San Diego’s restaurant scene is diverse, delicious—and growing virtually by the day. So many exciting new restaurants and bars crop up that it can be hard to keep track. That’s why we took stock of the very best establishments that have opened in the last several months (some are much newer than that) as well as the most anticipated places slated to open their doors any day now.
Where: 470 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
Piggybacking on the success they’ve seen at locations in L.A. and Portland (not to mention in their hometown of San Diego), Modern Times is adding a third San Diego brewery and plant-based restaurant. Their first North County foothold will deliver the “Island-Of-Doctor-Moreau-style mash-ups” and a meat-free menu of croquettes, chilaquiles, sausage, and green papaya salad.
Where: 2659 State Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Parisian-joie de vivre meets SoCal-cool in this new modern French restaurant. Enchanting décor makes for a no-brainer date spot. Just as alluring is the seafood emphasis (oysters, prawns, King Crab via the raw bar), and dishes like baby chicken with foie gras, wagyu beef, lamb with romano beans, plus ample wines by the glass and craft cocktails.
Where: 2305 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Neighborhood: North Park
The name isn’t just a reference to the cross street—Louisiana Street, of course—but to everything in this New Orleans-inspired creation opening in early 2019. The chef, who was trained in The Big Easy, will be whipping up such things as—get ready for this— savory alligator cheesecake with crawfish cream sauce. The menu will also feature sweet potato cornbread, barbecue shrimp and other Southern bites.
Where: 1011 Fort Stockton Dr., San Diego, CA 92103
Neighborhood: Mission Hills
Last summer, the team behind Trust, one of San Diego’s most beloved restaurants, unveiled their new bar and restaurant project, Fort Oak. Occupying the ground floor and two patios of a mixed-use development, Fort Oak relies on quality ingredients, simple concepts and understated décor in an age of brash menus and ambience more suited to Instagram than the dining experience.
Where: 550 W. Date Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Neighborhood: Little Italy
This recently-announced breakfast and brunch spot aims to tap into the talents of an accomplished chef and designer. Menu details are sparse as yet. But décor partly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, a living plant wall, articulated windows that will trace the sun’s path, and walnut-and-brass ceiling, sound like showstoppers. Did we mention that it will feature a pastry bar? Stay tuned for the opening date.
Where: 4813 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111
Based on an apothecary theme (hence the name, referring to ancient recipes written on the door), this imaginative spot defies description. Located in San Diego’s biggest Asian enclave, Convoy, it derives inspiration from Asian history, art, and religion. The menu of small bites finds its influences globally, but carried out with Asian ingredients.
Where: 1946 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92102
Neighborhood: South Park
Bring the entire family—that includes kids and dogs—to this lunch and dinner spot that doesn’t want you to sacrifice anything of food or ambience just because you’ve got the whole clan in tow. Craft cocktails complement entrees like buttermilk fried chicken, falafel platter, veggie burgers and their own gourmet take on classic double-patty burgers.
Where: 2414 San Diego Ave., San Diego, CA 92110
Neighborhood: Old Town
With its handmade art and décor from Oaxaca, Tahona is something of a shrine to Mexican culture. However, it’s a full-on temple to one thing in particular: mezcal. It serves 120 varieties of Mexico’s somewhat-lesser-known agave spirit, for which you can book tastings, or just sample your way through them, guided by your palate and curiosity. The menu features Mexican favorites like carne asada and ceviche right next to stuffed squash blossoms, shishito peppers, and Cornish hen served with mole negro.