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The Five Culinary Wonders Pushing the Envelope in San Diego's Dining Scene

By Kerry Snider | March 5, 2020 | Food & Drink

First come, first served.


Move quick—Liberty Station’s Dinner With a View pop-up ends March 8.

Dinner With a View: Ever dream of living in a snow globe? You could be one step closer in the pop-up terrariums at Liberty Station’s Central Promenade. Each of the 33 domes is inspired by a different ecosystem where you and up to five friends can enjoy a three-course meal in the tundra, jungle or desert. With Top Chef vet Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins in the kitchen, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is securing a spot on the reservation list—the pop-up ends March 8. Dome reservations $200, dinner reservations $110 per person, 2640 Historic Decatur Road


Enclave’s turmeric ginger bone broth

ENCLAVE: Following the adage that food is medicine, chef-owner Lan Thai (also known as chef Lando) has crafted a concept that marries the culinary and medicinal worlds through a menu full of nutrient-dense ingredients. While all are welcome to dine in the charming space inside JuneShine Ranch, it’s chef Lando’s postpartum meal delivery service that has our attention. With options for daily, weekly or 28-day deliveries, dishes are made specifically to restore, rejuvenate and energize those in the postpartum state thanks to ingredients from traditional Chinese and ayurvedic recipes. Even tried-and-true comfort foods receive an apothecarian upgrade—see the postpartum chicken noodle soup made with black silkie chicken and Chinese confinement herbs. 10051 Old Grove Road, 858.869.5670


The whimsical patio at Harumama in La Jolla Cove

Harumama and Blue Ocean: With locations in Carlsbad and Little Italy, Harumama and Blue Ocean are now living under one roof in the 5,793-square-foot space that formerly housed The Hake in the idyllic La Jolla Cove. At Blue Ocean, restaurateurs Jenny and James Pyo are honing in on their love of sushi and sashimi while offering location-exclusive dishes like scallops with black rice risotto that nod to the nearby sea. Meanwhile, things get a bit more playful at Harumama, where guests of all ages will delight in steamed buns depicting cartoon animals, ramen, noodles and more. 1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla, 858.999.0323


NIMA Café’s pour-over ramen bowl featuring house-made noodles, egg, nori, ham hock and bok choy.

NIMA Café: Christopher Puffer and Brian Malarkey, co-owners of the Puffer Malarkey Collective, know cravings can hit during daylight hours, so their new cafe happily accommodates diners from 8AM to 3PM. Adjacent to the duo’s new concept Animae, NIMA is similarly influenced by Asian culture. Enjoy dishes like pork sung buns with miso honey butter in the well-appointed space designed by Puffer in collaboration with Bells & Whistles. We suggest waiting for your table (or your takeout) at the bar with a lemongrass gin and tonic. 971 Pacific Highway, 619.432.1225


End your evening at Rare Society on a sweet note with decadent butter cake and an espresso martini.

Rare Society: In homage to the chophouses of yesteryear, Trust Restaurant Group reveals its latest venture. The midcentury glam dining room is sure to please both the meat-and-potatoes crowd plus foodies hoping to discover the next big bite. Chef Brad Wise’s menu encourages mixing and matching proteins and sauces of your choosing, be it the wood-grilled Scottish salmon with market veggie butter or Australian wagyu tri-tip with bearnaise. Don’t miss the cocktail menu curated by Frank McGrath (because it wouldn’t be a swanky steakhouse experience without a stiff drink). 4130 Park Blvd., 619.501.6404

Photography by: Dinner With a View photo courtesy of brand; ENCLAVE photo by Lucianna McIntosh Photography, Harumama photo courtesy of brand; NIMA cafe photo by Chris Rov Costa, Rare Society photo by Haley Hill