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Bowl of tonkotsu ramen with roast pork and half a hardboiled egg next to a plate of gyoza.
Ramen and gyoza from Silverlake Ramen.
Silverlake Ramen/Facebook

The Hottest New Restaurants in San Diego, October 2021

The city’s newest restaurant discoveries include a Japanese ramen shop and spot for Cantonese cuisine

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Ramen and gyoza from Silverlake Ramen.
| Silverlake Ramen/Facebook

More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? And while the restaurant industry is still being affected by the pandemic, new restaurants continue to persevere and are managing to open their doors to diners eager to get back to dining out.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

Know of a brand new restaurant with a good amount of heat that should be added to the list? Send us a tip!

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Small Barn Old Town

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28535 Old Town Front St
Temecula, CA 92590
(951) 225-2820
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This modern bistro house in a renovated historic building is an extension of a local boutique winery and boasts a menu from popular Top Chef contestant Angelo Sosa, who previously gained acclaim for his work at Death by Tequila in Encinitas.

2. Ember & Rye

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7447 Batiquitos Dr
Carlsbad, CA 92011
(760) 448-1234
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With two weeks of 100 reservations per night booked even before the restaurant officially opened, it’s safe to say that San Diegans are curious about the latest restaurant from celebrity chef and Top Chef veteran Richard Blais. Part of the Park Hyatt Aviara, it’s a steakhouse, of sorts, fueled by a wood-fired grill on the patio, but also houses a tasting bar where chefs plate snacks like white chocolate-covered radishes and caviar with fish-shaped pancakes.

Flower-garnished beef tartare on toast sitting next to a fried egg in a small skillet.
Beef tartare
Ember & Rye

3. Vaga

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2100 N Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 452-3500
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Acclaimed chef Claudette Zepeda’s latest, deeply personal restaurant project is Vaga at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas. Though Zepeda originally gained notice for dishes that explored and celebrated her Mexican heritage, this menu reflects the diversity of food the chef has discovered while living and cooking in her hometown of San Diego such as crispy dan dan pastry and lamb shank in pasilla curry.

A circular pastry filled with seasoned ground meat in a sesame sauce.
Dan Dan pastry at Vaga.
Kimberly Motos

4. Waverly

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2005 San Elijo Ave
Cardiff, CA 92007
(760) 230-1682
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The first North County project for the group behind nighttime hot spots Kettner Exchange and the Grass Skirt, Waverly is a more relaxed restaurant that gives chef Brian Redizkowski the chance to create a daytime-focused menu that includes brunch plates, rice bowls, salads, and sandwiches.

5. The Shop: Pizza + Cocktails

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11967 Bernardo Plaza Dr
San Diego, CA 92128
(858) 524-6565
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A pair of brothers, vets of the San Francisco pizza scene, brought this much-needed dining option to Rancho Bernardo. The family-friendly space, which also serves notable cocktails like a spicy paloma made with tequila, mezcal, grapefruit, and firewater bitters, specializes in deep dish pizzas including the the 858, topped with spinach, ricotta, garlic, mushrooms, red onions, crispy bacon.

Bar and dining area of The Shop in Rancho Bernardo. The Shop

6. Sky Deck

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3790 Townsgate Dr
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 793-5757
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Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s multi-restaurant collective is still filling in, but there’s plenty to eat and drink right now. The Sky Deck spans a beer deck and central craft cocktail bar called Understory, plus other self-contained outposts from local favorites like Ambrogio15 (which introduced new pizzas and other dishes from a Michein-starred chef), KiinThai, and Le Parfait Paris as well as Bay Area transplant Marufuku Ramen.

Milano City of Gold pizza (Burrata, Saffron Bechamel, Breaded Veal Eye of Round Milanese Style, Bone Marrow, Raw Filet Mignon Tartare, Gremolata, 24k Gold Leaf).
Milano City of Gold pizza.
Ambrogio15

7. Eastern Dynasty

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4690 Convoy St #109
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 836-1168
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Convoy Street has a new Chinese restaurant that specializes in Cantonese cuisine with an extensive menu highlighted by barbecue meats, including roast duck and crispy skinned pork as well as fresh, live seafood ranging from whole steamed fish to lobster with ginger and scallion.

