California’s super bloom marks the beginning of springtime, meaning a sweet harvest and a demand for outdoor dining. As the season changes, it brings new menus that are bright in color and feature fresh ingredients with chefs finding creative ways to utilize the season’s highlights. Use this guide to find restaurants with new spring dishes sprouting up that will help you make the most of the exciting San Diego food scene!
AVANT at Rancho Bernardo Inn has launched a chef’s four-course tasting menu that celebrates spring, emphasizing seasonal ingredients from an on-site garden. While keeping in line with its blend of French and American dishes, the menu features dishes that are sure to captivate guests. A few standout entrees are Cured Diver Scallop, Aged Duck Breast and Wagyu Strip Loin paired with root vegetables and tender greens with hearty braises. AVANT isn’t dropping the ball when it comes to outdoor dining either. The dining room and bar are an open-air transition to its patio space featuring fireplaces.
Civico 1845 brings a new generation of Italian cuisine. Paying homage to its southern Italian roots, it provides an extensive vegan menu that incorporates many dishes for which Italy is known. Civico 1845’s spring-inspired menu is fresh, light and authentic, highlighting a few key ingredients including eggplant, basil, cherry tomatoes, porcini mushrooms and freshly-caught seafood, making it the ideal spot for an Italian feast.
Cloak and Petal’s self-described ‘Tokyo Subway’ décor sits in an intimate lounge masquerading as a subway-waiting platform. Guests can enjoy authentic Japanese treats such as Hamachi Kama, karaage fried chicken, and local, sustainable sushi. You can also enter the heart of the restaurant to find a bar boasting life-size pink cherry blossom trees during springtime, making it the perfect backdrop to enjoy a curated selection of rare Japanese whiskeys.
Juniper and Ivy’s is a restaurant created by James Beard-nominated chef Anthony Wells. He uses local, seasonal ingredients to serve coast cuisine, making it an ideal choice to enjoy the spring harvest. With rotating daily ingredients, the highlights of his springtime menu include kampachi crudo with pichu berry fish sauce and pastrami spareribs served with blueberry amba.
Kingfisher provides a unique take on traditional Vietnamese and French-inspired food paired with sustainability. Executive Chef Jonathan Bautista’s seasonal menu centers around dry-aged proteins like duck and seafood. Spring menu highlights include Vietnamese sunchoke curry and smoked beef rib rice. Additionally, the glitzy 23-seat central bar offers seventeen unique cocktails, including the aptly named rocket fuel shot.
Disguised as a simple coffee shop and bakery, La Clochette Du Coin serves up hard-to-find authentic French treats like homemade tartines. La Clochette Du Coin also serves locally sourced artisanal coffees and pastries made from scratch. The seasonal menu centers around French-inspired breakfast, and lunch options paired with traditional French dishes like the house-made cassoulet served with fresh-baked levain bread. The rotating seasonal coffees are a must-try for caffeine lovers!
Located in the heart of Little Italy, Monello’s award-winning Italian cuisine stands out with its 25 different kinds of daily handcrafted pasta. The contemporary, sleek interior paired with authentic Milanese street food helps Monello fulfill its mission of timelessness over trendsetting. A must-try menu item for spring includes the seasonally rotating Cheese Wheel Pasta, which is tossed tableside in a 60-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Puesto stands out in San Diego’s crowded Mexican food scene with its dedication to local ingredients and Mexico-City-specific regional tacos. Blue corn tortillas are crafted from stone-ground organic “azul maíz” and paired with classics like quesabirria. Puesto’s also serves non-traditional ingredients like Parmigiano Reggiano-infused guacamole. Puesto is ideal for San Diego’s warm springtime climate with a dedicated bar.
Located in the famed Hotel Del, Serẽa highlights San Diego and Baja California’s local seafood. Serẽa Coastal Cuisine was awarded a James Beard Foundation “Smart Catch” award for its sustainability. The seasonal menu highlights light and sustainable seafood in a fine dining experience with both raw and cooked options. Serẽa is the perfect place to try hard-to-find local springtime seafood such as Mexican Blue Shrimp and San Diego Rockfish.
STK offers a classic steakhouse menu with a modern and chic feel. Famous for their DJs and social dining experience, STK is one of the only San Diego restaurants offering imported Japanese Wagyu beef for $30 an ounce, a must-try for any true beef-lover. STK’s high-energy environment allows for great social interactions with familiar, excellent white tablecloth service and dishes. Don’t miss the Wagyu sliders as an appetizer!
The Crack Shack is a fun, informal eatery specializing in all things chicken! Frequent fliers rave about the chicken-themed sandwiches, served in various styles. It’s can’t miss items include the BAE and the Cali Drip sandwiches. Although the sandwiches are often the star, the family-sized “flock meals” make the Crack Shack a perfect stop after enjoying some of San Diego’s many outdoor springtime activities.
Located in the legendary Lodge at Torrey Pines of US Open golf fame, A.R. Valentien focuses on regional San Diego cuisine. With a lovely menu rotating on seasonal availability, this restaurant stands apart from the rest for its classic yet contemporary setting and light west-coast cuisine. Seasonal items like the local crispy skin sablefish pair nicely with classics such as A.R. Valentien’s Tropical Sundae in their current spring menu. This sundae is a delectable assortment of sorbets, making this restaurant a must-try this season.
Union Kitchen and Tap is a favorite among Encinitas’ locals with many of California’s best surf spots just a short stroll away. Union’s rotating menu of craft beers and lively bar pairs perfectly with its New American-style plates with ingredients from its very own patio garden. Executive Chef, Anthony Calamari, creates an ever-changing menu that relies on local and organic ingredients. The menu features a variety of options to choose from including seasonal salads, hearty sandwiches, and several signature dishes for meat-eaters and vegetarians.
Urban Plates is celebrating the spring season by unveiling two new fish-focused entrées: the Roasted Barramundi Sea Bass Plate and the Wild Ahi Niçoise Salad. The fast-casual restaurant has created a counter-service for a quick farm-to-table experience. Urban Plates is known for its expansive organic menu, specializing in fresh and healthy food catering to many diets like gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, pescatarian, and low-carb, as well as its commitment to sustainably and responsibly sourced fish.