Mall Madness: 14 New Spots to Check out at Westfield UTC
The mall has rebranded itself as a hip, community-centric gathering place
Shake Shack at Westfield UTC
The coolest crop of shops, restaurants, and experiences in San Diego right now isn’t in North Park, Little Italy, or any other plucky burgh. It’s in—gasp—the mall. Thanks to a $600 million revamp, Westfield UTC has gone beyond the ho-hum department stores and nondescript chains to rebrand itself as a hip, community-centric gathering place, with buzzy local and national retail and restaurants. As they say, if you build it, they will come. Here’s our roundup of the top new tenants.
The mega-trendy spin studio chain that counts Madonna and Lady Gaga as fans will open next month, with 55 bikes in a 4,000-square-foot studio. The high-intensity rides follow the beat like a dance routine—you’ll burn 500–700 calories during the 45 minutes—and incorporate hand weights for a full-body workout. But SoulCycle is just as well known for its charismatic instructors, whose motivational speeches double as therapy. It’s $20 for your first class and $30 thereafter.
The Orange County transplant occupies an 8,000-square-foot space near Nordstrom, with chic but comfortable decor. The meat- and seafood-heavy menu spans fish plates, steak, vegetarian pastas, and wild game like venison, quail, and Louisiana alligator. Or belly up to the separate 1,000-square-foot bar, where they serve wine flights and small plates. There are also daily happy hour deals on reds, whites, and appetizers.
Why should kids have all the fun? This bright boutique is the ultimate candy shop for adults. Gummies, chocolates, hard candies, licorice, and more are packaged in gift-perfect boxes. They’re best known for their booze-infused gummies, like Champagne bears and tequila grapefruit sours, but you’ll also find zero-proof options, vegan varieties, and “green juice” gummy bears—a collaboration with Pressed Juicery. Their bento box offers three different sets so you can sample a variety.
You know that decades-old tee you’ve worn into a state of softness no new shirt can match? Marine Layer built a business capturing just that. The San Francisco company prides itself on making “absurdly soft” apparel, spinning custom fiber out of beechwood pulp for its signature fabric, MicroModal. The designs and color palette are California casual, with button-downs, sweaters, tees, pants, and dresses for the whole family.
What started as a Philadelphia coffee shop in 1994 has blossomed into a mini-chain, with locations in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and other major cities. You may have spotted La Colombe’s canned lattes in grocery stores, but now you can sip their coffee and espresso drinks fresh at their first San Diego location. They’re known for high-end, direct-sourced coffee, plus those Instagram-friendly patterned mugs, which are hand-painted in central Italy.
This upscale skin care boutique looks like a research lab nestled in a Japanese spa, with muted beige, simple labels, and minimalist design. They have hair products and fragrances, as well as room sprays, but skin is Aesop’s focus. Price points range from wow to oh-my-god, from the Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser ($43 for 3.4 fluid ounces) to the Facial Balancing Gel rich in vitamins B and C ($120 for 2 fluid ounces). There’s even a shampoo for dogs ($39) made with tea tree leaves and spearmint.
This sunglasses brand from Down Under has come a long way since breaking out on the music festival circuit 12 years ago, but its affordable price point has stayed the same at around $60 per pair, and the notoriously oversize, reflective aviators have been promoted by an army of celebrity influencers. Fear not if big frames aren’t your style; the sunnies come in more minimal mod, retro, and cat-eye styles for guys and gals.
It’s the In-N-Out of the East Coast. It’s modern, hip, and sexy. And now it’s finally landed in San Diego, with its all-natural Angus burgers as well as hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken sandwiches served on non-GMO potato rolls. Order the ShackBurger to get lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce (similar to animal style), and save room for their famous concrete desserts, like the Pie Oh My, which blends frozen vanilla custard with seasonal pies from Betty’s Pie Whole in Encinitas.
The San Francisco-born brand only shelves cosmetics that are cruelty free, organic, and sustainable. Nearly 150 skin care, makeup, hair, fragrance, and bath and body brands have made the cut through Credo's intense screening process; some of the top names include Herbivore and Tata Harper. Book a Clean Sweep appointment, where you bring in your own non-green products and a staffer can recommend similar items that pass their eco test and explain how to get the best results.
This Austin-based designer is by no means a hidden gem, having made an international name on her mix of bold statement pieces and delicate fine jewelry. The gemstone-forward accessories boutique offers earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, plus home decor including geodes, frames, trays, and more. Like its founder, the company emphasizes philanthropy, donating around 50,000 pieces per year to pediatric patients through her Kendra Cares Program.
Pottery Barn comfort mixes with West Elm modernity at this furniture store stocked with pieces for your living room, dining room, office, you name it. They pull inspiration from around the globe and commit to natural or recycled materials. Think upcycled copper in tabletops, tree roots turned into chairs, and a policy to never use wood from rainforests. If you’re looking for something custom, they also have on-site stylists who can help.
The retro-cool American eatery that attracts lines out the door of its Hillcrest location is best known for brunch, but here, with a 1,500-square-foot patio, the breakfast bites have been pared down to make way for more lunch and dinner goods. (Don’t worry, the maple bacon donuts haven’t gone anywhere.) Also on the menu? A lengthier happy hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Hey, there’s no law against shopping under the influence.
You know something big is going on when a mall lures CH Projects, the mighty restaurant group that spearheaded craft cocktails in San Diego at places like Noble Experiment. This $2 million project, slated to open this month, will sell barware, cocktail books, and CH-branded goods, plus vintage spirits. Make your way past a hidden entrance to their private tasting room, where bartenders will lead classes, seminars, and on some nights, reservation-only cocktail events.
After opening in cities like Newport Beach and Brooklyn, the New Zealand menswear brand brings its fifth US location to San Diego. Known for their Italian-made polos, wool sweaters, leather shoes—and dressing New Zealand's professional sailing, polo, and rugby teams—R&G also has a section for bespoke, Kiwi-crafted leather luggage with a two-year durability guarantee and a pretty price tag (consider a $1,000 weekender bag or $200 shave kit).