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Five New Restaurants to Try Right Now

Notable openings in North Park, Pacific Beach, and Kearny Mesa

Second Nature

Vegan and Vegetarian Eats in Pacific Beach

Cass Street’s new Second Nature is an all-day eatery serving everything from espresso drinks to craft beer and a menu primarily focused on vegan and vegetarian dishes — from Beyond Meat burgers to jackfruit barbecue sandwiches and cauliflower tacos — although eggs can be added to some breakfast and brunch items. The restaurant, which has a spacious outdoor patio, offers a weekday happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. featuring $5 draft beer and appetizers and $2 off wine. There are also specials, ranging from half-off starters and flatbreads on Monday nights to $10 bottles of sparkling wine on weekends.

No-Frills Pizza and Diner Food in North Park

The Friendly replaces an old-school pizza parlor with a similarly low-key neighborhood spot that’s still centered around pizza, by the slice or as whole pies; This Little Piggy features four different meats while the Becky is a white pizza with mushrooms and ricotta. Though its basic $5 burger is already an industry favorite, the kitchen also turns out specials ranging from foie gras and quail egg-topped burgers to fried oyster sandwiches, plus collaboration dishes created in partnership with popular chefs and other local eateries.

Spicy Hot Pot in Kearny Mesa

San Diego has been inundated with cook-it-yourself Chinese hot pot spots, but Convoy newcomer Shu Dao seems to be a cut above. Specializing in Szechuan-style hot pot, the restaurant features a spicy broth that is authentically fiery and tongue-numbing; order it in combination with the mild bone broth for balance. Another bonus: the clean and well-organized sauce station stocked with traditional hot pot condiments and garnishes as well as free desserts.

Nose-to-Tail Skewered Meats on Convoy

Focus BBQ, which has two locations in the Los Angeles area, has arrived in Kearny Mesa. Open six days a week until 3 a.m., it’s all about beer and Chinese barbecue, although the menu also features some signature dishes from Northeastern China, including pork and sour cabbage stew and cumin-spiced chicken bones. Grilled skewers are the strong suit here; nearly every part of a chicken, including the neck, butt, gizzard head, and heart, is offered, as well as other delicacies such as sheep testicles, pork skin, and beef tendon.

Smoked Meat in the College Area

Eater readers are sounding hopeful about the newest addition to the barbecue scene, Rolando’s Union Smokehouse BBQ. The casual eatery has a well-priced, straightforward menu of sandwiches and plates featuring meat smoked on local white oak. The prime brisket is proving to be popular, as well as pulled pork and chicken wings, which are rubbed, smoked, and flash fried and available with a variety of sauces.