San Diego’s Most Important Restaurant Openings of 2017

Modern Peruvian fare, tacos with heart and a gorgeous steakhouse top the list
November 29, 2017
by Darlene Horn

From big-name burger joints to high-styling steakhouses, San Diego has had an impressive year of new restaurant openings in 2017, and we’re looking back at the most notable ones. The restaurants we’re highlighting have made a big impact on the local dining scene and portend trends for the future. Think you know which restaurants made the list? Read below for 10 important openings, and what to order when you go (and you should go).

Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria
Peruvian cuisine hit it big this year in Liberty Station with a concept partnering up local restaurateur Sami Ladeki with Peruvian-born chef Emmanuel Piqueras. South American specialties such as roasted chicken and made-to-order ceviche have proven a hit, so much so that a second location is coming to Carlsbad before the end of the year.

Must-order: Chicken and ceviche are the big draws, but don't pass up the plancha marina, a seafood-centric dish featuring salmon, octopus and veggies served with chimichurri and spicy Nikkei sauce.

2401 Truxton Rd. Ste. 102; 619-222-3111

Before this chef-driven restaurant opened, Chula Vista was struggling to keep up with nearby areas as a must-visit culinary destination. Since opening in August, chef Steve Brown's project has become the South Bay's go-to. Menu items such as sous vide fried chicken, Wagyu and Angus burgers draw people to downtown Chula Vista for a taste.

Must-order: The Swagyu burger, a mix of A5 Wagyu and Angus is always a good bet. Follow the restaurant’s Facebook page for secret menu items like Kumamoto oysters served with nitro mignonette Dippin' Dots.

277 3rd Ave., Chula Vista; 619-737-5470

Nomad Donuts
How do you take an already successful donut shop and make it even better? Go big and expand the offerings beyond donuts. Fried pastries like the popular ube taro donut are still the highlights at the new North Park shop, but there are new additions too, such as Montreal-style bagels with savory fillings.

Must-order: Follow the shop’s Instagram account for the daily offerings. Be on the lookout for the chorizo Scotch egg: a jalapeño corn cake around chorizo sausage and a hard-boiled egg. It sells out fast.

3102 University Ave.; 619-431-5000

Hundred Proof
Hillcrest’s Trust Restaurant was a breakout success last year, and its 2017 follow-up is equally successful. Just a few blocks from its sibling restaurant, Hundred Proof’s name brings to mind more traditional cocktails, but it’s the boozy milkshakes that make fans.

Must-order: The most talked about menu items are Hundred Proof’s signature milkshakes, such as  Coffee and Doughnuts, a boozy chocolate-coffee concoction adorned with donut holes.

4130 Park Blvd.; 619-501-6404

Red O
Celeb chef consultant Rick Bayless brought a little notoriety to La Jolla with this restaurant, a sibling restaurant to locations in LA, Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Expect authentic Mexican entrees, with a menu of seafood, steaks and an extensive tequila list at the new San Diego spot.    

Must-order: The fresh corn and goat cheese tamales, topped with tomatillo salsa, are available at all locations due to the dish's popularity.

4340 La Jolla Village Dr.; 858-291-8360

Tacos Libertad
The family-run Cohn Restaurant Group has long been giving to local schools and charities, but its newest project, a Hillcrest taco shop, goes beyond just giving, as it's 100% nonprofit. It’s the first of its kind for San Diego. Local institutions benefiting include Meals on Wheels, San Diego Food Bank, International Relief Teams and Mama’s Kitchen.

Must-order: You can’t go wrong with the signature taco Caja China, made with pork belly, sweet potato, salsa criolla and cilantro aji crema. It's sweet heat wrapped up in a corn tortilla.

1023 University Ave.; 619-481-5035

Barrio Dogg
Barrio Logan is known for its legit Mexican food, but the owners of this stand would like to add hot dogs to the list. They're serving up wieners with tasty topping like chiles, pickled jicama, cactus salsa and more. The spot reflects the surrounding Chicano neighborhood and culture with its decor: A custom street cart is affixed with the backend of a low-rider, and there’s Mexican-American art hanging too.

Must-order: If you like to live on the spicy side, request El Bombero topped with serrano, jalapeño, poblano, habanero, salsa verde, cactus fruit salsa and chile oil with a side of Grim Creeper sauce. Request it bacon wrapped for more flavor.

2113 Logan Ave.; 619-546-7889

The Crack Shack Encinitas
Fried chicken got even hotter this year with the second location of Richard Blais’ fried chicken joint in Encinitas. Like at the original Little Italy location, the lines for chicken and egg dishes during lunch and dinner attest to its status as a bona fide hit. Look for more fried chicken goodness to come — a Los Angeles location is in the works.

Must-order: The fried chicken is where it’s at (available in five or 10 pieces), but complete your meal with an order of schmaltz fried fries.

407 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas; 760-230-2968

Shake Shack
Burger aficionados don’t have to travel to Los Angeles or Las Vegas to check this joint off their bucket list. The burger institution has carved out two spots in San Diego, most recently in UTC. With a spot in Mission Valley opening soon, the Shake Shack invasion is here.

Must-order: The ShackBurger (get a double) with cheese, lettuce, tomato and ShakeSauce is a good bet, but don’t miss monthly specials like a spicy chicken sandwich.

4309 La Jolla Village Dr. #2350; 619-391-1570

Born & Raised
CH Projects is known for its high-styling restaurants, and this year it outdid itself with a gorgeous steakhouse in Little Italy. Costing a whopping $6.5 million and taking three years to build, it’s a stunner complete with marble-topped tables, brass accents and leather booths.

Must-order: A proper steakhouse visit isn’t complete without a steak. Go big and order Wagyu cooked over binchotan charcoal with soy sauce, sake and garlic for $18 per ounce with a three-ounce minimum.

1909 India St.; 619-202-4577

san diego