Succulent Cafe ~ Carlsbad (Now Open)

The second iteration of Succulent Cafe has opened at the end of State Street in downtown Carlsbad. Like the original cafe in Oceanside the cafe serves coffees, smoothies, teas, and pastries. Though the menu at the Carlsbad will be expanding in the future.


Succulent Cafe ~ 3000 block of State Street (Where State and Oak intersect.)


The current cafe menu.

The real charm and beauty of Succulent cafe is its atmosphere. The owner peter has a talent for creating relaxing friendly environments, where you are surrounded by living art. The best way to show this is through pictures, not words.









The space screams “event dinners & live music”. If you love the original Succulent cafe in Oceanside you’ll love this one. If you have not been to the Oceanside location, you’ll love both.

They have been open two days now, I will be back there next week and add any additional info.

Succulent Cafe 

300 block of State Street Carlsbad

@ State and Oak

No website yet, link is for the Oceanside location, I’m sure they can answer any questions.

There is an Instagram for the Carlsbad location succulentcafe_carlsbad

Campfire Dinner / Full Report ~ Carlsbad

While it was not my intention to write back to back articles on a single restaurant, the combination of a busy schedule, back pain, and the fact I loved my first trip, lead me to do just that.

Campfire is the first solo project of John Resnick (Ironside Fish and Oysters and Craft and Commerce). It brings an open kitchen and open flame cooking to the north side of State Street in downtown Carlsbad. The building, formerly an auto body shop, is transformed into what a camping lodge would look like if all the campers were hipsters. That is not a bad thing, the build out itself is beautiful utilizing natural woods and coppers to give it a homey yet modern feel. The design firm “Bells + Whistles” did an outstanding job. Blue Ocean Sushi would be another example of their fine work in Carlsbad.


Nothing like smelling burning wood half a block away. Campfire 2725 State Street, Carlsbad.


Campfire interior.

campfire int 4.jpg

Someone sucks at archery.


Campfire bar and open kitchen. That kitchen had to be hot as hell with how muggy and hot yesterday was.

Chef Andrew Bachelier has created a menu that capitalizes on the restaurant’s main theme, which is open fire cooking. You will see a lot of words like chargrilled and smoked throughout. This also carries over to the cocktail menu created by Leigh Lacap.


I started my meal off same as last time with the house made lemonade.


Char Grilled Oysters ~   cucumber. Meyer lemon. chili butter.

Mentioned in my previous post this was going to be a go-to dish for me and being true, it is. Beautiful dish.

OK, new stuff…………..


Broccoli ~   chermoula. lime. candied peanut.

This dish was recommended by the staff and was a hit. Perfectly cooked vegetables with a nice char flavor that set off well against the chermoula. Chermoula is a Mediterranean style marinade made of herbs oil, cumin, lemon, and salt or a variation of these ingredients, depending on region and chef.


Leek ~   fungi. creamy taleggio

As with the broccoli, the leek was cooked to a perfect al dente. The addition of the taleggio added a fruity tang to the dish. Again the act of char-grilling the vegetable added yet another flavor and texture component. This is a very rich dish with the cheese, perfect for splitting…I had to buckle down and eat the whole thing myself:)


Pork Middle Char Siu ~   farro. brussels sprout. apple

Chinese style pork set off against micro thin apple slices and farro. The brussels sprouts were fine but not essential to the dish. Solid dish flavor wise and well-executed pork.

Service was on point again. I plan on returning, still a lot of the menu to try.Plus I want to delve into the cocktail menu.


This is the end to a “bad weather day” in North County:)


2725 State Street, Carlsbad



Campfire (Lunch Report) ~ Carlsbad

I have been reporting on Campfire’s progress for a while now. They finally made their debut this week, opening for lunch and dinner Wednesday. While I have reservations for dinner on the 20th, I could not wait. I found myself with extra time on my hands and in the vicinity, so I popped by for lunch.

The dinner report will be more in-depth but from what I found it already looks like a winner.


Campfire 2725 State St. Carlsbad.


The bar has a pretty extensive craft cocktail,wine,and beer list. I went with my go to,lemonade, mint lemonade at that cause that’s how I roll. Made from scratch in a cocktail shaker.


Char Grilled Oysters ~ Myer lemon, chili butter, cucumber.

