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Rick Bayless finally opens a restaurant in San Diego

By Troy Johnson

Rick Bayless not having a restaurant in San Diego didn’t make much sense. That’s about to change.

One of the most famous white men cooking Mexican food (the James Beard Award winner hosts the long-running PBS series, Mexico: One Plate At a Time), Bayless’ project Red O is set to take over the space from Donovan’s in La Jolla (4340 La Jolla Village Dr., across from Westfield UTC mall). Donovan’s will be serving food until the new year, at which point they’ll relocate to 1270 Prospect Street (currently home to Azul Steakhouse).

Red O reportedly has big, big plans. Whereas Donovan’s was an exclusively indoor restaurant, the Irvine Company wants to create Red O as a sprawling environment that serves as an amenity for employees in the business park. Full plans aren’t set in stone, but we’re expecting a sort of craft beer and Mexican food oasis (sounds a bit like Karl Strauss’s digs in Sorrento Valley). In February they’ll start by razing the old Donovan’s building and erecting a whole new 8,300 square-foot restaurant structure that’ll include 2,000 square-feet of patio dining.

Irvine Company’s Michael Lyster says the company has a long-standing relationship with Red O due to the other restaurant location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

Bayless is most famous for his Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco, which pay chefy homage to his favorite food culture. Red O is a very modern, design-forward Mexican concept in partnership with L.A. restaurateurs Mike Dobson and Rick Teasta (who also own Ma’Kai Lounge in Santa Monica). San Diego will be its fourth SoCal location (the original was launched on Melrose in 2010), opening mid-2016.

Red O’s signature dishes at other locations include pork belly sopes, ceviche Fronterizo, goat cheese tamales, achiote-suckling pig, and goat cheese cheesecake with caramel corn and Mexican root beer sauce. The existing locations also boast over 100 tequilas, specialty cocktails and all sorts of craft beer.

More details to emerge soon all over San Diego media.


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