Café Gratitude, which serves up gourmet 100 percent, plant-based cuisine, has arrived in San Diego. The popular vegan restaurant has outposts in Downtown L.A., Venice Beach, Santa Cruz, Berkeley and more. Café Gratitude focuses on organic, healthy eats and environmentally friendly products. The menu features dishes like chia seed pudding, gluten-free buckwheat-flax pancakes and Portobello mushroom tostados with cashew queso fresca and avocado. Café Gratitude, 1980 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-736-5077.
Liberty Public Market, the 22,000-square-foot artisan mecca set to open in Point Loma’s Liberty Station, has announced its initial line up of merchants and vendors. The particpiants include family-owned Liberty Meat Shop, The WestBean Coffee Roasters, Fully Loaded Juice, Venissimo Cheese, Southeast Asian street food Pho Realz, Wicked Maine Lobster, MooTime Creamery, Mastiff Sausage, Cane Patch Pies and Cecilia’s Taqueria. The culinary coop opens October 2015. Liberty Public Market, 2816 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego, CA 92106, no phone.
L.A.’s favorite fast-casual eatery for healthy dining is debuting two new locations in San Diego. Lemonade’s Hillcrest location opened in August, and a second outpost will open its doors at Westfield UTC open-air mall in La Jolla. Lemonade’s cuisine focuses on seasonal California comfort food that’s fresh and convenient for people on the go. In addition to salads, veggies, slow-braised meats, toasted sandwiches and more, both La Jolla and Hillcrest locations will feature made-to-order flatbreads like wild mushroom, truffle and Parmesan or heirloom cherry tomato, mozzarella and basil, all baked in an open-flame brick oven. Lemonade, 3958 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103, 619-293-7900.
One of Tijuana's most celebrated chefs, Javier Plascencia, has opened Bracero: Cocina de Raiz on Kettner Boulevard in Little Italy. Named for the 1940s Bracero program, which brought in many Mexican agricultural workers to the U.S., the bi-level eatery allows San Diego diners to savor the famed chef's modern Mexican fare, without crossing the border. The lower level is a casual, no-reservations eatery, while the upper floor offers a more formal dining experience. Plascencia also has Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro in Bonita, in addition to a slew of eateries in Tijuana (Mision 19) and Guadalupe Valley (Finca Altozano). Bracero: Cocina de Raiz, 1490 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-756-7864.
The team from George's at the Cove have launched Galaxy Taco in the former La Jolla Shores Market space. The indoor/outdoor eatery is expected to attract an equal mix of locals and visitors looking for that quintessential San Diego experience of beers, beaches and tacos. The short menu features Baja-inspired foods with local seasonal ingredients, ranging from cold seafood dishes and salads to hot appetizers, family-style entrées and seven varieties of tacos. Galaxy Taco grinds its own corn for these soft-style tacos. Look for a full bar with an excellent selection of tequila and mezcal. Galaxy Taco, 2259 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, 858-228-5655.
SoCal BBQ joint Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill has opened at the Hazard Center in Mission Valley. Executive chef Alex Benes, the "Sultan of Smoke," has created a menu that features hand-cut, certified Angus beef steaks grilled over a live oak fire, as well as slow-roasted and grilled-to-order barbecue chicken, tri tip, St. Louis-style short ribs and baby-back ribs. Among sauces is the chipotle-cherry barbecue sauce. Lunch & dinner daily. Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill, 7510 Hazard Center Dr #215, San Diego, CA 92108, 619-764-4411.
New Craft Cocktail Scene at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant has a new cocktail program under bar manager Kris Rizzato. His scintillating sippers include the Balboa Constrictor, made with white rum, maraschino liqueur, ancho chili liqueur, lemon juice, grapefruit olio and mint; the Stay Classy, crafted with bourbon, cinnamon bark, Averna, allspice dram and black walnut whip; and the Pear Republic, concocted with basil-infused vodka, St. George spiced pear, lemon juice and cane syrup. Rizzato joins the team from Spoonbar inside h2hotel in Healdsburg, Calif. Rizzato plans to elevate the bar program through experimentation with unique ingredients and techniques, including carbonation, house-made foams and infusions to pair with menu items. Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, 2202 4th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-231-0222.
Happy Hour at Galaxy Taco
La Jolla Shores’ new hot spot, Galaxy Taco, has just launched its happy hour. The casual Mexican eatery and patio are the perfect post-beach hangout for drinks and bites like the Baja fried fish tacos with cabbage, pico de gallo, chipotle crema, radish and avocado or the divine lamb barbacoa with onion, tomato-mint salsa and yogurt. Specials include a buck off all tacos and drink deals like their $10 Modelo Especial beer and Cimarron Blanco Tequila shot combo. Happy Hour runs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Galaxy Taco, 2259 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, 858-228-5655.
New Sunset Happy Hour Menu at Humphreys Restaurant
Guests can enjoy a lovely sunset over the bay at Humphreys Restaurant and a three-course meal for $25, Sunday through Thursday evenings from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Start with either root vegetable salad with sherry truffle vinaigrette or wild mushroom soup, and then select from a roster of entrees including red snapper, chicken pot pie, five-cheese ziti, cioppino or English-cut prime rib. Dessert options are chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting or Uncle John’s bread pudding. Wines by the glass are available for $5. Reservations can be made by calling 619-224-3577. Humphreys Restaurant, 2241 Shelter Island Dr., San Diego, CA 92106, 619-224-3577.
Chef Jason Maitland (formerly of Arterra, Flavor Del Mar and Indigo Grill) has landed at FIREHOUSE American Eatery + Lounge, which has also undergone a million-dollar redesign. Maitland’s revamped menu takes the beachside eatery to new heights with delectables like four cheese polenta tots, melon and burrata salad, authentic Maine lobster rolls, grilled octopus, ahi poke, gourmet burgers and more. His brunch features excellent regional Bloody Marys like the Southwest with mezcal and spice, or the house jazzed up with a garnish of onion ring, potato, spare rib and mini dog. His decadent Krispy Kreme “Benny,” is a feast for the eyes and belly with two Krispy Krème donuts decked with maple peppercorn bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. In addition to hearty food and craft cocktails, the ocean views and sea breezes on the deck make it a great overal experience. FIREHOUSE American Eatery + Lounge, 722 Grand Ave., San Diego, CA 92109, 858-274-3100.
Arterra has a new chef and a redesigned, seasonally driven menu. Evan Cruz, born and raised in San Diego, worked side by side with Roy Yamaguchi exploring Asia and Hawaii and directing the company’s creative operations. Locally, Cruz also worked at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club with Bernard Guilles, and served as sous chef at L’Auberge Del Mar. His new small plates menu is influenced by his travels around the world, with dishes like savory short rib bulgogi with kimchi and toasted rice on a mung bean cake or smoky Padrón peppers served with black garlic, pork belly and chives. Arterra is launching a new craft cocktail program, starting with a well-curated Bourbon menu featuring 15 premium, handcrafted selections, two Bourbon-infused cocktails and Bourbon flights. The restaurant still serves sushi as well. Arterra, San Diego Marriott Del Mar, 11966 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130, 858-369-6032.
Top of the Hyatt at Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is temporarily closed for renovations through September 2015. Top of the Hyatt, 1 Market Pl., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-232-1234, 800-233-1234.
La Jolla's Tapenade, a San Diego destination for classic French cuisine for more than 17 years, has shuttered. The restaurant announced that it will re-open as in a new location as Bistro Du Marché (7437 Girard Ave., La Jolla). Tapenade, 7612 Fay Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037, 858-551-7500.
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Check out the 2015 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the US and more.