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The 3 San Diego Restaurants With Major Updates

By Claire Harper | December 30, 2019 | Food & Drink

Winter welcomes noteworthy changes for these dining hot spots.


The Nolen, owned by Azul Hospitality Group, recently underwent a design, menu and total experience revamp, and the results are next-level. The redesign comes courtesy of San Diego-based Basile Studio, and the 2,100-square-foot space, perched on the 14th floor of the Courtyard San Diego Gaslamp hotel, features an upscale, art deco style boasting an open flow and feel. Locals can now sit in coveted spots alongside the expansive walls for unobstructed skyline and waterfront views. In addition to new custom furniture, a reimagined central fire table and a Foucault pendulum adorned with brass and stone inlays, the rooftop bar also launched updated cocktail and light bite menus. Try the Northern Harvest, made with house-infused vanilla vodka, pear brandy and spiked pear liqueur; or the Masaya, prepared with reposada tequila, habanero honey, yellow Chartreuse and pamplemousse liqueur, for a creative, decadent libation. We know where we’ll be indulging next Friday—cheers! 453 Sixth Ave., 619.796.6536avant.jpg

If you missed AVANT’s new AVANT Garde dining experience this fall, you’ll be pleased to know it’s gearing up for a return come February. The progressive 10-course tasting menu curated weekly by chef de cuisine Christopher Gentile features his modern, technique-driven dishes, into which he incorporates fresh, garden-grown produce. Welcoming up to 12 diners, the unique experience showcases new dishes, crafted each Wednesday by chef Gentile and his sous-chef, Sergio Jimenez, and includes a wine pairing. Unique meals like the poached turbot covered in pomegranate, pineapple sage and pomegranate broth highlight the fresh flavors from the on-site garden, which are accompanied by ingredients from other local farms. “We use ingredients from several local farms throughout our menu,” says the 14-year industry vet. “I’m a huge fan of anything grown at Weiser Family Farms.” Whether or not you’ve tried this one-of-a-kind dining series, be sure to book your reservation soon for a dinner you won’t soon forget. Happy feasting. $149 per person, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, 888.281.7938


If you’ve been on the hunt for the latest in San Diego’s culinary scene, Water Grill’s new sushi program is just that. For the first time in 30 years, the famed eatery has added sushi back to its menu—permanently. Rotating seasonally, the menu features a mix of traditional—think garden roll and king salmon roll—and modern—like the smoked hamachi nachos—but you can rest assured, it’s all equally delicious and fresh, especially with rice made every 30 minutes. Opt for the Honeymoon oyster, which is topped with uni roe, tobiko, ikura and quail egg, for an elevated take on traditional raw seafood. Happy eating! 615 J. St., 619.717.6992

Photography by: Restaurant photo by Haley Hill Photography; courtesy of AVANT; courtesy of Water Grill