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Here's what to expect of the new arrivals in SD's restaurant scene

By Troy Johnson

The new year. The new you. The significant other’s new her or him. Everyone loves a beginning, at least until it’s a middle. So here’s a roundup of San Diego’s new restaurants—already opened and those still gleaming in the eye of their investors.

Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room: Opening Jan. 15 at the corner of 6th and F Streets in Downtown, this is a throwback to when Champagne-and-caviar was the ultimate socialite catnip, not vodka-and-Red Bull. Looking to be the place for Champagne and sparklers in the city, they’ll have classic and rare vintages, plus bubbly cocktails to pair with food from chef Ryan Studebaker (ex-Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, Prepkitchen). Expect oysters, blinis, caviar, ascots on F. Scott romanticizers.

Croce’s Park West: The iconic Downtown joint has moved, now open in Bankers Hill in the former Avenue 5 spot. They’re doing some innovative bar snacks (like crackerjacks made of salted caramel corn and Sriracha-roasted peanuts), plus full plates like pistachio-crusted lamb and au poivre tuna nicoise.

Coyote Ugly Saloon: For those who often find themselves saying, “The only thing this bar is missing is a half-clothed gal dancing on the garnishes,” Coyote Ugly is coming into the Gaslamp at the former space of Frauds & Swindlers (825 Fifth Ave.). Opening Feb. 5, it’ll be the first SoCal location for the international chain.

Richard Walker’s La Jolla: Flapjacks fans will be getting a new location from Richard Walker’s Pancake House, going into the former Vigillucci’s spot (909 Prospect St.).

Blue Ocean: Newly opened in Carlsbad Village, the robata-sushi-and-stuff restaurant comes from the owners of Love Boat Sushi, who pulled in project managers Jaime Partners (Searsucker) and designers Bells & Whistles for the project, which means it looks damnfantastic. They also got themselves chef Andy Halvorsen (former sous chef at Lodge at Torrey Pines) and cocktails from the Queen-Connor-Ward Collective.

JU/KE: The talented guys from Miho are opening their first non-wheeled enterprise. Called JU/KE, it’ll be going into the North Park location of Bottlecraft. It’ll be casual and a bit on the healthier side, says co-owner Juan Miron, with a grass-fed brisket in guajillo-cashew hot sauce, roasted beets with quinoa tabbouleh and crispy duck with beluga lentils. No alcohol to start when they open in mid-Feb, but they will have kombucha and ginger beer on tap.

Sea 180 Coastal Tavern: Could this be the seed for a mini-renaissance for the eternally funky Imperial Beach? The new project from the Cohn Group has opened in IB’s Pier South Hotel, overseen by exec chef Ken Irvine (Bleu Boheme) and chef de cuisine Jack Fisher (ex-Urban Kitchen Group, Nine-Ten).

Hello Betty Fish House: Oceanside will get this new spot from Sage Hospitality Group come February. Opening next to the Marriott/Springhill Suites, Hello Betty will be overseen by exec chef James Nunn (ex-Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern).

Champagne cocktails at Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room.


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