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This Former Ford Dealership Is Now One of San Diego's Hottest New Restaurants
Heather Ash
byHeather Ash

San Diego is no stranger to new restaurants and with so much 'new' popping up, it's refreshing to see somewhere that offers a nod to its past. Mission Hills' newest restaurant, Fort Oak, does just that – housed in a 1940's Ford dealership, the exterior of the restaurant, while a recreation of the original building, looks just like the historic space, colors and all. Once inside, you're greeted with a high contrast, modern interior, notably different from the vintage exterior. Serving a seafood-heavy menu befitting of San Diego culture, dishes like Opah Pastrami Toast and Hearth Grilled Branzino are crowd favorites. 

Our account manager and resident videographer, Kimberly Motos, recently visited Fort Oak to capture the space and try out the menu, and she's reporting back with her menu suggestions, thoughts on the space and even some tips for your own visit. 

Photography by Kimberly Motos 

First impressions of Fort Oak?

Fort Oak has a very cool and inviting atmosphere. It was once a 1940’s Ford dealership transformed into a gorgeous new restaurant in the Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego.

Give us a rundown of the menu? Any standouts?

Honestly, everything we tried was a standout. We ordered the Scallop Aguachile (cucumber, onion, cilantro, and coriander oil), the Opah Pastrami Toast (gribiche, mustard seed, pickled shallots, herb salad, egg yolk caviar), and the Hearth Grilled Branzino (peperonata, salsa verde, fried herbs, grilled lemon). Even though the menu consists of mostly seafood, they also have a couple of items perfect for meat-eaters like the Duroc Pork Chop and the 45 Day Dry Aged Ribeye. I heard their charcuterie is made in house as well as their smoked meats!

Time to dive into design - give us the inside scoop.

The restaurant is divided into four separate unique spaces: the bar, the outdoor patio, the dining room, and an open-flame kitchen. As soon as you walk in, you are first greeted by a handsome looking U-shaped bar serving delicious crafted cocktails. Outside, there is a patio perfect for summer gatherings and weekend brunch. Next to it, you’ll find a mid-century-styled dining room that can seat up to 62 people with a retractable glass wall perfect for private parties. Lastly, you’ll see another separate space where you’ll find the kitchen situated right behind a reservations-only chef’s counter where you can enjoy a unique culinary experience.

Profile the perfect diner.

The perfect diner would be for a group who’s looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, a personalized experience with the chef, and simply for those who enjoy wood-fired dishes with artisanal twists.

Were any aspects of the original dealership kept intact?

There are apsects of the building that pay tribute to its past: the building is a recreation of the original building but the paint colors in the Ford and Gilmore logo on the building’s facade are the original colors that have been maintained and restored.

Final thoughts on this new restaurant?

If you ever want a new and amazing dinner spot recommendation in San Diego, you must visit Fort Oak. They’re not open for lunch but they’re open for a weekend brunch. They also have a killer happy hour that consists of bar bites and cocktails that starts at 3pm every day!

Get the full guide to San Diego dining & drinking →

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