2014 was a good year to be eating in San Diego (well, actually, they all are, because... burritos!) But did you make it the BEST it could be? If you tried all 11 of these new restaurants, odds are you did pretty well for yourself. Here they are, the best new restaurants in San Diego from this year:
One of the most anticipated SD restaurant openings of the year, Juniper and Ivy has not left San Diegans disappointed. Top Chef All-Stars champion Chef Richard Blais has put together a menu of creative American cuisine with a West coast style that's as stunningly plated as it is delicious. That means a buttermilk biscuit with smoked butter served under a glass dome holding in... more smoke! And don't skip dessert; The Yodel, which is a play on everyone’s favorite childhood snack cake, is a must-have. As your server pours on the hot Valrhona fudge, it melts the chocolate shell, spilling the nitrogen-frozen balls of white & milk chocolate, hazelnut brittle, and white chocolate foam. So, just like childhood, you'll be looking forward to nap time.
Bottega Americano has quickly made a reputation for itself as one of the best places to get Italian food in SD. Even if you don’t have time to sit down for a meal, you can grab something for the road from their on-site Italian market. But do yourself a favor: make time to sit down. Their pastas are handmade, giving an extra dose of deliciousness to dishes like potato gnocchi with burrata and smoked tomato. Or tear into a wood-fired pizza topped with braised slab bacon, brussels sprouts, and Calabrian chiles. Did we mention the yellowtail crudo with green goddess dressing and brown butter crumble? Maybe bring some friends to divide and conquer.
Table No. 10 is the place to pre-game before heading over to catch the Padres at Petco Park. Make sure to get a seat at the chef’s table downstairs to watch Chef Jason Gethin work his magic in the kitchen, cooking up dishes like kobe beef brisket or "Lazy Ravioli" with braised suckling pig. The upstairs overlooks the corner of 10th and J where they’re making their own tonics and sodas that help drive an impressively creative bar program.
Chef Chad White brought his Baja Med-style to East Village when he opened up Común this year. His ever-changing seasonal menu of seafood and fresh ingredients with a south-of-the-border twist runs the gamut from acai bowls to chicharrones. Bonus: on Tuesdays, the tostadas are just three bucks and come topped with everything from octopus & ceviche to beef tartare & carnitas.
Built in what used to be a private beach house in the '60s, Tidal sits on the shore of Paradise Point Resort & Spa, with incredible views of Mission Bay and the Coronado Bridge. Chef Amy DiBiase’s menu consists mostly of perfectly executed seafood dishes with Mediterranean influences, but there are also delightful land-based options like the half-chicken confit -- which is wood-roasted and served with cauliflower, heirloom carrots, and a Madeira reduction.
At Don Chido, tequila dominates the bar with a pretty substantial selection to choose from. Their "drink bible" boasts an impressive selection of creative margaritas and classic Mexican drinks, like sangrias and cheladas... which means you'll be needing food. The crave-worthy street tacos are stuffed with fillings like carne asada, chicken adobado, and wood-fired baja fish, and they really hit the spot after a night out in the Gaslamp.
The owners of Tiger!Tiger! and Blind Lady Ale House now have a third place for craft beer lovers. Panama 66 is an outdoor oasis in the Museum of Art Sculpture Garden at Balboa Park. There are plenty of carryover favorites from their other ventures, but don't miss hot new action like pan bagnat (wet sandwiches), such as tuna confit on ciabatta bathed in citrus viniagrette. Needless to say, the beer selection is amazing.
Ironside Oyster is another home run from the guys behind Craft & Commerce and Polite Provisions. Their latest venture has a raw oyster bar, which is a whole new kind of bar program for them, but they nailed it. Michelin-starred Chef Jason McLeod is at the helm in the kitchen, and he’s turning out seafood-centric amazingness like whole grilled rock cod with summer squash & herb pesto and roasted king salmon with pork belly, corn & chanterelles. Oh, and chowder fries! And if you're really going big, the Ironside Platters are a serious feast (look at that thing up there!). The "Biggest" feeds up to eight and comes with 18 oysters, 24 shrimp, 24 mussels, and 1lb lobster.
With beer bars popping up all over San Diego, Draft is the place to get your craft beer fix in Mission Beach. They have more than 69 brews on tap for you to work through as you sit right on the boardwalk watching the beach traffic go by. However, don't get so distracted that you miss out on steak frites with bone marrow butter, duck confit spring rolls, and shrimp over cheddar grits with chorizo and poblanos.
San Diego’s newest Downtown hot spot is not just a place to see and be seen on the dance floor, Parq also has a serious restaurant. Chef Errol LeBlanc’s food plays on classic dishes. He even has a section on the menu called "Meat and Potatoes". The slow-braised lacquered pork belly is covered in a honey chipotle glaze that makes it sweet and tender. Or go for the impossibly creamy house-made burrata served warm with baby tomato, basil, white balsamic, evoo, garlic, smoked salt, and bruschetta. Just give yourself some digestion time before you hit the dance floor.
