El Sueño Ready To Bring Upscale Mexican Fare To San Diego's Historic Old Town

June 8, 2023

The owners of Trattoria Don Pietro have expanded their presence in San Diego's Old Town with the launch of El Sueño, an upscale Mexican restaurant offering an enormous dining space inspired by cartel lavishness and an onsite speakeasy that will transport diners to the Mexican jungle.

From father-and-son Sal & Pietro Busalacchi, who also own nearby Trattoria Don Pietro, and their partner Gustavo Rios, El Sueño will soft open this week in the space that housed historic La Pinata in Old Town from 1928 until the historic eatery shuttered in 2018. The new restaurant will offer a menu of "Vibrant Mexican" dishes, a contemporary wave of Mexican food using nothing but the most authentic Mexican products and transforming classic recipes into modernized ideas.

"The inspiration for El Sueño will be elements of the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico city," explained co-owner Pietro Busalacchi. "I feel like it will be a cross between Javier's and Kettner Exchange, with a Pablo Escobar influence (I know he was Colombian but you get the idea - semi cartel-inspired vibes with sexy lowlight and mysterious decor). It will have a very lush and jungle-inspired ambiance, as if it was a hidden villa in the Mexican jungle."

The 3,744 square-foot standalone building has received a complete remodel to transform it into what owners hope patrons will perceive as a villa hidden deep in the Mexican jungle. Expect total seating for around 600 patrons with lots of white stone work, faux plants, an expansive courtyard-type dining area with two large bars, an outdoor patio with a stone floor covered with aztec designs with grass and greenery peaking through, and an onsite, members-exclusive speakeasy lounge with frequent DJ-spun music performances.

Highlights from the food menu include Crab Empanadas with white crab, roma tomato, cilantro, onion, Oaxaca cheese and sweet corn salsa; Queso Birria Tacos with marinated short rib and Oaxacan cheese; and Puerto Nuevo Seafood with lobster tails, tiger shrimp, fingerling potatoes, corn and tortillas. As far as cocktails, don't miss the No Tears Left To Chai with chai-infused tequila or the Bad Bunny, a take on a spicy carrot margarita. 

El Sueño will soft open on June 9 at 2836 Juan Street in San Diego's Old Town. For more information, visit elsuenosd.com and check out the food menu below.