These are going to go on the must have list for each visit. They brought back memories of oyster festivals in Olympia Washington. Perfectly cooked, plump,juicy, with a slight hint of smoke. I almost ordered another plate before I remembered I was coming back so soon.


Tuna Belly ~ Long beans, soft-boiled egg, olive, shallot.

This was another great dish. It’s a cold dish which you may not get from the description but it holds tons of flavor. The stars of the dish are the long beans, which still have a char taste to them. The smoked tuna belly, egg and tapenade work to contrast and set the flavors off.

Again, I will have more on Campfire soon but I was just excited to share. Service was great, plenty of staff and a lot of the key positions are people from Ironside Fish and Oyster. At least that’s what my eavesdropping, I mean research, tells me.


2725 State St. Carlsbad

The Roxy Remodels & Re-opens ~ Encinitas

The Roxy, which has been open in downtown Encinitas since 1978, closed at the end of March for a major remodel and concept change. With the neighborhood changing and monthly rent in the 10,000 per month range the owners needed to attract new customers.

The new concept is a 20’s speakeasy vibe, with craft cocktails and updated “New American” menu under Executive Chef Chris Gallo. Long time regulars can still find a few of the old menu’s favorites, like Falafel Burgers and an artichoke sandwich alongside the new dishes.


The remodel is still underway, plans include opening up the front so the restaurant extends to the patio area, probably with roll-up garage-style doors or open window seats. The liquor license allows the establishment to serve alcohol outside as well.


The interior is still in transformation. The walls I doubt will remain white.



The bar and kitchen area give more of a hint as to the finished look.

I tried a few dishes off the new menu…..


Fig Crostini ~ aged Humboldt fog, sherry marinated figs, basil, honey

Great flavors that work great together. Beautiful figs by the way.


Salt Cure Foie Gras Torchon ~ honey roasted fig, cognac gastrique, brioche toast.

This dish is on the dinner menu but Chef wanted to show it off, and rightly so. This is one of the best versions of Foie Gras I have had. The preparation gave the Foie Gras a depth of flavor you normally do not get. There are those figs again.

Though still in a soft open mode the Roxy is putting out good food with attentive service. The weekends feature live music acts, which is nice, we can always use more venues supporting local music.

The Roxy

517 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas


Oceanside Wine Society @ The Privateer Marketplace & Wine Bar ~ Oceanside

This last Monday, September 12th, I attended the monthly event of the Oceanside Wine Society. These events are hosted at The Privateer Marketplace & Wine Bar on a monthly basis and feature rotating wine makers or personalities.

The event was $20 for a light buffet style accompaniments and 5 tastings.


The Privateer Marketplace and Wine Bar


Charcuterie and Cheese to accompany the wine.


More of the Buffet.


The event attracted about 25 to 30 people.


This month the winemaker was One Hope winery out of Napa Valley. One Hope is about 8 years old and came about when its eight founders, who were in the wine business in Napa, got together to form the company. The CEO’s friend was fighting cancer at the time, so the idea arose to produce wines where a portion of all sales go to different humanitarian causes, ranging from Medical Research to helping Veterans.


The event was hosted by Caitlin Snyder of One Hope Winery.

I could show you pictures of the wines but there could be anything in that glass and you would never know. I’ll just mention 2 of my favorites of the evening. I think it’s better for everyone that way:)

2011 Santa Barbara Reserve Chardonnay ~ Notes of citrus and peach with a light trace of oak. Really nice I would buy this.  Proceeds from this wine benefit Alzheimer’s research.

2012 Edna Valley Reserve Pinot Noir ~ Really drinkable wine, not too many tannins. Berries and spice spring to mind. This would pair well with a salmon dish.

Members of the Oceanside Wine Society get 15% off bottles of wine featured at these events. You can sign up and find out all the benefits at The Privateer Marketplace. The events are open to walk-ins. You can find out about future ones by following the Privateer marketplace Facebook page.


The great team for the event.

Privateer Marketplace & Wine Bar

1704 South Coast Highway, Oceanside


Churchill’s Pub & Toolbox Brewing Co. ~ Sour Beer Events ~ San Marcos, Vista

Editors Note * I would like to introduce and welcome Justin Kunert to the North County Food team. Justin Will be covering local breweries and beer events. Here is his inaugural post.

