Yeah, it's officially "beach season" or whatever (really, when is it not?), but that isn't stopping us from housing all the starchiest, carb-iest, calorie-laden foods from San Diego's new restaurants. If you, too, are seeking new eats for summer, you've come to the right place, my friend. Here are the spots that've opened recently that are worth the sacrificial calories detracting from your beach bod with delicious sandwiches, fresh pastas, incredible pizzas, Texas-style BBQ... the list goes on.
All of the restaurants on this list are part of our ongoing quest to find this year's best new restaurants in America, and we're combing through every opening in every Thrillist city. Get involved on Instagram -- #BestRest2016 -- to let us know your picks and your favorite dishes at each of these new spots.
Brian Malarkey is back. He’s broken away from the seersucker/herringbone style he’s known for with Herb & Wood’s chic massive restaurant/market combo, joining the ranks of foodie hot spots popping up in North Little Italy. Focusing on simplicity, everything is made in-house, down to the butter. Along with chef de cuisine Shane McIntyre, Malarkey has created a seasonal menu inspired by coastal California and the Mediterranean, serving up dishes like roasted bone marrow with fiddlehead and spinach spaetzle, grain mustard, and asparagus salsa verde, and wood-fired pizzas with house-made dough aged for 48 hours. Behind the bar, Willem Van Leuven is shaking and stirring refreshing herbal cocktails designed with the wood-fired oven in mind. Case in point: the Bourbon & Rosemary, made with Old Forester, sugar, lemon, basil, orange oils, and rosemary. Come by, take a seat in front of the windowed open kitchen, and watch the magic happen.
Tiki is taking over the San Diego bar scene, and Miss B’s Coconut Club is the newest addition to the craze, bolstered by its Caribbean- and Cuban-inspired fare. Dishes like jerk rubbed chicken wings and ceviche with shrimp, or a fresh catch marinated in citrus with serrano peppers, red onion, cilantro, and coconut milk served with a side of plantain chips, are no-brainer pairings with these Tiki-style cocktails. And Miss B's isn't reserving brunch only for the weekend: Every day from 11am-2pm, indulge in all the coconut rum French toast and papaya mimosas you can handle. Not to be outdone by the food, the design elements here shine, too. The front windows flip up like the doors of a DeLorean and open the bar to outdoor seating. The patio is a prime spot to sit around the firepit while sipping on a flamingo-shaped punch bowl full of the signature cocktail, Havana Good Time. Obviously, you will be.
You won’t find any canned sauce or frozen toppings here. Biga is not your typical Downtown soggy-slice-and-a-beer pizza joint. It's all about carefully selected, fresh ingredients, and making everything -- from the sausages to the desserts -- on-site. The wood-burning oven is used to cook more than just pizzas, though: order charred vegetables and pasture-raised braised pork. If you thought that bruschetta was just bread with some tomatoes and garlic on it, then you have to try one of Biga's five varieties, like roasted wild mushrooms, garlic confit, créme fraîche, and leek butter. Dessert is a must; you can’t leave this place without having affogato made with its own artisan gelato.
Having brought on executive chef Joseph Rodriguez from barleymash, WESTROOT tavern is serving up new American lunch and dinner (do not fret, brunch is on its way). The bi-level space has two full bars, each with 30 taps pouring craft brews, a solid cocktail menu, and an entertainment lineup that includes live music and weekend DJs, making WESTROOT the place to grab a drink in this neck of the woods.
If you’re looking for some of the best BBQ in San Diego, then look no further than the picnic tables at Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado. During the weekdays, post up for some Texas-style BBQ on the grill, everything from brisket to ribs. On Sundays, go for the Argentinian-style lamb shoulder, blood sausage, and more meaty dishes from the Southern Hemisphere. Leave room for some of the traditional BBQ sides, like potato salad, Texas bean salad, and sweet pickles, plus an entire sauce spread. Lunch is served Wednesday-Saturday from noon until 4pm, or until it sells out, which is inevitable. Dinner is from 6-9pm, or until it's sold out, which, again, it will.
Tracy Borkum had nearly 20 years of success with Kensington Grill before turning the space into Fish Public, and now she's reinvented the space once again as cucina SORELLA. This new concept is the little sister of bigger SoCal siblings CUCINA urbana and CUCINA enoteca. The from-scratch Italian menu focuses on seasonal antipasti and handmade pasta dishes and, like all of Borkum’s eateries, you can also shop while you dine, since literally everything in the restaurant is for sale. Why settle for a doggy bag of leftovers when you can get the entire table and all the chairs, too? Like that salt shaker? It's yours.
The owners of North Park's ever-popular The Smoking Goat have taken over the adjacent space, conveniently named after the location: One Door North. The design is reminiscent of glamping on a safari, except with hand-carved wooden tables and waiters that bring you s’mores for dessert. The menu follows an outdoors-y theme, with dishes like campfire trout with chimichurri, coriander coleslaw, and cornbread, or Aspen Ridge flat iron steak with fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and a red wine demi-glaze. It's also serving a variety of stone-fired pizzas and small plates, like Dee’s cornbread with bacon, jalapeños, and honey butter. Next time you’re craving a taste of the great outdoors, this spot has you covered.
If you can’t make it to Paris, Le Petit Bistrot is the next best thing. Joining Catania, Elixir, and Beaming in La Plaza La Jolla is this French bistro where you can dine on escargot while taking in the ocean view from their terrace. It might not be the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not too shabby. Executive chef Theivan Luce comes to San Diego by way of Paris, where he worked at Michelin-starred restaurant La Maison du Danemark. He’s created a menu of traditional dishes like quiche Lorraine and croque madame; wash it down with one of its French wines. Lunch and dinner is served during the week, and breakfast on weekends.
