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Where to Eat in San Diego: Restaurant Openings & News (Dec. 4–8)

Your one-stop shop for food and drink happenings around town this week
Courtesy of Blue Whale
Courtesy of Blue Whale

New Restaurants in San Diego

La Jolla Gets a Surf-Inspired All-Day Café 

Over his 25 years in the restaurant industry, Mike Harrison has worked as a chef and opened 10 restaurants from the ground up (including Palmy’s in Pacific Beach). So he was the perfect person to fill a gap he saw in his La Jolla neighborhood: He couldn’t find a community space that catered to everyone from surfers hungry for a bite after a morning sesh to business professionals looking for a place to take a meeting in a suit and tie. To meet the need, Harrison opened Blue Whale in a renovated La Jolla cottage, kitting it out with a “nautical, island, surf vibe,” he says.

Alongside chef Taylor Preus, Harrison’s serving up breakfast and lunch dishes with gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Harrison recommends getting the breakfast bowl to start your day. It’s farro grains topped with chile hummus, arugula, king oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, and a fried egg. Harrison also loves the ube pancakes, crowned with fresh berries and an ube cream. For lunch, he suggests trying out their ahi poke bowl with yellowtail, sushi rice, edamame, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and wasabi aioli. 

There’s also an espresso bar onsite. Harrison tapped his friend, the owner of El Salvador–based Amigo Coffee Roasters, for single-origin beans. You can also grab sips from Juice Served Here, a cold-pressed juice company, at Blue Whale. Inside the café, you’ll find a small marketplace vending items like surfboards, Blue Whale merchandise, cutting boards, and ceramics handcrafted by a woman-owned company in Tijuana. Harrison is looking to extend the café’s hours to include dinner once he secures a beer and wine license in the next few months.

Restaurant News & Food Events

Esquire released their best new restaurants list of 2023, and three San Diego County restaurants made the cut: Hitokuchi (Convoy), Mabel’s Gone Fishing (South Park), and Valle (Oceanside). 

Lionfish is hosting a five-course tasting on Thursday, Dec. 14, with dinner by chef Steven Ruiz and wine pairings from Napa Valley’s Caymus Vineyards. The entrée course will feature a Snake River Farms New York strip, poached lobster, and spiced pumpkin seeds alongside one of Caymus Vineyards’ cabernet sauvignons. 

James Beard Award–nominated chef Anthony Wells (formerly of Juniper and Ivy) is taking on a new role as the executive chef of Hilton’s Hotel La Jolla. The hotel’s new top-floor restaurant, Sea & Sky, opens in January.

You’ve probably heard of slow fashion—now get ready for slow food. Founded in 1989, the slow food movement encourages the use of locally grown native ingredients. Fallbrook chef Carlo Guardado will helm The Guild Hotel‘s Farniente Slow Food, a new SD restaurant focusing on the movement’s sustainable values. Farniente will open its doors in early 2024.

Have breaking news, exciting scoops, or great stories about new San Diego restaurants or the city’s food scene? Send your pitches to [email protected].


By Elena Gomez

Elena Gomez is an Emmy-nominated reporter who has spent much of her journalism career working in broadcast news in San Diego and Los Angeles. She joined the San Diego Magazine team as a freelance writer in 2020.

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