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San Diego’s Most Beautiful Restaurants of 2017

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Vibes are at a premium in these 10 establishments

Cloak & Petal
Walter Wilson Studios

A good restaurant fills a variety of needs. Yes, the food needs to taste delicious and be prepared well. Service should be thorough, warm and gracious, yet not too overbearing. Sometimes overlooked in favor of the other two criteria is design, which is essential for setting the right vibe. Bad design can kill a restaurant—rough lighting, uncomfortable seating, tacky decor and a lack of cohesive vision could turn an otherwise enjoyable spot into a place diners don’t feel compelled to return to.

San Diego has produced not only a bevy of new restaurants over the last year, but some truly beautiful spaces to boot. And much of what’s new and beautiful in San Diego can be attributed to the creativity flowing through the city right now. Here are the 10 most beautiful restaurants of 2017.

Provisional Kitchen, Cafe & Mercantile

Jim Sullivan

Address: 425 5th Avenue, Gaslamp, San Diego

Opened: January 2017

The look: Bright, functional, aspirational and minimalist—the design team at the now year-old Pendry Hotel perfectly displays the urbane sophistication that a flagship downtown hotel should exemplify.

Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

Jim Sullivan

Address: 425 5th Avenue, Gaslamp, San Diego

Opened: January 2017

The look: If Ron Burgundy lived in San Diego today, this is where he’d hang out—and we mean that in the best of ways. The modern interior is decked out in rich textures like wood, copper, leather, glass and other elements that blend to create the perfect nighttime complement to the smartly designed casual restaurant, Provisional, that is also on this list.

Born & Raised

Heartwork Hill

Address: 1909 India Street, Little Italy, San Diego

Opened: October 2017

The look: Is there anyone in town who hasn’t heard of Born & Raised $6.5 million build out? The gilded, nouveau art-deco wonderland is a feast for the eyes with gold accents, tufted leather, checkered floors, marble and more wood than a country club in New England, albeit in a fresh way. Over-the-top but stylish is the name of the game here, as befitting other Consortium Holdings establishments.

Holy Matcha

Holy Matcha

Address: 3118 University Avenue, North Park, San Diego

Opened: March 2017

The look: Made-for-Instagram Holy Matcha is a cafe in North Park serving—surprise!—matcha and other buzzy wellness drinks and snacks. The name of the game here is (millennial?) pink with smart green accents, many of the tropical and neon kind.

Viewpoint Brewing Co.

Courtesy photo

Address: 2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar

Opened: July 2017

The look: Turning the classic brewery experience on its head, Viewpoint Brewing Co.’s expansive indoor/outdoor space offers pristine views of the San Dieguito Lagoon from all vantage points, also giving way to the racetrack, which is around the corner. Designed by Meghan Koll, the space draws from its origins as a warehouse and creative studio, with raw, industrial details giving way to warmer accents that connect with the surrounding natural beauty.

Cloak & Petal

Courtesy photo

Address: 1953 India Street, Little Italy, San Diego

Opened: December 2017

The look: This brand new Japanese small plates and cocktails spot slid in just under the wire to be one of the most beautiful openings of 2017. The space calls upon an abandoned Tokyo subway station, and as such, is decked out with a giant cherry blossom tree, glazed brick and subway tiles and graphic large-scale installations by artist Shane Bowden.

Minou

Heartwork Hill

Address: 721 8th Avenue, East Village, San Diego

Opened: November 2017

The look: When thinking about Minou, just two words come to mind that say it all: Parisian Cafe. New from the owners of Cafe Chloe, this crepe-oriented cafe calls to mind all of the subtlety and charm of a small outpost in France.

Cutwater Spirits

Heartwork Hill

Address: 9750 Distribution Avenue, Miramar, San Diego

Opened: May 2017

The look: Cutwater Spirits’ large, modern distilling facility is also decked out with a sleek bar and restaurant area, giving new life to the industrial distilling experience. Fashioned by Robinson Brown Design Inc, it spans a large patio, dining room, fireplace-heated lounge and central bar with a 220-person capacity and includes a gleaming, 40-foot continuous column still as its centerpiece.

The Grass Skirt

Jim Sullivan

Address: 910 Grand Avenue, Pacific BeachSan Diego

Opened: October 2016

The look: Eternal sunset—that’s what SDCM head honcho Matt Spencer calls the inspiration for this speakeasy tiki bar and restaurant. Since this opening came at the end of 2016, it was decided that much of its tropical impact occurred during 2017. Giant tiki figures, dark lighting, plenty of bamboo, ample booth seating and clandestine corners provide a variety of ways to forget about real life and check out to the South Pacific for a few hours.

Caché

Heartwork Hill

Address: 1027 University Avenue, Hillcrest, San Diego

Opened: June 2017

The look: Calling upon a 19th century Parisian salon, it’s a speakeasy hidden behind Tacos Libertad and accessed via a faux door disguised as a commercial restaurant walk-in freezer. With the interior designed by Philippe Beltran, the sophisticated and intimate cocktail den is a hidden world detailed with vintage chandeliers that hang from white-washed exposed beams, a bright Toulouse Lautrec-era hand painted mural, antique velum document-lined walls, plush furnishings and living trees.

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