What’s new on the San Diego dining scene


Forks up, San Diego. Nearly three dozen restaurants have just made their debut or will be opening their doors in the coming year. Here’s a menu of new places to taste in the coming months.

Opened in December

Barrel Republic, Carlsbad

The award-winning pour-your-own bar company, with locations in Pacific Beach and Oceanside, has expanded. A third location had its grand opening in December in Carlsbad, with both indoor space and a patio.

2961 State St., Carlsbad.

Dunkin’ Donuts, National City

Two years after the much-loved Massachusetts doughnut chain opened its first San Diego location downtown, another one opened Dec. 6 in National City. The new location is the chain’s very first 24-hour drive-thru store. It’s also home to the chain’s largest sign west of the Mississippi River. The company has plans to open 200 locations statewide in the coming years, with future expansion plans for Coronado, El Cajon and more.

2139 E. Plaza Blvd., National City.

Flower Child, Del Mar

In December, Fox Restaurant Concepts opened this healthy foods eatery in the old Sea & Smoke space at the Flower Hill Promenade center. The whimsically designed eatery serves salads with optional proteins, vegetarian dishes, bowls and whole-grain wraps, as well as organic juices and kombucha on tap.

2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar.

Harbor Float, Harbor Island

More a special event venue than a restaurant, the newly opened Harbor Float is Cohn Restaurant Group’s newest location. Harbor Float is on the site of the old riverboat restaurant, the Reuben E. Lee. Anchored next to Cohn’s spectacular $15 million Coasterra restaurant, which opened last year, Harbor Float is a $3 million, 6,000-square-foot solar-powered floating event dock designed for weddings, parties and convention events for up to 250 people.

880 Harbor Island Dr., Harbor Island.

Mendocino Farms, La Jolla/Carmel Valley

The popular L.A.-based artisan sandwich and salad restaurant company, owned by husband-wife team Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen, opened its first San Diego County location in La Jolla in December. A second is planned in Del Mar Highlands Town Center in the spring. Mendocino is known for cultivating relationships with family farms, cheesemakers and growers to serve unique high-end ingredients.

Now open: 8975 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla. Coming soon: Del Mar Highlands Town Center, 12873 El Camino Real, Del Mar.

Mess Hall at Liberty Station, Point Loma

To accommodate larger-than-expected demand, the Mess Hall in Liberty Public Market underwent a short renovation in December to add more food vendors. The former Mess Hall restaurant reopened Dec. 19 as Mess Hall Bar, a more fast-casual, counter-service alternative serving market-sourced fare. Also inside the Mess Hall, two new quick-service vendors have been added: Grape Smuggler Bar, serving wine and tapas, and Pi Bar, serving pizza by the slice.

2820 Historic Decatur Road, Liberty Station.

Moto Deli, Encinitas

This retro motorcycle-themed artisan delicatessen, sandwich and charcuterie shop opened in mid-December. Moto Deli was conceived by motorcycle enthusiast Mario Warman and founding chef Alex Carballo, who created a menu of gourmet sandwiches and housemade condiments that have been served since last summer from their food truck. The brick-and-mortar location, overseen by new chef Andrew Halvorsen, offers dine-in and takeout options.

810 N. Coast Highway, Encinitas.

Pappalecco, Carmel Valley

Italian brothers Lorenzo and Francesco Bucci opened their first Tuscan-style coffeehouse in Little Italy in 2007 and have since opened three others in Hillcrest, Kensington and Cardiff. In mid-December, they opened their fifth location in Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Pappalecco serves Italian-style coffees, pastries, breads, gelato and pizza.

12925 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley.

The Pizza Press, Carlsbad

The Anaheim-based, eight-store pizzeria chain opened its first San Diego County location in December at The Shoppes at Carlsbad, the now-in-renovation mall formerly known as Plaza Camino Real. Pizza Press allows diners to design their own personal-size pizzas, with choice of sauces, meats and veggies.

2501 El Camino Real, Space 210, Carlsbad.

Coming in 2017

Bluewater Grill, Carlsbad

This seafood-centric restaurant is slated to open in the spring in the former Fish House Vera Cruz location in Carlsbad Village. The small seafood-restaurant/fish-market chain is owned by partners Richard Staunton and Jimmy Ulcickas. The Carlsbad location is being renovated to add a full-service bar, patio, upgraded fish counter and modern dining room.

