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The 50 Finest

The city’s booming culinary scene is hallmarked by inspiring new restaurant openings, impressive chefs, dishes to die for, experiences to savor, and a spectrum of food and drink trends that take dining out into a whole new and exciting realm.

STACKED UP
Bistro Du Marché's mango and crab salad ($18) pairs nicely with a Domaine Girault Sancerre ($14 a glass, $56 a bottle).

 

10 MOST EXCITING NEW RESTAURANTS

Bistro du Marché
Chef Jean-Michel Diot shuttered his beloved Tapenade restaurant last year to open this new concept. Diot fuses the high level of cooking known in France as haute gastronomy, with the ambience and seasonality of the typical Parisian bistro. Pair the crispy duck leg confit and French fries ($28) with a bottle of the Sablet Village—a red blend from the Cote du Rhone ($36). POWER MOVE Sunday brunch may be the most sublime time to visit the restaurant. Opt for the traditional or the quiche lorraine ($12). 7437 Girard Ave., La Jolla, 858.551.7500

Campfire
The act of cooking over an open flame will be elevated to an art form when this outpost opens in Carlsbad this August. Grillworks is creating a custom 96-inch barbecue that will anchor the exposed kitchen, and Chef Andrew Bachelier has dreamed up an innovative menu that will include ember-roasted carrots alongside a grilled tomahawk rib-eye (market price). POWER MOVE This family-friendly restaurant will make it easy on parents who want to bring along the kids, thanks to a custom-made 12-foot teepee play area. 2725 State St., Carlsbad

Crudo
Chef Pascal Lorange is fusing Mediterranean and Asian flavors at this raw food-focused restaurant. San Diego’s freshest seafood and produce will be showcased in dishes like tuna and shaved artichoke carpacccio ($13), and a “sushi roll” of burrata cheese, black olive tapenade and pesto rice wrapped in prosciutto ($14). Both work nicely with the Coeur de Rosé Prestige from St. Tropez ($60). POWER MOVE Lorange plans to fly in a unique fish from France (think a pink dorado) once a month as his raw market special. 5965 Village Way, San Diego, 858.733.0775

POWER PLATE
Bellamy's Alaskan salmon with artichoke barigoule, green garlic and basil broth ($29) is a work of art.

Cucina Sorella
Restaurateur Tracy Borkum has breathed new life into the space that housed her beloved Kensington Grill restaurant for 20 years with this Italian spot focusing on handmade pasta. An open pasta-making station will serve up dishes like an olive pappardelle with lamb shoulder ragu ($20). POWER MOVE The eatery's secret weapon is Chef de Cuisine Daniel Wolinsky, who staged under Massimo Bottura at the three-star Michelin restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena. When the restaurant rolls out its pasta-making classes soon, sign up! 4055 Adams Ave., San Diego, 619.281.4014

Leña Craft Mexican
With family members from Mexico City and the Yucatan, co-owner Andre Lomeli is well-versed in Mexico’s regional cuisine. Leña Craft Mexican uses top-notch ingredients like sustainably raised meat in dishes such as the cochinita pibil ($26), which is left to cook 12 hours overnight. Order the Tepache cocktail ($12), a fruity drink made with vodka, opal basil, housemade tepache and lemon, alongside the Kasta’kan de Pulpo ($19)—a dish of octopus, pork belly and avocado mousse. POWER MOVE The industrial space has a large patio that can be rented out for a group of up to 170 (price on request). 909 Prospect St., La Jolla, 858.263.4190 

Mess Hall
Liberty Public Market’s fine-dining eatery features one of the most doggedly local and sustainable menus, with many ingredients sourced directly from the market’s artisans. While the menu changes daily, try one of the pizzas ($14), which have been known to include unexpected toppings like labneh cheese. Sommelier Tami Wong’s wine selections are spot-on. Pair the chicken and dumplings ($25) with a fruity but balanced Montefiore sangiovese ($27). POWER MOVE On Sundays, chef Tim Kolanko rolls out the three-course Sunday Roast, which showcases the best of the food hall ($29 per person). 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, 619.255.8360