For my first beer article, I decided to stick to something I know and love: sour beers.  Coincidentally enough, September obliged and provided back-to-back sour packed Saturdays.  To start off, Toolbox Brewing in Vista celebrated its 2-year anniversary on Saturday, September 8.  It was an awesome event for the brewery and its fans, given the great turnout at the event.


To commemorate its 2nd birthday, Toolbox served up its specialty by offering a dozen sour beers on tap, including barrel aged sours, wild ales, and saisons.  Our group managed to try six of the options on tap, and damn they were all good.  Four are shown below, my favorite being the 7.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) “Pinkies Up” – a barrel aged sour saison with plums, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves.  This beer carried a remarkably unique plum flavor and along with it an awesome pucker, like alcoholic pop rocks that make your lips shrink and eyes shut.  A phenomenal beer drinking experience.  We also tasted the Bramble on Rose, a bronze medal winner at the 2016 World Beer Cup and a gold medal winner at 2016 San Diego International Beer Competition.


Given my sour cravings, it is great to see this brewery make outstanding beer and to witness all of the support that it is receiving.  Check them out at their website ( and in this article from Draft Magazine (


The following Saturday, September 10, Churchill’s Pub and Grille in San Marcos hosted the 7th Annual Peter Reeve’s Memorial Sour Fest.  Churchill’s had over 40 different sour beers on tap!  Our group managed to make it through 12 different tasters, 8 of which made it into the picture below.  New Belgium’s “Le Terrior” was my personal favorite.


As for local representation, North County breweries contributing sours on the list included Belching Beaver, The Lost Abbey, Pizza Port, and the afore-mentioned Toolbox.  I would recommend getting your hands on Pizza Port’s “Halle Berrylicious” for some local sour flavor, though any of the options are solid choices.  The event attracted a huge crowd of sour enthusiasts and I am sure some kegs will still be around for sampling for those interested.  Check out Churchill’s here:

Churchills Pub

887 West San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos

Toolbox Brewing Company

1495 Poinsettia Ave. #148, Vista

All words and pictures by Justin Kunert

608 & Wine Weirdos Dinner ~ Oceanside

This past Wednesday saw 608 and Wine Weirdos come together and throw a 7-course wine pairing dinner at the restaurant. I have spoken at length on how I love 608 and respect Chef William Eick and how he approaches his craft, so this will be a little shorter recap of the dinner and the wines and dishes featured.


The evening was hosted by Mike of Wine Weirdos, who introduced each pairing during the dinner.


The first course consisted of house made sourdough and cultured butter, this was paired with 2014 Los Pilares Sparkling Muscat.

The wine was bottle fermented and used sustainable grapes, sourced from the local Rincon Indian Reservation. The bread was a good way to go with this as the yeast content of the sourdough stood up against the wine. This was by far my least favorite wine of the evening though.


Salmon, Ikura, natal plum, and local honey. Paired with a 2014 LaMontagne Marshall vineyards Malvasia Bianca.

This was a great dish and pairing. The saltiness of the roe and texture from the salmon skin and pine nuts worked perfectly with the fish. Throw in a bit of sweetness from the plums and everything worked in harmony.


Ahhh, the good stuff. Toro.


The third dish came in with world-class toro, whey, cherry tomato, and beach herbs. Toro is great, as we all know, but the king of this dish was the whey.  The sauce was reduced whey and butter and was lick the plate good. This was paired with a 2013 Deux Punx Sumu Kaw white blend. The wine matched well bringing some acidity and elements of pine with the pairing.


Willy sourced small scallops for the dinner’s fourth dish:)


Scallop, potato espuma, potato chips, and nori salt. Paired with a 2014 Russian River Vinyards Chardonnay.

Another great dish and pairing. The dish is a version of 608’s soft-boiled egg dish that is currently on the menu but substitutes the scallop in place of the egg. I personally like this dish better with the scallop. The sweet tender meat of the scallop hiding under the pillow like potato espuma, with the chips adding texture, works perfectly. The Russian River Chardonnay was also a winner. While I believe it was oak aged, it was not too heavy on that characteristic and was well-balanced with elements of fruit.


Ribeye, corn, mushroom, snail. A really nice dish with sweetness from the corn and earthiness from the mushrooms playing off each other. This was paired with a 2014 Bruce Patch Zinfandel. A nice example of that varietal.

