Upscale Baja coastal cuisine coming to PB
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 06/18/15 - 05:38 AM | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The former China Inn in Pacific Beach has a new owner, a new name, a new cuisine and a new décor.

Owner Mark Oliver, who was once part of the executive team at George’s La Jolla, has announced more details about his plans for creating a new, more upscale eatery at 877 Hornblend St.

Oliver’s new restaurant will be named Pueblo and will feature Baja coastal cuisine.

Previously involved with Mission Valley's Randy Jones All American Sports Grill, Oliver is the general partner in the new restaurant venture along with a group of local investors, whom he said “all live within a very short distance” from the property.

Why Pueblo as the name? Because it’s historic — and something San Diegans can relate to, Oliver said.

“The Spanish plan for the colonization of California,” he noted, “contained a civil format for the establishment of communities called pueblos. Other translations of 'pueblo’ are used to define a ‘gathering place’ and to refer to a design style of North America's southwestern architecture that is ‘flat roofed.’ Our concept will relate to each of these meanings.”

The restaurateur said Pueblo will feature “traditional Baja foods that can be found along the coastal communities of Baja, using ingredients that are regional to Baja.”

Oliver added Pueblo’s cuisine will be “contemporary and ever-changing” and be subject to the chef's interpretation and imagination.

“The menu will lean favorably toward seafood and consequently offer lighter, healthier and fresher options than found in a typical Mexican restaurant,” he said, adding, “Completely newly created menu items can also be presented, as long as they honor the essence of Baja cuisine in some way — like the product utilized or the use of a specific cooking method. Guests will probably come to identify us as being a seafood restaurant as much as a Mexican restaurant.”

Without revealing the name of Pueblo’s new chef, Oliver said only that “we do have one identified and committed.” He added the new chef is preparing by “immersing himself in the travel and study of Baja California, especially that of the food culture.”

A fan of outdoor dining, Oliver said the restaurant’s layout “will try to seamlessly blend the indoors and the outdoors, with much of the seating being in an open courtyard or on a rooftop deck.”

The exterior design will display elements of the Pueblo architecture, but in a contemporary way.”

Oliver said he opted for a Baja-themed restaurant, first of all, because Mexican food “is and always will be popular.”

Noting most Southern Californians’ experiences with Mexico are derived from Baja California, which is “Mexico to us in San Diego,” Oliver added, “I love Baja, so creating a Baja coastal restaurant resonates with me, and I believe that it will do the same with a lot of us San Diegans.”

Plans are to reopen the restaurant site, which is being remodeled inside and out, “in the earlier part of 2016,” Oliver said.

Golba Architecture of Pacific Beach is the architect of record on the Pueblo remodel. The restaurant’s interior design is being handled by BlueMotif Architecture of San Diego. Building construction will be performed by K.D. Development of Pacific Beach.

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