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Find Out What San Diego Restaurant Tops the List of Best New Places to Eat 2020

Allison Mitchell | December 2, 2020 | Food & Drink

Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s Waverly enchants with exquisite interior design, progressive cuisine and top-notch cocktails.

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Since debuting Pacific Beach’s Firehouse American Eatery + Lounge in 2007, SDCM Restaurant Group founder and operator Matthew Spencer has opened myriad acclaimed dining concepts across San Diego. Among them: wine bar Vin De Syrah; tiki concept The Grass Skirt; Good Time Poke; Devil’s Dozen; and, most notably, the award-winning Kettner Exchange, which was selected as one of only eight San Diego restaurants to be highlighted in Michelin Guide’s prestigious Bib Gourmand list in 2019. Adding to SDCM and Spencer’s legacy is Waverly, a full-service restaurant and lounge in beautiful Cardiff-by-the-Sea featuring progressive American cuisine with a European influence. “As a restaurant group, SDCM has always had plans to open a venue in North County. We felt our unique lounge-style environment would work well with the community,” says Spencer of the concept, which bowed in mid-October. “We drew inspiration from the all-day cafes in Australia and Bali and wanted to create a spot where people could enjoy brunch, linger for cocktails and return in the evening.”

The sister duo behind Encinitas-based Design 4 Corners was brought in to give Waverly its good looks, which feature plenty of greenery and custom furnishings throughout. “My favorite spot in the house is our two lush sage green booths that sit under our custom artwork from Australian artist Jai Vasicek,” notes Spencer. “From these booths you can catch the most beautiful sunsets over the ocean.” It’s that coastal setting that inspired the restaurant’s name. “We went through dozens of options and eventually landed on Waverly for its feminine, breezy sound,” he shares.

As for what to order, award-winning corporate executive chef Brian Redzikowski, who leads the culinary vision for all of SDCM’s six culinary concepts, recommends the ricotta agnolotti (with roasted squash, wild mushrooms and black truffle jus) or the royal red shrimp noodles (with wild mushrooms, spinach, Brussels sprouts and Parmesan) for dinner—though the Belgian endive cups are his personal favorite. Then, whet your whistle with standout signature cocktail The Waverly (featuring gin, blueberry oat milk, citrus, nutmeg and cardamom) or the mezcal-spiked Bodega Boy. Post-pandemic, Redzikowski hopes to hold chef’s tables and curated dinners that will highlight his ever-evolving menu. Making waves, indeed. 2005 Elijo Ave., Cardiff, 760.230.1682

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Photography by: Food and cocktail photos by James Tran; interior photos by Kimberly Motos