Plate of half a roast duck sliced from Eastern Dynasty.
Roast duck.
Candice Woo

8. La Clochette Du Coin

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4680 Cass St
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 412-5558
Visit Website

This European-style cafe’s in-house bakery produces fresh-baked pastries and artisan breads that provide the foundation for an expanded menu that includes tartines, omelettes, salads and more in a charming, open-air atmosphere.

Two croissants garnished with a leaf-shaped cookie at La Clochette Du Coin. La Clochette Du Coin/Facebook

9. Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger - Pacific Beach

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966 Felspar St
San Diego, CA 92109

Chef Steve Brown has landed his wagyu beef butcher shop and burger combo in an expansive space in Pacific Beach. The restaurant and bar also offers brunch and a casual, you-call-it steakhouse experience based on its extensive meat counter.

Large patio filled with chairs and tables with a red sunshade overhead.
Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger
J.Dixx Photography

10. Silverlake Ramen Fashion Valley

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7007 Friars Rd #357B
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 343-2625
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The newest entry to the local ramen scene, located on the edge of the Fashion Valley mall, is a transplant from Los Angeles where Silverlake Ramen is best known for the Blaze, its spicy take on classic tonkotsu ramen as well as an ultra-creamy garlic truffle ramen. Another location is reportedly opening at Westfield UTC.

11. Fortunate Son

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2943 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 391-3766
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CH Projects transformed Soda & Swine on Adams Avenue into a takeout-tailored Chinese American eatery serving up chef Tony Guan’s rendition of classic Americanized Chinese cuisine, including egg foo young, crab rangoon, and General Tso’s chicken.

A dish of pork belly garnished with chopped peppers and cilantro at Fortunate Son. Fortunate Son

12. Menya Ultra Hillcrest

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690 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 782-9060
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Ramen master Takashi Endo’s latest noodle shop is the fresh spot for items like shio tonkotsu ajitama ramen, and Nagoya-style karaage. The Hillcrest location is also the only spot to feature his latest vegan versions of shio and miso ramen.

A bowl of ramen topped with mushrooms, green onions, and carrots at Menya Ultra in Hillcrest.
Vegan shio ramen
Menya Ultra

13. Verbena Kitchen

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3043 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 269-5776
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Veteran local chef Ronnie Schwandt’s first solo restaurant recently added a Sunday-only brunch that includes chilaquiles, shrimp and grits, and a BLT with Canadian bacon as well as early hits from his regular seasonal menu like the deviled eggs and wagyu beef tartare. Sunday drink specials range from white truffle-infused Bloody Mary to a cold brew cocktail spiked with vodka.

A tall creamy cocktail next to a plate of French toast with syrup being poured on top. Verbena Kitchen

14. Hoxton Manor

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3131 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 230-5017
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This North Park newcomer is run by veterans of Oceanside’s Dija Mara, Eater’s restaurant of the year in 2018. While Southeast Asian cuisine is still in the spotlight here, the focus has mostly shifted to Vietnam and Thailand with modern, SoCal sensibilities applied to traditional flavors in dishes like wok-fried tofu with smoked tomato and wild squid fried rice.

A plate of tofu sauteed in a tomato sauce at Hoxton Manor. Hoxton Manor

15. Callie

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1195 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-9696
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The long-awaited solo project from Boulud alum and hometown chef Travis Swikard is the hottest reservation in town, with the East Village restaurant and bar earning early acclaim for its skillful California-Mediterranean cuisine that includes silky dips like hummus and taramosalata, fresh pastas, and dishes that showcase locally-caught seafood.

A table with a glass of wine, sliced baguette and a plate of burrata agnolini topped with zucchini blossoms.
Callie.
Kimberly Motos

16. Sovereign Thai Cuisine

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1460 J St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 310-5837
Visit Website

Located at the edge of Fault Line Park in the East Village, this Asian restaurant brings attention to Issan cuisine, the traditional food of the Thailand’s northeastern region. With partners that include alums of Thai Papaya and Sab-E-Lee, two local Thai standouts, its menu includes lesser-seen dishes like Thai-style fried chicken as well as curries, noodles, and more.

