Swagyu Burger Bar Brings Wagyu Smash Burgers To San Diego's La Mesa

April 27, 2024

The ups and downs continue at San Diego's cyclical Swagyu, as the company has now opened a new burger bar in La Mesa following a 2023 filled with closures and stalled openings.

Chef Steve Brown opened his first Swagyu Chop Shop in summer 2020 at 1002 Palm Avenue in Imperial Beach, with a second location launched in Poway soon after. In 2021, Brown took over the 19-year-old Isabel's Cantina in Pacific Beach for a branch of his butcher shop and steakhouse Swagyu Burger & Chop Shop. Last summer, Swagyu's Pacific Beach location shuttered and Brown claimed at the time it was going to be repurposed to become a new concept dubbed Beach Bum Burger Bar, but that ultimately was not true. 

Other branches of Swagyu were once in the works for the space previously occupied by Schooner Station Pizzeria & Sports Pub in Encinitas and as part of the currently under-construction Freeman Collective in South Oceanside, but neither of those projects came to be. A complaint for breach of contract was filed against Brown's parent company regarding the Oceanside lease. The Oceanside space is now the first brick-and-mortar location of Tanner's Prime Burgers.

Earlier this year, Brown took over the small space that long housed a branch of Grab N Go Subs and most recently was the short-lived Blue Box Butcher on India Street in San Diego's Little Italy for the opening of Butcher Shop by Swagyu Cattle Company. Swagyu Butcher Shop opened earlier this month, offering a butcher case filled with meat from Brown's Swagyu Wildlife Ranch in Ramona, as well as cuts of American, Japanese and Australian Wagyu.

Chef Brown has now opened a new location of his fast-casual Swagyu Burger Bar restaurant in the space that last housed Izakaya Maíze in La Mesa. Izakaya Maíze was the product of Chef Nathan Horton, a San Francisco native who was previously second in command for Brown's Swagyu Chop House, so it appears Brown quickly scooped the unit up after Maíze went out of business. Like other locations, the restaurant will serve a menu of Wagyu smash burgers, sides and other specials.  

Last September, Brown opened a branch of Swagyu Burger within a CloudKitchens space at 1750 Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa, CA. There is also a branch located at 14149 Twin Peaks Road in San Diego's Poway neighborhood. The Swagyu Imperial Beach location, which Brown previously stated would be his flagship branch moving forward, has been closed since last August. Brown has assured this is only temporary and the IB location would reopen soon, but it is not listed on the company's website. The Swagyu Burger website currently lists locations coming soon to Barrio Food Hub, Pacific Beach, UTC/Westfield, Coronado, and Los Angeles.

Swagyu Burger Bar is now open at 6062 Lake Murray Boulevard, Suite 101, in San Diego's La Mesa. For more information, visit swagyuburger.com and check out the menu below.