Tajima East Village
This beloved ramen chain has a new East Village location in a space designed by BASILE Studio. The restaurant feels like a Japanese retreat, but dishes like the Tajima Ramen, with fried garlic, bean sprouts, egg and pork or chicken chashu ($10.50) is comforting and familiar. POWER MOVE It isn’t always easy to find a place in S.D. to eat after 10pm, so take advantage of Tajima’s late-night hours—it's open until 3am on Friday and Saturday. 901 E St., San Diego, 619.431.5820

The Crack Shack
Chef Richard Blais’ alfresco eatery focuses on two simple ingredients: chicken and eggs, but done in myriad ways, from crispy Jidori fried chicken (from $15) to chicken salad deviled eggs ($6). Order the mezcal-laced Hot Mess ($10), which complements sandwiches like the California Dip with pollo asado and posole broth ($12). POWER MOVE If you're after breakfast, ask for The Madison ($6), an off-menu English muffin sandwich with a fried egg, avocado and smoked cheddar. 2266 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, 619.795.3299

The Grill at Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines Golf Course's signature resto was just renovated, and it's poised to become a destination in its own right. Executive Chef Jeff Jackson is trained in French cuisine, but he also understands fresh California cooking. The bahn mi sandwich made with porchetta and housemade chicken liver pate ($16) showcases the best of both worlds. POWER MOVE Chef de Cuisine Kyle Wiegland is a beer fanatic who’s upped The Grill’s beer program with an expanded menu that even includes aged brews. 11480 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, 858.777.6641

Trust
No-nonsense chef Brad Wise showcases his deft touch with wood-fire cooking. Locally sourced ingredients shine in the gem lettuce salad with strawberries and a pistachio crumble ($9), and the juicy burger, made with choice cuts from a New York strip and rib-eye ($14), is a must-have. POWER MOVE Table 99 (translation: the chef's table) provides a bird's-eye view of the dining room and a front row peak of the pristine open kitchen. 3752 Park Blvd., San Diego, 619.795.6901

5 OVER-THE-TOP DINING EXPERIENCES

Addison
At his five-star restaurant, William Bradley partners with prominent cuisiniers across the country for an ongoing guest-chef dinner series aptly named Collections by Addison. First up, L.A.’s Michael Cimarusti will prepare a seafoodcentric eight-course dinner July 2 ($275 per person, $475 with wine pairings). Oct. 22, Michelin-starred chef Gabriel Kreuther, who’s well-known for his French fare, will offer up an impressive menu ($275 per person, $475 with wine pairings). Dec. 10, James Beard winner Gary Danko is likely to serve dishes influenced by French, Mediterranean and American cuisine ($310 per person, $560 with wine pairings). 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego, 858.314.1900

Bellamy’s
Patrick Ponsaty, a French master chef, creates a unique four-course menu based on the freshest ingredients available. Staying true to traditional French cuisine, portions are small but rich. The menu starts with dishes like sea bass, and advances to heavier plates such as duck breast and creme brulee. $130-$160 per person including wine pairings, 417 W. Grand Ave., Escondido, 760.747.5000

Bertrand at Mister A’s
The 360-degree views from this 12th-floor penthouse are arguably the best in town. While the ambience is outstanding, the eatery’s 32-ounce Côte de Boeuf for two ($115) is truly what keeps meat lovers coming back time and time again. Served alongside veggies, Hasselback potatoes and a duo of sauces, the steak is seemingly perfect—but splurge for the freshly shaved French truffles ($45) to take the dish to the next level. 2550 Fifth Ave., San Diego, 619.239.1377

