Halcyon, Stella Public House, plus bonus ~ San Marcos

So, I recently went to check out the new Halcyon Coffee + Bar + Lounge and their sister establishment Stella Public House located in the new mixed use enclave that is called “Block C” North City in San Marcos.  North City is set to be, once finished, an urban living utopia or dystopia, depending on your point of view. My friend Beau said it best. “High rise upscale apartments with cacti and bicycles on the balconies and hipster coffee houses and restaurants on the street level.” Pretty dead on actually. Luckily I like hipster coffee places and restaurants, good ones anyway.

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Block C ( Why does that name conjure up images of Judge Dread and Mega City One for me?)

Halcyon, and Stella Public House, are part of a small chain with two locations in Texas. The new San Marcos location is actually a relocation of their East Village spot in San Diego.

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Halcyon Coffee + Bar + Lounge

Open 7am till 2am Halcyon is a coffee bar during the day serving up breakfast items, salads, and sandwiches. At night it turns into a lounge with wine, beer and cocktail service.

It has a bright, laid back atmosphere with lots of large open roll up windows. The space flows across a couch filled lounge area into their sister establishment Stella Public house.

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Iced Tea and a daisy:)

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Stella Public House calls itself a “Farm to Pizza” establishment. I can see that. Its menu is designed around shared plates and wood fired pizzas. Plus, to be a Gastropub I think it’s law you must have a $14 burger, pork belly, and ceviche on the menu ( though technically I think you can sub the ceviche for poke and the burger for sliders.).  I do not recognize the farms they are sourcing from listed on their website but the food we had used top quality, fresh product. Plus, to be honest, I only know like six farms by name anyway.

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A beautiful open kitchen and bar area run along the North wall. Flowing and / or seamless would be good adjectives to describe the space.

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The large roll up windows / doors continue the indoor out-door theme from Halcyon. Justin ( beer contributor for NCF ) stuck with water, as due to being in soft opening mode they were not serving beer yet. They open officially 10/6. Justin lived, we went to a brewery right after this:)

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Burrata Plate ~ Burrata, prosciutto, and accompaniments.

Delicious, fresh burrata with great prosciutto. We both loved this. Easily enough for two as a starter.

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Texas Bee Sting Pizza ~ house mozzarella, serrano, sopressata, parmigiano, with local honey drizzle and cilantro.

I was not that hungry but still devoured 3 slices of the pizza. It had a nice balance of saltiness from the cheese playing off the right amount of sweetness from the honey and a little bit of spice from the serranos. A really nice pizza, I would order it again.

Also shout out to the staff for being friendly and dealing with the slight chaos that comes with a new establishment opening perfectly.

Halcyon & Stella Public House

250 North City Drive Suite #3 | San Marcos, CA

BattleMage Brewing….

As I mentioned in the title, a little bonus. After Eating at Stella we headed over to check out Battle Mage Brewing Company. Justin will do a full article on them and their beers, but I just wanted to mention them.

BattleMage started up about five months ago and is a fantasy themed brewery ( Dungeons & Dragons, Magic The Gathering, Game of Thrones ). Their beers have names like Goblin King, Chaotic Evil, and Hooded Assassin. They have D&D nights every Tuesday, Magic the Gathering Wednesdays, and board games available to play anytime. Basically, I love them:) Here are a few pics till Justin writes them up. Good beer in a variety of styles. I highly recommend checking them out.

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Wall of Magic The Gathering Cards.

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Beer list and kick ass mascot art work. Really good prices, flights of 4 tasters are $5, pints $5, and growlers $15. Yes, I bought a T-Shirt, wearing it right now:)

BattleMage Brewing Company

2870 Scott St, Vista, CA

#food #foodporn #foodie #pizza #coffee #beer #brewery #craftbrewery #sanmarcos #northcounty #D&D #games #vista

 

 

 

 

Dona Elena Pozoleria ~ Vista

So, while walking to La Takiza last month along North Santa Fe Ave. in Vista, I caught a sign out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it said “pizzeria”, which seemed out-of-place for the area.  Upon stopping I found out it said “Dona Elena Pozoleria”. I got excited, immediately looked at the menu and added it to my must try list. I actually added to my “drag Chef Beau or Christina along” list.

So, Beau and I took the sprinter out to Vista to have lunch.

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Dona Elena specializes is Pozole, menudo, and soups. While they have some other items on their menu, the focus is on their soup based dishes. A lot of restaurants only offer these specialty items on Sundays or the weekend, Dona Elena offers them every day.

Their Pozole is offered in three varieties. White (Pozole without red or green sauce and ingredients), Red (addition of red sauce and chilis), and green (addition of tomatillos, cilantro, and jalapeno).

I went with the red pork Pozole and Beau got the green.

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Red Pozole ~ Pork, hominy, cabbage, onion, garlic, radishes, and limes served with crisp tortillas.

The large was huge, with plenty of pork, hominy, and all the accompaniments making it quite the lunch. It was not that spicy but Beau got a side of chili oil to add in and with its addition I was able to up my spice level to where I wanted it.

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Green Pozole ~ Chicken, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cabbage, onion, radishes, and limes with crispy tortillas.

I did not try the green pozole but Beau commented on how good it was, and like me finished the entire bowl.

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As if we did not have enough food, we split a beef sope. A great example of a sope but I think the reason to come here are their soup based dishes.

If you want to try another hidden gem in Vista I would add Dona Elena’s to the list of them along North Santa Fe Ave.

Dona Elena Pozoleria

1120 North Santa Fe Ave., Vista

#food #foodie #foodporn #vista #mexicanfood #pozole #lunch #dinner #san diego

La Takiza ~ Vista

So, I am really starting to like Vista more and more, of course it has the well-known places like flying Pig and Belching Beaver Tavern, but for Mexican food it’s kind of like what Kerny Mesa and Convoy St. is for Asian cuisine. Though Vista’s hub tends to be more geographically spread out along North Santa Fe Ave. and East Vista Way.

I have been exploring more and more and I keep finding little community gems. Notice I said finding and not discovering, these restaurants are known in the community and people who seek these places like these out. Restaurants like Vamos A Texcoco, Taco’s Don Paco, and now La Takiza are some of the best in North County if not San Diego at what they do.

Like a lot of hidden gems, La Takiza is in a beige strip mall. Its colorful signage makes it stick out among the neighbors, even though it is in the back of a fairly large plaza.

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La Takiza ~ 1234 North Santa Fe Ave. #119

I was passing through the area and the sign caught my eye. After doing some research and looking at their menu, I wanted to return and check them out for myself. The menu is straight forward offering street style tacos, burritos, quesadillas, mulitas, plus menudo and birria. It was the range of meat, especially offal, offered that enticed me.

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Pork and offal, pork and offal, yum yum yum. So right up my alley.

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My lunch ~ Pastor burrito,  a Cochinita Pibil taco, and  a Cachete taco. Three salsas descending in heat from left to right ~ Habanero verde, Salsa Verde, Guacamole Verde. I liked the Habanero and Guacamole the best with all the types of pork.

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Pastor Burrito ~ Marinated pork, rice, onion, cilantro, and maybe a few other things. I got it “with everything”. (It is hard to get a good glamor shot of the inside of a burrito.)

Healthy sized burrito especially with the rice. Though it was good I thought the tacos ended up being the best vehicle to let their meats shine.

La Takiza tacos (1 of 1)

Cochinita Pibil with pickled red onions and Cachete with Habanero pickled onions.

Both tacos were delicious. The Cachete was moist and melt in your mouth tender due to hours of cooking and the onions (from the salsa bar) added a nice contrast to the meat. The rock star though was the Cochinita Pibil, slow roasted chunks of pork in a stew like broth. The pickled red onions, which they will ask if you want them, are a must to finish this great concoction of flavors.  Tacos are the way to go here, they don’t interfere or mask the flavors of the meat. They also have a deal that if you order five tacos you get a free drink.

I almost forgot something important….

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Fresh made to order corn tortillas for the tacos.

If you love pork and good Mexican food I highly recommend La Takiza.

On my walk back to the Sprinter I came across another place to add to my must try list….

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Dona Elena Pozoleria ~They specialize in Pazole ( red, white, and green) as well as soups and stews.

La Takiza

1234 North Santa Fe Ave. Vista

 

#food #foodporn #mexicanfood #tacos #vista #pork #foodie

 

 

 

 

Yaya’s Fruit Bar ~ Vista

Yaya’s is the kind of place I love to coming across. It’s under the radar, unassuming,  family run, and delivers different and tasty food you do not find very often.

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Yaya’s is located in an aesthetically boring strip mall in Vista behind a McDonald’s at 1450 North Santa Fe Ave. at Bobier.

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The interior is clean with light wood and bright colors.

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In addition to their great fruit desserts, they offer 14 flavors of Thrifty’s Ice Cream, numerous fruit sorbets, smoothies, Acia bowls, and a few hot dishes like tortas and nachos.

