An East County sushi bar and grill has been transformed into a stylish and modern, 35-seat izakaya, bringing a fresh dining option to La Mesa via a menu that spotlights wagyu beef as well as dishes that mixes Japanese and Mexican flavors and techniques. Izakaya Maize is the first solo restaurant from chef Nate Horton, whose resume includes stops at the Marine Room, Blue Boheme, and Animae. For the past number of years, Horton has been the right hand of Swagyu owner Steve Brown, supporting Brown through his Cosecha pop-ups and his stint at the now Michelin-starred Niku Steakhouse in San Francisco as well as helping to develop the Swagyu brand of restaurants and butcher shops.
Reflecting his Hispanic heritage and extensive experience with wagyu beef, Horton’s rotating and seasonal menu includes opening dishes that range from smashed wagyu sliders with Oaxaca cheese, blue corn masa dumplings with roasted salsa verde, and mushroom karaage to grilled skewers of duck with yuzu mustard and squash al pastor plus Japanese A5, Australian, and U.S. wagyu steaks. An omakase-style tasting is also offered at $90 per person.
As izakayas are defined as bars with food, the restaurant is also focusing on creative cocktails, highlighting Japanese whisky and sake along with mezcal and tequila.