Bracero Cocina de Raiz
Limited space is reserved upstairs nightly for the chef’s tasting tables with kitchen views. Family-style menus include six to eight progressive dishes alongside dessert and drink pairings. Popular plates include albacore two ways, and shrimp and bone marrow sopes. Dubbed “the Mexican George Clooney” for his striking resemblance, Chef Javier Plascencia is the undisputed king of Baja cuisine, and Bracero is his newest food palace. $100 per person, 1490 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, 619.756.7864

Stake Chophouse & Bar
Blue Bridge Hospitality’s most high-end eatery on Coronado offers diners prime cuts of beef. Get the full “Stake Experience”—a personalized five-course menu from chef Tim Kolanko alongside optional wine pairings. Raw steaks are presented tableside for a once-over before hitting the grill. Dining accoutrements include steak knives from France, Germany and Japan. $140 per person, $75-$95 for wine pairings, 1309 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.522.0077

3 BEST WINE LISTS

George's California Modern
With a 20-page wine list, this restaurant from Trey Foshee has a little something for everyone. Expect to see classics like the 2010 Opus One cab ($400), but make sure to review the “offbeat reds” menu and try interesting selections including the 2007 Catena Zapata Malbec ($200) from Mendoza and the 2012 Finca Dolfi ($160), a grenache and syrah blend. 1250 Prospect St., La Jolla, 858.454.4244

Grape Smuggler
Operating under Blue Bridge Hospitality Beverage Director Greg Majors, this new wine bar and shop within Liberty Public Market houses more than 5,000 bottles of wine, with 500 selections from around the globe. Expect to find interesting options like the Dominus 1989 Napa Valley, California ($230). Hungry? Grape Smuggler serves small plates and bites utilizing proteins and produce from LPM’s vendors. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, 619.487.9346

Marina Kitchen
Tucked away inside the glittering Marriott Marquis, Marina Kitchen staffs a jaw-dropping 18 sommeliers. In addition to employing one of the best-equipped wine teams in the city, the restaurant has been reinventing how San Diego does vino. Exhibit A: Its innovative Wine Hangout Dinners ($65)—a literal hangout with the country’s leading winemakers—and the launch of its thoughtfully designed Tasting Bar. 333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, 619.699.8222

3 FOOD MECCAS

Hillcrest Farmers Market
Every Sunday head to Lincoln Street and Normal Avenue to peruse one of the city’s finest farmers markets. While vendors frequently change, Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company is a mainstay that’s not to be missed. The stand’s most popular item? Fresh sea urchin, which is cracked and cleaned in front of you, and served with a fruit or vegetable salsa ($11). 3960 Normal Street, San Diego, 619.229.3330

Liberty Public Market
Finally, the food hall San Deigans have been longing for! Blue Bridge Hospitality’s David Spatafore is responsible for the market, which includes more than 30 stalls and impressive food vendors like Wicked Maine Lobster serving up lobster rolls, and FishBone Kitchen offering daily fresh catches. Make a point to stop by Mess Hall, the on-site fine-dining restaurant from chef Tim Kolanko. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, 619.487.9346

Little Italy
It’s not exactly under wraps that Little Italy is a hotbed for outrageously good bites and high-designed hangouts. The waterfront neighborhood is a recipe for foodie paradise with traditional Italian kitchens like Bencotto, and, of course, beloved San Diego staples forged by Kettner Exchange and Juniper and Ivy. When San Diegians think zestful dining, they think Little Italy—and the 92101 has earned that rep with the likes of every UnderBelly and Bracero that makes its mark.

3 DESIGN-DRIVEN RESTOS

Kindred
This new vegan resto and cocktail lounge, designed by Paul Basile, features French gothic details like a backlit, mirrored coffered ceiling with flying buttresses; one-of-a-kind tête-à-tête Rococo-inspired oak furniture; and an oversized glass and brass chandelier. Make sure to admire the 35-foot marble bar, floor-to-ceiling flip windows and 900-pound sculpture of a wolf head mounted on the sophisticated textured plaster walls. Don’t miss the collage of cat photos in the loo! 1503 30th St., San Diego, 619.546.9653