Their assorted fruit desserts are what makes them special though. The walls are lined with pictures of them because the menu descriptions can not do them justice.

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Desserts Clockwise from top left ~ Chamango, Raspado, Acia Bowl , and Papas Preparadas.

All their desserts are extremely reasonable and made to order. Mine was $6.50 and huge…….

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Pepino Prepadado ~ Cucumber, jamica, papaya, cacahuates japoneses (japanese peanuts), Pica Fresca, hot sauce, and chili powder.

Just a taste and texture sensation. Sweet fresh fruit, crunch from the peanuts, chew from the candies, sourness from the lime juice, and heat from the chili powder and hot sauce. It was not too sweet, it was very vibrant and fresh tasting. Just a great dish.

I will definitely be back to try more or their creations.

Yaya’s Fruit Bar

1450 North Santa Fe Ave., Vista

#food #foodporn #vista #mexicanfood #mexecandessert #foodie

 

Plant Power Fast Food ~ Encinitas

As a total omnivore I was very interested in trying out Plant Power Fast Food. While I love animal flesh in every form, I love me some fruit,veg, and grains too. Also I am always interested in people making interesting, healthy alternatives to foods, like fast food, that are notoriously full of fillers and chemicals.

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This is Plant Powers’s second location, with the first opening in Ocean Beach in 2015. You can order via drive through, an automated order system (kinda like sonic), or a walk up counter. There is some outdoor seating.

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The small outdoor seating area, going to say it seats 36ish.

“Plant Power fast food provides fast food staples like burgers, fries, wraps, tacos, salads, shakes, smoothies and other tasty treats made entirely without the use of animal products, GMO’s or artificial ingredients and served to you in 100% biodegradable materials.”

Proof is in the taste though. How did they do? Really well actually.

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My order ~ “Chicken” fingers, classic “burger” and a great organic lemon lime soda. This came to $16 but was really 2 orders to try more food out.

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“Chicken Fingers” ~ These were really good, the texture was slightly firmer than a mcnugget but softer than a breast strip. The sauce was great and had a nice heat to it. They come with choice of 2 extra sauces, which I did not totally get since they are sauced already. I did use the chipotle one as kind of a substitute for ranch dressing you get with wings. I would order these anytime.

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The Classic ~ “beef patty” lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, ‘mayo’, mustard and pickles.

A great meatless substitute for a fast food burger. I added a little extra ketchup for moisture, but if you did not tell me I would not of deduced it was vegan. They also do an avocado burger, mushroom burger, and a few other variations. There is also a black bean patty available and a raw burger version using a walnut and sunflower burger patty. You can also get “cheese” and a gluten-free bun option for a slight additional charge if desired.

The burgers are a great replacement for the likes of Wendy’s, McDonald’s and so forth. If you are a die-hard burger person they are not going to compete with higher end fast casual burgers like Burger Lounge, Pure Burger, etc. If you are vegetarian or vegan you get to have your burger and eat it too.

Some Yelp reviews commented on slow service and price. Price is right in line with anything else. They are also in soft opening mode still and the place is small so I would go off hours for the time being, but you know, who uses common sense. $100 says it took them longer to write their 3 star yelp review than get their food:)

Plant Power Fast Food

411 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas

(across from Scripts Hospital)

#food #foodporn #vegan #vegetarian #fastfood

 

 

7 Great Dishes ~ North County

A lot of times, while not doing a review, I experience a dish worth mentioning. These really do not support a full article, so from time to time I will compile them into one. Also if you follow northcountyfood on Instagram (Please do) you will get these one offs and general event things in North County.

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The Rooster Burger @ The Red Rooster, Oceanside ~ American cheese, Ortega chili, grilled onion, sesame seed bun, and your choice of toppings, in this case 1000 island dressing and a little mustard.

Pretty much an institution in Oceanside, the Red Rooster Bar has been around since, well forever. I remember my Dad bringing home Rooster burgers when I was in Jr. High. It is a juicy, tasty, dive bar burger. Pretends to be nothing more, yet it is.

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Weekly Chef Specials @ Petite Madeline ~ Though because they are specials they change weekly, ordering one of Chef Marc’s off the blackboard is the way to go here. He is a Chef I still can not pin down. He uses Asian influences and then throws an Italian pesto in. This one in particular “The O’side plate” included shrimp, pesto, tomatoes, pesto, and the genius addition of kohlrabi noodles (cabbage family).

