10 Most Exciting New Restaurants in San Diego

The Editors | June 27, 2017 | Feature Features

The 50 finest things on San Diego's food scene right now.
Chef Pascal Lorange's Mediterranean-inspired creations include a Prosciutto di Parma and burrata roll at his hot spot, Crudo.

The main draw to Carmel Valley’s latest hot spot is assorted preparations of raw fish (ceviche, tartar, carpaccio and sashimi) accompanied by a trio of signature dipping sauces—kumquat ginger with cilantro and olive oil; five-spice harissa; and aged balsamic with soy sauce and spices. But Crudo by Pascal Lorange also presents stellar cooked dishes, like seafood paella, coconut Chilean sea bass and branzino a la plancha. In his first solo venture, revered Belgian-born Lorange (former executive chef of the nationally acclaimed Fig & Olive restaurants) offers an Asian-inspired coastal Mediterranean menu that’s largely gluten-free. 5965 Village Way, Carmel Valley, 858.847.2797

Chef Roy Elam’s new plant-based comfort food restaurant, named Donna Jean in loving memory of his mother, delights vegans, carnivores and everyone in between. Located on the border of Hillcrest and Bankers Hill, adjacent to Balboa Park, the 1,200-square-foot space seats 110 diners at tables indoors and on the spacious patio. On the vegan menu, Nashville Hot Shrooms—breaded mushrooms with sourdough, pickles and hot sauce. The black-eyed pea burger is a dead-ringer for the real deal, with pickled radish, chipotle aioli and lettuce. For liquid refreshment, there’s kombucha, cider, sake-based cocktails and local craft beers. To your health! 2949 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, 619.299.5500

Tapas fans in San Diego have a new go-to place to share cocktails or wine and finger foods with their amigos. César, the SoCal iteration of the beloved Berkeley original from Terumi and Richard Mazzera, serves an ever-changing selection of tapas featuring California vegetables, meat, seafood and poultry; paella simmered in lobster broth and jampacked with mussels, clams, shrimp, chorizo and chicken wings (it rivals anything you’ll find in Valencia, Spain); and California-inspired Spanish entrees like crispy pork belly with moors spice. Dessert options include homemade date and almond ice cream. Buen apetito! 16089 San Dieguito Road, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.771.1313

The most exciting hotel to open this year in San Diego, the Pendry San Diego is an appropriately trendy locale for Lionfish, one of the city’s hippest high-profile restaurants (and the largest of six new dining and lounge venues in the hotel). In an elegant, airy two-floor dining room, chef Jojo Ruiz (formerly of Ironside Fish & Oyster) relies on seasonal, sustainable local ingredients—freshly caught fish, prime meats and just-picked produce—for his modern coastal cuisine, everything from small plates to entrees to craft cocktails. Favorites include inventive sushi rolls, butter-poached king crab legs, lobster carpaccio and seared diver scallops. 435 Fifth Ave., downtown S.D., 619.738.7200

“Honest food done right” is the philosophy, and “organic” is the buzzword, at Farmer’s Table (sister restaurant to Farmer’s Bottega in Mission Hills), a combination of homey neighborhood eatery and destination dining room. The decor is interesting and eclectic, while the ingredients are high quality and locally sourced. Alberto Morreale draws upon his Sicilian roots as he prepares innovative twists on time-tested, family recipes, such as duck gnocchi, ratatouille risotto and game of the day. Meanwhile, wood-fired pizzas and flatbreads are served perfectly charred and piping hot from the oven imported from Naples. 8141 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, 619.724.6465


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