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Mabel’s Gone Fishing named among list of top 15 U.S. restaurants to open in 2022

Chelsea Coleman with a portrait of her dog, who inspired the naming of her new North Park eatery.
Chelsea Coleman with a portrait of her dog, who inspired the naming of her new North Park eatery, Mabel’s Gone Fishing.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Eclectic eatery and gintonería in North Park, co-founded by Jerry Coleman’s daughter, makes Eater.com’s short list of best new U.S. restaurants in 2022.

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A North Park eatery created by Chelsea Coleman and her business partner, Rae Gurne, was spotlighted by Eater.com as one of the top 15 U.S. restaurants to open in 2022.

The owners were as surprised as anyone that they were chosen for the elite list, putting their restaurant with its unusual name, Mabel’s Gone Fishing, on the national foodie map.

“I’m so thrilled,” says Coleman, 37, who opened her first wine bar and restaurant, The Rose, with Gurne in South Park in 2010. Mabel’s opened late last September at 3770 30th St.

“Sean Brock is on that list — he’s one of my heroes. So this is surreal. It’s crazy,” she says of the New York Times bestselling cookbook author and celebrity chef. Brock’s restaurant, June, opened in East Nashville last July.

Eater.com, owned by digital Vox Media, is a national food and restaurant review website founded in 2005 in New York City.

What would her late dad, National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, the longtime voice of the Padres, have said? He was known for his colorful sports commentary punctuated by head-scratching comments known as “Colemanisms.”

“He’d poke fun of me for naming a restaurant after my dog (Mabel),” Chelsea chuckles, explaining that it would be his way of acknowledging that they both turned their pets into minor celebrities. Jerry often mentioned his dogs on the air and sometimes brought them with him to Petco Park. His dog, Gus, even attended his memorial service at the ballpark.

Chelsea hung a portrait of her father’s dog, Lola, in The Rose.

Jerry passed away in 2014 after a fall at age 89, so he wasn’t there to witness the height of her culinary success. But she has inherited his work ethic.

The restaurant and sports worlds have similarities, Chelsea notes. Both are tough and demand tremendous dedication, preparation and hard work. Like a pro athlete, she must show up day after day.

“I think he’d be so pleased with how hard she has worked and how well she’s doing,” notes Chelsea’s mother, Maggie Coleman, a longtime La Jolla resident. She describes her daughter as a determined, extremely disciplined worker who cares deeply about her employees.

Mabel’s menu is inspired by dishes Chelsea and Gurne discovered when they were exploring Spain — especially the Basque region and Iberian Peninsula — in 2018 as they researched the new restaurant concept.

The name, Mabel’s Gone Fishing, was inspired by Chelsea’s dearly departed dog, Mabel, who used to star in her social media posts. She found Mabel as a puppy on the side of the road in Patagonia, Argentina, while working at a hotel restaurant near a popular hiking trail.

The fictional mermaid fantasy of Mabel is printed on the menu. The beach-loving canine gets sucked into a swirling whirlpool where she is befriended by a dolphin and dines on an array of seafood before being deposited on a distant unknown shore somewhere in the Mediterranean.

The story goes on to say that postcards periodically arrive from various beach towns, always signed: “Gone fishing.”

The restaurant’s nautical theme ripples through its eclectic décor that includes a dolphin-shaped restroom faucet, mermaid sculptures in the bar, rustic wooden folding chairs, Mabel’s paw prints in the entry and her image immortalized on original wall art.

The menu features dishes showcasing fresh oysters, clams and other seafood, natural organic vegetables, Basque-inspired cheesecake and an array of natural spirits and organic wines from small production wineries.

The restaurateurs call their bar a gintonería, because it specializes in Spanish-style gin and tonics, along with cocktails, wine and other fare. Their bottle shop next door, Bodega Rosette, sells wines and natural gin.

“I like to say she learned to cook in self-defense. I’m not much of a cook,” confesses Chelsea’s mom. From a young age, Chelsea often accompanied her parents on Padres road trips and was exposed to a variety of restaurants.

Chelsea, who attended the University of Virginia and pursued a culinary program in Florence, Italy, says she loved baking from a young age. “I forced my friends to do a restaurant night and cook food for the family, and they’d suffer through it,” she laughs.

Chelsea Coleman (seated right) with Mabel's Gone Fishing team (from left) Ross Garcia, Amy Weidig, Tony Roehr and Dan Luong.
Chelsea Coleman (seated right) with Mabel’s management team (from left) Ross Garcia, Amy Weidig, Tony Roehr and Dan Luong.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Gurne brings front-of-the-house experience to the operation, while Coleman co-chefs with Dan Luong (from The Rose kitchen) and Ross Garcia. Garcia’s wife, Neale Holaday, a credentialed pastry chef, runs the business partners’ Secret Sister bakery (next door to The Rose), which makes desserts for the restaurants.

“San Diego has so much potential here with our climate,” says Chelsea, noting the plethora of local organic farms.

California leads the nation in organic farm production. A 2016 University of California report singled out San Diego as the county with the most organic growers in the state.

“We have the diversity and bounty, and it’s an exciting place to be and to cook,” says Chelsea. “Some amazing restaurants have popped up in last six years.”


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