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New Spanish Bistro Barra Oliba Coming To Little Italy 

Partners Ernesto Casillas and Eduardo Bustamante (Crudo Cevicheria & Oyster Bar) will debut their new seed oil–free concept this August
Food from San Diego restaurant Crudo Cevicheria & Oyster Bar in Little Italy which helped spawn new Spanish restaurant Barra Oliba
Courtesy of Crudo Cevicheria & Oyster Bar

Restaurants love to center their menus around one item. It’s literally in the name of Birria El Rey. Tanner’s Prime Burgers is all about that sweet, sweet beef. And as a former Virginian, I can attest Rise Southern Biscuits’ take on a Southern morning staple is legit. But besides vegan or vegetarian restaurants, how many places emphasize the absence of items as their cornerstone?

Barra Oliba will, or so says Ernesto Casillas. He, along with his business partner Eduardo Bustamante (Crudo Cevicheria & Oyster Bar), says their contemporary Spanish bistro, which will open at 1980 Kettner Blvd. this August, will be one of the first, if not the first, seed oil-free restaurants in San Diego.

Common seed oils, like sunflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil, have higher smoke points than other oils, like olive oil, and are generally cheaper. But Casilla believes seed oils contribute to inflammation and other issues. (While seed oils contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, institutions like the Cleveland Clinic say problems associated with them are often more likely from the ultra-processed foods.) Instead, Barra Oliba will use different olive oils from around Spain, which Casillas says is more delicious and better for consumers.

“We basically want people to feel good during their visit but also after,” he says, noting that for some, dining out can lead to inflammation and heartburn afterwards. He hopes to prevent or minimize these effects for those that struggle with gut issues.

Casillas adds that not only did he see a need for heart-healthy restaurant options in town, but he also saw a lack of Spanish cuisine. “There are good restaurants, but they’re almost all Italian restaurants, or American, Mexican, or Japanese,” he explains. “Spanish food is very interesting and well-regarded around the world.” The space will feel like an authentic European restaurant, with 30 seats inside and 30 outside and a raw bar, focusing on Spanish and French wines and beer “served in the traditional cañita format—half size pint,” says Casillas.

He adds that Barra Oliba’s menu will center on different types of Spanish rice dishes—not just paella, although they’ll certainly have that, too. He promises that the rotating selections will range from pulpo a fiera (a traditional Galician dish made with octopus) to tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelets) and much more. “There’s a lot of good things coming.” Casillas says they plan to be open seven days a week from around 3 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., but this may change based on demand. 

Courtesy of Feeding San Diego

San Diego Restaurant News & Food Events

Feeding San Diego Partners With Amazon For Hunger Relief

Over 350,000 people experience food security across the county, and Feeding San Diego estimates 100,000 of them are children. The local nonprofit has worked to end hunger since 2007 but is getting a big boost from the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon. Amazon has been collecting food and funding donations, and on Tuesday, July 2, it will present a check to Feeding San Diego that will help provide 50,000 meals to San Diegans experiencing food insecurity. Every $1 donated to Feeding San Diego provides two meals, so if you’re interested in donating or finding out more, visit

Courtesy of Izola Bakery

Beth’s Bites

  • San Diego’s first alcohol-free bar just got a permanent home! After hosting tons of pop-ups all over the county to build a buzz-free buzz, Good News will open in Hillcrest by the end of the year. 
  • Speaking of permanent homes, lauded bakery Izola just soft opened their new cathedral of bread in East Village at 1429 Island Avenue. It’s been quite a journey for the team, and they’re taking it slow. Current hours are Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and if their fundraising efforts are any indication, big things are on the horizon. 
  • It’s expansion season in San Diego, and restaurants are all in. Best Pizza and Brew is coming to Clairemont, The Taco Stand is headed to Oceanside, and Shawarma Guys is heading to Mira Mesa… so many delicious destinations on the horizon. 

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