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Brian Malarkey Delves Into Baja-Asian Street Food

Catch up on San Diego’s latest openings

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Kimberly Motos

This bi-monthly compilation of noteworthy restaurant openings throughout San Diego covers freshly-minted spots from the South Bay to North County, and from East County to the coast.

February 17, 2020

Wood YuThe Puffer Malarkey Collective’s newest concept opened in the Torrey Ridge Science Center last week. Specializing in Baja-Asian street food, the breakfast and lunch menu spans more traditional fare, including coffee and fresh baked pastries, to playful dishes like poke tostadas, carne asada spring rolls, and bao bun tacos with Korean beef.

Mendocino FarmsThe recently remodeled 26-story building at the corner of First and Broadway is now home to LA-based, fast-casual eatery Mendocino Farms and San Diego’s second Blue Bottle Coffee outpost. 180 Broadway Ste 102, San Diego

The LandingThe Manchester Grand Hyatt recently unveiled the final installment of its multi-million dollar makeover, including new-look lobby bar and lounge, The Landing. Expect modern design updates plus brand new food and beverage options, like build your own Old Fashioneds, specialty cocktails, plus custom charcuterie boards. 1 Market Place, San Diego

Gelato & Friends Small-batch gelatos are made onsite at this new Embarcadero parlor, which opened next door to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse two weeks ago. There are 18 flavors to check out on the menu, including pear and ginger, rocher (milk chocolate, hazelnut, crumbled wafer), and bitter coffee. 901 Bayfront Dr #101, San Diego

The Gluten Free Baking Co.Roanna Canete’s range of gluten-free baked goods ranges from cookies, doughnuts, and muffins to cinnamon rolls, bagels, and breads at this new 385-square-foot storefront in North Park. 4594 30th Street, San Diego

February 3, 2020

The PlotHusband and wife dream team Davin and Jessica Waite (The Whet Noodle, Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub) soft opened their new eco-conscious concept The Plot, in South Oceanside last week. Built around a zero-waste business model, Waite’s plant-based and responsibly sourced menu is dedicated to “keeping things real and local” with dishes like strawberry stem pesto pasta, mushroom aguachile, and a beet reuben, plus artfully presented nigiri sushi with “plenty of attitude.” 1733 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside.

RusticucinaHearty and rustic Italian fare, including housemade pasta, pizza, and flat breads, plus gluten-free and vegan options, all grace the menu at this new Sicilian spot between Hillcrest and Normal Heights. Serving lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch there’s also a weekly aperitivo hour from 3 to 5:30 p.m. 3797 Park Boulevard, San Diego

Temari-Zushi– A solid new option for Japanese food in the Midway District’s Rosecrans Shopping Center. As the name suggests, the specialty here is temari – small pieces of ball-shaped sushi served in set plates of 4, 6, 9 and 12 pieces or a la carte style. Ramen, udon, hand rolls, appetizers, plus beer, wine and sake, also feature 3555 Rosecrans St., San Diego

Canele BakeryCall ahead or come early for the buttery croissants, canelés, cookies, scones, and monkey bread at this new hidden gem French bakery in La Jolla’s UTC area, which opened just over a week ago, but has been quickly selling out. 4130 La Jolla Village Dr #102, La Jolla

Cocina de BarrioThe lunch and dinner menus of regional Mexican mainly spotlights Oaxacan specialties, including three variations of mole and tlayudas topped with queso Oaxaca. The weekday happy hour features a taco cart with hand-pressed tortillas while the bar serves Baja craft beer on tap, and wines from the Valle. 3707 5th Ave, San Diego

January 21, 2020

The Village SDJust opened in the former Anthem Vegan space, this plant-powered spot in North Park is winning fans for its Mexican fare (which spans ceviche, chips and guac, to salads, bowls, and entrees) sushi, and housemade horchata. 2611 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego

Liuyishou HotpotFrom build your own dipping sauces to cooking meals in tabletop pots, the first Southern California branch of this upscale Chinese hot pot chain allows diners to get hands-on making meals and spicy soups. 4690 Convoy St., Suite 105, San Diego

