The food scene in La Jolla seems to be ever-changing; two new restaurants are now open, two more are on the way (one from a familiar face at La Jolla Open Aire Market), and three have “rebranded.”
Now open …
In a true, but innovative, culinary fusion, Shin’s La Jolla opened in September at 8008 Girard Ave., near The Cove, to bring Japanese, Italian and French food to the Village. In addition to dishes that embrace the cultures individually (such as the Italian prosciutto, salami and olives plate from Italy and the Halibut Meunière from France), Shin’s also combines cultures for unique plates, such as the spaghetti with sea urchin and green onions, or the Linguine Pescatore, featuring linguine with seafood and Japanese plum condiments.
Heading the kitchen is Chef Yuji (who simply goes by Yuji) and heading the front of house are owner Shin Kanzaki and manager Kunio Osada. Shin opened Tatou restaurant in New York more than 20 years ago, before branching out to open Tatou locations in Aspen, Beverly Hills and Japan.
Drawing from Chef Yuji’s experience (being Japanese, but having worked in Italian and French kitchens), management wanted to showcase all his skills, and decided to present menu items from all three cultures.
Shin’s La Jolla is open 3-10 p.m. daily. (858) 412-5393. shinslajolla.com
On Oct. 3, BJ’s Restaurants chain opened a 5,500-square-foot location at 8785 Villa La Jolla Drive at the Shops at La Jolla Village. The menu includes BJ’s staples such as its deep-dish pizza and famous “Pizookie” dessert, as well as craft beers. Like the other locations, BJs La Jolla features pizza, pasta, burgers, salad, sandwiches and more.
Said CEO Greg Trojan, “Our La Jolla restaurant is our 63rd in California.”
Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, and 11-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. (858) 455-0662. bjsrestaurants.com
Coming soon …
Continuing a legacy started by Indian chef Hemant Oberoi, Masala Street will open in La Jolla by mid-November. Headed by Hemant’s son Saransh Oberoi, Masala Street will feature Indian gastropub food at 915 Pearl St. in the former home of Fugu’s Sushi. It will also be the first eatery in the United States for the restaurant group, which has locations in India and Singapore.
“Most people are not happy with Indian food in America because they are used to seeing it in buffet lines and the decrease in quality that comes with that, so we want to take Indian food but get rid of the buffet concept,” Oberoi said. “Our food it going to be plated fresh, and more like what you would get in India or in an Indian home.”
He added, there are going to be dishes reminiscent of street food, “but in a San Diego way.”
Indian staples will be on the menu, but with a modern twist (in one of chef Hemant’s restaurants, pizza was made with naan dough), as would beer and wine from local purveyors. “We want to make sure Indian food gets the respect we think it deserves. There are beautiful spices and flavors used in Indian cooking and we want people to not be afraid to try to new things.”
Those who shop at the 18-year-old La Jolla Farmers Market on Sunday, may already be familiar with Martin Hall’s vegetarian cuisine. Having had a stand with Green Door Catering at the Market for the last five years, Hall will open Green Door Café around Nov. 15 at 7644 Girard Ave. (former home of Finch’s wine bar).
“We will serve vegetarian and vegan dishes made from sustainable, organic and locally sourced produce,” Hall said, adding that 60 percent of the dishes will be vegan. “At the attached bar, we will serve organic beers and wines, preferably from Southern California, and our house-made sodas such as root beer and ginger beer, along with fresh juices and smoothies.”
The restaurant will initially only be open for breakfast and lunch and later on, will be open during dinner hours for tapas and live entertainment. Management is also considering adding local fish to the menu down the line. Green Door Catering can be reached at (858) 752-9109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
While extensive exterior renovations were going on at 1250 Prospect St. to update the plumbing, electrical and aesthetics, The Hake restaurant was temporarily closed to upgrade the inner workings, as well.
Construction has been underway since November, and most other eateries and retailers on the block remained open, but The Hake shut down to add 2,000 square feet and 60 seats to the existing restaurant and add a casual bar and lounge, a separate area “relaxed” dining area and raw bar.
During the re-model, the entire building was reconstructed to look more modern, including the incorporation of new paint, flooring, light fixtures, walkways and entrances. The front of building was completely remodeled and multiple offices were removed from the back of building to make room for Hake expansion.
Other La Jolla staples, such as Georges at the Cove and Donovan’s Steak & Chop House made changes during the remodel.
George’s complemented the exterior remodel with new paint and a “modern look,” improved its handicap accessibility, and built a bar area on the terrace level.
Donovan’s Steakhouse extended the patio and to it added 10 tables, new furniture, paint and flooring; installed outdoor heating equipment and canopy coverings and moved the iconic mermaid statue to a more prevalent location.
All the businesses at 1250 Prospect St. officially reopened Oct. 12.
The Prospect Bar and Grill, overlooking Prospect Street with slivers of the ocean in view, has been “rebranded” as Rooftop La Jolla. The bar had a soft opening Sept. 24 at 1025 Prospect St., Suite 210.
One of the owners, Steve Horowitz, said prior concepts were not successful because they were inconsistent, and that Rooftop will not experience the same fate. “We will have a new menu, new staff to make it more high-end, with more of a social restaurant/lounge atmosphere,” he said. “We’re looking at how we are going to do live music, something that provides a nice energy — similar to what you might hear at Herringbone. It provides a background so people can still talk to each other.”
For those with guests coming into town, or in need of a good happy hour, Hyatt Regency La Jolla quietly opened its completely reimagined on-site restaurant DRIFT eat + drink in late September. A grand opening is planned, with details to be announced.
With a happy hour 4-7 p.m. daily that features $10 flatbreads and share-able items and discounts on beer, cocktails and carafes, Drift’s Southern California cuisine features absolutely no fried items and has a varied selection of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.
The opening of DRIFT eat + drink follows an extensive $12 million rooms renovation at its host Hyatt Regency La Jolla, 3777 La Jolla Village Drive. lajolla.regency.hyatt.com