As San Diego’s dynamic dining scene continues to sizzle, an ever-increasing smorgasbord of new eateries has been opening countywide, with dozens more on tap for fall and winter. Here’s a slice of what’s been cooking since July 1, plus a generous serving of what’s to come.
Bar by Red Door, Mission Hills
The former Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge closed in June for a revamp and rebranding as an upscale cocktail bar that will feature locally sourced small plates, and cocktails featuring items from the adjacent Red Door’s garden. The reopening is slated for late-September/early October.
729 W. Washington St., Mission Hills
OPENED SINCE JULY 1
The Corner Drafthouse, Bankers Hill
This upscale gastropub took over the former Hexagone space in Bankers Hill in late June. Run by partners Dan Sobek (of The Bier Garden in Encinitas) and executive chef David Creviston, it has more than 70 local beers on tap and a “seasonal West Coast” comfort food menu. Try the burgers, crab cakes or fish ‘n’ chips.
495 Laurel St., Bankers Hill | 619.255.2631
Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen, Little Italy
San Diego native and 2015 Top Chef alumnus Giselle Wellman helms this “rustic-refined, coastal-inspired” neighborhood restaurant serving locally sourced ingredients from Suzie’s Farm, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters and other San Diego purveyors. Situated inside the new Hilton hotel complex on PCH, it serves cocktails by esteemed L.A. mixologist Dino Balocchi and a wine list designed by sommelier Hayden Felice.
2137 Pacific Highway, Little Italy | 619.819.0090
RoVino Rotisserie + Wine, Little Italy
Italian-American friends Tom Tarantino, Antonia Buono and Vincenzo Bruno (whose family has deep roots in Little Italy’s dining district) opened this casual wine bar and “rosticceri” in July. Choose from more than three dozen Italian wines to accompany a menu of soups, salads, paninis, pastas, flatbreads and grilled and roasted meats.
2034 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy | 619.269.9341
Ambrogio15, Pacific Beach
In mid-July, three young Milanese natives opened this gourmet pizzeria in the former Table 926 space. The restaurant, billed as the “Milano Pizza Experience,” serves Northern Italian-style pies with thin crust made from imported Italian flour, imported San Marzano tomatoes from southern Italy as well as all-natural Italian wines. Ambrogio, by the way, is the patron saint of Milan.
926 Turquoise St., Pacific Beach | 858.291.8650,
Barbusa, Little Italy
In July, this modern Sicilian restaurant replaced the 12-year-old Po Pazzo eatery. Owned by San Diego’s Busalacchi family of restaurateurs, the 4,200-square-foot indoor/outdoor eatery has a white carrera marble bar, hanging charcuterie area, house-made pasta display and a crudo/carpaccio bar.
1917 India St., Little Italy | 619.238.1917
OPENED SINCE JULY 1 (CONT.)
Crudo by Pascal Lorange, Carmel Valley
Pascal Lorange, the longtime executive chef of New York-based Fig & Olive restaurants, has created a Mediterranean-inspired menu that focuses on raw-seafood dishes and reimagines sushi rolls with Italian ingredients. He promises the restaurant, which opened July 28, will be the first of many.
13490 Pacific Highlands Ranch Parkway, Carmel Valley | 858.733.0775
DNP, North Park
DNP, or Dunedin North Park, is the latest New Zealand-inspired restaurant from the creators of Queenstown Public House, Raglan Public House and Bare Back Grill. Opened in July, the indoor/outdoor bar/restaurant has a tropical-island vibe and a simple menu of salads, burgers and grilled meats.
3501 30th St., North Park | 619.255.8566
Paipa’s Buffet at Sycuan Casino, El Cajon
In July, Sycuan Casino reopened its Paipa’s Buffet. Among the revamped restaurant’s hits are the Loco Lobster Fiesta dinner, which features made-to-order lobster tacos and burritos, and The Ultimate All-American Build A Burger Bar, offering Sriracha mayo and ancho chile ketchup. Top it off with one of nine hand-scooped milkshake flavors, including salted caramel pretzel and peanut butter and banana.
5469 Casino Way, El Cajon | 619.445.6002
Coin Haus, La Mesa
Cohn Restaurant Group branched out in July with the opening of this industrial chic bar and retro arcade, packed with more than two dozen old-fashioned pinball and video game machines and a self-service beer tap system. Coin Haus is located next door to Cohn’s Bo-Beau Kitchen.
8361 Allison Ave., La Mesa | 619.741.2288
H2O Sushi & Izakaya, Hillcrest
Octopus Restaurant Corp., which runs 20 Asian restaurants in L.A. and Orange counties, debuted in San Diego July 27 with this 180-seat gourmet sushi restaurant/bar (in the Hillcrest space that formerly housed D-Bar), offering an extensive menu and one of the best selections of Japanese whiskey in Southern California. Once it’s fully staffed this fall, owners say, H2O will offer an all-you-can-eat sushi menu.
3930 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest | 619.795.9090
Ponsaty’s, Rancho Santa Fe
On August 2, acclaimed French Master Chef Patrick Ponsaty opened his signature restaurant in the former Delicias space. Ponsaty’s is a project of Grand Restaurant Group, where Ponsaty has served as corporate chef for three years, helming its Bellamy’s in Escondido and The Ranch at Bandy Canyon. Ponsaty’s fine-dining menu specializes in classic dishes from the Basque regions of France and Spain.
6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe | 858.771.1871
Grub Burger Bar, Carmel Mountain Ranch
Launched in 2013 in College Station, Texas, Grub has 16 locations across the South and in Philadelphia. The San Diego location, which opened in mid-August, is the first on the West Coast. Grub will have a full bar and gourmet burgers with everything made in-house: buns baked hourly, hand-ground chuck/brisket burgers and house-made sauces and dressings.
12045 Carmel Mountain Road, Carmel Mountain Ranch | 619.430.4782
Craft & Commerce and False Idol
CH Projects’ Little Italy restaurant/bar reopened in mid-August after a near-yearlong revamp that includes an expanded patio, new kitchen and menu overhaul. As part of the renovation, Craft & Commerce has added an adjacent tiki bar, False Idol, designed with the help of tiki expert Martin Cate (of San Francisco’s famed Smuggler’s Cove), as well as a new executive chef, Ted Smith.
675 W. Beech St. | 619.269.2202
Opening in September, this 6,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant will be built around the concept of rustic food cooked over open flames. Created by John Resnick (former GM of Little Italy’s Ironside Fish & Oyster), the restaurant will have a quonset hut, 8-foot-wide grill and exposed kitchen. Chef Andrew Bachelier (Addison, Cucina Enoteca) will create the menu, and Leigh Lacap (Ironside) will oversee the bar.
2725 State St., Carlsbad | 760.637.5121
Herb & Eatery, Little Italy
Opening in early September, this casual café and grab-and-go deli/market is the second half of chef Brian Malarkey and manager Chris Puffer’s Little Italy dual concept, which kicked off last spring with new farm-to-table restaurant Herb & Wood next door.
2210 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy
COMING SOON (CONT.)
Decoy Dockside Dining, San Marcos
A late-summer opening is planned for this New American cuisine eatery on Lake San Marcos. Chef Danilo “DJ” Tangalin (of JRDN in Pacific Beach) is building his menu around a wood-burning-oven, where he’ll grill and roast wild game and fresh-water seafood. A weekend brunch is planned. Lakehouse Hotel & Resort.
1025 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos | 760.744.0120
Como Ceviche!, East Village
Co-owners Johan Engman (Rise & Shine Restaurant Group) and William Lopez (Alternative Strategies advertising/PR agency) will launch this fast-casual raw seafood eatery at the end of September. Ceviche recipes from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile will be featured in bowls, salads and wraps for dine-in or takeout.
317 10th Ave., East Village
The Hake Kitchen and Bar, La Jolla
The downtown La Jolla seafood restaurant is temporarily closed for an extensive remodel to expand its dining room and open up its back walls to add an ocean view. The revamp, by Mexico City architect Jorge Campos, will create two separate dining areas, a lounge and a relaxed fine-dining room. It’s expected to reopen in late summer.