Madison
Madison recently took over this space, once a casual Tiki lounge, to create an indoor-outdoor dining room with cedar walls and a high-vaulted ceiling arched with wood joinery. Design firm Archisects created a geometric motif by stretching ropes across the ceiling. The practical, sound-absorbent design keeps the crowd’s acoustics and the eatery’s state-of-the-art sound system in harmony. While there, enjoy Mediterranean- and SoCal-inspired dishes, and classic cocktails with original twists. 4622 Park Blvd., San Diego, 619.269.6566

Puesto
Wanting to reflect the fun, upbeat vibe of Puesto’s Mexican street food, esteemed designer Thomas Schoos preserved the building’s original industrial elements for a blend of textures. High ceilings with industrial skylights give way to large pops of color, including graffiti murals by artist Chor Boogie. Floor-to-ceiling doors often remain open for a sprawling indoor-outdoor dining room at the downtown location, where the L-shaped kitchen is enclosed by glass. 789 West Harbor Drive, 619.233.8880; 1026 Wall St., La Jolla, 858.454.1260

5 CHEFS OF THE MOMENT

Phillip Esteban, The Cork and Craft
San Diego native Phillip Esteban returned home two years ago from a stint in top New York kitchens, such as Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Eleven Madison Park, Marea and Per Se, to reinvent North County’s dining scene at The Cork and Craft. This elevated gastropub in Rancho Bernardo blends comfort food with French technique and the freshness of California seasonal cooking. An added bonus? The outpost is San Diego’s only restaurant, brewery and winery under one roof, operating in tandem with Abnormal Beer Co. and Abnormal Wine Co. 16990 Via Tazon, San Diego, 858.618.2463

Alfonso Pisacane and Pietro Gallo, Civico 1845
Pisacane and Gallo are redefining what it means to eat vegan. Almost no one in the United States would put the words vegan and Italian in the same sentence, but true Italian cooking is, first and foremost, about the quality and harmony of ingredients, not necessarily what they are. In this vein, the chefs have rolled out a vegan menu that would make any type of diner satisfied, and they also have a corresponding full-dairy, full-gluten and full-carnivore menu, just in case you’re not interested in taking the plunge. If you go vegan, you’re in for a treat. The fettuccine alla Bolognese ($16), which subs in seitan for meat ragout, is hearty, savory and indistinguishable from the well-loved Tuscan classic. The caprese ($12), which uses rice milk mozzarella, also pays a strong tribute to its dairy-laden forebear. 1845 India St., San Diego, 619.431.5990 

Jade Griego, Stella Public House
Stella Public House is a well-loved resto for those living in the East Village. The Italian gastropub, which has a tried-and-true wood-fired pizza menu (from $13), invites diners to relax on their outdoor patio, which looks out onto Fault Line Park, the East Village, Coronado Bridge and beyond. Expect things to be shaken up, in a good way, now that Ventura County native and former Prepkitchen chef Jade Griego is at the helm. Recent pizza specials include wild ramp, walnut pesto and mozzarella, in addition to a pie of asparagus, prosciutto di Parma and taleggio. 1429 Island Ave., San Diego, 619.234.0808

Jason McLeod, Ironside Fish and Oyster
Jason McLeod has a bevy of accomplishments under his belt, including a guest appearance at the James Beard House and a couple of Michelin stars. His latest accomplishment comes to San Diego via Ironside, where the goal is reinvigorating Southern California’s oyster culture, which includes a proprietary oyster ($3 a piece) he cultivated with Puget Sound's Minterbrook Oyster Company. Other specialties? Lobster rolls ($22), fresh-catch fish (from $18) and a raw-bar selection worthy of royalty. 1654 India St., San Diego, 619.269.3033

5 TOP BAR PROGRAMS

Fairweather
The speak-easy rooftop oasis that overlooks Petco Park stadium has long perfected Tiki drinks and tourist-free relief. The main man behind the bar, Anthony Schmidt, has spent the past decade perfecting his art—and it’s delectably apparent in the airy getaway’s new summer menu. Order Orange Is The New Black ($12) for a brew of Amaro Montenegro, black and Jamaican rum, and orange juice. Welcome to paradise! 795 J St., San Diego, 619.255.6507

