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Where to Eat in San Diego: Restaurant Openings & News (Dec. 11–15)

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Where to Eat in San Diego: Harumama's new Vista location
Courtesy of Harumama

New Restaurants in San Diego

Famous Bun Shop Harumama Announces a New Location in Vista

When you visit Harumama’s Instagram page, the first thing you’ll probably notice is their impressive 46,000-plus follower count. Right after that, you’ll quickly realize that the restaurant is all about their character buns—so much so that their tagline on the social platform is “We got the buns, hun.” The team handcrafts sweet and savory buns in the shape of adorable chickens, cows, pigs, bunnies, koalas, and other critters in their Carlsbad kitchen. The almost-too-cute-to-eat treats are delivered in Harumama’s “bun van” to their four other San Diego locations. Soon, the van will add a stop to the newest Harumama in Vista

Jaclyn Weidaw, marketing and social media manager for the Love Boat Group (the folks behind Haumama), says that the San Diego–based chain sought out another North County spot after noting that many of their regulars were traveling from inland communities to their Carlsbad and Encinitas locations. Harumama’s Vista spot is expected to open by the end of the year or early in 2024. 

While patrons will, of course, get the chance to taste the fan-favorite character buns, there are plenty of other Asian-fusion dishes on Harumama’s menu worth sampling. Weidaw recommends the bulgogi beef udon—tender bulgogi beef, beef broth, and caramelized onions topped with green onion and sesame seeds. Or try the Crispy Chicky Ramen, a cozy tonkotsu broth with panko-breaded chicken, brussels sprouts, bamboo shoots, and half an egg.

Where to Eat in San Diego: Smash and Stack in Bonita
Courtesy of Smash and Stack

Food Truck Slinging Smash Burgers Launches in Bonita

Joel Bautista, chef and owner of Smash and Stack, took up cooking just four years ago—but he’s already managed to accumulate a more stacked resumé than most kitchen lifers. Bautista trained at the Culinary Institute of Barcelona and worked at one- and three-starred Michelin restaurants abroad and in New York. But when he moved back to San Diego a few months ago, he decided he wanted to step away from the fine-dining world and apply his skills to burgers—a comfort food of his since he was a kid. “I’m very much of the philosophy that you don’t need expensive ingredients and crazy techniques to have a great experience and great-tasting food, so that’s why I decided on burgers,” Bautista says.

His new food truck, Smash and Stack, will offer a simple menu with two mains: a vegan patty and a classic beef smash burger topped with cheddar cheese, bread and butter pickles, and the truck’s special sauce (mayo, ketchup, and mustard) on a brioche bun from the San Diego–based California Baking Company. You’ll also find fries and loaded fries (topped with cheese and special sauce). For dessert, Bautista is making “smashed” salted brown-butter cookies in-house, homemade vanilla ice cream, and a peach pie that’s inspired by the classic apple hand pies at McDonald’s. 

Smash and Stack is expected to open on Jan. 12. It will be parked permanently at 5202 Bonita Road, and there will be a patio with tables to dine onsite.


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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