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Avocado Grilled Cheese @ Barrel Republic, Oceanside ~ After seeing a video of the Chef making this sandwich I had to try it. Perfectly grilled sourdough, tomato, mozzarella, and tempura fried avocado. The avocado stays fresh and soft inside its light battered crust making the dish a lot lighter than it may sound. So, good.

  • Currently only at the Oceanside location.

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Tandoori Chicken Sandwich @ Flying Pig, Vista ~ Fried chicken, house BBQ sauce, on brioche. Another sandwich that after having seen it on Facebook knew “that is going my face”.  Upon arrival I thought “no way i am eating all that”. Yet, due to another light and flavorful batter and the fact the sandwich is so damn good, I destroyed the whole thing.

  • Currently only at the Vista location on the weekends

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Fresh fish Plate @ Pelly’s Fish Market, Carlsbad ~ Local Halibut, lemon butter, Spanish rice, and a side salad w / blue cheese dressing. Simple perfectly cooked fresh fish, not much more you can ask for.

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Heirloom Caprese Salad and Roast Beef Bites @ The Miller’s Table, Oceanside. Cyclops Farms heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and pesto. You can not go wrong with this flavor combo, especially when using top quality ingredients. Most of their sandwiches can be ordered as bites. The ingredients are served on bruschetta and quite filling making combining them with a salad a perfect summer lunch or light dinner.

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16oz Blueberry Italian Ice and Mango Sorbet W/ Fresh Fruit @ Guava Lava Frozen Treats, Oceanside ~ First time trying this place out and I loved it. Cute interior, surgically clean, and a great selection of flavors and toppings. I love that they offer Ices and Sorbets in addition to yogurt. Tons of fresh fruit flavor, I shall return.

 

The Red Rooster

Petite Madeline Bakery & Bistro

Barrel Republic

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

Pelly’s Fish Market

The Miller’s Table

Guava Lava Frozen Treats

#food #foodporn #restaurants #oceanside #vista #carlsbad

 

 

Park 101 ~ Carlsbad

So, Park 101, the 8,000 sq ft multi million dollar food and drink project opened a few weeks ago along Coast Highway in Carlsbad.

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The U-shaped complex features a downstairs lounging area, bar, coffee bar, and fast casual BBQ restaurant..

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Downstairs lounge complete with corn-hole and fire pit.

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Downstairs lounge from the upper deck.

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Second bar upstairs. They have 40 beers on tap, many local.

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Their fast Casual kitchen. They serve a number of salads and classic side dishes. The main focus is BBQ including, Tri-Tip, brisket, pulled pork, turkey, smoked fish and sausage. In addition they are open at 6am for breakfast burritos and the like.

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I went with Tri-Tip, coleslaw, white bread and pickles. Perfectly cooked Tri-Tip, tender and flavorful. Good portion size too.

With the summer and it being a great outdoor location it can get busy especially on the weekends.

Park 101

3040 Carlsbad Blvd. (Coast Highway), Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #bbq #carlsbad

 

 

Corner Bakery Cafe ~ Encinitas

I can not eat high-end restaurant food all the time, so I like it when I can find high quality fast casual places like Lemonade, Flower Child, and I would now add Corner Bakery Cafe to that list.

I was in Encinitas on other business and came across the re-designed strip mall just east of El Camino Real on Encinitas Blvd. There is a lot going into that spot, a tap-room, Luna Grill, and it already houses a Habit Burger and the previously mentioned Corner Bakery Cafe.

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Corner Bakery Cafe ~ 1476 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas.

I did some research and this is the fourth San Diego location operated by the Feast Restaurant Group. They have another North County location across from the outlet stores in Carlsbad in the plaza that houses PF Changs and King’s Fish House.

The best reference I could give you is think Panera with better food and a real kitchen. I used to work for Panera and have nothing but positive things to say about my experience but I also know fresher ingredients when I eat them. Plus, working kitchen.

The interior is simple and clean. You order at the counter and then your food is brought to your table when ready. Pretty straight forward Fast Casual Dinning. I do not have any interior pics due it being somewhat busy and ripping one-off the web is always dicey.

They serve a full range of breakfast items from eggs, pancakes, and oatmeal. As well as sandwiches, salads, Pastas and chili. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are open till about 8 or 9pm.

I was down there at lunch time for my appointment so went the Sandwich and salad route.

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Harvest Salad ~ chicken, field greens, green apples, toasted walnuts, cranberries and bleu cheese with raisin pecan sweet crisps and balsamic vinaigrette.

