Encinitas-Based Death By Tequila To Take Over El Jardin In San Diego's Liberty Station

October 8, 2020

Encinitas-based Death by Tequila will launch its third San Diego location, taking over the Liberty Station space last occupied by El Jardín Cantina.

In 2018, Death By Tequila was opened in Encinitas by husband-and-wife founders Chad & Jessica Mestler with help from then Executive Chef Angelo Sosa, who was the runner-up on season 7 of Bravo's hit culinary competition Top Chef, as well as a contestant on Top Chef All-Stars and the most recent incarnation of Top Chef All Stars LA. Earlier this year, San Diego's Empress Capital Investments took over management of Death By Tequila in Encinitas and thereafter converted the company's Carmel Valley-based Madero's Mexican into a second location of the Baja-inspired Death By Tequila. Empress Capital was founded in 2017 by James Langley with the opening of the first Wokou Ramen & Yakitori in San Diego's Carmel Valley. The hospitality group also operates California Native within Del Mar Highlands Town Center and a second Wokou location in the Crown Point area of Pacific Beach. Langley has also been instrumental in the growth of Rise & Shine Restaurant Group's Breakfast Republic chain.  

Death By Tequila will soon begin installing in Liberty Station, taking over the 8,800 square-foot space that previously housed the public relations-fueled El Jardin. El Jardin originally opened in summer 2018 as an upscale Mexican restaurant in partnership between Johan Engman's Rise & Shine Restaurant Group (Breakfast Republic) and another local, former Top Chef contestant, Claudette Zepeda. Despite being given a glowing New York Time's review, receiving a James Beard nod, and being awarded the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recognition, in late July 2019 El Jardin closed to undergo a month-long remodel to become El Jardin Cantina - a more approachable Mexican-American restaurant without its star chef Claudette Zepeda. Zepeda is signed on to develop the culinary operations at Hyatt's incoming Alila Marea Beach Resort, a $110 million, 130-room luxury hotel three decades in the making that is set to open early next year in Encinitas. 

The newest location of Death By Tequila aims to open in first quarter 2021. Like the other branches, it will have a menu of Mexican dishes inspired by the Baja region. For more information, visit deathbytequila.com.