Today we announce the seventh annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that truly made an impact in 2016. We recognize San Diego’s best new restaurants, chefs, designers and hospitality groups that have taken the food world by storm. Read on to learn more about this year's best of the best.
Restaurant of the Year
Little Italy’s latest bonafide blockbuster marks a return to the kitchen for chef-about-town Brian Malarkey. Together with business partner Chris Puffer, Malarkey has crafted a stylish yet serious culinary showpiece — wholly separate from his multiplying "Fabric of Social Dining" concepts — that many in the industry are calling his best restaurant offering to-date. In combination with Herb & Eatery, its casual counterpart, Herb & Wood has established an impressive footprint in a neighborhood brimming with restaurant standouts.
Chef of the Year
The frequently-brash Malarkey has experienced more than his fair share of restaurant-related wins and losses in the near-decade since he was first in the ‘Top Chef’ spotlight. This year, the chef finds himself, and his food, more relevant and respected than ever thanks to Herb & Wood and a menu developed with co-chef Shane McIntyre that's both progressive and approachable.
Design of the Year
This South Park looker is a study in contrasts that come together for a stunning whole. Created by BASILE Studio (Ironside, Polite Provisions) and co-owners Paul Basile, Kory Stetina and Arsalun Tafazoli, it was recently given a coveted Orchid award for interior design. Adding to its visual appeal is a plant-based menu that appeals equally to non-vegans and a killer cocktail program.
Herb & Wood
Best Neighborhood Trailblazer
Bringing a much-welcome culinary shot in the arm to Hillcrest’s waning food scene is this first solo project from two industry vets — executive chef Brad Wise and general manager Steven Schwob. The independently-owned restaurant, which has succeeded in gaining the hard-won trust of local diners, is continuing to enchant the neighborhood (and beyond) while giving inspiration to budding restaurateurs.
Restaurant Group of the Year
Established heavyweights in the local hospitality scene, the group — which counts the crowd-drawing Ironside Fish & Oyster and Craft & Commerce among its holdings — spent the year most wisely. With an eye towards sustainability and in preparation for another ambitious year, the collective to watch retooled and refined its existing properties while smartly boosting its culinary team.