruth Cellars Urban Winery will open this large-scale production brewery, tasting rooms and beer-and-wine garden project this spring at its new wine production center near the Oceanside Municipal Airport. The project will include a seven-barrel brewery operated by The Tipping Point Brewing. A restaurant-style kitchen is also planned for onsite food sales. 3229 Roymar Road, Oceanside. carruthcellars.com

The interior of soon-to-open HottMess Woodfired Pizza in Barrio Logan.
The interior of soon-to-open HottMess Woodfired Pizza in Barrio Logan.
(Courtesy photo)

HottMess Woodfired Pizza, Barrio Logan

Thorn Brewing Co. will add a pizzeria this year to its new multi-concept dining-and-drinking destination at its Barrio Logan brewery. HottMess Woodfired Pizza will serve Neapolitan-style pizza by chef Kenzo Inai made with spent grain from the brewery. It will also have an indoor craft cocktail bar. The pizzeria will join recently opened ReBru Spirits distillery and Sideyard by HottMess, an all-outdoor barbeque eatery. 1735 National Ave., San Diego. sdhottmess.com

Kingfisher Cocktail Bar & Eatery, Golden Hill

From the owners of Crab Hut in Mira Mesa, this new Golden Hill restaurant and bar will serve authentic Southeast Asian food with a California sensibility. Specialties of the house will include Vietnamese chicken curry, citrus-cooked rare beef salad and olive oil-poached shrimp salad. Until the restaurant can open in a more stable dining environment, Crab Hut is hosting monthly Kingfisher pop-up dinners. 2469 Broadway, San Diego. kingfishersd.com

La Puerta Mexican restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter will soon have a sister location in Mission Hills.
(Courtesy photo)

La Puerta, Mission Hills

La Puerta Restaurant & Bar, a longtime full-service Mexican eatery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, will open its second location early this year in the former Patio on Goldfinch space in Mission Hills. Owner Merritte Powell said the new, 4,000-square-foot location will be a neighborhood hangout with a larger food menu and wide selection of Mexican tequila, mezcal and beers. 4020 Goldfinch St., San Diego. lapuertasd.com

La Taverna, Hillcrest

Aiming for a January opening, this new Italian restaurant will be serving an all-organic menu of house-made pastas, pizzas made in a wood-fire brick oven and classic Southern Italian dishes. The restaurant will offer a wide menu of Italian wines as well. 3650 Fifth Ave. San Diego. latavernasd.com

Louisiana Charlie's, seen here in Long Beach location, will open in Seaport Village in 2021
Louisiana Charlie’s, seen here in its Long Beach location, will open a Southern-style restaurant at Seaport Village in San Diego later this year.
(Courtesy photo)

Louisiana Charlie’s, Marina District

This 7-year-old Long Beach bayfront restaurant will open its second location next summer in Seaport Village’s carousel district. The 700-square-foot location will serve New Orleans, Cajun and Creole dishes including jambalaya, gumbo fries, po’boys, mesquite BBQ and fresh seafood and shellfish. 849 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego. louisianacharlies.com, seaportvillage.com

Marisi Italiano, La Jolla

San Diego’s Puesto Mexican restaurant company will open its first Italian restaurant in the former Whiskladle space in La Jolla sometime this year. Helmed by chef Patrick Money, formerly of Cesarina and Cucina Enoteca, it will serve house-made pastas, bread and pastries and will have a full bar program led by Puesto’s bar and spirits director Beau de Bois. 1044 Wall St., La Jolla. eatpuesto.com

North Park's Mike Hess Brewing will open its sixth tasting room at Seaport Village in 2021.
(The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Mike Hess Brewing & City Tacos, Marina District

North Park’s Mike Hess Brewing aims to open its sixth tasting room location this spring in Seaport Village. The 20-tap bar will share the 1,000-square-foot space with City Tacos, which will offer a full menu. The location will have indoor and outdoor seating on the Village’s boardwalk. 849 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego. mikehessbrewing.com, seaportvillage.com

A bowl of pho noodle soup from Pho Ca Dao
A bowl of pho noodle soup from Pho Ca Dao, a family-run San Diego restaurant chain that will open a new location in Escondido in 2021.
(Courtesy photo)

