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Where to Eat in San Diego: Restaurant Openings & News (Jan. 22–26)

Your one-stop shop for food and drink happenings around town this week
San Diego restaurant opening: Vale Bodega, the cozy "little sister" to Leucadia's Valentina, pictured here.
Valentina, the larger "older sister" to new Solana Beach wine bar Vale Bodega. Courtesy of Valentina.

New Restaurant Openings in San Diego

Valentina Founder Brings Romantic Wine Bar to Solana Beach

Restaurateur Mario Guerra couldn’t find a sufficiently charming date night spot to woo his wife in North County. So he created his own: Valentina, a cozy wine bar and bistro in Leucadia. Now Guerra—who is also behind beloved local spots like Moto Deli and Corner Pizza—is courting couples with a new romantic locale. Vale Bodega opens on South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach this March. 

Guerra describes the intimate, candlelit space as a “mini Valentina.” Vale Bodega shares its older sister’s focus on wines and traditional tapas from northern Spain, offering a thoughtful, rotating wine list curated by two sommeliers, Ricardo Zarate Jr. and Todd Henderson, who are also partners in the business. Guests who stop in for a glass will get a lesson in vino from the sommeliers and staff

With a more limited kitchen than Valentina, Vale Bodega’s menu will center on small shareable plates like tinned fish and toasts. Guerra recommends a Spanish classic: crunchy, toasted white bread topped with a tomato spread and sliced jamón ibérico cured for 3 to 4 years in Spain. Visitors can also try gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked in a garlic-chili olive oil) and pulpo a la gallega, octopus and baby potatoes in an olive oil, paprika, and salt mixture, traditionally eaten with toothpicks in tapas bars. 

San Diego Restaurant Opening: Mr. Mexicali Roll food truck brings Mexican-Japanese fusion to Valley Center.
Courtesy of Mr. Mexicali Roll

New Food Truck Offers a Japanese-Mexican Menu in Valley Center

You’ve probably never had sushi quite like this. Husband-and-wife team Oscar Espinoza and Veronica Felix infuse Japanese dishes like teriyaki bowls with Mexican flavors from their new food truck, Mr. Mexicali Roll. The Mexico City roll, for example, has the familiar rice and seaweed base of sushi, but instead of fish, you’ll find beef, cream cheese, and avocado inside. It’s topped with jalapeños, a jalapeño cream sauce, eel sauce, and sesame seeds and deep-fried. (In fact, seven of the truck’s 10 rolls are fried, and there’s no raw fish on the menu.)

Felix owned a similar food truck, called Mr. Teriyaki, in Mexicali for five years, before she and Espinoza decided to bring the concept to San Diego under a new name. Want to try their innovative spin on sushi? Espinoza recommends their namesake Mr. Mexicali, a deep-fried roll stuffed with shrimp, beef, cream cheese, Monterey cheese, avocado, and yellow pepper and drizzled with a jalapeño cream sauce. For an appetizer, order the cream cheese chilis, deep-fried yellow peppers filled with cream cheese and shrimp and crowned with a chipotle sauce. You can find them at the truck’s Valley Center location (27936 Valley Center Road) Tuesday through Saturday. There are a few seats to eat al fresco, or you can take your meal to go. 

New Ramen Place Opens in OB From Owners of The Joint

The owners of OB’s The Joint recently opened their latest venture: a ramen shop off Newport Ave, just a few doors down.

“I sent my head sushi chef from [The Joint] and partner Chef Jeff Shaefer to Osaka to do a 1-on-1 ramen class with Master Ramen Chef Rikisa Miyajima, owner of the oldest ramen school in Japan,” says The Bowl co-owner Mike Lowe of the new menu. Showcasing ramens they worked on with Miyajima-San, The Bowl features homemade Kanto-style broth that is lighter than tonkotsu with shoyu broth and requires a 16-hour simmer.

Chef Nate Cadspa (who previously held roles at Underbelly, Yokohama, and Animae) will oversee its menu which includes miso, tan tan, shoyu, and vegan ramens; karaage; handmade gyoza; and twists on classics like a smash burger with white American cheese and shishito aioli; okonomi (meaning “how you like it”) fries; matcha tiramisu; and Japanese-style affogato.

The Bowl will be open daily from 4:20 to 9:00 p.m. with happy hour from 4:20 to 6:00 p.m. during the week and Sapporo power hour from 4:20-5:20pm with $2.50 Sapporo pints. 

San Diego Restaurant News & Food Events

El Chingon in the Gaslamp offers a three-course tequila-pairing dinner on Thursday, January 25. The first of a series of cocktail dinners at the Mexican eatery, the meal features a secret menu matched with boozy bevs from Cazadores Tequila. 

San Diego Mission Bay Resort hosts a four-course wine-pairing dinner on Friday, January 26, with pours from Napa Valley’s Copper Cane Wines and Provisions.  Executive Chef Roy Hendrickson will whip up dishes like a wood-roasted chicken with a wild mushroom and potato ragout, served alongside a Bell Glos Dairyman pinot noir. 

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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