This was the smaller “cafe” size and it was big. It was everything I like in a salad, lots of different textures, great quality field greens, and I really liked the raisin pecan crisps. It was better than any salad I have had at Swami’s.

The bread that came with it was also really good.

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Uptown Turkey Avocado Sandwich ~ Smoked turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo on whole grain harvest toast.

Great sandwich, lots of Avocado, Turkey and again, great bread. I should have re-plated it to show it better but I already get enough looks for spinning my plate around and taking like 10 pictures.

This was a lot of food, but they have combos available where it would be smaller portions of both.

Oh, they also have great lemonade and Iced tea. Hibiscus lemonade Arnold Palmer for the win. I love quality lemonade.

If you’re in the area they are a good quality option for a meal.

Probably my last post or next to last post for the month as I just had to throw some groceries away because I have not been eating in and I have to go through my groceries before I lose more.

Corner Bakery Cafe

1476 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas.

#food #lunch #foodporn

 

 

 

 

Living Tea’s Monthly Pancake Breakfast ~ Oceanside

This Sunday was Living Tea’s monthly pancake breakfast. If you are not familiar with Living Tea Brewery, they are a kombucha Brewery and tap-room located in Oceanside at 302 Wisconsin Ave. If you have had Kombucha at a local bar or restaurant there is a good chance it was one of theirs.

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The Breakfast starts.

Each 3rd Sunday of the month they throw a Pancake breakfast from 10 am till noon. The breakfast is donation base allowing you to pay what you can or thinks fair. All proceeds go to local charities. They do these events as a thank you to their supporters and to help strengthen the sence of community in the area.

I have been wanting to attend one and was able to on the 19th.

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Puppies! The event is kid and dog friendly.

I arrived right at 10 so I could say hi. There were probably 10 people when it started and around 25ish when I left about 10:45 but its a fluid event where people come and go throughout the 2 hours.

In addition to the pancakes they also serve coffee and kombucha during the breakfast. The coffee is included with your donation or lack there of if you can not afford it. Not sure about the kombucha I did not get any. Though I have had it many times and have included it in some of my Chef dinner events.

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The Pancake Master. I should have asked his name but Pancake Master is a pretty good nickname.

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Accoutrements for the pancakes ~ Bananas, apples, and oranges.

I went with apples and bananas.

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See told you I went with apples and bananas. Spiralina, gluten-free, organic pancakes with said bananas and apples plus chia hearts.

The pancakes were light, moist, and fluffy with a slightly crisp exterior. The batter was made with coconut oil which gave them their moisture. The fruit and the chia hearts were a great accompaniment.

 

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They also host open mic for musicians and singers to play during the breakfast. I did not catch this performers name but she was good. The boys from Living Tea / Barnwell Shift (that is their band) jumped in to accompany her.

I really like the thought behind these breakfasts and the food ain’t bad either:) I would highly recommend checking one out.

Living Tea

302 Wisconsin Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #pancakes #kombucha

 

Things To Do This Weekend In Oceanside.

Saturday ~ After waking up from you Saint Patrick’s Day exploits, head to Masters Kitchen and Cocktail for brunch featuring dishes like…

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Chef Richardi’s upscale take on Chicken and Waffles. Perfect post party night meal. Bonus, they have endless Mimosas if you need a little hair of the dog.

Brunch runs 10am till 2pm at Masters Kitchen and Cocktail 208 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside

Afterwords head to the beach and enjoy this weather.

Sunday ~ Head over to Wisconsin Street and join in Living Tea’s Community Pancake Breakfast.

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“We’ll be making GREEN pancakes, infused with Spirulina…. that’s right, Organic Gluten-Free GREEN Pancakes! We’ll also have our organic raw kombucha and organic coffee available.”

“Everything is donation based, so whatever you can afford to donate is great. And those who can’t donate, come eat for free and enjoy some good community time. All donations go towards future community breakfasts, and additional funds are donated to local charities. It’s a Give Back Oceanside event with Living Tea and Nii Foods!”

The event runs 10am to 12pm at Living Tea  302 Wisconsin Ave, Oceanside.

Also Sunday ~ Another communal event will be hosted By the The T House equinox event starts at noon and goes until 6pm.

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There will be light food (I believe he said lobster bisque and bread) and lots of information about food, urban homesteading, gardening, spiritualism and more. contact chefbeaub@gmail.com to learn more you can also check out the T Houses website or you can also contact me through this website.

To learn a little about what they are about you can read my interview with Chef Beau T house co-founder HERE.

Have a great weekend.