1250 Prospect St., La Jolla | 858.454.1637
Dog Haus, Downtown San Diego
This Pasadena-born brats, burgers and beer chain opens its first San Diego location in downtown San Diego in September. The fast-casual family eatery, owned locally by Laura Zhang and Kelvin Cui, specializes in gourmet hot dogs and sausages and chuck/brisket burgers that can be customized at a 30-ingredient condiment bar.
969 Ninth Ave., Downtown
Pokirrito/RakiRaki Ramen, Little Italy
Chef Junya Watanabe will duplicate his two Convoy Street restaurant concepts under one roof in Little Italy in September. The dual eatery will serve Rakiraki’s popular noodle dishes and Pokirrito’s poke bowls, sushi rolls and wraps for dine-in, takeout and delivery.
Chloe at Scout, Liberty Station
Cafe Chloe co-owners Alison McGrath and John Clute expands from their East Village base to Point Loma, where this fall they’ll open a European-style outdoor cafe in the landscaped gardens at Scout at Quarters D, a home decor/design business in Liberty Station’s arts district.
2675 Rosecrans Street at Dewey Road, Liberty Station, Point Loma | 619.232.3242
COMING SOON (CONT.)
Moto Deli, Encinitas
Chef Alex Carballo and entrepreneur Mario Warman launched their gourmet deli sandwich food truck in April, but their brick-and-mortar deli location has been delayed until early September. The location will have the nostalgic look of a classic motorcycle shop.
810 N. Coast Highway, Encinitas | 760.753.2105
This new, fast-casual, build-your-own-poke-bowl outlet will open this fall in the former Chin’s location in Carlsbad Village. The Chipotle-style eatery was conceived by the owners of the Love Boat Sushi chain and Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar located next door.
2958 Madison St., Carlsbad | 858.886.9909,
Dirty Birds, Liberty Station
The wing-centric sports bar chain is building a third nest at Liberty Station that will open later this summer. Founded in Pacific Beach in 2008 and expanded to the College Area last fall, Dirty Birds serves more than 30 varieties of chicken wings with house sauces, along with burgers, salads and sandwiches.
2970 Truxtun Road, Liberty Station
Tajima, North Park
The fast-expanding, locally born noodle-house chain will open its sixth San Diego outlet in September in North Park. The new restaurant will serve beer, wine and chef Sam Morikizono’s signature spicy ramen dishes including Tonkotsu and Tajima.
3015 Adams Ave., Ste. B, North Park
Pueblo, Pacific Beach
The old China Inn is being transformed into an airy, two-story restaurant that will serve traditional Baja seafood dishes and tequila-centric cocktails when it opens in September. The restaurant will have ground-floor and rooftop bars and a casual menu featuring, among other Mexican favorites, nopales tacos, grilled seabass and chicken posole.
877 Hornblend St., Pacific Beach | 858.412.3312
Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers
The Arizona-based “neighborhood burger joint” chain opens its first California location in the Gaslamp this fall. As its no-nonsense name implies, it’s a back-to-basics beer bar with fresh-ground half-pound chuck burgers, grilled dogs and five varieties of mac ‘n’ cheese.
322 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp | 619.546.9292
COMING SOON (CONT.)
Good Time Poke & The Grass Skirt, Pacific Beach
Say aloha to SDCM’s Hawaiian dual-concept restaurant/bar opening in October. By day, diners can stop into Good Time for grab-and-go poke dishes and rice bowls. Then at night, they can find the hidden door into The Grass Skirt, a speakeasy-style tiki bar inspired by Chicago’s award-winning Lost Lake bar. It’s the latest concept from the San Diego team behind Kettner Exchange, Firehouse and underground speakeasy wine bar Vin de Syrah.
