The buzz: Southeast Asian flavors from the folks behind Oceanside’s Dija Mara.
The food: Traditional tastes of Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Thailand abound at this brand new addition to the North Park food scene. Start with a Sri Lankan coconut roti and smoky eggplant to dip, an imperial roll stuffed with wood ear mushrooms and duck confit; peanut, tamarind, and lemongrass-laced oyster mushrooms; or ribeye Phuket au poivre. Larger plates include a palm sugar-glazed brisket or Hanoi-style fried black cod in turmeric and summery herbs of dill, lovage, and dandelion. Cocktails add zing with complimentary flavors as well, think lychee, mango, lime, Thai basil, and chili, or a refreshing “gintail”—they make a mean Singapore Sling.
The cost: Starters and shareables run $13-18, entrees are $25-37. Cocktails are $11-13, drafts cost $8-9.
The buzz: Chef Claudette Zepeda puts her stamp on a beautiful new resort restaurant.
The food: San Diegans can once again enjoy the cuisine of Executive Chef Claudette Zepeda at VAGA Restaurant and Bar at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas. The restaurant sits atop the Encinitas bluffs and boasts expansive ocean and sunset views. In the dramatic open kitchen, Chef Zepeda fuses diverse cultures with local ingredients in dishes such as heirloom bean soup, brisket buns, and Baja sea bass on a seasonal menu. The beverage program, led by Alexander Gregg, features rotating signature cocktails, local microbrews, and a dynamic wine list incorporating natural wines utilizing grapes from low-intervention/biodynamic vineyards.
The cost: Signature cocktails are $11-18, drafts, bottled beer and wine by the glass run $7-19. Starters and shared plates cost $8-25, entrees are $30-75.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made online via SevenRooms. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.
The buzz: Upscale Mediterranean fare in an industrial-chic stunner.
The food: Callie, Executive Chef Travis Swikard’s on-again, off-again labor of love, finally opened this June in the East Village. Shareable dips and spreads, house-made pastas, and grilled seafood are standouts, or let them curate your experience with the Mediterranean Feast, a five course, family-style meal that covers you from dips to dessert, with an optional wine pairing. Save room for dessert, too, especially the Eureka lemon curd, decorated with rose meringue kisses and honey-whipped labneh, topped with sesame halva floss.
The cost: Spreads and small plates are $12-21, pastas, seafood, and entrees run $19-34. The Mediterranean feast is $65 per person, with an optional wine pairing for an additional $40.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made online via Tock. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.
The buzz: Playful takes on old favorites give this steakhouse a modern twist.
The food: Richard Blais, founding chef of Juniper and Ivy in Little Italy, as well as the Crack Shack empire, continues to delight San Diegans with his latest venture, Ember & Rye at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Carlsbad. The newly-imagined steakhouse specializes in brawny aged steaks and fresh seafood in a classic California setting, while also offering unexpected, whimsical takes like a lobster knuckle sandwich, white chocolate-dipped radishes, Scotch eggs with maple, and caviar service, complete with little fish-shaped blini.
The cost: Snacks are $7-35, entrees run $29-230, cocktails go for $18-50, beer is $8-16, and wines by the glass are $12-28.
The buzz: An all-day cocktail menu—why not?
The food: Get your morning started right with a Kingston Cold Brew, infused with Jamaican rum and mole bitters, to go with your breakfast rice bowl or bennies, or if you’re more of an afternoon drinker, pair an A&G Root Beer with a pig mac bao or double-double burger. The evening menu features elegant sea bass en papillote, grilled Australian lamb chops and roasted pork shoulder lettuce wraps, perfect with a smokey Bodega Boy (mezcal, toasted rice, coconut, lime, mango) or lush 7th Note Old Fashioned, pumped up with Amaro Montenegro and black walnut bitters.
The cost: Cocktails run $14-18, drafts are $8-9, wine by the glass is $12-17. Breakfast items go for $7-16, lunch runs $13-21, dinners entrees are $32-95.
How to order: Reservations are recommended and can be made via Tock. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.
The buzz: Hot southern food and cool boozy ice cream served with a side of rock and roll.
The food: Dig into comfort food like poutine, chicken fried steak, and burgers, but save room for the headliners—more than 40 rotating flavors of liquored-up ice creams like Birthday Bitch (rainbow cake flavored vodka, birthday cake, blue raspberry pop rocks in white chocolate) or Slam Diego (Templeton rye, peanuts, Cracker Jack, and pretzels) available in scoops, cones, pints, shakes, sundaes, and flights, along with ice cream sandwiches and cocktail lickers (push pops). There’s a number of vegan options as well as menus for kids and fur kids, a first-rate cocktail program, and an extensive array of agave-based spirits. Pick up pints and push pops only at the Gaslamp location, or head to North Park for a full menu of ice cream options for dine-in or to-go.
The cost: Food runs $4-25, cocktails are $10-12, ice cream is $3 for a regular scoop, $8 for a boozy scoop and $12.50 for a 12-oz carton, and cocktail lickers are $7.50.
How to book:Gaslamp: Indoor and patio dining is on a first-come basis. Reservations for groups of six or more can be made by calling 619-546-6424.North Park: Reservations can be made via TableAgent. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.