San Diego’s year-round growing season and access to some of the freshest seafood inspires chefs to create exceptional California cuisine. Yet San Diego’s dining scene is too multi-faceted to be defined by one culinary style. The region embraces a creative multiculturalism, led by chefs whose diverse ethnic backgrounds and unique culinary expertise make for a dynamic dining destination. The following are a few of the multicultural chefs in San Diego who are not afraid to mix flavors, play with spices and utilize inventive cooking techniques while keeping true to their own heritage and traditions.
Where: Barrio Dogg – 2234 Logan Ave., Barrio Logan, CA 92113
An avid low rider car fan, Pablo Rios grew up in his grandmother’s kitchen in Barrio Logan, San Diego’s Chicano-centric neighborhood. At the age of seven, he began dreaming of his own restaurant while working at his uncle’s Mexican eatery. After working in real estate for a few years, a trip to Ensenada, Mexico, triggered the idea for Barrio Dogg, a low rider-styled hot dog cart located right in the neighborhood where he grew up. It began as a two-menu-item cart. Now it’s a restaurant and bar serving 13 different types of hot dogs, micheladas and 16 Mexican and San Diego craft beers on tap. The Chicano comfort food menu fuses many international culinary styles, from Asian and German to Cuban and Mexican, combined with his grandmother’s traditional cooking techniques.
Common Theory Public House – 4805 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111
Realm of the 52 Remedies
A seasoned San Diego culinary veteran, chef Jonathan Bautista has extensive experience in creating elevated California cuisine. His background includes leading the kitchens of all three levels of George’s at the Cove. This includes its fine dining restaurant California Modern, under the wing of Executive Chef/Partner Trey Foshee. Bautista joined Common Theory Public House, a Convoy District pub serving more than 30 rotating craft beers in a relaxed atmosphere.
Plus, Realm of the 52 Remedies, an adjoining speakeasy that takes inspiration in both drinks and décor from Chinese medicine. As Head of Culinary Operations, Bautista works to elevate both menus. He incorporates his Filipino American background and owners Cris Liang and Joon Lee’s Korean, Mexican and Chinese heritage.
Where: Medina – 2850 El Cajon Blvd. Suite 4, San Diego, California 92104
Alia Jaziri grew up in San Diego with a North African father and Chinese-Indonesian mother. Jaziri was influenced by the spices in her family’s pantry, her father’s traditional cooking techniques and San Diego’s proximity to Mexico. After working in the tech industry in San Francisco, Jaziri realized food was her true calling. She returned to San Diego to cook at pop-up dinners and farmers’ markets until she was ready to open Medina in the eclectic North Park neighborhood. Described as Moroccan Baja cuisine, Medina is a stylish fast-casual eatery serving dishes that allow Jaziri to reflect her roots. Dishes include the herbed couscous grain bowls with Moroccan-spiced chicken asado and merguez (house-made spicy lamb sausage) tacos.
Pop Pie Co. – 4404 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92116
Stella Jean’s Ice Cream – 4404 Park Blvd Ste B, San Diego, CA 92116
Gan Suebsarakham holds many job titles: co-owner, executive chef and head ice cream maker. Born and raised in Khon Kaen, Thailand, Gan moved to San Diego at age 25. Once back, Gan pursued his dream of opening his own business. After attending culinary school in San Diego and later obtaining an MBA, Suebsarakham spent a year researching and experimenting with crust recipes before opening Pop Pie Co. in the uptown University Heights neighborhood. The influence of his Thai upbringing and world travels shows in his freshly baked sweet and savory pies like the roasted veggies and yellow curry pie and the Aussie meat pie.
Suebsarakham’s adjacent Stella Jean’s Ice Cream shop provides an opportunity to showcase his passion for handmade ice cream. Taste creative flavor combinations like ube with pandesal toffee and matcha with strawberry-rose jam.
Where: Azúcar – 4820 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
Vivian Hernandez-Jackson was born and raised in Miami by Cuban parents. Her passion for baking and cooking started at the age of eight. She first moved to Europe to attend Le Cordon Bleu and work as a pastry chef in London. Later on, she took a job teaching baking classes in San Diego. Next, she accomplished her dream of opening her own bakery in her laid-back Ocean Beach neighborhood. Azúcar is a local favorite. Hernandez-Jackson’s sandwiches, cakes and pastries, like guava and cheese pastelitos, are a true reflection of her classical French training and Cuban roots.