417 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad.

Born & 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’s set to open in February or March.

1909 India St., Little Italy.

Breakfast Republic, East Village and Carmel Valley

Johan Engman’s 2-year-old trendy breakfast chain (with locations now in North Park, Liberty Station and Encinitas) will open two more in 2017. In February, the East Village location will open in the former Zanzibar Café space. Then, in April, a two-story location is planned in the Pacific Highlands Ranch Center.

707 G St., East Village; 6025 Village Way, Suite F101, Pacific Highlands Ranch Center, Carmel Valley.

Cheesecake Factory, Carlsbad

The Shoppes at Carlsbad mall has announced plans to build a store of this popular chain in the east end of its lower level in 2017. No opening date has been set. It will be the chain’s fifth location in San Diego County (including Fashion Valley and Westfield North County malls). Cheesecake Factory is known for its large portion sizes, extensive menu and signature desserts.

2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad.

The Crack Shack, Encinitas

Owner Mike Rosen and chefs Richard Blais and Jon Sloan will expand their wildly successful fast-casual fried-chicken-and-eggs concept to Encinitas in January/February. A former Coco’s restaurant is being renovated to house the indoor/outdoor concept with a walk-up food counter and full-service bar. The eclectic menu features fried Jidori chicken, sandwiches, salads and appetizers. A third location is planned in Costa Mesa later in the year.

407 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas.

Curadero, downtown

The former Saltbox gastro lounge closed in November to make way for this eclectic, soulful Mexican street food eatery, which is set to open in early 2017. Chef Brad Kraten is creating a menu of street tacos, ceviches, small and large plates and house mole sauces. There will also be a bar serving Mexican craft beer, wines, tequilas, mezcals and cocktails. The old upstairs dining room will become the Arriba Room, a game room filled with vintage arcade and classic table games, which will feature a walk-up taco window.

Hotel Palomar, 1047 Fifth Ave., downtown.

Farmer’s Table, La Mesa

In January, this farm-to-table restaurant will open in the old Sanfilippo’s pizzeria space in downtown La Mesa. Co-founder Alberto Morreale (Farmer’s Bottega, Fig Tree Café) calls the concept “honest food done right.” The menu has been developed by chef/co-founder Vincenzo Lo Verso (Fresh Catch, Greystone).

8141 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa.
Grater Grilled Cheese, Carmel Valley

Chef/founder Gaston Corbala’s fast-expanding hot-pressed sandwich company will open its third brick-and-mortar location before March in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Corbala launched the company in 2011 with a food truck and has built a solid reputation on his oozy, rich, Puerto Nuevo-style lobster grilled cheese sandwich.

3545 Del Mar Heights Road, Carmel Valley.

Holy Matcha, North Park

San Diego’s first café devoted to matcha - the specialty green tea grown in Japan - will open in February in North Park. Founded by Geraldine Ridaura, the cafe will serve both traditional matcha and creative twists on the drink, such as a dirty matcha coconut latte. Matcha-infused pastries and snacks will be available for sale, as will a variety of teas and drip coffee.

3118 University Ave., North Park.

Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine, Gaslamp Quarter

The signature, upscale two-story restaurant in the $100 million Pendry San Diego Hotel will be helmed by former Craft & Commerce chef “JoJo” Ruiz. The menu will feature small plates, local seafood, meat and regional cuisine. The hotel and restaurant are slated to open in mid-January. Read more about Chef “JoJo” Ruiz and the offerings at Lionfish, here.

435 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, downtown San Diego.

Monkey King, Gaslamp Quarter

Opening in January, this Asian-inspired restaurant and lounge will serve an eclectic menu of dishes drawn from the cuisines of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Fiji. The restaurant, located at the former Sovereign Kitchen location, will have the upscale vibe of a down-tempo lounge.

467 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, downtown San Diego.

Nomad Donuts, North Park

The popular and eclectic doughnut eatery will open a second and much larger North Park location in the spring. The new eatery will be more than four times the size of the older one at 4504 30th St. and will stay open all day, serving fresh-baked doughnuts, Montreal-style bagels, sandwiches, craft beer and wine. It will also have a pop-up savory and sweet bakery with items baked at whim by head chef Kristianna Zabala.