A plate of larb garnished with mint, chilies, and green onions at Sovereign Thai. Sovereign Thai/Facebook

1. Small Barn Old Town

28535 Old Town Front St, Temecula, CA 92590

This modern bistro house in a renovated historic building is an extension of a local boutique winery and boasts a menu from popular Top Chef contestant Angelo Sosa, who previously gained acclaim for his work at Death by Tequila in Encinitas.

28535 Old Town Front St
Temecula, CA 92590

2. Ember & Rye

7447 Batiquitos Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92011
Flower-garnished beef tartare on toast sitting next to a fried egg in a small skillet.
Beef tartare
Ember & Rye

With two weeks of 100 reservations per night booked even before the restaurant officially opened, it’s safe to say that San Diegans are curious about the latest restaurant from celebrity chef and Top Chef veteran Richard Blais. Part of the Park Hyatt Aviara, it’s a steakhouse, of sorts, fueled by a wood-fired grill on the patio, but also houses a tasting bar where chefs plate snacks like white chocolate-covered radishes and caviar with fish-shaped pancakes.

7447 Batiquitos Dr
Carlsbad, CA 92011

3. Vaga

2100 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
A circular pastry filled with seasoned ground meat in a sesame sauce.
Dan Dan pastry at Vaga.
Kimberly Motos

Acclaimed chef Claudette Zepeda’s latest, deeply personal restaurant project is Vaga at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas. Though Zepeda originally gained notice for dishes that explored and celebrated her Mexican heritage, this menu reflects the diversity of food the chef has discovered while living and cooking in her hometown of San Diego such as crispy dan dan pastry and lamb shank in pasilla curry.

2100 N Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024

4. Waverly

2005 San Elijo Ave, Cardiff, CA 92007

The first North County project for the group behind nighttime hot spots Kettner Exchange and the Grass Skirt, Waverly is a more relaxed restaurant that gives chef Brian Redizkowski the chance to create a daytime-focused menu that includes brunch plates, rice bowls, salads, and sandwiches.

2005 San Elijo Ave
Cardiff, CA 92007

5. The Shop: Pizza + Cocktails

11967 Bernardo Plaza Dr, San Diego, CA 92128
Bar and dining area of The Shop in Rancho Bernardo. The Shop

A pair of brothers, vets of the San Francisco pizza scene, brought this much-needed dining option to Rancho Bernardo. The family-friendly space, which also serves notable cocktails like a spicy paloma made with tequila, mezcal, grapefruit, and firewater bitters, specializes in deep dish pizzas including the the 858, topped with spinach, ricotta, garlic, mushrooms, red onions, crispy bacon.

11967 Bernardo Plaza Dr
San Diego, CA 92128

6. Sky Deck

3790 Townsgate Dr, San Diego, CA 92130
Milano City of Gold pizza (Burrata, Saffron Bechamel, Breaded Veal Eye of Round Milanese Style, Bone Marrow, Raw Filet Mignon Tartare, Gremolata, 24k Gold Leaf).
Milano City of Gold pizza.
Ambrogio15

Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s multi-restaurant collective is still filling in, but there’s plenty to eat and drink right now. The Sky Deck spans a beer deck and central craft cocktail bar called Understory, plus other self-contained outposts from local favorites like Ambrogio15 (which introduced new pizzas and other dishes from a Michein-starred chef), KiinThai, and Le Parfait Paris as well as Bay Area transplant Marufuku Ramen.

3790 Townsgate Dr
San Diego, CA 92130

7. Eastern Dynasty

4690 Convoy St #109, San Diego, CA 92111
Plate of half a roast duck sliced from Eastern Dynasty.
Roast duck.
Candice Woo

Convoy Street has a new Chinese restaurant that specializes in Cantonese cuisine with an extensive menu highlighted by barbecue meats, including roast duck and crispy skinned pork as well as fresh, live seafood ranging from whole steamed fish to lobster with ginger and scallion.

