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FIRST LOOK: Coasterra

Eight years in the making, Cohn unveils massive Harbor concept


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“You have to see it—it’s unbelievable, might be the best view in San Diego.”

That quote is from longtime San Diego Mag editor-in-chief, Erin Chambers-Smith, after witnessing Coasterra, the new project from the Cohn Restaurant Group and Sunroad Enterprises. It’s been eight years in the making. It’s 28,000 square-feet and $15 million of prime waterfront ogling. It’s a restaurant, an event space, and a new “behold the magnificence of San Diego, my dear out of town relatives” along Harbor Island.

It’s also another entry in the modern Mexican movement that’s taking San Diego right now. Chef Deborah Scott hired executive chef John Gray (Ritz-Carlton Cancun, Grand Havana Room) to oversee the kitchen, which will serve 300-plus diners, with over half of the seating outside under that expensive San Diego sun. They’ll be doing tableside guacamole (with add-ins like lobster and crab), fresh oysters, housemade salsas, tostadas (garlic-sesame yellowfin), spicy lobster fundido, carne asada nachos, lobster tacos, carne asada tacos, enchiladas, steaks (like an 1855 bone-in ribeye with avocado salad), and a Mexican surf and turf (skirt steak with mole poblano, half Maine lobster with chipotle garlic butter).

Coasterra’s bar will speak Spanish, too. The menu will include eight hand-shaken margaritas, including Deb’s Coconut Marg with Olmeca Altos Reposado tequila, coconut cream, lime juice and coconut salt rim. And agave cocktails: Oaxacan old-fashioned with Herradura Double Reposado Tequila Barrel Selection, El Silencio Mezcal and Angostura Bitters. House cocktails include a Tolstoy Michelada (with vodka), a Cabrillo Collins (with lemongrass), and a Santa Ana Sangria. There will also be wine, plus Mexican and American craft beer.

The design is from the late Graham Downes, who tragically died a few years ago. It’s a mid-century indoor-outdoor space, with rustic this-and-that pieces from Mexico and massive abstract murals from local artist Rafael Lopez. There will soon be a floating, outdoor event deck that can fit 500 people standing. There are towers of tequila, and a wooden bar that illustrates the coastline of Mexico. An abstract stone wall was designed using images the Cohns’ brought back from their trip to Mexico City. Photovoltaic solar glass on the terrace will provide about 35 percent of the energy for the building.

Someone you know will get married here soon. But enough of the talking. Please enjoy the first known photos in the universe of Coasterra.

Coasterra opens for dinner at 5PM, August 14. No reservations opening weekend. Starting Monday, August 17, it will be open for lunch and take reservations via OpenTable.com. 880 Harbor Drive. 

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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