Verde y Crema Back with a swanky new multi-level space in downtown TJ, while a second floor patio and bar, plus third floor dining area have been added, Verde y Crema fans will be happy to know that menu favorites, Baja-produced beers, and Valle wines still remain. Avenida Revolucion and Calle Cuarta, Tijuana

Ramen RyomaNextdoor to Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, this two-story spot is the place for signature Sapporo-style ramen with a miso broth base, plus small izakaya style plates, including takoyaki, gyoza, and chicken karaage. 815 University Avenue, San Diego

BabyCakes Best known for its cupcakes that are available in more 20 flavors, from Bavarian lemon to red velvet, this beloved bakery and dessert shop is back – and better than ever – in its brand new Hillcrest location. 3795 Fourth Ave, San Diego

January 6, 2020

Gaslamp Breakfast CompanyDowntown residents can now feast on classic and new takes on breakfast and brunch dishes - from pancakes and French toast to specialties like fried rice eggs Benedict and a vegan breakfast sandwich - at this latest installment from the Rise and Shine Breakfast Group. 551 J Street, San Diego

Cori PastificioThe first independent restaurant for acclaimed local chef Accursio Lota centers on a daily-made pasta menu that highlights regional shapes and dishes, from Sicilian pistachio pesto to Calabrian chili and cavatelli served with fennel sausage. Gluten-free and vegan options are available, too. 2977 Upas Street, San Diego

Tocaya OrganicaEnjoy modern Mexican salads, tacos, bowls, and burritos that cater to the vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free crowd at this West Hollywood transplant, which boasts a lovely indoor/outdoor bar and fireplace lounge. 3725 Paseo Place, San Diego

Métl Bar & RestaurantAlongside numerous beer taps, a selection of top-shelf agave spirits and whiskeys, plus top-notch cocktails feature at this new bar and restaurant in the Gaslamp. The kitchen stays open until midnight, and there’s live music every Friday and Saturday. 748 5th Avenue, San Diego

Novo Brazil BrewingSouth Bay’s new Brazilian designed brewpub features an indoor-outdoor beer garden, shuffleboard tables, and a kid’s play area. The bar holds 60 taps of mostly beer, plus kombucha and hard seltzer. 2015 Birch Road #1017, Chula Vista

December 16, 2019

Moto DeliBack by popular demand, local entrepreneur Mario Guerra just reopened his Encinitas go-to for superior deli-style sandwiches. Located a stone’s throw from its old location (now home to charming bistro Valentina) stop by Wednesday through Monday for hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and sides. 1076 N. Coast HWY 101, Leucadia

Pacific Coast Spirits— Gin, vodka, brandy, agave spirits, and variations on whiskey that include bourbon and a small-batch single malt, are all being produced at this new craft distillery in Oceanside. There’s a cocktail bar and farm-to-table restaurant here too with a lunch and dinner menu of shareable plates. 404 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside

Ono GrindsFor plates, bowls, and poke made with Hawaiian ingredients and flavors – think nori-wrapped Spam musubi, huli huli chicken, and Kalua pork – head to this just-opened quick-serve eatery at Liberty Public Market. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego

DuO ConfectionsFarmer’s market favorite to brick-and-mortar storefront, this also new addition at Liberty Public Market specializes in popular Hong Kong street snack: bubble waffles pressed fresh to order and filled with rich, creamy gelato. Acai bowls, smoothies, and kombucha on tap also feature. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego

SimSim Outstanding ShwarmaFast-casual Middle Eastern cuisine hits Carmel Mountain thanks to this second installment from chef Ibrahim Alsharief. Alongside perennial fave shawarma, new dishes here include a lamb shish kebob and chicken shish tawook served with grilled vegetables, rice, and fattoush salad. 11640 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego

December 2, 2019

Harumama & Blue Ocean SushiTuck into cute Asian buns and sushi besides the sea at this new powerhouse pairing in La Jolla. Enter through Harumama for noodles and buns or stroll past the glassed-in sushi kitchen for a window seat and superb cove views, nigiri sushi, hot entrees, sake, and more at Blue Ocean Sushi. 1250 Prospect Street, San Diego

