8 New SD Restaurants You Need to Hit Immediately

San Diego

8 New SD Restaurants You Need to Hit Immediately
8 New SD Restaurants You Need to Hit Immediately

Sara Norris/ Thrillist
Sara Norris/ Thrillist

It seems borderline unfair to other cities that as incredible a place as San Diego is, it just keeps getting better. Speaking of which, these eight new restaurants are now ready to make your belly happy.

Quad Alehouse

You can sip suds while overlooking downtown now that the guys behind Gaslamp Tavern have opened a brand-new beer sanctuary on the third floor of their spot on the corner of 5th and E Street. Local beer expert Beau Schmitt is responsible for putting together the rotating selection of 28 brews on tap and nitro. The beer program features many San Diego craft brews (obviously) while also highlighting independent brewers from all over the country. The bar also features a selection of 50 whiskeys and a dozen signature cocktails. They’ve got Chef Brandon Brooks handling things in the kitchen with a menu featuring slow-cooked and smoked meats that pair perfectly with a nice cold beer. You order from the counter and pick your meat (ancho chili brisket, Moroccan lamb shoulder), whether you want it on a sandwich, salad, plate, or by the pound, then you take your pick from six different sides like smoked mac 'n cheese or herb-roasted potatoes made with brisket and pork drippings.

Courtesy of Bracero

Bracero Cocina de Raiz

Little Italy
Chef Javier Plascencia’s second US restaurant has opened in San Diego, bringing modern Mexican fare to the pizza- and pasta-dominated neighborhood of Little Italy. The open kitchen in the lower level gives guests a unique dining experience and in the fall Bracero will unveil its completed second floor with an exclusive mezzanine and both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu at Plascencia’s bi-level eatery features small plates like beef tongue tiradito (with burnt root vegetables in escabeche and eggplant tatemada) and larger dishes like Caja China lamb roasted asado. Keeping it fresh and local, the crudo bar is full of Carlsbad shellfish and Baja seafood. Bracero also prepares fresh masa on site with tortillas that are made-to-order.

Courtesy of Lori Sokolowski


Normal Heights
If you love Sycamore Den (and who doesn’t?) then you have to check out Burnside, their latest venture located just a few doors down. Lhasa Landry from The Heart & Trotter and The Lion’s Share consulted on the global street fare-influenced artisan menu, creating meat-centered sandos that are full of locally sourced ingredients. Everything on the menu from the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with celery carrot slaw, lettuce, and ranch mayo to the collaboration with MIHO (the Bahn MIHO, of course) is also available to order while you sip on your cocktail at Sycamore Den.

Courtesy of David Harrison

Park & Rec

University Heights
The space that was once home to the legendary Bourbon Street has been transformed into the neighborhood’s newest cocktail bar. Park & Rec features three bars, an area for live music and DJs, and an open-air patio-style courtyard full of backyard games like cornhole and ping-pong. Anthony Schmidt and Trevor Easter of Revelry Cocktail Co. are in charge of libations and those two have put together concoctions like The Slide (cacao-infused rum, coffee liqueur, cream, chocolate malt). Royale With Cheese is a food cart concept out of Austin that’s responsible for the eats in this joint, serving burgers, a grilled cheese made with double-cream Brie, fig jam, and caramelized onions on rosemary batard, and magical mystery tater tots.

Courtesy of Rustic Root

Rustic Root

Rustic Root is the most recent project from the guys behind Don Chido and their new venture is set to be the only dedicated rooftop restaurant in the Gaslamp. It's open for brunch/lunch on the weekends only, but you can grab dinner every day from a menu that puts a unique spin on some rustic American dishes and highlights signature plates like elk chops with Mexican mole and Duroc double-cut pork chops. Garth Flood of Cowboy Star consulted on the beverage program, which includes craft cocktail shots of the classics like the Negroni and the Old Fashioned and a selection of “timeless” cocktails named for the year they were invented.

