After nearly a decade in the making, Cohn Restaurant Group announced the highly anticipated opening of Coasterra, the $15 million-plus bayfront modern Mexican restaurant, lounge, and event space on Harbor Island. The 28,000-square-foot venue introduces a combination of panoramic views of San Diego’s downtown skyline, carefully crafted Mexican dishes, and tequila-focused cocktails. 

“We’ve spent the past nine years developing Coasterra with the intention of building a truly iconic San Diego restaurant and event space. The most common reaction upon walking through the front door is, ‘Wow,’ and that’s exactly what we were going for,“ says David Cohn, founder of Cohn Restaurant Group. “The San Diego views are unparalleled, seating is plentiful, and we’ve worked really hard to provide the same exceptional service and delicious food that our restaurant Guests have come to know and expect.” 

As one of San Diego’s most renowned executive chefs, Coasterra’s partner Deborah Scott is known for her diverse tastes and ability to create inventive dishes with an emphasis on presentation. Chef Scott first partnered with restaurateurs David and Lesley Cohn in 1995, and has since opened several of San Diego’s favorite restaurants such as Coasterra’s Harbor Island neighbor Island Prime/C Level, Indigo Grill in Little Italy, and Escondido’s Vintana wine + dine. Well known for her hands-on approach to hospitality, Scott can be found at each of her restaurants nightly where she oversees her kitchens and visits with Guests to ensure a one-of-a-kind dining experience. 

Chef Scott is introducing a menu of regional Mexican cuisine with a focus on unexpected flavor combinations and an emphasis on local, fresh, seasonal ingredients. Sharable starters include ordering from the tableside guacamole cart with specialty add-ins like lobster, crab, and shrimp, or the Tostada de Atun with soy, garlic, and sesame oil glazed tuna, crispy tortilla, creamy coleslaw, and cilantro sprouts. Signature dishes include the Mar y Tierra, a savory blend of beef short rib, Oaxacan mole, lobster risotto cake, and charred asparagus, as well as the Tamal de Champinon with crispy criminis, goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and topped with smoked poblano cream.

Coasterra is a destination for the beverage experience in itself with more than 70 labels of agave spirits including high-end tequila and artisanal mezcal. The cocktail options include hand-shaken margaritas such as Deb’s Coconut Margarita with coconut cream, lime juice, and a coconut salt rim as well as agave cocktails like the Spicy Paloma with grapefruit juice, agave syrup and a kick of habañero bitters. Coasterra also features a robust wine list with an emphasis on Latin America and Baja varietals and 16 local and Mexican craft beers on tap.

Coasterra’s striking design comes from a contemporary local architect, the late Graham Downes [Graham Downes Architecture]. Graham and his design team spent several years drawing up the mid-century-influenced restaurant and event center with one central inspiration—the breathtaking views of the San Diego Harbor. Upon Graham’s untimely death. the project was completed with the help of Gensler, the award-winning global design firm. 

Offering a panoramic perspective of the water and skyline from every vantage point throughout the building, the design also infuses modern furnishings, bold art and rustic statement pieces sourced from Mexico. At the front of the building an outdoor fire pit provides a swanky respite while waiting to be seated, and inside the restaurant a massive tequila wall greets Guests upon entrance. Inspired by Mexico’s natural surroundings, Coasterra’s wooden bar top illustrates Sierra Madre mountain ranges and famous beaches while an abstract stone wall was fashioned from imagery brought back from a trip to Mexico City. Industrial touches such as rebar and blackened steel screens, concrete floors, and filigree light fixtures represent a modern take on old Mexico. The south patio houses several cabanas and a steel fire pit with additional seating. Most of the restaurant seating is outdoors on the expansive waterfront patio where guests are shaded by a unique photovoltaic solar glass terrace that provides around 35 percent of the energy for the restaurant. 

Renowned local artist Rafael Lopez was commissioned to create two massive murals on the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Lopez created a modern interpretation of work by mid-century painters such as Mathias Goeritz and Carlos Mérida with geometric illustrations that represent "Coasterra,” a fusion of two Spanish words that translate to "coast" and "land.” The exterior art showcases blues and grays representing the coast, and the interior painting uses a warm palette of oranges and earthy browns as a nod to the land.

Along with the restaurant, Coasterra is home to a unique event center ideal for weddings, business banquets, and special occasions. The space features an airy banquet room which seats more than 300 people, and will soon include a one-of-a-kind outdoor floating event deck that accommodates up to 500 people for a reception; all event areas showcase stunning views of San Diego’s skyline and harbor.

Industry News, Restaurant Design