Wormwood Restaurant Owner & Award-Winning Tijuana Chef To Open New Cali-Baja Restaurant In Downtown San Diego

January 6, 2023

The owner of Wormwood restaurant in North Park and Tahona in Old Town is teaming up with a famed Tijuana chef to launch a new Cali-Baja restaurant in downtown San Diego. 

In July 2019, the 162-room Guild Hotel unveiled in downtown San Diego after general partner Oram Holdings performed an $80 million restoration of the iconic YMCA building. Part of Marriott-owned Starwood Hotels' Tribute Portfolio line of luxury accommodations, the hotel's onsite all-day restaurant Luca eventually shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and has remained closed ever since. The Guild Hotel has now partnered with Amar Harrag Be Saha Hospitality Group to reignite the property's onsite dining & beverage programs. 

Under his Be Saha Hospitality Group, Amar Harrag opened mezcal-focused Tahona bar & restaurant in San Diego's Old Town in fall 2018. A native of France and graduate of University of San Diego, Harrag also co-owns numerous locations of Matisse Bistro in San Diego and Irvine. He also operates Hidden Craft self-serve beer bar and restaurant in downtown San Diego, Wormwood absinthe bar and French bistro in North Park/University Heights, NFT art gallery/Spanish restaurant and gin bar Botanica in North Park, and runs real estate brokerage Allied Green Realty. In addition to founding the San Diego chapter of Corazon de Vida, Harrag sits on the board of directors for Create Purpose, and both non-profits aid orphaned and abandoned children in Mexico.
The Guild Bar
For his incoming Guild Hotel restaurant, Harrag has retained the services of Chef Ruffo Ibarra, the founding chef behind Tijuana's popular Oryx Capital Restaurante. Over his career, Ibara has honed his skills working under such iconic chefs as Javier Plascencia, Jesús Sánchez, and Massimo Bottura, and his Tijuana restaurant was once named as Baja California's restaurant of the year. Ibara is also in the Tijuana Hall of Fame and is the president of the Mexico chapter of Bocuse d’Or, a biennial world chef championship considered to be the world's most prestigious cooking competitions. Former Addison and Bracero chef Janina Garay will also be working on the new dining concept. 

Expected to open by this summer, the new Guild Hotel all-day restaurant will offer a Cali Baja-style menu featuring influences from Mediterranean, Asian and other European cuisines. There will also be a full bar with an ambitious cocktail program, artisanal spirits, wines sourced from Baja Norte's Valle de Guadalupe region, and San Diego and Baja-brewed beer. The restaurant will serve diners in the al fresco courtyard dining room, as well as offer in-room service and bar dining at The Guild Bar within the lobby, which will also receive a refresh from Be Saha Hospitality. The company may also introduce weekend brunch in the hotel's garden and is tinkering with the idea of launching a sidewalk cafe. 

The Guild Hotel is located at 500 West Broadway in downtown San Diego. For more information, visit ​theguildhotel.com​.