San Diego Food Scene: New Kids on the Block

The landscape of the San Diego food scene is ever-changing. As the seasons shift, brand-new eateries launch throughout the county, including these latest new kids on the block. This week, we take a look at some newly-minted neighborhood gems gaining popularity among Yelp foodies. The lights are on, the doors are open and these spots are ready to serve.

Café Gratitude (Little Italy)

This 100 percent organic, plant-based café has been open for less than two months, but it has already racked up over 100 highly-rated reviews on Yelp. So far, customers seem to love the flavorful, nutritional cuisine and products. The sister restaurant to Gracias Madre, Café Gratitude is committed to a business concept dubbed “Sacred Commerce,” which includes providing inspired, honest service while expressing gratitude for life. True to this spot’s name, items on the menu prepared by executive chef Dreux Ellis are named after positive affirmations, including “Liberated,” an entrée consisting of marinated pesto kelp noodles, heirloom cherry tomatoes, local black and green olives, wild arugula, basil hempseed pesto, cashew ricotta and brazil nut parmesan.

Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen (Vista)
This extremely popular gastropub recently opened its second North County location, sister to the original joint in Oceanside. The menu boasts over 32 taps and some serious eats such as the Roasted HeartBrand Akaushi, all-natural tri-tip marinated in sherry and mushrooms with a choice of smoked mashed potatoes or the famous creamy polenta. Don’t skip dessert: the Mason Jar of vanilla custard with chocolate ganache and Tahitian vanilla bean whipped cream is a must-have.

Lemonade (Hillcrest)
The Los Angeles-based, “California comfort food” concept has expanded into San Diego’s hip Hillcrest neighborhood, as well as a second location at Westfield UTC La Jolla. At Lemonade, fresh, regional dishes are served in a cafeteria-style setting – on a tray, of course – reminiscent of those days when you picked out your lunch in the school cafeteria and grabbed a seat with friends. Menu options include Red Miso Beef Short Ribs and Sweet Corn, Kale and cheddar cheese Soufflé. So far, the fast casual eatery seems to be winning over the time-strapped lunch crowd in this neighborhood.

Ohana Cupcakes (Oceanside)
This “create, bake and take” cupcake concept has the crowds cheering for more! After a stint living in Hawaii, owners Mark and Susan McKenna have brought the Aloha spirit to the mainland with a family-friendly bakery focused on hands-on fun. Here, customers of all ages get to become the baker and mix, decorate, bake and take their treats home. The bakery has dedicated stations for every step of the sweet process – from a mixing bar to a decorating area that includes a variety of candy toppings. Of course, Ohana Cupcakes also offers baked and ready-to-eat options, too, no work required.

Chi Extraordinary Kitchen (University Heights)
This place is the self-proclaimed only pescatarian Thai eatery in San Diego and the owner, Patty, is passionate about the healthy cuisine. The menu features delicious combinations like Po Tak: mixed seafood stew in a light spicy broth with flavors of lime, lemongrass, basil and kaffir. Choose from a variety of noodle dishes, curries and special creations in the relaxing and authentic atmosphere.

Swell Café (Del Mar)
Another local business extends its reach into northern San Diego with a second location. Swell Coffee Company surfs a little Mission Beach into the Flower Hill shopping Center with this new eatery, located on the second story. The menu boasts delicious coffee drinks created with sustainably-sourced beans, plus plenty of bites like fresh acai bowls and sandwiches. Need a sweet treat? Check out the selection of smoothies packed with fruit.

Trish Sanderson is the community manager and marketing director for Yelp North County San Diego. She leads the local community of Yelp reviewers both online and off.

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