When the Abnormal Wine Company expanded this year they weren’t messing around. They added a new brewery that’s aptly named the Abnormal Beer Company, and a restaurant called The Cork and Craft, creating the perfect trifecta for all kinds of delicious beer/wine/food pairings. Lunch is served from 11-2pm, then its beer and wine only between 2-5pm. Dinner gets going from 5-9pm; 10pm on the weekends. The food ranges from tater tot poutine (short rib gravy, cheese curds, chives, and a 62.8 degree egg) to black cod that is marinated for 72 hours and served with miso consommé, green tea soba, enoki, and sea greens. So yeah, try to get there during food-serving hours.
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1. Juniper & Ivy Restaurant2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego
2. Bottega Americano1195 Island Ave, San Diego
3. Table No. 10369 10th Ave, San Diego
4. Común Kitchen & Tavern935 J St, San Diego
5. Tidal1404 Vacation Rd, San Diego
6. Don Chido527 5th Ave, San Diego
7. Panama 661460 El Prado, San Diego
8. Ironside Fish & Oyster1654 India St, San Diego
9. Draft3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego
10. Parq615 Broadway, San Diego
11. The Cork and Craft16990 Via Tazon Suite 123, San Diego
Top Chef: All Stars winner Richard Blais is behind Juniper & Ivy, a Little Italy restaurant that's making moves to put the San Diego dining scene on the same level as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The refined menu is nothing if not creative, and dishes like lobster congee with beef sausage, wagyu short rib with Gruyere-rye bread pudding, and vindaloo-rubbed filet carpaccio prove that Blais' cooking inspiration isn't limited to one cuisine. That said, one of the best things on the menu is also the simplest: the buttermilk drop biscuit with smoked butter.
This East Village European market/Italian eatery offers pasta, wood-fired pizzas, anti-pastas, and seafood dishes. There are also five interactive food bars, so you can see all the action happening in the kitchen, or grab-and-go from the market.
Chef Jason Gethin’s offers up gourmet American-style fare at Table No. 10 in the East Village, right next to Petco Park. Their kobe beef brisket is better than any hot dog you’ll get in the park, and you can’t leave without having a cocktail (or two). The bar serves their own house-made tonics and sodas, as well as a cocktail menu that features some unique ingredients like duck fat and the sharable Flux Capacitor made with gin, rosewater, violet liquor, lemon, honey, maraschino, lavender, and dry ice.
Común Chef Chad White’s baja-inspired menu changes with the seasons, and features dishes made with only the freshest local and sustainable ingredients. Pour yourself a cold one from the self-serve beer station and take a seat at the chef’s table in front of the open kitchen to get a gander at White whipping up tostadas topped with octopus or smoked shark and family-style plates to share.
The bay view from the patio at this upscale yet laid-back restaurant located within Paradise Point Resort in Mission Bay is beautiful any time of day, but you get the best return on your investment during sunset. The cuisine matches the atmosphere with refined seafood dishes like wood-roasted arctic char and Baja prawns with house-made Longanisa sausage, though the land options are just as impressive. With plentiful parking and easy access to the sand (and fire pits), you can easily turn a dinner or happy hour visit into multiple hours of fun and relaxation.
This Gaslamp Mexican spot offers meats cooked on a Santa Maria wood-fired grill, fresh made tortillas, and tequila. The menu is full of Mexican favorites and the bar serves more than 100 tequilas, and a specialty margarita called the El Churro, made with cinnamon infused tequila, Licor 43, lemon, lime, agave, and cinnamon sugar.
Located in the San Diego Museum of Art Sculpture Garden at Balboa Park, this outdoor spot opened by four beer veterans offers a selection of rotating local craft beers on tap, cocktails and hot and cold lunch foods. The 150-seat space hosts people on communal tables, and if you want to take advantage of the sculpture garden scenery, the bar provides free blankets to sit on.
With a gorgeous interior, a fresh and delicious seafood menu, and a cocktail program that's almost as imaginative as its interior, Ironside Fish & Oyster proves to be another sterling example in a growing collection of successes from Consortium Holdings (Soda & Swine, Polite Provisions).
This Pacific Beach spot has approximately 70 beers on tap and over 50 bottles of beer, making Draft a great place to kick back on your way home from the beach. While you're sipping, try some snacks from the menu, which is comprised of sharing plates, like mustard dusted pretzel bites; grilled items, like the bison burger with poblano pepper and cumin mayonnaise; greens, like the seared ahi salad; and sweets, like key lime pie. Draft’s boardwalk patio is a picturesque spot to grab a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner bite with an oceanfront view, but if you want to catch the game, you’ll want to head inside to watch on one of the flat-screens.
Chef Errol LeBlanc, winner of Food Network’s “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrel”, runs the kitchen at this restaurant-nightclub combo. His menu is full of hits like lacquered pork belly, grilled octopus, and sous vide rack of lamb. When you’re ready to get your groove on, take a walk through the cavernous stone tunnel, lit by flickering chandeliers, into Parq’s 20,000sqft nightclub.
A restaurant, winery, and brewery all in one, The Cork & Craft is a food and drink trifecta in San Diego. Modern plates imbued with French technique are masterfully created in the large open kitchen, providing a behind-the-scenes view to guests curious as to how their tater tot poutine and braised short ribs are made. Pair the dishes with wine and beer from Abnormal, and you've struck a winning combo.