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New, Now, Next: The Dining Edition 2023

Debuts, events, and what’s to come on the San Diego culinary scene

Beeside Balcony La Jolla
Image Credits Beeside Balcony La Jolla: Black X Marketing; Manna, Chef Claudette Zepeda: Kimberly Motos; Sunset Luaus Hula Dancers: Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

What’s New

Already earning rave reviews is Échale, an elevated, Mexican-influenced restaurant from Chef Sean Yontz that made its entrée on the Encinitas epicurean landscape last month. Presented in a sophisticated, moody setting that’s a marked deviation from its quaint, French-inspired Lumberyard location predecessor, St. Tropez Bistro, the menu is anything but predictable, featuring dishes including mussels in a fennel mezcal broth and oxtail Bolognese over house made pappardelle with ranchera salsa. Us: Saving room for the Strawberry Shortcake Churros with Mexican vanilla bean ice cream.

When its doors opened last month in The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, Amalfi Cucina Italiana fans were saying grazie that the restaurant’s signature authentic Italian flavors that have made it a go-to North County destination since 2020 will now also be served just a tad south. The restaurant from a venerable group of founders that includes former Buona Forchetta executive chef and multi-time World Pizza Champion Marcello Avitabile draws people in droves to its charming Lakehouse Resort location in Lake San Marcos, but Carmel Valley marks the first address beyond the San Marcos boundary for people to savor its delectable pizzas, house made pastas, seafood, and more.

Beloved in Del Mar, Beeside Balcony recently opened the doors on a second location on Prospect Street in the heart of La Jolla. The newest Beeside also offers a menu of fresh and locally sourced dishes in a picturesque coastal setting. The ocean view restaurant can also be reserved for semi-private events or full buyouts. As if opening a new restaurant wasn’t enough, the location is also home to
The Hive, a speakeasy tucked away behind a secret door slated to debut early this month. The intimate, 35-person capacity venue will require a password for entry (find it out by following The Hive on Instagram); reservations will also be available. With a pianist at the grand piano every weekend, candlelight, and flowers hanging from the ceiling, The Hive is a true homage to the classic secret clubs of the Prohibition era.

Up the coast in Leucadia, Chef Andrew Bachelier is flexing his brilliant culinary muscle at his newest concept, Manna. The “modern day atelier” is a creative outlet for Bachelier following his departure from the critically lauded Campfire and Jeune et Jolie during the pandemic. “This project allows me to get back to feeling creatively ‘unstuck,’ where I have the opportunity to express myself honestly through my food,” says Bachelier, who admits the pressures of achieving Michelin status, in addition to wanting more time with his young family, had also weighed in his decision to take a break from the kitchen. Now, at Manna, he says, “My intention is to bring the community unique, beautiful dishes and drinks to inspire the creative and nourish their soul.” Located on Coast Highway 101, the restaurant, designed by Bachelier’s wife, Larah, serves breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday. Private dinner events are also already being hosted in the restaurant, and Bachelier says plans for ticketed Monday night supper clubs with three- to four-course menus are in the works and expected to kick off later this month.


What’s Now 

Warm weather getaway feels will be in ample supply on June 9 from 7-10pm at Kona Kai’s Annual Luau Party: A Celebration of Kai’aina, bringing the aloha spirit to the mainland. Expect: All-you-can-eat Polynesian cuisine, live music from the island, Tahitian drumming, and dancing.

Then, on June 10, Estancia La Jolla transports guests to a different but equally vacation-evoking region from 4-7pm at its second-annual Agave Fest, featuring a curated selection of 100% agave-based tequila and mezcal spirits and authentic Baja-inspired cuisine. The Valle vibe is rounded out with live music and entertainment under swaying palms and sunshine.

Meanwhile, on Tuesdays and Fridays beginning June 13 through September 1, the Polynesian-inspired Catamaran Resort will present its own take on South Pacific tradition with Sunset Luaus on the Bay. A Hawaiian buffet, authentic island music, hula dancing, fiery torch performers, and a volcano that erupts confetti complete the tropical tableau.

Sunset Luaus on the Bay
Sunset Luaus on the Bay

New self-care café concept Lullabar has the answer for North County moms who wistfully recall bygone days of easy “me” time. Opening June 19 at The Beacon La Costa, Lullabar is not only a café serving matchas, lattes, and gourmet pre-made snacks, but it also features supervised childcare plus a nail salon and workshops like meditation, CPR, parenting, and more. Reservations for services are already in the thousands before its official debut, but the café will also welcome walk-ins.

The second installment of award-winning Chef Claudette Zepeda’s Elements of Nature Dinner Series, an exploration of the four elements, continues with The Nature of Earth on June 29 at Vaga, the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas restaurant where Zepeda is creative director. The exclusive menu features a multi-course menu and special cocktails highlighting local ingredients. If reservations are scarce, go for a seat at the remaining two dinners of the popular series: The Nature of Air on September 21 and The Nature of Water on December 21.  

Chef Claudette Zepeda
Chef Claudette Zepeda

What’s Next

Though it’s a concept that’s been on the radar of those in the know for a couple of years, the much anticipated Chick & Hawk collaboration between Manna’s Chef Andrew Bachelier and skate legend Tony Hawk is looking nearer to a reality. Originally brainstormed by the pair as a food truck, it instead will have a permanent address in the former Fulano’s space in Leucadia. Inspired by his grandmother’s spicy fried chicken, Bachelier will fulfill his dream of not only serving his own brand of Nashville-inspired fried chicken, but seafood as well, with elevated vegetable-driven sides that rise well above the basics and a classic American cocktail program. Mark your calendars for the end of summer 2023 for a potential debut.


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