Searsucker
Searsucker has serious notoriety with chef Brian Malarkey at the helm, but its drink menu is just as astounding as the fare from the kitchen. The signature Peter Rabbit ($12) with Pimm’s No. 1, bruised basil, pressed lemon and the famed pickled carrot garnish is a household name with the out-on-the-town set. Its liquor infusions ($11), like sweet-tea vodka and strawberry jalapeno tequila, are in a drinking class of their own. 12995 El Camino Real, Del Mar, 858.369.5700

Polite Provisions
With internationally known barkeep Erick Castro at the helm and one of the world’s largest cocktail menus, Polite Provisions is always a sure bet. However, true to its innovative roots, expect to see a new menu (that doubles as an interactive adult coloring book) with more than 60 brand new concoctions. Castro’s pick? The Kojima Cocktail ($8) with Japanese whiskey made in a sous vide cooker for the ultimate of infusions. 4696 30th St., San Diego, 619.677.3784

Noble Experiment
Hidden behind a wall of kegs inside Neighborhood restaurant, this modern-day speak-easy is literally a portal into the 1920s. Though the slick cocktail savants behind the bar are known for conjuring impromptu potions, the dimly lit hideaway is rolling out a new menu featuring Fourplay (In the Foyer), with gin, bubbles and raspberry brandy ($12), which draws inspiration from its namesake Beyoncé lyrics. S.D. local tip: Plan weeks in advance to score a spot at this reservation-only nook. 777 G St., San Diego, 619.888.4713

7 Grand
Attention all whiskey aficionados: This is your mothership. Hailing from Los Angeles’ cutting-edge cocktail scene, this North Park haunt stocks one of the largest selections of premium whiskey on the West Coast, like Pappy Van Winkle 23 and Rittenhouse 25. It’s also home to the ultrahip Whiskey Society—a membership program offering exploration into experiment and education of the spirit (from $15). 3054 University Ave., San Diego, 619.269.8820

5 BEST BRUNCHES

Café 21
Get your daily brunch fix at Café 21 over sangria, mojito or mimosa flights with six fruit-infused flavors ($21). Scallop or short-rib omelets ($15 to $16) are served in cast iron skillets, while the French toast (from $11) is stuffed with the filling of your choice, such as strawberries or bananas. The eatery’s farm-to-table menu is available at both the Gaslamp Quarter and University Heights locations. 802 Fifth Ave., San Diego, 619.795.0721; 2736 Adams Ave., San Diego, 619.640.2121

Herringbone
Who could say no to bottomless rosé ($25 per person) during weekend brunch? Former Bravo Top Chef contestant Brian Malarkey elevates the brunch experience with nontraditional dishes like fresh oysters ($31 per dozen), whole fish ceviche ($27) and a local yellowtail ceviche tostada ($15). Other favorites include French toast ($17) and chilaquiles ($14). 7837 Herschel Ave., La Jolla, 858.459.0221

Oceana Coastal Kitchen
The Sunday Champagne brunch overlooking Mission Bay not only features an entree from the regular menu, but also includes unlimited trips to the raw bar and buffet to grab fresh sushi, salads, antipasti, fruit, dessert and more. While you’re sipping on bottomless mimosas or Champagne, make sure to take a look at the 800-gallon aquarium filled with florescent jellyfish. $58 per person, 3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego, 858.539.8635

The Cottage
Feel right at home in this revamped cottage with patio seating that’s a popular brunch destination among La Jollans. On the classic American and SoCal menu, favorites include stuffed French toast with brioche, strawberry compote and mascarpone cheese ($14); eggs Benedict (from $13); and housemade granola that’s so popular it’s packaged for retail sale (both for $10). Top off your meal with a Mexican mocha ($5) or mimosa ($7). 7702 Fay Ave., La Jolla, 858.454.8409

