The Gaslamp is getting welcome dose of new flavor this Friday, August 3 with the opening of Juan Tequila Bar & Restaurant. In the eatery, which spotlights creative cocktails and regional seafood, the ownership team of Gustavo Giardelli, Jose Dabdoub, Shaker Kan, and Daniel Garibay (El Zarape) have created a snapshot of Baja that brings a different dining and drinking experience to downtown San Diego.
The 2,000-square-foot Fourth Avenue space has been remodeled into an urban, upscale bar and lounge, with leather seats, marble-topped tables and a dramatic concrete bar embedded with sparkling lights.
Consulting chef Melissa Mayer developed Juan Tequila’s menu, which was completed by Craig Jimenez (SuperNatural Sandwiches). Described as Baja meets San Diego, it focuses on Baja’s ocean bounty and Southern California produce along with foraged ingredients. There’s a custom made oyster bar, as well as a Spanish-inspired pinxto cart that will serve cheese and charcuterie from Baja as well as small, progressive plates ranging from barely-seared scallop with tomato, lobster laqcuer, epazote, and burnt walnut to ponzu-cured spot prawn with habanero butter, feta milk, cilantro, and guanciale chicarone.
Jimenez and Mayer were part of The Guild, the before-its-time restaurant that had a thrilling two-year run in Barrio Logan, where they worked with Juan Tequila’s original bar manager, Cervantes Magaña, a noted local bartender who tragically passed away in June. Magaña’s influence will be seen in the bar program, now run by Jason Breedlove along with Diana Danalia. Cocktails include the Driftwood, an Old Fashioned variation made with chilli-infused mezcal, Mexican whiskey, cacao, amaro, and peach and the El Zapatero, a tropical riff on a sherry cobbler with tequila, sherry, pineapple, and strawberry.