Pho Ca Dao & Grill, Escondido

This family-owned Vietnamese restaurant chain will open its eighth location this year in Escondido. Founded by Duke Huynh in City Heights in 2001, the restaurant offers sit-down pho noodle dishes as well as a variety of Vietnamese entrees. The Escondido location was supposed to open in October but Huynh temporarily halted construction on the new location due to the pandemic. 609 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. phocadaogrill.com

An artist's rendering of the exterior of Rare Society in Solana Beach.
An artist’s rendering of the exterior of Rare Society, a retro steakhouse that will open next spring in Solana Beach.
(Courtesy photo)

Rare Society, Solana Beach

Trust Restaurant Group has announced plans to open a second Rare Society retro steakhouse and bar in the Solana Beach arts district in April or May. The original Rare Society opened in November 2019 in University Heights. The new location will have 90 seats indoors, including 26 at the bar, as well as 36 seats outdoors. It’s slated to open in April or May and will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. 330 S. Cedros Ave., Suite 104, Solana Beach. raresocietysd.com

The Reading Club/Seneca Restaurant, Downtown

CH Projects plans to open this private social club and public restaurant on the rooftop of the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown San Diego later this year. Seneca will be a full-service rooftop restaurant and bar. The adjacent Reading Club will be a members-only intimate place to eat, drink and relax with others. Facilities will include rooms for private meetings, meditation, listening to records and viewing sports games, a library and an onsite wellness director. Membership privileges include gym access and wellness classes at the hotel and benefits at Seneca and other CH restaurant and bar properties. Reading Club memberships will range in price from $2,000 to $2,600 a year. 901 Bayfront Court, San Diego. thereadingclub.com

Sam Zien expansion project, Marina District

Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien will expand his culinary partnership with Grain & Grit Collective this year with an as-yet untitled signature restaurant/bar in the former Buster’s Beach House location in Seaport Village. Zien and Grain & Grit’s past collaborations include Not Not Tacos in the Little Italy Food Hall, Graze by Sam restaurant/bar in Little Italy and Eats by Sam, a ghost kitchen concept offering takeout Samburgers and Samwiches from the Buster’s location. 807 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego. eatsbysam.com

An artist's rendering of the interior of Sky Deck opening in 2021 at Del Mar Highlands shopping center
An artist’s rendering of the interior of Sky Deck, an upscale second-floor food and beer hall that will open in early 2021 in the Del Mar Highlands shopping center in Carmel Valley.
(Courtesy photo)

Sky Deck, Carmel Valley

The Sky Deck — an upscale food and beverage hall — is scheduled to open i May on the second floor of the Del Mar Highlands Town Center above the Jimbo’s ... Naturally! supermarket in Carmel Valley. The A-frame hunting lodge-style venue will have up to 10 restaurant vendors and an outdoor Brewer’s Deck bar featuring Northern Pine brewery, Rough Draft Brewing and a Boochcraft kombucha tasting bar. Among the restaurant tenants signed to occupy the hall are Ambrogio15, Craft House, Urbana Mexican Gastronomy, Kiin Extraordinary Thai, Zizikis Street Food, J at Sky Deck, Marufuku Ramen and Le Parfait Paris. 12925 El Camino Real, San Diego. delmarhighlandstowncenter.com

An artist's rendering of VAGA restaurant in Encinitas
An artist’s rendering of VAGA restaurant at the Alila Marea Beach Resort, which will open in Encinitas in early 2021.
(Courtesy photo)

VAGA, Encinitas

Renowned local chef Claudette Zepeda is the new executive chef for soon-to-open Alila Marea Beach Resort hotel in Encinitas, where she’ll oversee culinary operations for the hotel’s signature restaurant VAGA as well as its The Pocket poolside bar/lounge and the 130-room hotel’s room service operation. The Imperial Beach native calls VAGA her love letter to San Diego, serving her takes on her favorite ethnic dishes she grew up eating in San Diego, including Indian dosa pancakes, soup dumplings on Convoy Street, Filipino pancit noodles and Ethiopian dishes. The hotel will open in March. 2100 N. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. alilahotels.com, chefclaudettezepeda.com

National City native and chef Phillip Esteban
National City native and chef Phillip Esteban will open a brick-and-mortar location of his White Rice savory bowls concept at Liberty Public Market in 2021.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

White Rice, Liberty Station

Renowned National City chef Phillip Esteban will open the first brick-and-mortar location of his year-old ghost kitchen concept that serves savory rice bowls inspired by his native Filipino cuisine. It will open inside Liberty Public Market early this year. 2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego. ricebowlsforall.com


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