The Patio on Lamont
Bring your dog to this popular indoor/outdoor beach locale known for its brunch that gets the Sunday Funday crowd going with funk music. Try the smoked pork belly Benedict ($13) or the bourbon Dutch pancake ($12) paired with one of their coffee cocktails ($9) or a bottle of Champagne complete with juice mixers ($24). The chef sources herbs, fruits and veggies from the on-site garden. 4445 Lamont St., San Diego, 858.412.4648

5 PLACES TO SEE AND BE SEEN

Kettner Exchange
Fresh off two dinners at the famed James Beard House in NYC, head chef Brian Redzikowski continues to thrill at this Little Italy hot spot with a restaurant and lively rooftop lounge. Beverage Director Steven Tuttle is a master of two spirits in particular: rum and mezcal. His delicious I Go To Rio is essentially a mezcal mai tai ($11), but for a memorable meal, pair the slightly fruity Tiki Cross ($11), made with three types of rum, pineapple and black walnut bitters, with the slightly spicy Royal Red Shrimp Garlic Noodles ($25). POWER MOVE Redzikowski’s Chef’s Table dinners are one of the hottest tickets in town, as they sell out within the first week of being released. This year’s events include a backyard barbecue-themed dinner this July and a traditional five-course Japanese feast in August (prices to be announced). 2001 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, 619.225.2001

Marine Room
Over the last half-century, every A-list visitor from Bob Hope to John McEnroe has stopped by S.D.’s Marine Room to take in the seafront views. This year, the institution celebrates its 75th anniversary and it still remains the ultimate hangout for La Jolla’s elite. The togarashi-sesame-spiced ahi tuna ($44) paired with a citrusy Château La Robotine Sancerre ($15 a glass) is the perfect meal to enjoy while watching the waves crash against the thick-paned windows. POWER MOVE Several times a year Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver hold cooking classes followed by a three-course dinner ($85). Book a spot now for the Aug. 10 and Oct. 12 classes. 2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, 858.459.7222

THE LOT La Jolla
This upscale movie theater and restaurant combo is a dream come true for those in search of a fun and refined date night. Filmgoers can enjoy gourmet food like grilled king prawn salad ($18) in the plush theater or make reservations for a pre- or postshow dinner at the upscale restaurant. The grilled Colorado lamb chops with baba ghanoush, heirloom carrots and roasted fig jus ($37) paired with a full-bodied Shafer cabernet sauvignon ($50 for a 6oz glass, $187 a bottle) will set the tone for a romantic evening. Added bonus? THE LOT just opened a second outpost at the historic Liberty Station’s former Luce Auditorium building. POWER MOVE Book table 304 on the Allen outdoor patio—it’s the best seat in the house for premiere people watching at one of the hottest spots in La Jolla. 7611 Fay Ave., La Jolla, 858.777.0069

The Nolen
The most impressive aspect about this East Village rooftop bar is the panoramic view. From the lofty perch, located atop the Courtyard by Marriott Gaslamp/Convention Center, visitors are able to view the Coronado Bridge, Petco Park and even the towers of the Hotel del Coronado. The fact that the cocktails and small bites are excellent is an added bonus, and you might just catch some of the Padres enjoying a post-game drink. The slightly spicy carnitas-topped flatbread with salsa verde and sweet onion ($14) is the perfect accompaniment to the Alligator Pear cocktail ($13) with gin, kummel, housemade avocado and cilantro shrub, lemon, soda and a mezcal float. POWER MOVE With its sweeping views, The Nolen is an impressive place to host a private gathering, from a 10-person cocktail class to a soiree for up to 120. The lounge can implement anything your heart desires, including off-menu desserts and beer tastings, but to truly wow the guests, ask the mixologists to barrel-age a cocktail featuring your favorite spirit as the event’s signature libation (from $2,500). 453 Sixth Ave., San Diego, 619.796.6536

