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.
David Spatafore, the local hospitality maestro behind Coronado’s Blue Bridge Hospitality (MooTime Creamery, Village Pizzeria, Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q, Coronado Coffee Company, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge) is behind Liberty Public Market, a public arena for local artisans, handcrafted food and specialty items, all under one roof. The 22,000-square-foot space will house more than 30 purveyors, allowing brick-and-mortar opportunities for small businesses. Acting as a one-stop specialty shop, as well as a daily farmers' market, Liberty Public Market is similar to Napa’s progressive Oxbow Public Market. The market will be set in sprawling Liberty Station, adjacent to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. It is expected to open in fall 2015. Liberty Public Market, Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego, CA 92106, no phone.
A new brewery and tasting room has descended upon the Miramar brewing scene. Duck Foot Brewing Company sets itself apart from San Diego’s other craft beer breweries in that it’s producing only gluten-free beer. Anyone, including those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, can enjoy their craft beer. The core line-up includes Blonde Ale, Red Ale, IPA, White Double IPA and Chocolate Hazelnut Porter; seasonal offerings include a Honey Ale and Coconut Molasses Brown Ale. Enjoy tasting flights or grab a growler of your favorite flavor. Duck Foot Brewing Company, 8920 Kenamar Dr., Ste 210, San Diego, CA 92121, 858-433-7916.
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.
Executive chef Steven Riemer, the culinary talent from The Lodge at Torrey Pines and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, is overseeing the new 8,200-square-foot, indoor/outdoor restaurant Oceana Coastal Kitchen located at the iconic Catamaran Resort Hotel. Guests can enjoy Riemer’s California comfort cuisine, along with sweeping, unobstructed views of Mission Bay. Oceana Coastal Kitchen, 3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109, 858-539-8635.
Café Gratitude, which serves up gourmet 100 percent, plant-based cuisine, is arriving in San Diego. The popular vegan restaurant has outposts in Downtown L.A., Venice Beach, Santa Cruz, Berkeley and more, and will now descend upon Little Italy in 2015. 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.
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.
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.
JRDN Restaurant at Tower 23 Hotel has tagged Danilo “DJ” Tangalin as its new executive chef, overseeing the chic beachfront restaurant known for its fresh take on California cuisine. DJ worked as chef de cuisine at Prepkitchen Del Mar, before joining the team at JRDN as a sous chef. JRDN Restaurant, Tower23 Hotel, 723 Felspar St., San Diego, CA 92109, 858-270-5736.
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.