As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. We've already covered the 2014's restaurant standbys. Now it's time for best newcomers.
Q: What were your top newcomers of 2014?
Michele Parente, dining and lifestyle reporter, Union-Tribune: Juniper & Ivy, which truly raised the bar and may just finally put San Diego on the national food map. Richard Blais deserves every kudo he has earned. Común Kitchen + Tavern, where Chad White’s extracts more flavor and authenticity from his ingredients than almost anyone else in town. Bottega Americano, not just a place to see and be seen, it’s – finalmente! – a real Italian restaurant.
Michael Gardiner, restaurant critic, San Diego CityBeat: Común Kitchen and Tavern, on the one hand, and Juniper & Ivy, on the other.
Amy T. Granite, food writer, DiscoverSD: San Diego finally got a legit gourmet taco shop with City Tacos in North Park. Somehow, the place manages to keep prices low for extraordinary combinations like Mahi Mahi adobo, and sautéed shrimp in a serrano chile, fluffy egg batter. All tacos are created/priced equal ($3.50) and are well executed every time. It’s not trying to milk some trend, jump on a bandwagon or dumb its menu down to pacify the late night carne fries crowd. It’s my dream to see more super focused, accessible eateries like this in 2015.
Frank Sabatini Jr., restaurant critic, San Diego Community News Network, and contributing writer, Pacific San Diego Magazine: Ironside Fish & Oyster steals the show for shellfish and whole-roasted species. Table No. 10 rocks for its intelligent cocktails and non-copycat dishes such as fried chicken skins, which are tastier and naughtier than potato chips. Warehouse conversions aside, the super-intimate La Bonne Table in Hillcrest swoons with its bone-in pork shanks and non-forced Old World atmosphere.
Omar Passons, eat.drink.give.go.: Hard to say, I don't keep great track of when a restaurant opened. Probably Comun Kitchen followed, on the strength of terrific food and really stellar service, by Juniper & Ivy. .
Caron Golden, San Diego Foodstuff: Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub is just WOW (yeah, I think they opened at the end of 2013, but I met them in January ’14, so they were new to me). I’m so over resistance to driving up to Oceanside because of Davin Waite! The opening of Supernatural Sandwiches on Miramar means we don’t have to wait for a farmers market day. Hurray for Tidal and Amy DiBiase! I still want to learn how to make her chicken liver pate. Soooo smooth! Bottega Americana is just plain fun—a wonderful food emporium. Bless Antonio Friscia for opening Don Chido. Can’t wait for his next delivery! And, I can’t wait to eat again at Sirena in Little Italy. Come for the seafood; stay for the luscious strip steak with chimichurri!
Erin Jackson, city editor, DiningOut San Diego: Juniper & Ivy, Ironside Fish & Oyster, Bottega Americano, Regents Pizzeria, City Taco, and Stella Public House/Halcyon.
Marcie Rothman, FoodBuzzSD: Juniper & Ivy
Barbarella Fokos, contributor, San Diego Reader: Común, Ironside, and Patio on Goldfinch.
Darlene Horn, city editor, Zagat San Diego: Table No. 10, Juniper & Ivy
Troy Johnson, restaurant critic, San Diego Magazine: Ironside and Juniper & Ivy. Two hugely ambitious projects that managed not to fail in the slightest. They both cemented Little Italy as the greatest place for food in San Diego.