San Diego's food scene is growing faster than ever with a slew of exciting new restaurants opening across the city. From sushi burritos and poke bowls in the Convoy District to a Little Italy venue serving amazing Baja-inspired cuisine, here are 10 restaurants lighting up the local landscape right now.
Executive Chef Tim Kolanko (ex Stake Chophouse & Bar) presents a daily changing menu of New American dishes featuring ingredients sourced directly from market vendors at this buzzy spot with an open kitchen and standalone cocktail bar inside Liberty Public Market.
- New American
- Liberty Station
Must-Order: Chicken and dumplings.
Insider tip: The restaurant serves a limited menu on Monday and Tuesday.
Rustic, seasonally driven New American dishes, as well as local craft beer and artisanal wines, headline this inviting, modern Hillcrest space with an expansive outdoor patio.
- New American
Must-Order: Grilled lamb meatballs.
Insider tip: Arrive from 5–6 PM for $5 cocktail specials on the weekdays.
Signature sushi burritos and customizable poke bowls are served amid bright and modern decor at this fast-casual counter in Kearny Mesa that also offers cold brew coffee, sake, wine and craft beer.
- Kearny Mesa
Must-Order: Pokkirito classic sushi burrito filled with crab meat and tamago.
Insider tip: Grab a seat when doors open at 11 AM to beat the crowds.
Expect an approachable menu celebrating the culinary traditions of Hawaii and California (think Tahitian octopus, roasted firecracker fish and lilikoi ceviche) at this sprawling two-story space with outdoor seating and views of the La Jolla Cove. Playful decor elements, such as surfboards and an undulating ceiling that mimics the ocean, help pay homage to the restaurant’s namesake, legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku.
- La Jolla
Must-Order: Adobo mussels.
Insider tip: Parking can be notoriously bad in Downtown La Jolla so come early or park next door for $10.
Island-inspired poke bowls topped with zesty housemade sauces and featuring everything from spicy tuna to tofu (plus custom combinations) are served at this fast-casual counter in Mission Valley.
Must-Order: Sweet and spicy salmon.
Insider tip: The vendor continues its weekly farmer's market rounds.
Mediterranean-inspired fare and elegant cocktails are served in sleek surrounds at this modern, airy University Heights hangout, complete with arched vaulted ceilings, cedar-wood walls with bold, geometric designs and indoor/outdoor seating.
- University Heights
Must-Order: Steak salad.
Insider tip: Request one of the restaurant's embroidered blankets if you're feeling chilly.
A bevy of traditional NYC deli-style sandwiches heaped with everything from corned beef to tongue – plus a selection of specialty sandwiches and hearty salads – are served at this local chain outpost with basic décor.
- East Village
Must-Order: Lady Liberty sandwich.
Insider tip: Build-your-own sandwiches also come in half servings.
An all-day menu of chicken- and egg-based dishes – including fried chicken, chicken sandwiches and deviled eggs (plus a full bar) – are served at this corrugated-metal-clad Little Italy counter by the team behind Juniper & Ivy. Modern furnishings, a giant chicken sculpture and a bocce-ball court make the outdoor-only seating area hip and happening.
- Little Italy
Must-Order: Fried chicken, available in five or 10 pieces.
Insider tip: Work off your meal by playing bocce ball in the adjoining courtyard.
The second U.S. restaurant from Tijuana chef Javier Plascencia (Romesco), this gleaming, two-story haunt in Little Italy offers modern interpretations of Mexican cuisine (think shrimp and bone marrow sopes), along with agave-based cocktails, craft beer and wines from both California and Baja. Contemporary design meets rustic decorative touches inside the artfully composed space, with a crudo bar, an open kitchen and a terrace.
- Little Italy
Must-Order: Albacore Two Ways (seared and tartare).
Insider tip: When making a reservation, ask for a seat on the first floor by the kitchen for a view of Javier Plascencia at work.
Contemporary cocktails and ambitious vegan eats like seared cauliflower steak, pistachio-crusted tofu and cookie-dough truffles are served at this eccentric South Park hangout with an all-death-metal soundtrack. The whimsical space features off-the-wall decor that blends vintage design with modern pieces (including a giant sculpture of a mythical wolf-beast).
- Cocktail Bar
- South Park
Must-Order: Memphis BBQ jackfruit sandwich.
Insider tip: The restaurant is still in its soft-opening phase, so look for adjustments to the menu.