The YasaiThe latest from chef Junya Watanabe is a 50-seat restaurant dedicated to vegan sushi and Japanese food. The menu covers nigiri sushi and specialty rolls to small plates and ramen. Beer, wine, and sake are also available. 4646 Convoy Street, San Diego

City TacosThe local eatery debuted its newest outpost in Encinitas two weeks ago. Alongside signature selections, chef/partner Eduardo Baez has added ceviche, tostadas, and a vegetarian rice bowl to the menu here. Lumberyard Shopping Center, Encinitas

Spitfire Tacos & Head LettuceTwo new fast-casual concepts landed at Regents Plaza. Tacos or burritos loaded with spit-roasted meats feature at Spitfire, while Head Lettuce specializes in design-your-own or specialty mixed salads. 4150 Regents Park Row, La Jolla

Esquina Vintage and CoffeeFilter and espresso-based drinks, a cold brew plus traditional Mexican items like pan dulce, all grace the menu at this new coffee shop in South Bay that celebrates lowrider and cruising culture. 640 National City Blvd, National City

November 13, 2019

AnimaeWith its rule-bending menu, eye-catching design details, and ridiculously glamorous interior, Animae is a feast for all the senses. Whether sipping cocktails and enjoying a few appetizers at the bar (try the roasted duck bao buns) or splurging on a sit-down meal, this opulent concept from the Puffer Malarkey Collective is hands down the most hot-ticket restaurant reservation in San Diego right now. 969 Pacific Hwy, San Diego

Herb & SeaExpect everything from hamachi crudo and whole branzino to wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas at Brian Malarkey’s modern seafood concept. There’s a solid cocktail and wine list too, plus three local beers on tap. 131 W D Street, Encinitas

Rare SocietyOver in University Heights, Trust Restaurant Group’s Hundred Proof is now Rare Society. The “steakhouse meets shared plates” menu features classic starters like oysters Rockefeller plus a range of meats, including a 10 oz. Australian wagyu tri tip, while the cocktail list is all about modern classics. 4130 Park Boulevard, San Diego

Mikami SushiKaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) fans will love this new restaurant and bar in Kearny Mesa where they can pull plates ($2.80 each) off the conveyor belt or order directly from a tablet installed on the table. 7319 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard

Liberty Public MarketNew additions to the lineup here include boba drink and bao bun concept Bao Bar, Landini’s Pizzeria for New York style pizza by the slice, Latin Chef for Peruvian and Brazilian-style dishes, Korean-Mexican concept BOPJO: Seoul in a Bowl... or Tortilla!, and barbecue outpost The Pig’s Gig. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego

Coin-Op Game RoomCraft cocktails, shared plates, and pizza, not to mention retro arcade games and pinball machines, all feature at Coin-Op Game Room, which recently landed in Old Town Temecula. 28588 Old Town Front Street, #100, Temecula

Mi Pana Latin American CuisineVenezuelan staples (corn flour arepas, fried plantain sandwiches), and Latin American dishes, including Colombian beef steak with pork belly, grace the menu this new eatery in National City. 2241 Highland Avenue, National City

Firebirds ChickenLoad up on fiery fried chicken at this new fast counter-serve restaurant in City Heights. The Big Ol Sandwich is a menu standout and features a boneless fried chicken breast, with coleslaw, pickles, and cheese. 4155 University Avenue, San Diego

PachamamaThis eco-chic fast-casual on the Normal Heights/Kensington border has put a South American spin on its almost entirely vegan and vegetarian menu. Open for dinner, lunch and a weekend brunch are in the works. 3739 Adams Avenue, San Diego

SKA BarAsian influenced cocktails compliment the “Pan Asian meets American bar food” menu (dumplings, duck wings, bulgogi-topped fries) at all-day eatery SKA Bar. Weekend dim sum and brunch cocktails are coming soon. 3250 Adams Avenue, San Diego