Esquire Journal picks three San Diego spots for its 50 Finest New Eating places in America checklist

Esquire Journal picks three San Diego spots for its 50 Finest New Eating places in America checklist

Three San Diego County eating places have been named to Esquire Journal’s 2023 checklist of the 50 Finest New Eating places in America: Hitokuchi within the Convoy District, Michelin-recommended Mabel’s Gone Fishing in North Park and Michelin-starred Valle in Oceanside.

The four-member culinary and life-style crew at Esquire visited about 200 top-rated new eating places round the USA this yr and narrowed their checklist of favorites right down to 50. The checklist was introduced Tuesday morning. The eating critics wrote that the important thing component of the 50 eating places they selected was the frequent ingredient of “radical authenticity.”

“Maybe cooks have gotten braver and extra prepared to place their private tales on the plate. Or perhaps there’s an unconscious impulse afoot to fend off the existential menace of synthetic intelligence and digital worlds. Regardless of the motive, we’re all of the beneficiaries of a culinary second that revels in uncooked honesty. The collective eating expertise proper now’s visceral, weak, downright bizarre at occasions — and so very human,” they wrote.

Esquire’s Meals and Drinks Editor Jeff Gordinier stated that this yr’s 50 Finest checklist has many California honorees which might be not within the state’s two main restaurant cities: San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“We’ve obtained spots in Carmel, Ojai, Oakland, Calistoga, Oceanside, and naturally San Diego,” he stated. “I grew up in Southern California and it makes me glad to see this, as a result of California is an unlimited state and among the finest consuming in California has at all times existed exterior of the key cities. Within the case of San Diego, it has quickly developed into one of the thrilling food and drinks cities within the nation. And there’s a uniquely relaxed vibe to one of the best San Diego eating places — even the costly ones. These are eating places that put you relaxed, one way or the other.”

“My mother and father occur to stay in Laguna Seaside,” he continued. “We fly west to go to them each summer season. Throughout these weeks once I’m staying in Laguna Seaside, I can, after all, resolve to drive north or south to take a look at new eating places for Esquire. Currently I’ve realized that I’m increasingly fired as much as drive south. I at all times make a beeline for San Diego. Stuff is going on in San Diego which you could’t actually discover wherever else. I imply, I’d be glad to spend a whole week within the Convoy District alone.”

A selection of dishes from the menu of Hitokuchi on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa.

A choice of dishes from the menu of Hitokuchi on Convoy Road in Kearny Mesa.

(Courtesy of Arlene Ibarra)


Chef-owner John Hong opened in January subsequent door to his 5-year-old Hidden Fish omakase-only sushi bar within the Convoy District. Hitokuchi has a less-formal environment than Hidden Fish, reflecting the type of meals Hong himself likes to eat. Hitokuchi, which implies “one sip, one chunk” in Japanese. All the components that make up the flavour sensation of umami (savoriness) may be present in a single chunk of the whole lot on the restaurant’s menu.

Hitokuchi’s a la carte menu presents uncooked and sizzling bites, in addition to a choice of “toasts,” that are tartares, poke and cooked and chilled seafood served on crispy toast squares. Seventy p.c of the menu components come from Japan, both from Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market or Japan’s licensed A5 Wagyu beef farms. California-grown produce can be celebrated within the garnish and accents on the dishes.

Gordinier reviewed Hitokuchi, writing: “Don’t fear. You’re in the correct place. From the road, you may see the drive-through for a fast-food spot, however Hitokuchi is squeezed within the again. Cross by means of the heavy door and also you’ll discover among the most beautiful cooking in San Diego’s Convoy District. Chef John Hong doesn’t maintain again in terms of premium components, and the costs replicate that. However his uni-and-caviar dish is a neighborhood legend for a motive: Think about a tower of sushi rice by which every particular person grain has been coated in oceanic luxurious.”

Chef-owner John Hong in his restaurant Hitokuchi on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa.

Chef-owner John Hong in his restaurant Hitokuchi on Convoy Road in Kearny Mesa.

(Courtesy of Arlene Ibarra)

Reached by cellphone simply 90 minutes after studying the information Tuesday morning, Hong stated he was “flipped the wrong way up” by the popularity.

Hong stated it was laborious work getting the restaurant open and introducing a brand new idea, and it’s been even tougher in current months as meals prices hold rising whereas he reduces his menu costs to construct a loyal following. Fortuitously, Hidden Fish has been constantly busy, permitting Hitokuchi time to develop, he stated. Now he hopes the nationwide recognition will assist Hitokuchi discover strong floor.

