Two fresh tastes of Mexico in San Diego


Since there’s no such thing as Mexican food overload in San Diego, let’s say bienvenidos to two new restaurants. Red O is a national chain with some serious celebrity cred - hola mole from Rick Bayless! And Karina’s Ceviches and More is a local family’s latest foray into fast-casual Baja cuisine.

These two well-known brands open their doors in San Diego.

Red O - La Jolla

For locals whose taste buds tingle over the thought of goat cheese tamales or Maine lobster tail served with tortillas and beans, the wait is over. Or at least, it’s almost over.

Two years after the L.A.-based restaurant chain Red O announced that it would open an outlet in San Diego, the high-end Mexican restaurant company is set to open its fourth location this month in University City.

Billed as “world class” for its upscale Mexican Riviera décor, the Red O chain was launched in West Hollywood in 2010. Each venue’s menu is unique, with the La Jolla location - across the street from the Westfield UTC mall - developed by corporate chef Marc Johnson, with consultation and signature mole sauces from Red O culinary director (and famed TV chef) Rick Bayless.

The seasonal menu includes items such as duck taquitos, short rib enchiladas, yellowtail aguachile and the $16 signature Red O margarita (mixed with orange liqueur and house-made lemonade).

Red O 4340 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla

Karina’s Ceviches and More - Mission Hills

Karina’s, the South Bay restaurant company known for its Baja-inspired cuisine, eye-popping décor and lively wait staff, has expanded into the quick-service market.

Karina’s Ceviches and More opened recently in Mission Hills with its new express take-out window serving the company’s signature ceviche (shrimp, cucumber, avocado and green chile sauce), as well as burritos and 14 styles of tacos. Prices start at $3.

Karina’s Ceviches and More has opened in a small secondary kitchen at Saffron Thai at 3731-B India St., which is part-owned by the Karina’s Mexican Seafood group. Founded in 1981 by the late Arnulfo Contreras and his wife, Maria Ines Curiel (who named the company for their daughter), Karina’s is now in its third generation of family ownership. It operates restaurants in Otay Mesa, Chula Vista and National City, as well as a taco shop in Encinitas.

Karina’s Ceviches and More 3731-B India St. Mission Hills, 619.255.5900