Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
Seared scallops at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine.

Dine at these top San Diego restaurants this month.

By Sarah Daoust

Duke’s La Jolla
The Aloha spirit is alive and well at Duke’s La Jolla, a stunning family restaurant and bar parked atop La Jolla Cove. It’s the newest location of the surfing and Hawaii-inspired Duke’s chain, and built to impress. Guests are greeted by a statue of its namesake, Duke Kahanamoku—a six-time Olympic swimming and water polo medalist, and considered the father of modern-day surfing—before entering a massive two-story space that opens out to a generous oceanfront deck on each level. Executive Chef Anthony Sinsay oversees a seasonal menu that blends Hawaiian and California cuisines, with starters such as poke tacos, chargrilled Tahitian octopus and Korean sticky ribs; mains such as kaffir-crusted ahi steak and banana leaf-steamed fish; and sides such as Spam-fried rice and kimchee macaroni salad. Chase it with a Duke’s Mai Tai. 1216 Prospect St., La Jolla, 858.454.5888.

The Crack Shack
Chefs Richard Blais and Jon Sloan and owner Michael Rosen weren’t kidding when they announced that the concept for The Crack Shack would be “all day chicken and eggs.” Add some cocktails, and that’s pretty much the menu at the casual eatery serving non-GMO, local, organic goodies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Located on the same lot as Blais’ acclaimed Juniper & Ivy restaurant, it’s, well, a shack—a former eyesore of a freestanding shed that has been cleverly renovated into an outdoor lounge outfitted with mod farmhouse-style picnic tables, a bocce court, bar and fireplace. At the walk-up counter, order deviled eggs, chicken oysters, traditional fried chicken and specialty sandwiches such as the sinful Señor Croque with crispy chicken, bacon, a fried egg, cheddar and miso-maple butter on a brioche bun; plus soft-serve ice cream in flavors such as salted caramel for dessert. 2266 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.795.3299.

The Brew Project
Take a San Diego brewery tour under one roof at The Brew Project, a craft beer-centric bar, restaurant and bottle shop by owners Beau Schmitt and Mike Sill—housed in the former R Gang Eatery space in Hillcrest. Sample from 24 taps of an always-rotating selection of regional microbrews; plus red, white and sparkling wine; kombucha and cold-brew coffee on draft; and a full cocktail bar that includes possibly the best Bloody Mary in the ‘hood. To dine, fill up on hearty New American fare, including artisanal sandwiches, sliders and salads. Favorites include the pulled pork sandwich with a side of cross-cut fries, and the mac ‘n’ cheese with caramelized onions and house-made chorizo. The laid-back hang includes a dog-friendly patio, a second-floor lounge, and an on-site retail shop selling bottled beer and wine to-go. 3683 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest, 619.795.7890.

The latest culinary foray in University Heights, Madison, is quite the stunner. The architecture alone will drop jaws at this trendy new outpost—outfitted with cedar-paneled vaulted ceilings, mid-century-mod décor, Italian design accents and cozy booths. There’s even a private tunnel side entrance that gives the 3,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge a casual-cool charm. Executive Consulting Chef Mario Cassineri designed the Mediterranean and SoCal-inspired menu. Highlights include the tuna tartare topped with shrimp tempura; the kale and Romaine chopped salad with truffle cheese and a poached egg; and the sesame-crusted pork chop. Cocktails include reimagined classics and signature concoctions such as the California Common with mezcal, watermelon and lime; plus wine and local craft beer. 4622 Park Blvd., University Heights, 619.269.6566.

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
A dining staple of the Gaslamp for 20 years, seafood supper club Blue Point Coastal Cuisine has been reinvigorated with newly appointed Executive Chef Samuel Geffroy, who has launched a new seafood-tasting menu: Hook + Vine: A VIP Seafood & Wine Pairing Dinner. The lineup includes a mixed seafood platter; kale salad with basil-pesto goat cheese bonbons; wild mushroom ravioli; pan-seared day boat scallops with ricotta gnocchi, Belgian endive, green apple and spinach; and lime-cheesecake crème brulee for dessert—and each course is paired with a specialty wine. (See restaurant for pricing). Winos will love the Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc from Baja just south of the border, paired with the kale salad. Blue Point is also known for its raw bar, classic cocktails and big city vibe. 565 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.233.6623.

Green Dragon Tavern
Boston’s historical Green Dragon Tavern has been replicated in Carlsbad with the Green Dragon Tavern & Museum, a sprawling 22,000-square-foot venue housing five different concepts under one roof—a museum, coffee shop, event space, tavern and restaurant. The property was designed to channel the colonial era—outfitted with cobblestone walkways, red brick accents, majestic white columns and grand foyers. At the admission-free museum, peruse historical documents and memorabilia from the Revolutionary War era displayed behind custom glass panels. Inside the New England-style tavern, sip a local craft beer or one of 20 traditional brews on tap amid soaring ceilings and a custom, two-story stone fireplace. In the restaurant, feast on American comfort cuisine, including Maine lobster rolls, New England clam chowder and the Paul Revere burger—made with house-cured bacon. 6115 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad, 760.918.2421.

The Taco Stand
The cult-followed La Jolla taqueria The Taco Stand is spicing up downtown with its second location. Expect the same flavorful taco shop fare—inspired by the food stands of nearby Tijuana and traditional Latin American recipes—served in a bright, 1,500-square-foot eatery accented by a colorful wall mural, high ceilings, an open-air kitchen and brick and wood accents. Along with authentic Mexican fixings, send your taste buds south of the border with made-to-order tortillas; flame-grilled chicken tacos; the al pastor burrito with rotisserie marinated pork and pineapple; carne asada-topped fries with 100-percent-certified Angus steak; and the famous Nopal taco filled with flame-grilled cactus. Wash it down with a cerveza for a satisfying lunch or dinner. 645 B St., downtown.

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