San Diego’s culinary star is on the rise, in more ways than one. Savvy foodies have known for years that America’s eighth largest city is a top destination for dining, but thanks to an upcoming influx of Michelin-starred chefs opening new restaurants in the California beach city, San Diego’s dining secrets won’t be secret for much longer.
New Projects from Michelin’s Star Chefs
- In May 2019, celebrated chef Michael Mina joins with partner Ayesha Curry to bring their globally-inspired barbeque restaurant, International Smoke , to San Diego’s affluent Carmel Valley neighborhood. Spanning more than 8,000 square feet, the stylish venue will serve international dishes by acclaimed chefs from Mina’s slate of award-winning restaurants, such as Indian fry bread with spice-crusted snapper and turmeric pickles, grilled lobster with Japanese curry yakiudon, and duck wings with jerk spices. Chef Mina earned two Michelin stars in 2006 for his Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco.
- Opening this spring, Lumi by Akira Back will occupy a 5,000-square-foot rooftop space in downtown’s bustling Gaslamp Quarter. Chef Back’s menu will showcase the signature dishes for which he has become known at his restaurants across Asia, including miso black cod, seabass ceviche and stone-seared toro, along with sushi and sashimi. Lumi’s bar program will include Back’s own brand of shochu and plum sake and also feature a Toki highball machine. Chef Back earned a Michelin star two years in a row for his restaurant, Dosa, in Seoul, South Korea.
- Also opening this spring, Il Dandy is the latest culinary venture from Dario and Pietro Gallo, the Calabrian-born brothers behind the lauded Civico 1845 in San Diego’s vibrant Little Italy neighborhood. The brothers will be joined by father and son duo, Antonio and Luca Abbruzzino, who will be relocating to San Diego to helm the kitchen. Located in the uptown Bankers Hill neighborhood, Il Dandy will offer a contemporary approach to cuisine rooted in Calabria, showcasing the talents and mindful technique of the chefs while educating guests on the healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet. A thoughtfully curated cocktail program featuring Italian aperitifs and wine and beer selections from the Calabria region will complement the menu. Chefs Antonio and Luca Abbruzzino earned Michelin stars in 2013 for their eponymous restaurant in Calabria.
Culinary Accolades Abound
- San Diego’s incoming Michelin starred chefs aren’t the first to see potential in the city’s dining scene. In 2011, chef Jason McLeod relocated to San Diego from Chicago, where he earned two Michelin stars at Ria. Chef McLeod’s latest venture, Born and Raised, is a multi-level, open-air steakhouse in the heart of Little Italy. The acclaimed restaurant features premiere cuts of beef alongside an in-house dry-aging program, and roaming interactive carts provide tableside plating, cocktails and pastries.
- Several veterans of the Bravo TV series Top Chef have set up shop in San Diego. Season 3’s Brian Malarkey opened the acclaimed Herb & Wood in Little Italy in 2016, while chef Richard Blais from seasons 4 and 8 opened Juniper & Ivy in 2014 and The Crack Shack in 2015, also located in Little Italy. In 2018, season 15’s Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins opened El Jardin, which has already been named among the best new restaurants in the country by Esquire and Food and Wine magazines.
- Executive Chef at the renowned Addison Del Mar, William Bradley is among San Diego’s most decorated. Bradley is one of a very small group of chefs to hold the title of Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef – only 160 chefs on five continents hold the prestigious title. Bradley is also the 2014 winner of the Robb Report’s Culinary Masters Competition.
- Chef Carl Schroeder’s fine dining handiwork at Market in Del Mar has been recognized numerous times by Zagat and Eater, which place the restaurant among the best eateries in Southern California. Schroeder is a three-time nominee of the James Beard “Best Chef” award and earned a nomination for perhaps the loftiest food honor in America, the James Beard Best Chef of the Pacific award.