4690 Convoy St #109
San Diego, CA 92111

8. La Clochette Du Coin

4680 Cass St, San Diego, CA 92109
Two croissants garnished with a leaf-shaped cookie at La Clochette Du Coin. La Clochette Du Coin/Facebook

This European-style cafe’s in-house bakery produces fresh-baked pastries and artisan breads that provide the foundation for an expanded menu that includes tartines, omelettes, salads and more in a charming, open-air atmosphere.

4680 Cass St
San Diego, CA 92109

9. Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger - Pacific Beach

966 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109
Large patio filled with chairs and tables with a red sunshade overhead.
Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger
J.Dixx Photography

Chef Steve Brown has landed his wagyu beef butcher shop and burger combo in an expansive space in Pacific Beach. The restaurant and bar also offers brunch and a casual, you-call-it steakhouse experience based on its extensive meat counter.

966 Felspar St
San Diego, CA 92109

10. Silverlake Ramen Fashion Valley

7007 Friars Rd #357B, San Diego, CA 92108

The newest entry to the local ramen scene, located on the edge of the Fashion Valley mall, is a transplant from Los Angeles where Silverlake Ramen is best known for the Blaze, its spicy take on classic tonkotsu ramen as well as an ultra-creamy garlic truffle ramen. Another location is reportedly opening at Westfield UTC.

7007 Friars Rd #357B
San Diego, CA 92108

11. Fortunate Son

2943 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
A dish of pork belly garnished with chopped peppers and cilantro at Fortunate Son. Fortunate Son

CH Projects transformed Soda & Swine on Adams Avenue into a takeout-tailored Chinese American eatery serving up chef Tony Guan’s rendition of classic Americanized Chinese cuisine, including egg foo young, crab rangoon, and General Tso’s chicken.

2943 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

12. Menya Ultra Hillcrest

690 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
A bowl of ramen topped with mushrooms, green onions, and carrots at Menya Ultra in Hillcrest.
Vegan shio ramen
Menya Ultra

Ramen master Takashi Endo’s latest noodle shop is the fresh spot for items like shio tonkotsu ajitama ramen, and Nagoya-style karaage. The Hillcrest location is also the only spot to feature his latest vegan versions of shio and miso ramen.

690 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

13. Verbena Kitchen

3043 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
A tall creamy cocktail next to a plate of French toast with syrup being poured on top. Verbena Kitchen

Veteran local chef Ronnie Schwandt’s first solo restaurant recently added a Sunday-only brunch that includes chilaquiles, shrimp and grits, and a BLT with Canadian bacon as well as early hits from his regular seasonal menu like the deviled eggs and wagyu beef tartare. Sunday drink specials range from white truffle-infused Bloody Mary to a cold brew cocktail spiked with vodka.

3043 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

14. Hoxton Manor

3131 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
A plate of tofu sauteed in a tomato sauce at Hoxton Manor. Hoxton Manor

This North Park newcomer is run by veterans of Oceanside’s Dija Mara, Eater’s restaurant of the year in 2018. While Southeast Asian cuisine is still in the spotlight here, the focus has mostly shifted to Vietnam and Thailand with modern, SoCal sensibilities applied to traditional flavors in dishes like wok-fried tofu with smoked tomato and wild squid fried rice.

3131 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

15. Callie

1195 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
A table with a glass of wine, sliced baguette and a plate of burrata agnolini topped with zucchini blossoms.
Callie.
Kimberly Motos

The long-awaited solo project from Boulud alum and hometown chef Travis Swikard is the hottest reservation in town, with the East Village restaurant and bar earning early acclaim for its skillful California-Mediterranean cuisine that includes silky dips like hummus and taramosalata, fresh pastas, and dishes that showcase locally-caught seafood.

1195 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

Related Maps

16. Sovereign Thai Cuisine

1460 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
A plate of larb garnished with mint, chilies, and green onions at Sovereign Thai. Sovereign Thai/Facebook

Located at the edge of Fault Line Park in the East Village, this Asian restaurant brings attention to Issan cuisine, the traditional food of the Thailand’s northeastern region. With partners that include alums of Thai Papaya and Sab-E-Lee, two local Thai standouts, its menu includes lesser-seen dishes like Thai-style fried chicken as well as curries, noodles, and more.

1460 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

Related Maps