3102 University Ave., North Park.

North Park Breakfast Company, North Park

Another breakfast concept arrives in March from Johan Engman (Fig Tree Café, Breakfast Republic). This nontraditional, upscale, two-story eatery will offer a cocktail bar, quinoa blueberry pancakes, bone marrow, guava-infused pancakes and egg yolk-filled breakfast ravioli with pork belly.

3131 University Ave., North Park.

Park 101, Carlsbad

Opening in February, this multilevel, 8,000-square-foot destination in Carlsbad Village will include a market, shops, a picnic-friendly plaza and four different dining and drinking options. Owned and managed by Peter Cich, Doug Sondomowicz and Rob McShea, Park 101 will include both grab-and-go and sit-down options. The park’s market will serve take-out hot sandwiches, juices and coffee, ice cream and housemade doughnuts. Park 101 Barbecue will serve ribs and other meat-centric barbecue dishes. The Garden Pub will offer up to 32 local beers on tap and regional wines. And the Tamarack View Deck will serve gourmet snacks from a rooftop lounge with seats arranged around fire pits.

3040 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad.

Pizza Republic, North Park

From the founders of Breakfast Republic comes this take on Neapolitan-style pizza, serving fresh-made pasta and house-cured meats. It will open in the summer next door to the original Breakfast Republic location.

2726 University Ave., North Park.

Red O, La Jolla

After a nine-month delay, chef Rick Bayless’ upscale Mexican restaurant chain will finally open its La Jolla location in February or March. The L.A.-based chain spent $7 million on the 8,300-square-foot restaurant, which replaced the old Donovan’s restaurant in the UTC-adjacent office park.

4340 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla.

Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, Barrio Logan

The Long Beach-born soul food chain will open its first San Diego location in early 2017. Founded by Harlem native Herb Hudson in 1975, the company, which now has seven stores, is famed for its simple meal plates such as “Sir Michael” and “Stymie’s Choice.”

1678 National Ave., Barrio Logan.

Shake Shack, La Jolla

New York’s beloved “better burger” chain will open its first San Diego County eatery in fall 2017 at Westfield’s University Town Centre shopping center. The 3,000-square-foot location will be located on level two of the mall’s new two-story expansion project. Shake Shack, known for its low-priced but high-quality fast-food burgers and fries, has 110 locations worldwide.

4545 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla.

STK San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter

The One Group’s upscale chain combines a steakhouse and chic lounge with an in-house DJ, featuring a menu that ranges from bite-size Wagyu beef burgers and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese to high-end steaks. STK’s opening has been delayed and is now slated for early 2017.

Andaz San Diego Hotel, 600 F St., Gaslamp Quarter, downtown San Diego.

Urge Gastropub & Common House, San Marcos

The founders of Urge Gastropubs in Rancho Bernardo and Oceanside will open a third and much larger location in a San Marcos warehouse space in March. The 21,000-square-foot multi-use space will have three bars, an eight-lane bowling alley, an in-house brewery for the company’s Mason Ale Works label, a beer barrel-aging room, outdoor bocce ball courts, children’s games, a full-service restaurant menu and seating for up to 450.

255 Redel Road, San Marcos.

Voltaire Beach House, Ocean Beach

This beachy restaurant/bar with a copper outdoor fireplace is owned by David Schiffman and George Somers (Florent Restaurant & Lounge, Whiskey Girl). Chef Abe Bottello’s casual American menu will include dishes such as quinoa salad, ahi bowls, flatbreads, burgers, sandwiches, wings and s’mores. The cocktails will feature fresh-pressed juices. The place is slated to open this winter.

4934 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach.

Waterbar, Pacific Beach

The long-shuttered Joe’s Crab Shack on the boardwalk near Crystal Pier has been razed to make way for a large ocean-centric restaurant/bar with floor-to-ceiling windows and a menu that’s focused on shellfish from the East and West coasts as well as Baja. Owners are billing it as a “social seafood experience” that’s part social club, part breakfast spot and part dinnerhouse/bar.

4325 Ocean Blvd., Pacific Beach.