With the rise of online shopping, malls are moving from retail towards dining as a way to draw patrons, and Shake Shack and Red O are just the beginning of what's in store for San Diego's UTC area of La Jolla. Also planned to be installed as part of Westfield UTC's more than half-billion dollar renovation is a new Great Maple, True Food Kitchen, Javier's Finest Food of Mexico, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, the New Zealand-inspired Arbor, South African steakhouse Smokeyard BBQ and Chop House, and Raised By Wolves - a cocktail lounge by San Diego's CH Projects (Craft & Commerce, Ironside Fish & Oyster, Soda & Swine).
Previously somewhat of a culinary wasteland, the Westfield UTC area of La Jolla will become a dining destination in 2017 after a substantial overhaul of the mall takes place this year, anticipated to be completed by October. The 40-year-old retail center is currently undergoing its Phase 2 renovation, which includes a 250,000-square-foot expansion centered around the addition of a new 144,000 square foot Nordstrom and 90 new shops and restaurants.
"We are proud to expand our epicurean portfolio with some of the most sought-after dining concepts in the industry, from local favorites to nationally recognized brands," said John Alderson, Westfield’s vice president of development in San Diego. "Our goal at Westfield UTC is to provide a modern, one-stop dining district with something for every palate."
Below is a round up of the new dining and drinking establishments expected to come to San Diego's University Towne Center area this year:
Shake Shack - Danny Meyers is bringing his popular "fine-casual" burger chain to San Diego and will open on Level 2 of a new, three-level retail building being built. The 3,000 square foot indoor/outdoor eatery will be constructed using mostly reclaimed materials. In addition to the regular menu, there will also be frozen custard concretes (think a McFlurry) featuring mix-ins from local food purveyors. The company is also scouting other locations for additional San Diego hubs, including North County, downtown and Liberty Station.
Red O - Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless is the name behind the opening of the 4th Southern California location of this upscale modern Mexican restaurant. Opening at Irvine Company’s The Plaza office campus in UTC, Red O will be located in the reconstructed 8,300 square foot building (with a 2,000 square foot patio) that previously housed Donovan's Steakhouse at 4340 La Jolla Village Drive, and after a long delay, is expected to unveil by this summer.
Raised By Wolves - Arsalun Tafazoli's CH Projects company is in the process of constructing Born & Raised steakhouse in Little Italy, but the burgeoning hospitality group also has its sights set on La Jolla. Little is known at this point about Raised By Wolves, but its rumored to be a speakeasy-style cocktail bar with the flare you'd find at other Consortium Holdings locations like Noble Experiment, El Dorado and Polite Provisions.
Din Tai Fung - With over 120 locations around the world, this popular Taiwanese chain of restaurants will likely have San Diegans lining out the door to get a taste of the xiaolongbao steamed soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung was named one of the top ten restaurants in the world by The New York Times in 1993, and the restaurant's first Hong Kong branch was awarded a Michelin star in 2009.
Arbor - The owners of Queenstown Public House Little Italy, Dunedin North Park, Raglan Public House Ocean Beach and Bare Back Grill Pacific Beach are bringing their Kiwi-themed brand of restaurants to UTC with the opening of Arbor. Expect a menu centered around organic beef burgers and a devotion to San Diego craft beer.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar - A sophisticated restaurant with locations in Orange County's Tustin and Newport Beach, The Winery offers contemporary California cuisine and an expansive wine list with over 650 selections. The 8,000 square foot Westfield UTC branch will be sited in close proximity to the new Nordstrom, and in addition to the main restaurant, The Winery will also open a 1,000 square foot wine bar with a separate kitchen in the center of the mall, which will offer a sharable bites menu, wine flights, and grab and go options.
Javier's Finest Food of Mexico - With locations in Newport Beach, Las Vegas, Irvine and Los Cabos, and another planned for Century City, Javier's offers upscale, regional Mexican food made using sustainable ingredients, as well as a top notch tequila list. The first location of Javier's was opened by Javier Sosa in Laguna Beach in 1995, closed in 2007 and relocated to the waterside Crystal Cove Promenade in 2008. The La Jolla branch will be similar in design and menu to the Newport outpost.
Smokeyard BBQ and Chop House - This South African-influenced steakhouse offers a casual ambiance and a menu with dishes that span a variety of influences, including crispy rock shrimp, vegetable samosas, St. Louis spare ribs, and an array of steaks and sides. The restaurant also has a location in Mammoth Lakes.
Great Maple - From Johnny Rivera, co-owner of Hash House A Go Go, this will be the second San Diego branch and fourth location of this modern American diner concept. Located within Westfield UTC but also accessible by the street, expect large portions, a boozy brunch and a European dinette atmosphere.
True Food Kitchen - With a menu based on an anti-inflammatory diet, True Food Kitchen will open its second San Diego location (the other is in Fashion Valley Mall) and the company's 17th branch at 4401 La Jolla Village Drive. The restaurant is owned by Fox Restaurant Concepts, which also owns Flower Hill Promenades newly installed Flower Child restaurant.