06 . 28 . 17

9 Most Exciting New Restaurants in San Diego

The main draw to Carmel Valley’s latest hot spot is assorted preparations of raw fish (ceviche, tartar, carpaccio and sashimi) accompanied by a trio of signature dipping sauces—kumquat ginger with cilantro and olive oil; five-spice harissa; and aged balsamic with soy sauce and spices. But Crudo by Pascal Lorange also presents stellar cooked dishes, like seafood paella, coconut Chilean sea bass and branzino a la plancha. In his first solo venture, revered Belgian-born Lorange (former executive chef of the nationally acclaimed Fig & Olive restaurants) offers an Asian-inspired coastal Mediterranean menu that’s largely gluten-free. 5965 Village Way, Carmel Valley, 858.847.2797

Chef Roy Elam’s new plant-based comfort food restaurant, named Donna Jean in loving memory of his mother, delights vegans, carnivores and everyone in between. Located on the border of Hillcrest and Bankers Hill, adjacent to Balboa Park, the 1,200-square-foot space seats 110 diners at tables indoors and on the spacious patio. On the vegan menu, Nashville Hot Shrooms—breaded mushrooms with sourdough, pickles and hot sauce. The black-eyed pea burger is a dead-ringer for the real deal, with pickled radish, chipotle aioli and lettuce. For liquid refreshment, there’s kombucha, cider, sake-based cocktails and local craft beers. To your health! 2949 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, 619.299.5500


Tapas fans in San Diego have a new go-to place to share cocktails or wine and finger foods with their amigos. César, the SoCal iteration of the beloved Berkeley original from Terumi and Richard Mazzera, serves an ever-changing selection of tapas featuring California vegetables, meat, seafood and poultry; paella simmered in lobster broth and jampacked with mussels, clams, shrimp, chorizo and chicken wings (it rivals anything you’ll find in Valencia, Spain); and California-inspired Spanish entrees like crispy pork belly with moors spice. Dessert options include homemade date and almond ice cream. Buen apetito16089 San Dieguito Road, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.771.1313

The most exciting hotel to open this year in San Diego, the Pendry San Diego is an appropriately trendy locale for Lionfish, one of the city’s hippest high-profile restaurants (and the largest of six new dining and lounge venues in the hotel). In an elegant, airy two-floor dining room, chef Jojo Ruiz (formerly of Ironside Fish & Oyster) relies on seasonal, sustainable local ingredients—freshly caught fish, prime meats and just-picked produce—for his modern coastal cuisine, everything from small plates to entrees to craft cocktails. Favorites include inventive sushi rolls, butter-poached king crab legs, lobster carpaccio and seared diver scallops. 435 Fifth Ave., downtown S.D., 619.738.7200

Offering locally sourced farm-to-table fare, Seasons Restaurant recently opened at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara. This is pure California cuisine, which means plenty of vegetables, seafood and sustainably raised meats. You can enjoy your meal—perhaps crispy striped bass with wax beans and tomato—in the main dining room, where dinner is enhanced by pool views, or at the Kitchen Counter. But for the most thrilling dining experience, reserve a seat at the chef’s table, set up in the midst of all the action in the kitchen—and give your compliments directly to the maestro. 7210 Blue Heron Place, Carlsbad, 760.814.8677

Chef David Warner is at the helm of recently opened Decoy Dockside Dining, a three-in-one concept within the Lakehouse Hotel & Resort, nestled between picturesque rolling hills and tranquil Lake San Marcos. Downstairs is a casual bar with a crackling fireplace; upstairs is fine dining; outside is a nautical-themed lounge. The new American menu, inspired by the great outdoors, features cast-iron corn bread, lamb and quinoa meatballs, venison chops, Maine lobster and other fresh takes on classics. Bonus: Decoy offers complimentary boat rides around Lake San Marcos, Fridays to Sundays. 1035 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos, 844.809.3847

The latest addition to Tracy Borkum’s Urban Kitchen Group’s collective of California-inspired Italian restaurants, cucina SORELLA opened on Kensington's restaurant row to instant adulation, especially for its fresh, homemade pastas. Begin with a primi course, perhaps crispy fried squash blossoms stuffed with herbed ricotta. Then move on to one of chef David Wolinsky's perfect pastas, like gnocchetti Sardi (with sausage, broccoli rabe and cherry tomatoes). Original cocktails and a killer chicken fra diavolo with polenta round out the carbohydrate-heavy menu and make this location a singular sensation. 4055 Adams Ave., Kensington, 619.281.4014

One of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year, French master chef Patrick Ponsaty’s elegant namesake fine dining spot offers classic Basque cuisine of France and Spain, composed of locally sourced ingredients. The setting—including two patios, a clubby bar and an elegant main dining room—is opulent, intimate and comfortable. Dinner must begin with caviar service—1 ounce of Royal Shassetra Caviar—paired with crisp Champagne. A curated list of fine wines features some excellent French options, while standout dishes include charred local octopus with chorizo and pan-seared king filet with wild mushrooms and bone marrow sauce. 6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.771.1871

Many of the dishes at Curadero, a coastal Mexican restaurant newly opened in the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, are meant for sharing with friends over inventive margaritas, craft beer and assorted concoctions made with mezcal, agave and tequila. Against a mural of medicine men and beasts around a blazing bonfire, diners are served bold food prepared to cure hunger, a hangover or whatever ails them. Chef Brad Kraten skillfully dresses up Mexican street food: handmade corn tortillas, crab and shrimp flautas, braised short rib tacos. Revelers can also belly up to an expansive crudo bar to indulge in fresh oysters, clams, aguachiles, tiraditos and ceviches. 1047 Fifth Ave., downtown S.D., 619.515.3003


By Editiors at Modern Luxury

Photo by Lyudmila Zotova