The pictures from the dessert courses did not come out to my liking ( I was pretty deep in wine by this time). Also, there were some technical issues with the dishes and the pairings were hard. So I will just leave it at that.

Another great dinner at 608 and I hope to see more event dinners to come.


608 Mission Ave., Oceanside

Wine Weirdos






Decoy @ The Lakeside Hotel / Resort ~ San Marcos.

Decoy has a chance to bring great higher end dining to the San Marcos area. It has everything going for it, waterfront location, it is situated next to a 14 million dollar resort that was just voted one of the best in the United States, an experienced Chef with a good track record, and the build out of the restaurant itself, which is nothing but breathtaking in its design and originality.


Decoy exterior


Decoy’s bar and lounge area serves as a mood setting pass through into the main dining room. The bar like the restaurant boasts interesting art pieces and accent lighting, I would lose the flat screen TVs though, they are a misplaced element in an otherwise beautiful room. If you’re out for dinner or drinks and just have to know the score of the game be an asshole and just look at your phone.



Some of the mixed media art pieces that adorn the restaurant. They call for a close inspection to reveal some of their intelligent detail. Like the deer cut out, that uses fishing lures and pieces of fishing rod embedded in the piece.




The interior as I stated earlier is world-class in detail and execution. It reminded me a lot of Encuentro Guadalupe Restaurant in Baja as far as feel at night-time.


Encuentro Guadalupe Restaurant, Valle De Guadalupe, Baja

Tangent…I really want to stay in one of their eco-lodges…so cute and the view….


Ok, back on track…

The menu at Dockside, in my opinion, is perfect in its size, large enough to host a range of dishes without being overwhelming and still providing space for specials or alterations. The wine and specialty cocktail list follow suit in this.


To start we split a burnt orange negroni as there was going to be wine involved later. My partner in crime thought it needed more Campari as it was shy on the bitter element. The bruleed orange was awesome, though.

Moving into appetizers…


Strawberry Caprese ~ tomato, baby kale, burrata ice cream, balsamic.

Great combo of flavors, it needed more balsamic though as it sets off the dish and calling the burrata an “Ice cream” is a bit of a stretch.


Kung Pao Sweetbreads ~ peanut, scallions, sesame, kung pao glaze, cucumber.

I love sweetbreads and order them every time I see them on a menu. These were OK. The dish reminded me a lot of a good version of orange chicken with a little bit of spice. With the exception of a little softer mouth feel the sweetbreads could have been mistaken for poultry.

The mains though shined brightly….


Bass ~ roasted artichokes, Chinese sausage, braised beans & natural clam broth.

This was a rock star dish. Great product, cooked to perfection all playing off each other.


Quail ~ fingerling potato salad, duck scotch egg, apple gastrique.

Though on the hot appetizer menu, we ordered this as a second main and it served perfectly in that role.

The addition of the scotch egg was a delight, the quail, and the potatoes were cooked perfectly and had a wonderful flavor. The apple gastrique added a perfect overall sweetness to the dish. A true winner.

The staff was friendly and attentive, and for being a new restaurant overall well-informed. My friend did challenge them a bit by asking a few questions regarding the food and wine. At one point I told our server he was walking into a trap when she asked for advice about a particular wine choice, he handled himself well, though.

Decoy is set up to become a great restaurant, right now it is a very good one. Being in its infancy that is fine and the path to get there is very doable. In my experience, the dishes we had for our mains outshined the appetizers quite a bit. I will definitely be back in the future to see where they land.


Lakeside hotel & Resort

1025 La Bonita Dr., San Marcos









Pelly’s Fish Market & Cafe ~ Carlsbad

So, I’m surprised I didn’t write about the wonderfulness that is Pelly’s before now. I love seafood, but I am very picky when it comes to it. Growing up fishing with a Dad and older brother who were avid fishermen, you become accustomed to very fresh seafood. I was craving fish and a shrimp cocktail and wanted something above the quality of most places in North County. I wanted a good selection to choose from and also did not want to spend a ton.

I was craving fish and a shrimp cocktail and wanted something above the quality of most places in North County. I wanted a good selection to choose from and also did not want to spend a ton of money. Fish 101 was an option as well but I had recently visited them unlike Pelly’s.

Pelly’s has been around since the late 80s providing fresh seafood at their market / cafe in Carlsbad.

Pelly-s exterior

Pelly’s Fish Market & Cafe 7110 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad.

Though 100 times smaller than Catalina Offshore Pelly’s fish selection stands up to anyone as far as quality and freshness.

Pelly-s fish market

Some of the daily fish selection, not cheap but you get the quality you are paying for.

Pelly-s interior

Simple cafe interior, they also have outside seating wich was packed on the day I went, so I opted to sit inside.

Their menu is pretty simple offering a number of seafood cocktails, fish sandwiches or plates, as well as tacos.

I am a sucker for a great shrimp cocktail so that is what I started with….

Pelly-s shrimp cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail ~ Simplicity at its best.

Perfect shrimp, a little cocktail sauce, and a squeeze of lemon and life is good.

After seeing some of the most beautiful swordfish I have seen in a while in their fish case, I was tempted but decided on the fresh Alaskan Halibut instead.

Pelly-s Halibut plate

Alaskan Halibut ~ Dill butter, spicy rice, and a side salad.

Perfectly flaky halibut. Again great ingredients with a simple preparation.

If you want great seafood in the Carlsbad area I would head down to Pelly’s off of Poinsettia and grab some fresh fish to cook at home or eat in their cafe.

Pelly’s Fish Market & Cafe

7110 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad

Baba Coffee ~ Carlsbad​ & Delving​ into The New Dishes @ 608 ~ Oceanside

A Saturday two for the price of none.

First up, Baba Coffee has opened its doors making it the second project in the 2700 block of State St. to be completed, Carruth Cellars opened about a month or so ago and Campfire has picked up steam and looks to hit in October.

Baba Coffee is a medium-sized coffee shop serving coffee, about a dozen craft beers, as well as food items ranging from pastries to sandwiches and salads.

608 baba coffee ext

Baba Coffee ~ Situated in front of Carruth Cellars and next to Campfire @ 2727 State St. Carlsbad.

608 baba coffee_

Cold brewed iced coffee and my sad ass phone. I hate my phone and have a very passive aggressive relationship with it, I won’t get rid of it so I’m just abusing it slowly till it dies.

While Baba does not roast their beans, they have done  a great job of  using locally produced products . Their beans and pastries are from Pannikin, bread from Prager Brothers, VG Donuts, and teas from Tea Gallerie.

608 baba coffee int

The color scheme is white with light woods and  Mediterranean blue accents. The palate and the roll-up doors make the location feel spacious and breathable. ( OK that was a sad attempt to not say “light and airy”).

The name Baba refers to a 16th-century Sufi coffee smuggler credited with introducing coffee to India. I was hoping it was referencing Baba Yaga from Slavic folklore but that is just the nerd in me.

If you are looking to grab a coffee and a light breakfast or lunch in Carlsbad I would check them out.

Baba Coffee

2727 State St., Carlsbad

New menu Items @ 608

So, I having recently posted 608’s new menu I decided to go in and try some of the new dishes for lunch. I walked in and was told Chef said I was not allowed to order anything. Willy came out asked “how hungry I was”, I replied starving and the following overeating ensued.

608 pork belly

Cured Pork Belly ~ Cannellini beans, corn, mustard greens, dusted in sumac.608 pork belly2

The one stipulation I had was to try the pork belly, I’m glad I did. This is one of the best pork belly dishes I have eaten. The pork is cold smoked first, then brined. Usually, it is done the other way around. Perfect amount of flavor from the sumac. 5-star dish or in my case 5 content kittens:)

5 cats

(It means “I’m done,  gonna curl up a ball and go to sleep happy)

608 egg

Soft Boiled Egg ~ Potato es puma, potato chips, norinade, seaweeds.

This is a true “Chefs” dish, a great play on textures, flavors, and temperatures. The soft-boiled eggs sleep under the pillow-like structure of the es puma while the potatoes provide crunch and saltiness along with the seaweed.

608 fried chicken

Fried Chicken ~ Local honey, jalapeno, radish , and green onion.

To quote Willy ” you could put that honey on a shoe and it would taste good”. While true The perfectly executed Chicken, crunchy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, as well as the counter balance of heat from the jalapeno and acidity from the raw green onion elevate the dish miles above “shoe level”.

Still, more new things to check out on the menu and reason to return to 608. The new menu items are more true to Willie’s cooking style than the opening menu let on. Psst…sweat breads are coming in the future:)


608 mission Ave., Oceanside.