Courtesy of Omnia


It was out with the old and in with the new when the Hakkasan Group took over the downtown space that was once the longtime home of Stingaree. The newest edition to the SD nightlife scene, Omnia caters to the VIP experience in the 19,000sqft, tri-level Vegas-style club. It's brought along with it a talent lineup of world-class DJs that is pretty impressive for SD and is in turn elevating the nightlife experience in America’s Finest City.

Courtesy of Civico 1845

Civico 1845

Little Italy
Owners and brothers Dario and Pietro Gallo have come from Cosenza, Italy to San Diego’s very own Little Italy bringing with them a modern take on customary Italian fare. They’re serving the traditional, made-from-scratch pastas, breads, and desserts that we all know and love but unlike most carb-dominated Italian restaurants they are also offering a lighter and healthier vegan and gluten-free menu. However, all that healthy eating will go right out the window when you get a look at the extensive, Italian-heavy wine list.

Courtesy of Breakfast Republic

Breakfast Republic

North Park
Now that Breakfast Republic has opened in North Park, you can indulge in the most important meal of the day every day from 7am-3pm. This breakfast-only joint serves all the staples from savory picks like Bennies, omelets, and scrambles to sweet options like seven kinds of French toast and eight different kinds of pancakes. The menu is built for the indecisive with pancake flights, French toast samplers, and the Caffeine Overdose coffee flight which comes with 4oz each of chai latte, mocha, and Mexican mocha. The menu also has some breakfast versions of other favorites like breakfast hot dogs and breakfast bacon mac ‘n cheese. If you prefer to start drinking first thing in the morning, there’s also a selection of vodka breakfast cocktails, a selection of beers, and kombucha on tap.

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1. Quad Alehouse 868 5th Ave, Level 3, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

At any given time, this spot will have 28 varieties of beer on tap or nitro. The list rotates, and is curated by a local beer expert. It often features San Diego crafts along with independent brewers from all over. They also keep tons of different whiskeys available and have a signature cocktail list. For food, meat-filled sandwiches and platters are the work of Chef Brandon Brooks.

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2. Bracero Cocina de Raiz 1490 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

It might be in Little Italy, but this spot brings modern Mexican cuisine, courtesy of chef Javier Plascencia. Armed with an open kitchen, Bracero serves up small plates and larger entrees like shrimp sopes, carne asada, and short rib tomahawk as well as pickings from a full Baja seafood crudo bar. And with the restaurant’s commitment to honoring its Mexican heritage, you can bet there’s a killer tequila program with a well-rounded selection of around 20 tequilas, 20 mezcals, a variety of bacanoras, raicillas, sotols, and one of the best tequila-based craft cocktail lists in SD.

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3. Burnside 3375 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 (Normal Heights)

Variety abounds at this Normal Heights resto. The street-food inspired menu spans global cuisine, with everything from a southern style fried chicken sandwich to a bahn mi style sandwich.

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4. Park & Rec 4612 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 (University Heights)

Park & Rec in University Heights is less about lavish or expensive cocktails and more about life simple pleasures — a good night out in a wide-open space, a game of corn hole, ping pong, or shuffle board, live music, good food, and flowing alcohol. This spot feels like a the backyard barbecue of a good friend, but here you can order a reasonably priced old fashioned or Moscow mule or cup of Pimm's with a burger from neighbors Royale with Cheese.

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5. Rustic Root 535 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

This American spot in the Gaslamp has delicious cocktails and upscale, creative fare like bao bao sliders and one of San Diego's best burgers.

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6. Omnia 454 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

For those that need a little Vegas but can't get away for the weekend, Omnia offers a 19,000sqft, tri-level club. The DJs are superb at this gaslamp dance haven.

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7. Civico 1845 1845 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

This place serves up Italian favorites but adds a modern edge with its vegan and gluten-free menu. Don't skimp on the vino as the wine list is extensive.

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8. Breakfast Republic 2730 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

True to its name, Breakfast Republic serves up a mean breakfast. Some of the items on their menu include omelets, scrambles, seven kinds of French toast, and eight different kinds of pancakes.