It’s finally Friday, which means it’s almost time to clock-off and get those weekend vibes started. No plans yet? No problem! Eater's here with a handy set of recommendations to assist in your dining destination decision-making. In this new regular feature, we'll help you discover recently-opened restaurants and uncover new-to-you bar and eateries specializing in everything from Friday happy hour cocktails all the way through to Sunday brunch, so you can make the most of that well-earned downtime.
Luxe Latin Seafood: Sirena Gourmet
Executive chef Jaime Chavez’ Latin-style take on locally sourced seafood and picture-perfect plates have garnered this upscale eatery plenty of fans since its debut late last year. A little off the beaten track in Little Italy, expect a menu influenced by South American cuisines (Peruvian, Chilean) and dishes that resemble architectural works of art – namely the angelmo oysters dressed with salmon caviar, chimichurri and ice plants, and the grilled octopus entrée. Don’t miss Sirena’s lauded Latin Nights dinner series on the third Sunday of every month, where a renowned Latin guest chef prepares a six-course meal ($70) with optional wine pairings ($15). A larger-scale version of the event is in the works for November when the restaurant will celebrate its one year anniversary. 1901 Columbia Street. (619) 564-8970
[photo: Mike Newton]
Upscale SoCal Casual: Un Mundo Mexican Grill
For Mexican fare, SoCal style, chef Jim Phillips’ cool new concept in the UTC area does not disappoint. From build-your-own burritos to the signature bowls, tacos and salads, all dishes are made using locally-sourced ingredients from purveyors including Suzie’s Farm and Specialty Produce. The SoCal burrito, with its chili-lime marinated steak, french fries, sliced avocado, cotija cheese, lime cilantro rice and creamy chipotle sauce, is fast becoming an Un Mundo menu staple. Order via personalized menu cards at the counter, take a seat and enjoy one of the their signature agave-wine margaritas or a draft beer while you wait. 4150 Regents Park Row #170. (858) 412-6509
[photo: Zack Benson]
Bourdain Approved Bites: Myung In Dumplings
The San Diego dumpling scene was buzzing after the arrival of the popular LA-based mini-chain (and Anthony Bourdain sanctioned eats) in Kearny Mesa earlier this spring. The simple, wallet-friendly menu (prices range from $9-$12) specializes in handmade Chinese-Korean dumplings, where standouts include the big, fluffy and delicious signature No.1 King Steam Dumpling with pork and kimchi. The No.4 Shao Mai (a small steamed dumpling with pork and shrimp) is another popular choice. All orders are accompanied by assorted banchan – free side dishes filled with kimchi, pickled daikon and cucumbers. Make sure to come hungry, the generously proportioned pockets of goodness come in servings of either four, six, eight and ten. 4344 Convoy Street.
Pescatarian Thai: Chi Extraordinary Kitchen
Pimwara Thongchua’s third local Thai-inspired eatery has garnered rave reviews since opening this July, with one Yelper calling it an "excellent addition to the growing collection of must-try Adams Avenue/Antique Row restaurants." Petite but perfectly formed, here you will find high quality and fantastically flavored dishes on the pescatarian and vegan-friendly focused menu. Catering to both lunch time and dinner crowds, take your pick from head chef Siram Ngamkiree's selection of soups, curries, noodles and sautéed entrées. Or try some Miang Kham - an authentic Thai hors d'oeuvre made with freshly grilled shrimp, rich toasted coconut, crunchy peanuts, zest of lime, ginger, shallots, and sweet and tangy tamarind sauce. 2789 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights. (619) 795-9999
Self-Service Craft Brews: Barrel Republic
The recent North County expansion of David Pike’s "craft-beer paradise" opened doors (and taps) in Oceanside last month. The laid-back spot offers a rotating selection of self-serve beers from Alaskan Brewing Company, Belching Beaver, Golden Road, Mammoth Brewing Company, Pizza Port, Rip Current and Oskar Blues Brewery, among others. Guests are allocated a wristband allowing them to pour anything from a tiny taste to a whole pint; for those who prefer other tipples, wine, cider, mead and kombucha is also available. The all-day food menu, which has received rave reviews, features a selection of homemade pub grub including burgers, sandwiches, assorted flatbreads and bar-friendly bites like bacon popcorn and wasabi-dusted potato chips. 215 N. Coast Highway. (760) 435-0042