“It’s been a fairly tough yr opening a enterprise. The economic system’s not so nice, particularly opening a fine-dining institution. So to be acknowledged by any individual like Jeff and Esquire means a lot and is a good reduction. I put loads of effort into this over the previous couple of years, so I’m grateful that any individual acknowledged it.”

Dishes at Mabel's Gone Fishing in North Park.

Dishes at Mabel’s Gone Fishing in North Park.

(Courtesy of Kimberly Motos )

Mabel’s Gone Fishing

Mabel’s, a buzzy gin and oyster bar serving Iberian-style small plates, was opened in September 2022 by enterprise companions Chelsea Coleman and Rae Gurne. Three months later it was named to’s 2022 checklist of the highest 15 new eating places within the U.S. And final March it earned a Michelin Information advice.

Mabel’s is the second mid-city restaurant owned by Gurne and Coleman, who’s the daughter of the late San Diego Padres announcer Jerry Coleman. They opened The Rose Wine Bar, a 50-seat wine bar and bottle store, in South Park in 2010. Initially they deliberate to open Mabel’s Gone Fishing in the summertime of 2020, however the pandemic delayed the debut for 2 years. The neighborhood restaurant is understood for its pleasant employees, Spanish-style shellfish, swordfish schnitzel, house-smoked mackerel and gin-based cocktails.

Kevin Sintumuang, Esquire’s life-style and tradition director reviewed Mabel’s, writing: “Take Iberian delicacies, give it a contact of the California coast, casually wrap it up in a neighborhood bar and restaurant, and also you’ve obtained Mabel’s. There are surprises to the best issues. The pan con tomate is made with a country grilled sourdough, with the choice of boquerones: Do it. The oysters (get those from Baja) include a house-made sizzling sauce that you just’ll need to use all through the meal. There are elegant martinis as accompaniment: The Greetings From Palma has a contact of pickled-sea-bean brine. The home mini martini will get fino sherry and orange bitters. And if you happen to’re not in a martini temper, on the very least get a glass of the glowing Albariño from California’s Carboniste. The nonnegotiable (when it’s on the menu) is the swordfish schnitzel, arguably probably the greatest makes use of of the fish ever. Hopefully you saved that sizzling sauce to go along with it.”

An artfully plated dessert at Valle restaurant in Oceanside.

An artfully plated dessert at Valle restaurant in Oceanside.

(Valle Restaurant)

Valle Restaurant

Chef-owner Roberto Alcocer is on a roll. In July, he earned a Michelin Star for his 2-year-old trendy Mexican tasting restaurant in downtown Oceanside.

The 155-seat Valle joins simply 4 different San Diego County eating places which have acquired Michelin stars in recent times: three-starred Addison in Carmel Valley, one-starred Jeune et Jolie in Carlsbad and Soichi Sushi and Sushi Tadokoro, each in San Diego.

Valle will get its title from Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe, the place Alcocer has operated Malva Cocina de Baja California restaurant for the previous 10 years. He moved his household to Oceanside two years in the past with the aim of incomes a Michelin star, which he achieved in simply 21 months. Now he’s hoping to earn a second star.

Alcocer is understood for his suave optical phantasm plating methods and his love for culinary contrasts, like mixing candy and spicy flavors, the pop of shiny acidic sauces, buttery starches, rustic house-baked artisan breads.

Esquire’s Sintumuang reviewed Valle, writing: “Being proper throughout the border from Mexico means San Diego is wealthy in fantastic, conventional Mexican meals. Which makes it all of the extra thrilling that Valle is nothing like most Mexican eating places you’ll discover on this a part of California. It takes a modernist but nonetheless enjoyable and soulful strategy to the delicacies, particularly of the valle in its title, the Guadalupe Valley. (Which can be the place essentially the most dynamic wines on its checklist come from.) Chef Roberto Alcocer’s tasting menu is considered one of poetic riffs on the essences of Mexican cooking: You’ll get the heavy smoke in a deeply charred caramelized-onion tart, blacker than black, with a glistening quenelle of Kaluga caviar on prime. And a chayote within the form of a rose, with shiso leaves atop crab and a bright-green aguachile, is the essence of surf and turf in Baja.”

Robert Alcocer inside his Michelin-starred Valle restaurant in Oceanside.

Robert Alcocer inside his Michelin-starred Valle restaurant in Oceanside.

(John Gastaldo/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

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