Karina’s Group, a San Diego family-owned chain of restaurants, has opened a new restaurant in Logan Heights, expanding what had been a simple fish market in a remodeling project that included adding an outdoor patio and indoor seating.
Karina’s Ceviche Bar ‘N Tacos, 1852 National Ave., is Karina’s Group’s seventh restaurant in a chain of restaurants that started in 1981 when Arnulfo Contreras and his wife, Maria Ines Curiel, opened a small restaurant in Spring Valley – Karina’s Mexican Seafood.
The original restaurant has since closed, but brothers David Contreras Curiel and Arnulfo Contreras Curiel have built on the legacy of their parents to open branches of Karina’s Mexican Seafood Cuisine in Bonita, Otay Ranch, and National City, Karina’s Ceviche & More in Mission Hills, Servoie in Otay Ranch Town Center, and Saffron Thai in Little Italy.
Extension of Downtown
David Contreras Curiel said that the expansion into Logan Heights was a natural with its strong Latino population.
“Our brand is well-known among the Hispanic community,” Curiel said, adding that he and his family were eager to be part of the revitalization of the neighborhood.
“We’ve been wanting to go to Logan Heights,” Curiel said. “Logan Heights continues its transformation. It’s an extension of the downtown area. We’re excited to be part of it.”
In the past, the neighborhood had developed a somewhat unsavory reputation because of street gang violence but Curiel said that impression is a relic of long ago and that the new Logan Heights can be counted among San Diego’s up and coming neighborhoods with a rich heritage and an economic vitality that Karina’s Group wanted to join.
“It’s a place where families can come and enjoy socializing,” Curiel said. “We’re just excited. It’s in this transformation where many businesses are coming in.”
The Karina’s Group initially leased the former warehouse in Logan Heights in 2019, opened a fish market in the space in 2021, and expanded the fish market to create Karina’s Ceviche Bar ‘N Tacos this summer.
“It’s a different concept from what we have at our other locations,” Curiel said, with a functioning fish market still in place and very much a part of restaurant’s nautical theme.
“We try to make all of our restaurants different and try to offer a different experience,” Curiel said. “This would be more on a smaller scale of our restaurants.”
The brothers declined to say how much they spent to turn the Barrio Logan fish market into a full-scale restaurant, but said they did all the work themselves.
A big part of the project was the addition of the 1,200-square-foot patio that has seating for 50 people.
The 3,000-square-foot market space was remodeled to include indoor restaurant seating for about 24.
Ocean-themed murals depicting various species of fish were painted inside and out by San Diego artist Ray Galvan.
“Our look is definitely casual, but coastal as well,” Curiel said. “It’s a modern interpretation of that.”
Playing off the seafood theme, the menu includes whole fried fish, whole grilled shrimp, aguachite, molcajete, seafood cocktails, fajitas, and campechana.
It also includes carnitas tacos, rib eye steak burritos and al pastor quesadillas.
“We’re excited about this new space and hopefully, our patrons from our other locations and new patrons will come and support this new venture,” Curiel said.
Owner: David Contreras Curiel
Headquarters: San Diego
Social impact: Karina’s Group makes a variety charity donations and sponsors charitable events throughout the year.
Notable: Family-owned and operated business