The masters of meat at Carnitas' Snack Shack have expanded again, and are now satisfying pork cravings all the way from Carmel Valley to the newest location at the Downtown Embarcadero. Now you can bite into your Triple Threat Pork Sandwich while taking in the waterfront view and feeling the ocean breeze in your hair. It's also launched a new craft cocktail program at this location. The drinks are mostly citrus-based libations designed to pair with the smoky flavor of the meat-centric fare.
Shore Rider has opened just in time for the arrival of summer with a beer garden and a menu of portable foods, like wraps and ahi poke. Since this all-outdoor venue is just a short walk from the shore, you can stay and dine, or take your order to the beach with you. With the 16-tap beer list, plus wine on draft, Shore Rider is the perfect place to get a cold one, especially because nobody else in La Jolla is going to serve you when you come in dripping wet and covered in sand.
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1. Miss Bs Coconut Club3704 Mission Blvd, San Diego
2. Herb & Wood2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego
3. BIGA950 6th Ave, San Diego
4. Westroot Tavern6025 Village Way, San Diego
5. Grand Ole BBQ y Asado3302 32nd St, San Diego
6. CUCINA sorella4055 Adams Ave, San Diego
7. One Door North3410 30th St, San Diego
8. Carnitas' Snack Shack2632 University Ave, San Diego
9. Shore Rider2168 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla
10. Le Petit Bistrot7863 Girard Ave, San Diego
This laid-back hangout in Mission Beach has an open air bar that's perfect for serving tiki drinks and Caribbean- and Cuban-inspired fare. In a bold move, brunch is served seven days a week and drinks flock to the table in flamingo-shaped punch bowls. The ambiance evokes the art deco scene of the 1930s, and the venue's prime spot by the beach almost makes you feel like you're on a tropical getaway.
Herb & Wood relies a very simple concept: fresh proteins and vegetables roasted in a wood-fire oven and plated meticulously. The space is massive; all 4,000 square feet are divided among four areas: a sleek, chic lounge, a “lavender lounge” with a porch-like atmosphere, and a fireplace-heated patio. The menu features highlights like a roasted branzino stuffed with lemon herb and served with olive tapenade and Serrano ham as well as gnocchi with oxtail, roasted garlic, parsley, chive, sherry, parmesan, and horseradish.
This casual Italian cafe in Gaslamp specializes in Neapolitan pizzas, though there's a lot more to love besides the lightly charred (and reasonably priced) wood-fired pies at Biga. Fluffy focaccia, served with toppings à la pizza or in a sandwich with cured meats and cheese, shared plates of house-made mozzarella, and oven-roasted vegetables are all enticing for dinner, while breakfast polenta bowls are an inventive alternative to typical rolled oats in the morning.
This Carmel Valley spot is serving up New American lunch and dinner in a sprawling bi-level space with patio seating and industrial decor. The menu stars crowd-pleasing, modern tavern fare like wings, nachos, and sandwiches, but with quality ingredients and high-level attention to detail (case in point: the carne asada fries are topped with seared skirt steak, spicy citrus-kissed guacamole, and lime crema along with the standard pico de gallo and cotija cheese). Thirty beers on tap and a strong cocktail list makes Westroot a great place to grab a drink in this neck of the woods.
San Antonio meets Sao Paolo at this Texas style barbecue/Argentine steakhouse in Altadena. With plenty of outdoor seating, it's the perfect place to bring the squad for pre-beach feasting. Leave room for some of the traditional BBQ sides, like potato salad, Texas bean salad, and sweet pickles, plus an entire sauce spread. Lunch is served Wednesday-Saturday from noon until 4pm, or until it sells out, which is inevitable. Dinner is from 6-9pm, or until it's sold out, which, again, it will.
Tracy Borkum had nearly 20 years of success with Kensington Grill before turning the space into Fish Public, and now she's reinvented the space once again as cucina SORELLA. This concept is the little sister of bigger SoCal siblings CUCINA urbana and CUCINA enoteca. The from-scratch Italian menu focuses on seasonal antipasti and handmade pasta dishes and, like all of Borkum’s eateries, you can also shop while you dine, since literally everything in the restaurant is for sale. There are also interactive hands-on pasta making classes so you can educate yourself on the art of traditional Italian cooking techniques.
This New American bar and eatery in North Park is a 21+ venue modeled after the great outdoors. The design is reminiscent of glamping on a safari, except with hand-carved wooden tables and waiters that bring you s’mores for dessert. The menu follows an outdoors-y theme, serving a variety of stone-fired pizzas and small plates
At Carnitas' Snack Shack, just about everything is influenced by pork, from the menu of bacon-heavy fare to the big black pig that sits atop the roof. In true southern California fashion, 100% of the seating is in an outdoor area out back that's shaded by umbrellas and wooden roofs. The space includes a spacious bar serving up wine, beer, and snacks (also pork-focused) like chicharrones and pork belly.
Shore Rider is a beachy beer garden in La Jolla, serving portable foods alongside drinks, like ahi poke and wraps. Relax at the all-outdoor venue or take your food straight to the beach. With the 16-tap beer list, plus wine on draft, Shore Rider is the perfect place to get a cold one, especially because nobody else in La Jolla is going to serve you when you come in dripping wet and covered in sand.
If you can't make it to Paris, compromise with this French bistro in La Jolla where you can dine on escargot while taking in the ocean view from their terrace. It might not be the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not too shabby. Executive chef Theivan Luce comes to San Diego by way of Paris, where he worked at Michelin-starred restaurant La Maison du Danemark. He’s created a menu of traditional dishes that pair beautifully with the broad selection of French wines. Lunch and dinner is served during the week, and breakfast on weekends.