Nov 29, 2023 - Food and Drink

Esquire magazine features San Diego's best new restaurants

Sashimi from Hitokuchi

Sashimi from Hitokuchi. Photo: Arlene Ibarra, courtesy of Hitokuchi

San Diego's seafood is gaining recognition.

Driving the news: Esquire Magazine released its Best New Restaurants of 2023 list yesterday, featuring three in San Diego County.

  • Esquire's food writers tried roughly 200 new dining establishments nationwide that serve a variety of cuisines, and, after a series of spirited debates, they settled on 50 restaurants that stood out.

Hitokuchi, a Japanese restaurant and sake lounge in Convoy District, serves high-end, shareable small bites, including raw seafood sourced from Japan's Toyosu Fish Market, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

What they're saying: "Chef John Hong does not hold back when it comes to premium ingredients, and the prices reflect that," Esquire reporter Jeff Gordinier writes.

  • But his uni-and-caviar dish is a local legend for a reason: Imagine a tower of sushi rice in which each individual grain has been coated in oceanic luxury."

Mabel's Gone Fishing in North Park takes Iberian cuisine, adds a touch of the California coast and casually wraps it up in a neighborhood bar and restaurant, according to Esquire.

  • And the martinis make an elegant accompaniment to their seafood.

What they're saying: "The pan con tomate is made with a rustic grilled sourdough, with the option of boquerones: Do it. The oysters (get the ones from Baja) come with a house-made hot sauce that you'll want to use throughout the meal," Esquire's Kevin Sintumuang writes.

  • "The nonnegotiable (when it's on the menu) is the swordfish schnitzel, arguably one of the best uses of the fish ever."

Of note: Valle in Oceanside, which earned a Michelin star last summer, also made the list as it's "nothing like most Mexican restaurants you'll find in this part of California."

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