The neighborhood of Linda Vista is the next location for White Rice, chef Phillip Esteban’s flagship restaurant that began as a vendor at Liberty Public Market and has since grown into the stand-alone White Rice Bodega in Normal Heights and a noodle-focused outpost inside National City’s Market on 8th.
White Rice Morena is scheduled to open on Saturday, July 15, and will operate from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, offering dine-in service as well as takeout and delivery.
As the restaurant brand expands its presence in San Diego, its identity has continued to mature as the chef further explores his Filipino-American heritage through travel and cooking. Calling it “a space of childhood memories and a journey of discovering oneself”, Esteban says that the 2,400-square-foot Linda Vista establishment represents the next stage in White Rice’s evolution.
While its popular silog, or rice bowls, will remain a focal point of the menu, the new spot will also offer ihaw ihaw, or skewers of grilled pork, chicken, fish cakes, and more served with Toyomani barbecue sauce and spiced vinegar for dipping, as well as other dishes that blend the chef’s background and extensive culinary training. Look for smoked cabbage with hazelnuts and aged cheese in a Caesar dressing seasoned with patis, or Filipino fish sauce, and grilled sunchokes in a spicy coconut-based laing sauce with salsa verde and pepitas. Esteban tells Eater that he’s also planning for larger format plates like crispy pata along with events like kamayan, or communal, family-style Filipino feasts. There will also be beer, natural wine, and low abv cocktails.
The chef and Open Gym, his hospitality collective, are concurrently working on Wildflour Delicatessen, a 4,000-square-foot, seafood-focused restaurant, bakery, and cocktail bar coming to Liberty Station later this year.