Chef Miguel Valdez
Chef Miguel Valdez of Liberty Call Distilling. Photo by Rob Andrew

The coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted the San Diego restaurant industry, but at least two new restaurants are braving the aftermath and opening this month.

In Barrio Logan, Liberty Call Distilling has quietly opened to dine-in guests, while Hidden Craft, a restaurant and beer hall near the Santa Fe Depot downtown, plans to open June 11.

Liberty Call is a restaurant and bourbon distillery with a California tapas-style menu created by farm-to-table chef Miguel Valdez. Current “comfort food” menu choices include braised short rib tacos with birria sauce, seasonal poutine under beer cheese sauce, chorizo pigs in a blanket, and deep fried cashew wings in a chili glaze with chive ranch.

“I have a deep connection to this community and its values, and it humbles me to see people embracing the food I grew up enjoying,” said Valdez. “I look forward to recreating these memories as California tapas on Liberty Call’s menu.”

The newly opened space within the Mercado del Barrio meets current safety guidelines. Initial hours are 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Hidden Craft, which will open in One America Plaza near the trolley stop, will feature 36 self-serve taps with a rotating selection of craft beers from local breweries.

An all-day menu will feature shareable plates and entrees, including a bacon and brie burger, oak wood smoked salmon fries, a Montreal-style smoked pastrami sandwich, a salmon poke bowl, Korean gochujang baby back ribs, and a variety of gourmet flatbreads.

The restaurant is a culinary project by social entrepreneur Amar Harrag, general partner of the Tahona Bar in Old Town, along with Othman Janati, who is general manager.

“I envision Hidden Craft as a place for beer enthusiasts where stories can be told. We hope to give a voice to many of the best craft brewers in town and to be a place where they connect with the people that drink their beers,” said Harrag. “Now more than ever, connections are essential to the fabric of our community.”

The restaurant’s opening on June 11 at 6 p.m. will be livestreamed on social media and YouTube.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.