Wormwood Absinthe Bar And French Restaurant Opens Tomorrow In University Heights

San Diego will receive its first absinthe-focused cocktail bar and restaurant with Wormwood, a new concept opening in mid-November 2021 under the leadership of Amar Harrag, founder of acclaimed Tahona Bar in Old Town.

Located at 4677 30th Street in the space formerly occupied by Jayne’s Gastropub, Wormwood brings a novel drinking and dining experience to a corner of University Heights beloved for its popular bars and restaurants. Wormwood’s tasteful 1,700 square-foot space will feature indoor bar and dining areas reminiscent of Old Paris.

The “green fairy”

Across the nation, absinthe-focused establishments like Wormwood are a rare find. The anise-flavored spirit that originated in Europe was the preferred drink of Bohemian artists and writers in Paris during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with famous fans including Vincent van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway.

Absinthe was banned in the United States in 1912; nearly 100 years passed before this often-misunderstood green spirit was removed from the ban list. To this day, the “green fairy” carries with it an air of mystery and mysticism.

📸 @arleneibarra

Wormwood will showcase more than 30 absinthes sourced from Europe, New York, Louisiana and other states. Following in Tahona’s footsteps, Wormwood will be a place of education and pay reverence to the history of the spirit – particularly through events to include a series on the history of absinthe, tarot card and absinthe nights, and a Wormwood book club that will invite guests to explore the culture behind the spirit.

Reminiscent of Old Paris

At Wormwood’s bar, guests will be able to enjoy absinthe served in slow-drip fountains with a cube of sugar, in the tradition of how it was served in the early 20th century streets of Paris. The cocktail menu will feature revisited absinthe classics including the Sazerac and the A La Louisiane, as well as a selection of non-absinthe choices highlighting other beautiful liquors.

📸 @arleneibarra

French-influenced menu

The French-influenced fare will take the form of small plates and shareable entrees that revisit classic dishes ranging from roasted bone marrow wagyu tartare to steak de boucher served with cherry-mezcal bordelaise, creamed pearl onions and pommes paillason. 

📸 @arleneibarra

Wormwood’s sophisticated menu will also show off culinary highlights such as caviar served with a sea urchin flan and an eggplant sour cream.

📸 @arleneibarra

Secret garden

Tucked away at the back of the building, a secret garden-style outdoor courtyard surrounded by high brick walls will be found amidst an inviting garden. At the back of this patio and hidden through a rustic barn door is Le Jardin Secret, a semi-private outdoor area designed for special events.

The team

Wormwood’s founder Amar Harrag is well-known for introducing San Diego’s first mezcaleria Tahona Bar, as well as craft beer concept Hidden Craft, opened last year on India Street in Downtown San Diego. Harrag also runs real estate brokerage Allied Green Realty and is the founder of the San Diego chapter of Corazon de Vida, a non-profit organization aiding orphaned and abandoned children in Mexico.

Additional partners include chef Janina Garay, who specializes in blending Mexican flavors with European techniques and has crafted savory and sweet delights at Addison, Bracero and the Michelin starred Topolobanpo in Chicago.

📸 @arleneibarra

Garay joins a culinary team including chef Danny Romero and his brother and sous chef Dante Romero, both known within the underground scene for their dinner pop-up series, Tortoise. Notably, Danny Romero worked alongside Garay at Bracero and Addison before leaving to work at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens.

The trio are reuniting at Wormwood to bring the essence of Tortoise to patrons on a daily basis.

📸 @arleneibarra

Cocktail connoisseur Ben Marquart is Beverage Director of Wormwood following roles within the opening teams for local favorites Ironside and Counterpoint, and brings years of experience developing dozens of beverage programs, most recently for Saiko Sushi in North Park.

Tawny Myers will serve as Wormwood’s General Manager and arrives from Kettner Exchange, where she worked from its opening in 2014 until joining the Wormwood team last year. Myers also spent three years bartending at Consortium Holdings’ El Dorado.

📸 @arleneibarra

A passion project

“Wormwood is truly a passion project. The history of absinthe is intertwined with the history of France and even Algeria, both my countries of origin,” said founder Amar Harrag. “In developing our concept, we decided to honor the cultural aspect of the spirit and built a team of passionate individuals to create a restaurant experience that will continue to enhance San Diego’s culinary status. We have big shoes to fill as we all loved Jayne’s Gastropub, and we feel honored to become an active part of one of San Diego’s most vibrant neighborhoods.”

Wormwood is located at 4677 30th Street, San Diego, California 92116 and online at www.wormwoodsd.com. Follow along on Instagram at @wormwoodsd.

Share This Event
Event Details
The Latest
Nason's Beer Hall
The Dish is your source for the latest menu updates, new cocktail programs, happy hours, and special offers from San Diego’s best restaurants and bars!...
Spring Soirée at Spa Alila
Spring is the perfect time to refresh not just your closet, but your skin too! Join us at Spa Alila for an exclusive Spring Soirée....
La Valencia Spring Tea
Welcome spring with La Valencia’s award-winning tea service at the Mediterranean Room! Join us for seatings between 11 AM to 3 PM and enjoy a...
Springtime Carnival at WNDR Museum
From sky-high stilt walkers to vibrant art and music, WNDR Museum is embracing the springtime season with two exciting events to enjoy this month: Springtime...
Annual Pitch Slam by Naturally San Diego
Naturally San Diego, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stimulating growth and entrepreneurship amongst environmentally and socially-conscious consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies in San Diego County,...
Common Theory Otay Ranch
Common Theory Public House, known for its diverse, ever-evolving draft beer list and Asian-influenced gastropub menu in the Convoy District, has opened a second location...
Event Details
Upcoming Events
Frontwave Arena
September 17, 2024
8:00 pm
Prepare for a pop concert-style spectacle showcasing the athletic brilliance and championship journeys of Simone Biles and an exceptional squad of select dancers, embodying a...
San Diego Padres
July 13, 2024
10:00 am
  • East Village San Diego
The East Village Association invites the community to join them in celebrating the 12th Annual East Village Block Party! Taking place on J Street from...
California Wine Festival Carlsbad
June 28, 2024
6:30 pm
  • Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
The California Wine Festival, a nationally recognized event series, is proud to announce its return in 2024 to celebrate over 20 years of bringing attention...
Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival
May 10, 2024
3:00 pm
  • Embarcadero Marina Park North
  • Seaport Village
Great news, music lovers….the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival is charting a highly anticipated comeback! Following successful collaborations with the Port of San Diego and...
21st annual Gator By The Bay Festival
May 9, 2024
6:00 pm
  • Spanish Landing Park
The largest and most authentic Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou is set to return to Spanish Landing Park from May...
Event Search: