BY Kai Oliver-Kurtin | June 24, 2019 | Food & Drink
From top: A dish from Hidden Fish's daily tasting menu; El Jardín's bar bears Mexican influence; Jeune et Jolie’s design aesthetic is Parisian chic and features modern artwork like this piece by Carla Cascales Alimbau; Chef Angelo Sosa’s mouthwatering Spanish octopus.
1 Hidden Fish
THE BOTTLE A house favorite, Pure Dawn sake is dry with subtle floral notes.
THE BESTSELLER Reservations for the 90-minute omakase meal are booked a month out.
THE AMBIANCE This wooden, minimalist sushi bar is limited to 13 exclusive seats.
MUST ORDER Bluefin tuna is marinated in house soy sauce for a satisfying bite.
WHY WE LIKE IT This intimate dining experience restricts one sushi chef to every four guests.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS O-toro is a fatty part of tuna belly considered the best cut.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM Catch sushi chefs in action while searing nigiri with a blowtorch.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Reviewed by The New York Times, this is San Diego’s first omakase-only sushi restaurant. 4764 Convoy St., Ste. A, San Diego, 858.210.5056
2 El Jardín
THE COCKTAIL Named after a telenovela, Maria Mercedes has a dramatic Asian pear tepache.
THE BESTSELLER Maguey and avocado leaves add unique aromatics to braised lamb barbacoa.
THE AMBIANCE Painted bull skulls and Mexican textiles dot the dining space.
MUST ORDER Fideo seco is a dish found in every abuelita’s kitchen across Mexico.
WHY WE LIKE IT Delicious new dishes are rolled out frequently to keep the menu fresh.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS Whole sea bass zarandeado conjures memories of Mexican summers over a wood grill.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM The garden fresh El Jardín salad with burrata
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Coverage in The New York Times and Travel + Leisure raised its national profile. 2885 Perry Road., San Diego, 619.795.2322
3 Jeune et Jolie
THE COCKTAIL Get a taste of the French West Indies in the Martinique rum cocktail.
THE BESTSELLER Scallops are seared to perfection and served with a nutty white wine sauce.
THE AMBIANCE Pink velvet booths add to the French bistro’s artfully feminine, chic vibe.
MUST ORDER Soft milk bread and a crusty baguette are irresistible with Normandy butter.
WHY WE LIKE IT French cuisine gets a modern makeover with California influences.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS Frog legs served bone-in as lollipops
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM Ornate wafers and crimson beets make for a picture- perfect plate.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE A stellar reputation was established with its sister restaurant, Campfire. 2659 State St., Carlsbad, 760.637.5266
4 Death by Tequila
THE COCKTAIL The Los Muertos margarita has a black hue from chile ash.
THE BESTSELLER Coconut-kaffir lime broth adds bold flavor to the Hawaiian ahi crudo.
THE AMBIANCE Cheeky artwork and natural light bring this modern cantina to life.
MUST ORDER Velvety tequila flan pairs perfectly with the grated manchego cheese
WHY WE LIKE IT Locally sourced ingredients are used at peak.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS The crunchy elote tostada with garlic crema is elevated street corn.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM A halo of chimichurri and veggies artfully brightens the sirloin plate.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars alum Angelo Sosa ups the ante on Baja cuisine. 569 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, 760.782.2240
From top: Javier’s dramatic bar area; the Winery incorporates the winemaking process into the decor; a trio of delectable dishes from Vistal's chef Amy DiBiase.
THE COCKTAIL Javier’s piña margarita raises the bar with chunks of fresh pineapple.
THE BESTSELLER Pescado del dia changes seasonally, but halibut and Chilean sea bass are favorites.
THE AMBIANCE An extravagant resort design is marked by 750 opulent candles.
MUST ORDER Pastel tres leches with a trinity of milk soaked into moist cake
WHY WE LIKE IT The grandiose design is a paradise escape found within Westfield UTC.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS A chipotle cream sauce ups the decadence of prime center cut filete antiguo.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM Hundreds of rope strands create a stunning canopy design atop the main bar.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Flavors from diverse regions of Mexico are baked into this upscale menu. 4301 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. 1000, La Jolla, 858.200.2222
6 The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
THE BOTTLE The Boyz is a Rhone-style red wine blend created by the restaurant's three partners.
THE BESTSELLER The zinfandel-braised, bone-in angus beef short ribs.
THE AMBIANCE A 1,000-wine bottle display visible from the dining room provides ample pairing options.
MUST ORDER Vino paired with a charcuterie and artisanal cheese board.
WHY WE LIKE IT Wine-pairing dinners comes easy with a selection of 450 labels.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS YG’s Alsatian pizza has a classic French preparation taught by chef Yvon Goetz’s grandmother.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM The chilled, bountiful seafood tower.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Not just for sipping—wine is included in the preparation of many dishes. 4301 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. 2040, La Jolla, 858.230.7404
THE COCKTAIL Chicory-infused ramazzotti produces woodsy flavor in the chef’s choice whiskey cocktail.
THE BESTSELLER Crispy-skin local fish with lobster-coconut broth.
THE AMBIANCE Floor-to-ceiling windows and coastal accents fill the InterContinental’s hotel restaurant.
MUST ORDER Lavender-honey glazed pork cheeks have a tenderness level that’s off the charts.
WHY WE LIKE IT Vacation vibes are strong during sunset happy hour.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS Her yearslong idea for a pickled fish dish was realized with the pickled black cod.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM Spend golden hour on the patio for panoramic views of the bay.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Vistal is led by culinary powerhouse Amy DiBiase. 901 Bayfront Court, Ste. 1, San Diego, 619.535.0485
From top: Tahona’s signature avo tropical cocktail; the dining room at Cesarina is reminiscent of a classic Italian trattoria; Fort Oak's showshopping charred caulilini.
THE COCKTAIL Mezcal in The Oaxacan Firing Squad packs a smoky punch.
THE BESTSELLER Camarones a la diabla taco with Oaxacan cheese and fresh shrimp is a contemporary surf taco.
THE AMBIANCE Spanish archways lead to a lively mezcal tasting room.
MUST ORDER Mole flights deliver a trio of negro, verde and coloradito sauces on a potato flauta.
WHY WE LIKE IT Stocking more than 140 types of mezcal, Tahona also handpresses each tortilla.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS Discerning diners opt for the savory Barbacoa sopesitos.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM Mezcal flights are served in brightly colored ceramic copitas.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Tijuana-raised chef Adrian Villareal Mora’s résumé includes training under world-renowned chefs. 2414 San Diego Ave., San Diego, 619.255.2090
THE BOTTLE Bold Banfi Stilnovo Super Tuscan stands up to rich meat and spicy sauces.
THE BESTSELLER Braised four to six hours, pappardelle short ribs are tender perfection.
THE AMBIANCE The charming outdoor patio provides major curb appeal.
MUST ORDER Creamy burrata richens the pesto alla Genovese; pair with any pasta.
WHY WE LIKE IT Fresh pasta is made from scratch daily in Cesarina’s pastificio, as seen from the dining room.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS Bucatini alla amatriciana, a Roman specialty, never disappoints.
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM A wall lined with jars of preserved fruits and veggies provides a fresh take on decor.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE A create-your-own pasta option offers a seemingly endless menu selection. 4161 Voltaire St., Point Loma, 619.226.6222
10 Fort Oak
THE COCKTAIL The Fairlane delivers a refreshing kick with gin, grapefruit, lemon, elderflower and prosecco.
THE BESTSELLER Known for grilled veggies, the charred caulilini is a standout.
THE AMBIANCE Standalone dining rooms are separated by a patio and bar to create four distinct spaces.
MUST ORDER Shaved truffle adds umami flavor to goat’s milk cavatelli.
WHY WE LIKE IT An exhibition kitchen gives 14 diners a bird’s-eye view of the action.
WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS Coppa ham, raclette cheese and pickles on rye
WHAT TO INSTAGRAM The chocolatey Gianduja tart with banana ice cream is sculptural pastry art.
WHY FOODIES FLOCK HERE Fort Oak continues a tradition of open-fire cooking started by sister restaurant, Trust. 1011 Fort Stockton Drive, San Diego, 619.722.3398
Photography Courtesy Of: 1. crave imagery 2. tim melideo 3. kylle sebree 4. james tran; Carla Cascales Alimbau painting available at tappancollective.com photo 5. by snaptaste 6. courtesy of the winery restaurant & wine bar 7. courtesy of intercontinental san diego cphotos by 8. dalila ercolani 9. swell creative 10. jim sullivan