Carnitas Taco @ Bracero
By the time you finish reading this sentence, another buzzed-about restaurant will have opened in Little Italy. It is San Diego’s culinary heart now, and for the foreseeable future. Yet Bracero probably best captures what is happening in San Diego right now—that is, a renaissance of gourmet Mexican food. Baja chef Javier Plascencia, raised on both sides of the border, is one of the region’s best, and this is his showroom. Eat your way through the whole menu, including cocktails. But don’t miss the carnitas taco. The masa tortilla is ground and made in-house. The meat is incredibly tender. And then, the kicker—he adds chicharrons (fried pork skin) for a crunch, and pickled veggies to cut the fat. It is beyond delicious.
1490 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.756.7864
Crema de Elote @ Coasterra
Coasterra is the whopping city of restaurant and event space designed on the harbor by the Cohn Restaurant Group. It’s 28,000 square-feet, $15 million, and has one of the best waterside views in California. For the menu, chef-partner Deborah Scott straddled both sides of the border (something she’s done in San Diego for 20 years since opening the original Indigo Grill). The star of a recent tasting was the creamed corn soup. Fresh corn and roasted poblano crema with crispy leeks and chile oil. It’ll make you forget mom’s 1970s hacks at the Bettty Crocker versions.
880 Harbor Island Dr., Shelter Island, 619.814.1300
Goat Cheese Ravioli @ Water Grill
Next issue, we’ll be reviewing Water Grill. Whoa did Sam King, CEO of King’s Seafood, which owns Water Grill (and Lou & Mickey’s), put some serious dough and care into this place. It’s easily one of the best raw bar experiences in San Diego out the gates. The prepared dishes? Hit or miss. But one of the big hits is chef Fabrice Poigon’s housemade goat cheese ravioli with Asian pear puree, brown butter and salted almonds. The tang of the goat cheese in the deep caramel notes of the butter with the sweetness of the puree—it’s like a hot riff on the yin-and-yang of a high-end cheese plate.
615 J St., Downtown, 619.717.6992