Hollywood is where many celebrities live, work, and play. But sometimes, the stars look to San Diego to take on another role — in the restaurant world, that is.
We’ve rounded up eight local eateries powered by celebrity chefs and other names in showbiz. Lights. Camera. Action. Eat. 🌮
🔥 Hell’s Kitchen | Harrah’s Resort Southern California
Seven-time Michelin-starred chef and reality television star Gordon Ramsay opened this hotspot at the resort in Valley Center last August, and fans were fired up. The 322-seat concept is based on (and named after) Ramsay’s popular TV cooking competition, and is the third and largest Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in the US.
Inside, diners can expect flame-themed decor, a photo wall highlighting the show’s winners, and the famous “HK” emblem everywhere. The menu boasts many of Ramsay’s signature dishes, including Beef Wellington. It gets busy here, so make a reservation.
By the way, you’ll soon be able to see this Hell’s Kitchen location on TV. Ramsay is planning to film season 13 of his other popular show, “MasterChef,” at the restaurant. The new season will premiere this summer. 🎥
🧀 Graze by Sam | Little Italy
Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien — the author and laid-back chef with a whopping 3.48 million YouTube subscribers — opened this restaurant in early 2020. It’s across from the Little Italy Food Hall, where Sam runs two other concepts that anchor the food hall, Samburgers and Not Not Tacos.
As the eatery’s name suggests, the menu is made for grazing, with charcuterie boards, flatbreads, and small plates like Creamy Burrata, Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, and Roasted Cauliflower. The wine list is top-notch, too. Graze, Samburgers, and Not Not Tacos are run by Grain & Grit Collective and are Sam’s first-ever restaurants.
🌊 Malibu Farm | Seaport Village (coming soon)
Part of the restaurant renaissance happening at Seaport Village is Malibu Farm, a California style concept founded by actor-turned-director John Stockwell and his wife, Swedish celebrity chef Helene Henderson.
Malibu Farm is set to open this summer at the former site of the landmark’s longtime Harbor House restaurant. It’s the brand’s fourth location in Southern California, but first in San Diego.
The menu will feature dishes like salads, tacos, and cauliflower pizzas, and the site will also house an ice cream and espresso bar, and a home goods boutique. We’ve got eyes on this opening. 👀
🥩 Ember & Rye | Park Hyatt Aviara, Carlsbad
“Top Chef” alum, TV personality, author, and restaurateur Richard Blais debuted his luxe steakhouse at Park Hyatt Aviara in 2021. Blais is known to whip up all kinds of playful and innovative dishes at his North County restaurant — plus one-of-a-kind bubbly cocktails. Make a reservation, this spot is hot.
🏝️ VAGA Restaurant & Bar | Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas
San Diego native and “Top Chef” alumna Claudette Zepeda also took the resort restaurant route in 2021, helming VAGA, a restaurant that explores our region’s diverse culture and flavors. Zepeda once called the eatery her “love letter to San Diego.” Make a reservation.
🥩 Herb & Wood and ANIMAE | Little Italy and Downtown San Diego
“Top Chef” alum and restaurateur Brian Malarkey has opened several restaurants in San Diego over the years, including these two standouts. Herb & Wood — highlighted by USA Today’s 10Best in 2016 — specializes in elevated, seasonal, rustic Mediterranean cuisine with a modern California twist. Reservations are recommended.
ANIMAE is a swanky wagyu steakhouse focused on Asian fusion cuisine. The downtown spot is beloved for its city vibes, too — with a cool, gold-accented dining room and gorgeous art at its entrance. Make a reservation.
🍗 Another Wing | Barrio Logan
Another one? DJ Khaled’s ghost kitchen concept is available out of a commercial kitchen on National Avenue, for delivery only via apps like Postmates, GrubHub, and DoorDash. The menu is all about chicken wings and tenders, with an array of sauce options.