Summer is in full swing, and that means new seasonal dishes are popping up all over San Diego. This season, chefs and restaurants are pulling out all the stops, showcasing the freshest ingredients and using them in amazing must-try dishes. Are any of these destined to be tried-and-true San Diego classics, like on our rundown of the city's most iconic dishes? You be the judge.
Crab and avocado toast at Upper East Bar
Surely, you’ll be heading to Downtown’s hottest perch this season, and if you're looking for something beyond avocado toast, try it with a crab. The delicious pairing by chef Anthony Sinsay also includes lemon, radish and sprouts piled onto a slice of rustic bread.
616 J St. #101; 619-531-8744
East Coast scallops at TRUST
This pretty dish is chef Brad Wise's ode to summer on the plate at the seasonally driven Hillcrest restaurant. For the dish, seared scallops top sweet corn purée, house-cured face bacon, kumquats, English peas, vinegar chips and Israeli couscous.
3752 Park Blvd.; 619-795-6901
Rainbow rice noodles at Village North
Owner Steven Ji looks to northern China for this summer stunner that’s proven to be a winner at his new Convoy restaurant. The colorful dish, served chilled, starts with housemade wide rice noodles, which are surrounded by slivered cucumbers, carrots, wood ear mushrooms and cilantro. To eat, diners pour the sesame ginger dressing and mix all the ingredients together.
4428 Convoy St.; 858-277-1888
Blue Dream mimosa at Madison on Park
This University Height’s hot spot has a host of new Cali-Medi brunch options, but head in for the colorful new cocktails. The prettiest of the bunch features blue-green algae mixed with champagne, organic lemon, alkaline water, Fuji apple and ginger.
4622 Park Blvd.; 619-269-6566
Goat cheese ravioli at Herb & Wood
Brian Malarkey’s luxurious Little Italy venue is pumping out the fresh seasonal dishes this summer, and one must-try entree incorporates fresh-from-the-farmer's-market ingredients. Ravioli stuffed with local goat cheese comes served with preserved lemons, walnut gremolata and beets for a colorful plate.
2210 Kettner Blvd.; 619-955-8495
Vegetarian tamale at Galaxy Taco
Just because the tacos are out of this world at this La Jolla restaurant doesn't mean you should overlook any of the other menu items, namely, the new vegetarian tamale. Created by chef Christine Rivera, the dish is a play on enmoladas, which are rolled in mole sauce, and made with potato, carrots, squash, mole negro, creme, cotija, sesame seeds and onion.
2259 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla; 858-228-5655
Gracious at Cafe Gratitude
Little Italy’s raw vegan cafe encourages you to eat fresh, and this season, the restaurant has introduced a new summer grain salad. Each dish comes packed with heirloom cherry tomatoes, green beans, housemade cashew mozzarella, diced avocado, basil hemp seed pesto, arugula, choice of sprouted rice, quinoa or a mix of both and drizzled with a golden balsamic reduction.
Vanilla matcha and pink coconut soft serve at Holy Matcha Green Tea Cafe
There’s a new menu item at this North Park cafe, and it’s bringing the health benefits of matcha to creamy soft serve. The vanilla matcha and pink coconut treat comes together swirled in a cup.
Valdostana at Pappalecco
This Italian coffee and pastry shop is debuting a slew of new menu items, and the one to try is a made-to-order, hot pressed sandwich. Housemade focaccia is layered with slices of fresh tomato and Swiss cheese for a satisfying vegetarian sandwich that’s available in Kensington, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Del Mar and Cardiff-by-the-Sea locations.
Bonfire pancakes at Farmer’s Bottega
Craving a bit of a summer bonfire for breakfast? Head to this Mission Hills eatery where you can dive into marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers served on a fat stack of pancakes. Syrup is optional.
860 W. Washington St.; 619-458-9929
Aloe Can You Go at Sycamore Den
Aloe in a cocktail? You read that right, and you can find it in a cocktail created by Jesse Rose at this Normal Heights bar. The cocktail’s star ingredient is Chareau, a California aloe liquor, mixed with a tamarind elixir for a sweet, tart and refreshing beverage.
3391 Adams Ave.; 619-563-9019
Pizza pot pie at Pop Pie Co.
This University Heights’ coffee and pie shop has been riding a popularity wave since opening in the fall of 2016. This spring, there’s a new addition to the shop's savory lineup in which all flavors — pepperoni, fresh basil, mushroom, black olives, onions, bell peppers, Parmesan, mozzarella cheese and sauce — get tucked between two flaky layers.
4404 Park Blvd.; 619-501-4440
Soufflé at Et Voila! French Bistro
Come for the mussels and frites, stay for the soufflé, either strawberry or passion fruit, at this French restaurant in Normal Heights. The puffed pastry arrives straight from the oven, dusted with powdered sugar, along with a side of crème anglaise to pour into the dessert. To avoid a wait, order dessert when placing your entree.
3015 Adams Ave. #103; 619-209-7759
Shrimp pasta at Trade Winds Tavern
Convoy District's new Asian gastropub serves the usual burgers and sandwiches, but don’t bypass the sole pasta dish, a memorable standout. Capitalizing on familiar Vietnamese components like umami-rich shrimp sauce, the linguine noodles come tossed with edamame, garlic and roasted tiger shrimp.
7767 Balboa Ave.; 858-430-6815