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New to San Diego

The inside scoop on what’s hot and happening this season

By Elizabeth Liberatore

cloak-and-petal

Cloak & Petal
{1953 India Street; 619.501.5505}
Say hello to Little Italy’s newest resident, Cloak & Petal: a Japanese-inspired social eatery. The 7,500-square-foot space is reminiscent of an abandoned Tokyo subway, featuring glazed brick, polished tile, and vibrant graphic installations by Australian artist Shane Bowden. The restaurant’s showstopping piece is a beautiful cherry blossom tree that stands behind the bar. Extending the width of the bar, the tree’s branches shelter guests underneath a blanket of pink petals. Because the restaurant mirrors an underground subway, the elusivity of the space is ideal for private gatherings like business lunches, family dinners, and date nights. The menu is just as mesmerizing as the urban-meets-tranquil décor. At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Trace “TJ” Jerome who has over 21 years of experience in Japanese cuisine (a number of those years spent cooking in Japan). Snack on small plates like Yuzu Kosho Jidori Wings and Spicy Salmon Battera or peruse a menu of sashimi, nigiri, and shareable combination platters. cloakandpetal.com

Bivouac Ciderworks
{3986 30th Street; 619.725.0844}
AleSmith, Green Flash, Latitude 33—San Diego is home to some of the biggest craft breweries. The visionaries of Bivouac Ciderworks figured, “Why not make San Diego home to some of the finest ciders too?” Thus, Bivouac Ciderworks was born. Master cider maker Matthew Austin and his tribe of cider aficionados, designers, artists, and industry professionals offer guests the best, freshest, and tastiest products by sourcing items from California’s lush bounty. Everyone here is an outdoor enthusiast, from climbers to surfers to mountain bikers, and brings their love for nature indoors with an earthy and rustic design. Whether you are getting a sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry, or dry cider, there is something on the food menu that’ll perfectly pair with your choice. Take for instance the Cider-Braised Carnitas Tacos, Pan Roasted Trout, or Apple Fritters. Escape the ordinary and embrace adventure at the newest cidery in town. bivouaccider.com

Dija Mara
{232 South Coast Highway; 760.231.5376}
Dija Mara treads uncharted territory by fusing together Eastern and Western cuisine to create something uniquely its own. By employing Japanese cooking techniques, the kitchen staff combines Southwestern Asian flavors with a Western twist. Mouthwatering plates include Wok-Charred Greens with candlenut, shallot, soft herbs, and szechuan peppercorn; Grilled Octopus; and a selection of skewers grilled over binchotan charcoal (a type of charcoal used in Japanese cooking), including Tofu and Tempeh, Tiger Prawn, and Chicken Thigh. Equipped with just about everything, from wine to beer to top shelf liquor, the bar at Dija Mara also serves non-alcoholic options, including Monstra Coffee and a plethora of loose leaf teas. Colorful paintings adorn the interior’s cement walls and industrial accents are thoughtfully placed in every nook and cranny. The overall design boasts a very minimalistic style so that the true star of the show, the food, remains in the spotlight. dijamara.com

Harumama
{1901 Columbia Street; 858.269.7122}
Restaurateurs Jenny and James Pyo of Love Boat Sushi, Blue Smoke Sushi Lounge, Pokewan, and Blue Ocean Robata and Sushi Bar added a new member to the family this year, Harumama. The concept? A contemporary twist on traditional ramen. Harumama’s innovative culinary experts have created a menu where comfort food takes precedence. With over five different kinds of ramen, poke bowls, and sushi rolls, there is something for everyone to enjoy. For an adorable (and Instagrammable) dish, the Character Steamed Buns are a must. Guests can choose two steamed buns that resemble a pig, chicken, panda, and mushroom. This is a situation where the meal might literally be too cute to eat. harumamasd.com

