Five Fab San Diego Restaurants to Try Now

Five of San Diego's Hottest Restaurants of 2016 Offer Craft Cocktails and Excellent Cuisine

Chefs Richard Blais and Jon Sloan and owner Michael Rosen weren’t kidding when they announced that the concept for The Crack Shack would be “all day chicken and eggs.” Add some cocktails, and that’s pretty much the menu at the casual eatery serving non-GMO, local, organic goodies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Located on the same lot as Blais’ acclaimed Juniper & Ivy restaurant, it’s, well, a shack—a former eyesore of a freestanding shed that has been cleverly renovated into an outdoor lounge outfitted with mod farmhouse-style picnic tables, a bocce court, bar and fireplace. At the walk-up counter, order deviled eggs, chicken oysters, traditional fried chicken and specialty sandwiches such as the sinful Senor Croque with crispy chicken, bacon, a fried egg, cheddar and miso-maple butter on a brioche bun; plus soft-serve ice cream for dessert. 2266 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.795.3299

The latest culinary foray reenergizing University Heights, Madison, is quite the stunner. The architecture alone will drop jaws at this trendy new outpost—outfitted with cedar-paneled vaulted ceilings, mid-century-mod décor, Italian design accents and cozy booths. There’s even a private tunnel side entrance that gives the 3,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge a casual-cool charm. Executive Consulting Chef Mario Cassineri designed the Mediterranean and SoCal-inspired menu. Highlights include the tuna tartare topped with shrimp tempura; the kale and Romaine chopped salad with truffle cheese and a poached egg; and the sesame-crusted pork chop. Cocktails include reimagined classics and signature concoctions such as the California Common with mezcal, watermelon and lime; plus wine and local craft beer. 4622 Park Blvd., University Heights, 619.269.6566

The Patio Group, led by savvy entrepreneur Gina Champion-Cain, continues to expand with its latest offering: Fireside by The Patio. A fabulous new addition to Liberty Station, the sprawling, indoor/outdoor eatery is located in the former firehouse of the historical Naval Training Center. Champion-Cain collaborated with well-known local chef Antonio Friscia to design a menu focused on wood-fired, charcoal-grilled, globally inspired cuisine. Think flatbreads such as smoked brisket and bleu cheese, Canadian bacon with roasted pineapple, and roasted mushroom with leeks, béchamel and goat cheese; cheddar corn bread with orange-mascarpone butter; smoked half chicken and smoked pork rib entrees; a yakitori menu featuring elk meatballs and bacon-wrapped asparagus; and an array of hearty salads. The ambiance feels upscale, worldly and bohemian, with comfy couches, custom pillows, eclectic artwork and rich tapestries—the perfect place to snuggle up with a glass of wine. 2855 Perry Road, Point Loma, 619.432.2100

The food, décor and vibe at TRUST—the premiere culinary tenant in architect/developer Jonathan Segal’s new Mr. Robinson building—are all infused with the same urban-rustic charm. The nearly 2,700-square-foot restaurant is outfitted in poplar wood-planked walls, a custom metal bar with gold metal barstools, a quartz communal bar, white oak dining tables, industrial ceilings, mid-century-modern accents and plenty of clean lines—making it pure architectural eye candy. The locally sourced American menu, designed by chef/owner Brad Wise, is equally intriguing. We love the wood-grilled octopus; the Brussels sprouts with tortilla strips, jalapeño vinaigrette and cotija cheese; and the braised oxtail raviolini with pine nuts, horseradish and whipped ricotta. For dessert, Executive Pastry Chef Jeremy Harville has dreamt up playful treats such as Peanut Butter Captain Crunch cheesecake with berry meringue. 3752 Park Blvd., Hillcrest, 619.795.6901

The latest brainchild of renowned Chef Javier Plascencia, Bracero Cocina de Raiz was the most hyped restaurant opening in the last year … and it lives up to it. Acclaimed interiors firm Bells & Whistles designed the airy, two-story floor plan—which includes a dining terrace and sidewalk patio—as an homage to the field workers who have done the backbreaking farm work to harvest the food we eat. A massive glass-enclosed motorized sculpture, titled The Mexican Labor Agreement (aka the Bracero Program), is an awe-inspiring focal point of the space, which is further accented with field work-related items such as straw hats and sculptures of horse heads dotting the walls. The food can aptly be described as “modern Mexican” with heavy coastal Baja and Mediterranean influences. This means creative spins on seafood dishes such as the Baja hiramasa crudo with coconut aguachile, tomatillo, cured pineapple and avocado; albacore served seared and as a tartare, with lime salsa verde, burnt onion, crème fraiche, crispy eggplant and jalapeno ponzu; wood-grilled octopus with Meyer lemon, olives, green garbanzos and yuzu-roasted peanuts; and shrimp and bone marrow sopes. Don’t Miss: The beef tongue confit street taco; the corn masa crispy egg with beef tartare and potato foam; and the Paso Fino Paloma cocktail with mezcal, hibiscus-infused fino sherry, grapefruit, lime, cinnamon and Xocolatl mole bitters. 1490 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.756.7864