The Pony Room
The equestrian-themed bar at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa remains the go-to spot for premier cocktails and casual bites in an elegant, yet laid-back atmosphere which is a favorite of celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow. A newly revamped menu has more fresh seafood offerings like a Cobb salad with shrimp and lobster ($28)—ideal with the tequila-based cocktails the lounge is well-known for. Try the ahi sashimi “poke style” ($22) with the Sassy Sangria ($13) made with Tres Agaves Blanco tequila, housemade sangrita and Cointreau Noir. POWER MOVE Resort co-owner Jeff Jacobs has a legendary love of agave spirits. To fully immerse yourself in everything the resort has to offer—from a tequila and mezcal, of course—join the All Agave Club ($295 per year), which includes access to in-depth tastings and a monthly Sip Sesh seminar with the liquor owners and master distillers. 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.756.1123

3 MOST CREATIVE DESSERTS

Churros Calientes de la Casa, Coasterra
Crafted by chef Deborah Scott, these warm, crispy housemade confections are doused with cinnamon sugar crystals and sinful when dipped in a trio of spiced milk chocolate, salted caramel and fresh strawberry sauces. Indulging in the fried-dough delights while on the heated patio overlooking the harbor? Delicioso. $10, 880 Harbor Island Drive, 619.814.1300

Yodel, Juniper & Ivy
When it comes down to dessert, Little Italy’s hot concept Juniper & Ivy takes the cake. To wit: This dream of a devil’s cake featuring white chocolate, hazelnut brittle and hot chocolate, is further sweetened by a spoonful of fresh strawberries. $12, 2228 Kettner Blvd., 619.269.9036

Dark Chocolate and Crushed Toffee S’mores, Eddie V’s
From the kitchen of one of La Jolla’s favorite haunts comes a sophisticated twist on a campfire classic—one that tops dark chocolate and sugar-sweet toffee with a toasted homemade marshmallow for a tantalizing taste of summertime. $10, 1270 Prospect St., 858.459.5500

3 TRENDS DEFINING SAN DIEGO

Doughnuts
Gourmet doughnut shops are rising at a sweet rate. Get to Donut Bar (631 B St., San Diego, 619.255.6360) early to pick up popular flavors like the red velvet ($2) and cake batter ($3) before the daily inventory depletes. Head to Devil’s Dozen (2001 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, 619.780.0914) to try the decadent tres leches cake doughnuts ($3 each), which pair nicely with a Cafe Virtuoso coffee (from $1.75). Meanwhile, at Bertrand at Mister A’s, doughnut flavors like triple coconut and rum-roasted pineapple ($12 per half dozen) change monthly during weekend brunch (2550 Fifth Ave., San Diego, 619.239.1377). If you’re vegan, head to Nomad Donuts (4504 30th St., San Diego, 619.431.5000) and try the outpost’s inventive Vegan Blackberry Peach Jam Habanero ($4 each) option.

Poke
Raw sliced and diced tuna is the new "it" seafood dish in town. Expect to find poke on many menus around S.D. or at these new specialty shops: Poke Go (3614 Fifth Ave., San Diego, 619.230.5549), Pokirrito (4646 Convoy St., San Diego) and San Diego Poke Company (10387 Friars Road, San Diego, 619.584.4786). If you want to try all the fresh options S.D. has to offer, head to Shelter Island’s annual I Love Poke festival (tickets from $65) next May.

Supper Clubs and Pop-Ups
Exclusive pop-up dinners are quickly becoming the hottest ticket in town. One of the most popular is Cow By Bear ($150 per person)—a 10-seat dinner prepared by an anonymous chef donning a bear costume to conceal his or her identity. While the five-course meal changes seasonally, the 50-day dry-aged rib-eye will always be found on the menu. If you’re after something larger, participate in Diner en Blanc San Diego (from $38, locations vary)—an annual over-the-top fete that brings together 2,000 guests (dressed all in white) to a secret location to wine and dine alfresco.