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 Cloak & Petal

Dramatic flowering cherry trees anchor the bar at Cloak & Petal


5 Most Exciting New Restaurants

By Andrea Bennett, Casey Hatfield-Chiotti, Darlene Horn and Ann Wycoff

Cloak & Petal photo courtesy of Alternative Strategies | Born & Raised photo by Tim Melideo


Pull up a chair! From dazzling dishes to classics we'll love forever, here are 46 reasons San Diego's dining scene is hotter than ever.

1. Cloak & Petal
Picture yourself in the industrial setting of a Tokyo subway, where two glorious flowering cherry trees have broken through the cement. Don’t miss out on a silky elk sashimi; abalone poaching over a fire in its own shell; and faultless hamachi with jalapeno. Reserve the back room sushi bar and order omakase, a nightly menu that features four carefully curated courses. 1953 India St., San Diego, 619.501.5505

2. Giardino Neighborhood Cucina
Since opening last November, San Diegans have been making the trek to East County for fine Italian cuisine by husband-and-wife hospitality veterans Marcos Provino and Karina Kravalis. Look not only for a variety of classic and modern pizzas (a favorite is mascarpone, pancetta and fig jam) but also for rare items like a deeply satisfying penne salsiccia with peppery wild boar. On Mondays, Provino finishes pasta tableside in a massive, slightly hollowed wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 8131 Broadway, Lemon Grove, 619.825.7112


A delectable crabcake at Giardino is topped with honey mustard aoli

3. Maestoso
Chef-owner Marco Maestoso found global success cooking for former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. He opened Casa Maestoso in 2015, which spent five months at the top of Trip Advisor’s list of more than 10,000 restaurants in that city. At Maestoso in S.D., chefs take turns delivering specialties such as the pinsa, a fluffy, ancient Roman forerunner of pizza, and Italian-style poutine made with butternut squash fries. Reservations go quickly, but the 20-seat chef’s counter is first come, first served. 1040 University Ave., San Diego, 619.642.0777

4. Himitsu
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Japanese speak-easy: The 600-square-foot space manages to cram in 30 diners. Helming the kitchen is chef Mitsu Aihara, a Sushi Ota protege who got the master’s blessing to go solo. Request one of the eight coveted spots at the sushi bar and choose from a parade of winners, such as a corn tostada topped with hamachi, cilantro, radish, serrano and lime; and the signature Himitsu roll, a silky blend of salmon, crab and scallop. 1030 Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, 858.263.4463

5 . Born & Raised
San Diego’s dining scene was set on its ear when restaurant provocateur Arsalun Tafazoli opened this opulent, $6.5 million steakhouse along with executive chef Jason McLeod and designer Paul Basile. Born & Raised is pure throwback elegance, having transformed the 1930s-era former Nelson Photo Supplies building into a dazzling showcase for classic dishes like tournedos Rossini, topped with foie gras, truffle and glazed in Madeira. A new Dinner for Two menu pulls out all the stops with lobster thermidor, côte de boeuf and beef Wellington served a deux. 1909 India St., San Diego, 619.202.4577  

Born & Raised

The art deco grandeur of the dining room at Born & Raised.