910 Grand Ave., #101, Pacific Beach
Breakfast Republic, Encinitas & Carmel Valley
Johan Engman (Rise & Shine Breakfast Group) will double the size of his year-old Breakfast Republic chain this fall with two new locations in North County. In November, the old Firefly restaurant at 251 N. El Camino Real in Encinitas will reopen as a Breakfast Republic, followed quickly by a location at The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch.
6025 Village Way
Barrel Republic, Carlsbad
Recently listed among Draft magazine’s top 100 Beer Bars in America, Barrel Republic recently added food to its self-service bar outlets in P.B. and Oceanside. Now, it’s expanding to a third location that will open in November in the former The Australian Grill location in Carlsbad Village.
2961 State St., Carlsbad
Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine, Gaslamp
Former Craft & Commerce chef “Jojo” Ruiz will helm the kitchen at this upscale, two-story dinner-house in the $100 million Pendry San Diego hotel, set to open this fall in the Gaslamp. San Diego is the first market for Montage Hotels’ Pendry luxury lodge line. Lionfish will offer an eclectic menu of small plates, local seafood, meat and regional cuisine.
550 J St., Gaslamp
KJ Chinese Kitchen, Valley Center
Harrah’s Resort Southern California will host the second location of this Las Vegas-born restaurant chain in the fall. KJ, which debuted at the Rio Resort, specializes in house-made dim sum, and fresh seafood and shellfish.
777 S. Resort Drive, Valley Center
Bluewater Grill, Carlsbad
The shuttered Fish House Vera Cruz in Carlsbad will reopen, likely in late October, as Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant, one in a small chain of fresh seafood eatery/fish markets owned by partners Richard Staunton and Jimmy Ulcickas. The 20-year-old building is being renovated to add a full-service bar, patio, upgraded fish counter and modern dining room.417 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad
COMING SOON (CONT.)
STK San Diego, Downtown
The One Group’s Miami-born chain combines a steakhouse and a chic lounge with an in-house DJ, featuring a menu that ranges from bite-size Wagyu beef burgers and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese to ultra-high-end steaks. STK will replace the shuttered Katsuya restaurant on the ground floor of the Andaz San Diego hotel in the fall.
600 F St., Downtown
Farmer’s Table, La Mesa
This new farm-to-table restaurant will serve “honest food done right” when it opens this fall. It’s the co-creation of local industry heavyweights Albert Morreale (Farmers Bottega and Fig Tree Café Liberty Station) and chef/owner Vincenzo Lo Verso (Fresh Catch Fish Market, Greystone steakhouse and more). It will occupy the old Sanfilippo’s pizzeria space in downtown La Mesa.
8141 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa.
Officine Buona Forchetta, Liberty Station
The men behind Buona Forchetta (Matteo Cattaneo) and Bice (Mario Cassineri) are planning a pizzeria with a showcase gold-tiled pizza oven helmed by Buona’s pizza master Marcello Avitabile. Featuring multiple dining patios and a children’s play area, it’s set to open in the fall.
2865 Sims Road, Liberty Station
Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, Barrio Logan
The Long Beach-born soul food chain announced it will open its first San Diego location in Barrio Logan in the fall. Founded by Harlem native Herb Hudson in 1975, the company, which now has seven stores, is famed for its simple meal plates like “Sir Michael” and “Stymie’s Choice.” Roscoe’s will open this fall in Barrio Logan.
1678 National Ave., Barrio Logan
Crack Shack, Encinitas
Top Chef Richard Blais and entrepreneur Mike Rosen are expanding their wildly successful fast-casual fried chicken concept to Encinitas in November/December. Their first chicken-and-egg restaurant opened last November in Little Italy and now sells up to 600 chicken sandwiches a day. An old Coco’s is being remodeled into a mostly outdoor restaurant/bar with a children’s sandbox and dog-friendly patio.
407 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas
Born and Raised, Little Italy
CH Projects is spending $2.5 million to convert the old Nelson Photo store into a two-story, 4,500-square-foot steakhouse with a midcentury design by Basile Studio. The meat-centric restaurant will have an in-house dry-aging program, chef’s garden and retail butcher shop. It will open in the winter.
1909 India St., Little Italy
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