Dozens of restaurants have opened in the year since our last food issue—more than we could possibly list here. So, we went down the list of newcomers and picked one that opened each month. Don't see your latest favorite? Put your suggestions in the comment section.
Imig's Kitchen & Bar: With the Lafayette Hotel's makeover came a new restaurant and bar named after Larry Imig, the hotel's first owner. The food is upscale without being snooty (rock shrimp and goat-cheese chili relleno with chipotle sauce and lime crema, for example), and the cocktail menu alone is worth a visit. Try the "Flamin Stamen" (Blade gin, cucumber, serrano chili and Créme Yvette). 2223 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park.
Promiscuous Fork: PF started as a catering company and then added a cozy brick-and-mortar (er, concrete-and-wood) location. The menu's all about sandwiches and burgers with a creative twist. The June Gloom, for instance, includes jalapeños, smoked bacon and cream cheese and the side options of coconut jalapeño rice and sweet-potato tots are nice replacements for fries. 6984 La Jolla Blvd. in La Jolla.
Big Front Door: BFD's big (glass) front door, among other design features, garnered it a nomination for a 2012 Orchid Award. The menu is sandwich-focused, but these are huge, stuffed-full, meal-in-a-sandwich sandwiches that come hot and cold, savory and even sweet. There's a small, really nice beer and wine "shop" at the back where you can grab a bottle to enjoy there or take home. Ditto with the excellent soups, which are available by the quart. 4135 Park Blvd. in University Heights.
True Food Kitchen: It's kind of a bummer that True Food's located in a mall. Regardless, it's gotten rave reviews. The menu's based on Dr. Andrew Weil's "anti-inflammatory diet" and includes tasty twists on comfort foods like Panang curry, street tacos (here with sea bass or steak) and butternut-squash pizza. Open your mind, junk-food junkie. At the least, the healthy grub will give you energy to shop. Fashion Valley Mall.
Craftsman New American Tavern: This is the second restaurant for Wade and Kristi Hageman, whose Blue Ribbon Pizza had CityBeat food writer Jenny Montgomery swooning in October 2010. Montgomery hit up Craftsman last September and was equally impressed, especially with the chicken-liver mousse served on toasted country bread: "I could have eaten toast after toast with a crisp white wine and considered the meal a smashing success." 207 El Camino Real in Encinitas.
Nutmeg Bakery & Café: Nutmeg's another spot that Montgomery hit up recently. The title of her piece says it all: "Nutmeg raises the bar for suburban eateries." She dug the coconut rice and mushroom soup (the soup selection rotates daily), "Cheryl's" panini (a can't-go-wrong mix of walnut butter, Nutella, honey and smoked bacon) and the croissant bread pudding with caramel sauce. 12640 Sabre Springs Pkwy., Suite 107, in Sabre Springs.
Roseville Cozinha: This spot seeks to pay homage to San Diego's Portuguese and Italian fishing communities with offerings like salt-cod fritters, wood-fired pizzas, an excellent cioppino and ervilhas stew, a traditional Portuguese dish with peas, potatoes, sausage and a poached egg. Craig Jimenez, who helmed The Guild (RIP), is the chef here, and you can't go wrong with that. 2750 Dewey Road in Point Loma.
Sherman's Shack: Three words: coconut-crusted churros. Sherman's, a hip spot with big windows that took over the space formerly occupied by Urban Chicken, is all about comfort food: carne asada fries, ricotta-herb fish fritters, "stuffed" burgers, tacos (including a vegan Baja "fish" taco) and those churros. 549 25th St. in Sherman Heights.
Heat Bar & Kitchen: The former location of Urban Grind got a major makeover to become this upscale brunch and dinner spot. The dinner menu's small yet manages to keep all sorts of eaters in mind. But it's the brunch menu that looks especially delish, with plenty of savory options, like the Chef's Breakfast of house-made chili con carne, melted cheddar and two eggs. 3797 Park Blvd. in Hillcrest.
Kafe Sobaka: Owned by the folks behind Russian / Georgian restaurant Pomegranate on El Cajon Boulevard, Sobaka has the same great food and brilliantly written menu. To wit: "Derevenskaya Skovorodka: Golden fried potatoes / onions / mushrooms / herbs fried in duck fat served in a cast iron skillet. This sets the stage for gulping beer. For this dish I could easily kill my older brother." And "Shashlik: Is tantalizing meat fire roasted on long evil-looking daggers until it is as tender and juicy as the lips of your lover. Just be patient it could take 20 minutes until the flesh is just right." 2469 Broadway in Golden Hill.
Nate's Garden Grill: This Nate's replaced a previous Nate's that had long occupied a space right next to City Farmers Nursery. It's open until 10 p.m. each night except Sunday and Monday, making the big, covered wood deck that's strung with Edison bulbs an ideal place to spend summer evenings. The beer menu is sizable, and they have a house-made sarsaparilla. Eats include flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, a burger and an artisan cheese and Meatmen salumi spread. 3120 Euclid Ave. in City Heights.
Salt & Cleaver: OK, so we couldn't find any restaurants that opened in March. Salt & Cleaver came closest, opening in early April, so it wins the final spot. As San Diego Magazine's Nate Martins blogged, original plans to call this place Abe Froman's were thankfully scrapped (if you don't get the Ferris Bueller reference, shame on you). The focus here is on sausages—all kinds, including vegetarian options and a lobster sausage—and beer. Few better pairings exist than sausage and beer. 3805 Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest.