Spring should be delicious in San Diego, with a number of high-profile openings scheduled to roll out in April and May. Here are the restaurants to get excited about this season:
Bracero Cocina de Raiz
Where: 1490 Kettner Boulevard
What: The second San Diego restaurant from chef Javier Plascencia, who has Bonita's Romesco and several acclaimed spots, including Mision 19 and Finca Altozano in Mexico, Bracero will have two levels of Baja-inspired dining and a design by Bells & Whistles (Starlite, Sycamore Den). The casual street level will hold a fresh tortilla and taco station as well as a ceviche bar while upstairs, a Caja China-fueled open kitchen will feed a more upscale dining room. Expect a beverage program that highlights Mexican wines and craft spirits.
Where: 535 Fifth Avenue
What: RMD Group and Ken Lovi of The Knotty Barrel, who opened Don Chido last June, are slotting in another concept next door that will also feature the cooking prowess of executive chef Antonio Friscia. This time around, it's "rustic American cuisine" focusing on locally-sourced meats, produce and seafood and a craft cocktail program from consulting bartender Garth Flood (Cowboy Star). Davis Ink Ltd. (AD Nightclub) is designing the Gaslamp restaurant, which includes a street level patio and dining room and a life-size animal topiary bush-decorated, 2,500 square-feet rooftop space that will serve food and have its own bar.
Soda & Swine
Where: 2750 Dewey Road
What: Another edition of CH Projects' popular meatball concept is headed to Liberty Station, with an expanded menu, an in-house bakery and retail pie shop. The space will include an indoor and outdoor bar, custom design elements from Paul Basile and a cocktail program based around variations on the classic Negroni.
Sovereign Kitchen + Bar
Where: 467 5th Avenue
What: Restaurateur Alex Thao (Lucky Liu's, Rama) is behind this new concept that will feature a menu by Michael 'Bao' Huynh, a Michelin-awarded chef who was featured on Iron Chef Vietnam. His food will range from traditional Vietnamese cuisine to new dishes inspired by Southern California ingredients.
Where: 142 University Avenue
What: A taste of Montreal is headed to Hillcrest, where a transplant from Eastern Canada will serve up the region's specialties, from authentic poutine offered with a variety of toppings and real-deal Montreal-style bagels. The comfort food menu also includes grilled cheese, bacon on a stick and pulled pork sandwiches.
Park & Rec
Where: 4612 Park Boulevard
What: Waypoint Public owner John Pani is working on a concept that fill the former Bourbon Street site with a game-filled outdoor courtyard surrounded by cocktail bungalows that will feature live music and entertainment in the space. Powerhouse cocktail duo Anthony Schmidt and Trevor Easter of Revelry Cocktail Co. will ably oversee the drink program and a food component will be included in the adjacent space that was once Lei Lounge.
Quad Ale House
Where: 868 Fifth Avenue
What: While the owners of Gaslamp Tavern give their sports bar a refresh, they're adding an all-new 5,000-square-foot restaurant above the space that promises to be the Gaslamp's most dedicated craft beer destination. The Brew Project's Beau Schmitt is curating the 28-taps while chef Brandon Brooks develops a menu of sandwiches filled with house-cooked meats, salads and small plates.
Where: 3375 Adams Avenue
What: The Sycamore Den team is building out a new eatery in Normal Heights that will serve craft beer and wine, plus a menu from chef Lhasa Landry that centers around globally-inspired meat-based sandwiches and also offers takeout items and healthy choices for kids.
Looking like summer or beyond: The new Liberty Station restaurant from The Patio Restaurant Group, the market/restaurant from Brian Malarkey that's headed to Little Italy, Richard Blais' new concept The Crack Shack and Harbor Island's Coastera from the Cohn Restaurant Group.