West Pac Noodle Bar
{1166 Orange Avenue; 619.313.6003}
Blue Bridge Hospitality is behind a handful of successful local restaurants, including Maretalia, Liberty Public Market, Stake Chophouse & Bar, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, to name a few. Sure to be the next success story, the hospitality group’s latest concept, West Pac Noodle Bar, launched in October 2017 in California’s resort city, Coronado. This casual Asian-fusion noodle shop showcases small portions of noodles, dumplings, poke, and dim sum varieties, encouraging guests to sample a little bit of everything on the menu. Executive Chef Tim Kolanko and Executive Sous Chef Jared Becker join forces to dole out a selection of affordable, quick-order items utilizing cooking methods perfected across Asia. The restaurant’s name and décor honors Coronado’s Navy base, which is located nearby. West Pac Noodle Bar stems from the phrase “West Pac Tour.” Men and women in the Navy use this phrase when preparing for deployment from San Diego. The tour encompasses the Western Pacific waters from Japan to Singapore, Thailand to Hawaii, and everything in between. bluebridgehospitality.com

lucha-libre

Lucha Libre Taco Shop
{2525 El Camino Real Suite 218-C, Carlsbad; 760.429.2935}
Lucha Libre Taco Shop is exactly what it sounds like—a gourmet taco shop that celebrates the flamboyance of Mexican wrestling. The founders recently unmasked a new location in The Shoppes at Carlsbad. The restaurant features the kitschy and colorful fixtures you’d find at the original Mission Hills location. We’re talking themed bathrooms, vinyl wall art, and Lucha masks. On par with the lively atmosphere, the menu utilizes premium ingredients and unique recipes for a taste like no other. Must-try burritos include the Ado-Haba Cali with adobada pork, grilled pineapple, fries, sour cream, Jack cheese, and housemade pico and pineapple habanero sauce and the Surfin’ Cali with grilled steak, shrimp, fries, pico de gallo, Jack cheese, fresh avocado, and a housemade chipotle sauce. For non-meat eaters, the Veggie Taco or the Rolled Tacos are the way to go. Need a new Taco Tuesday spot? Look no further than Lucha Libre Taco Shop. tacosmackdown.com

Salt & Straw
{1670 India Street; 971.271.8168}
The family-owned, Portland-based ice cream parlour known for its imaginative flavors has landed in Little Italy. Boasting a variety of handmade flavors using all-natural cream, Salt & Straw only uses local, organic, and sustainable ingredients to craft its ice cream creations. The San Diego shop will scoop out Portland favorites—Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Honey Lavender, and Pear & Blue Cheese—and flavors exclusive to the location like James Coffee & Compartés Love Nuts and Peanut Butter Stout with Chocolate Chicharrón (featuring Belching Beaver Brewery). Salt & Straw is equally invested in community outreach as it is in ice cream. The company actively supports and partners with local schools and organizations to raise awareness on issues like childhood food insecurity, basic human rights, and equality. Collaborating with local artisans, the ice cream shop creates flavors that represent each city’s unique food scene. Little Italy’s simple design, which incorporates custom wood paneling and an all-American red and white color story, will evoke feelings of a modern and community-oriented space perfect for enjoying a sweet and refreshing treat. saltandstraw.com

The Bell Marker
{602 Broadway; 619.756.7598}
Named after the mission bell markers found along the historic El Camino Real, The Bell Marker made its debut to San Diegans this past January. Equipped with on-site brewing, a maple wood bar, and countless dining nooks, the modern American brewpub provides ample space for patrons to unwind. The man behind the restaurant’s impressive beer program is Noah Regnery, a native of San Diego who has over a decade of brewing experience. Using a copper clad 15-barrel brewing system, Regnery crafts true-to-style beers, focusing on classics like American, English, German, and Belgian brews. Rounding out the taps, beer aficionados can try the Cream Ale, Hefeweizen, Pale Ale, IPA, and Brown Ale or sip on rotating guest beers. Helming the kitchen is Trevor Faris who has created a California-centric menu to match the restaurant’s laid back vibe. Dan Sutherland will lead the cocktail program, creating classic beverages with a modern twist that pay homage to Bell Marker’s history and San Diego’s iconic pop culture. All of these components live in an 8,000-square-foot space where glass partitions showcase the brewing systems, revealing the heart of the brewery. thebellmarker.com