Tacos’s Don Paco ~ Vista

Taco’s Don Paco (yes the apostrophe is correct) opened about 2 months ago in Vista at 800 Civic Center Dr. just north of S. Santa Fe Dr. on the right.

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It is a strip mall taco shop, though it stands out with its store front and clean interior.

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*Interior photo via Yelp

They have the standard offering of Tortas, Burritos, Tostadas, Quesadillas, Mulitas. I think the stand out though are their street tacos. They have 13 types including quite a bit of ofal. Also they are only $1.75 each. My meal of 4 with a large drink was $8.23 total.

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An array of street tacos. Carnitas, Al Pastor, Lengua (tongue), and Suadero ( a cut of beef between the belly and leg).

The Al Pastor was super tasty and everything it should be, as was the Lengua, slow braised tongue. It melted in your mouth.

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Carnitas and Suadero street tacos.

Again, great carnitas. A lot of times carnitas at taco shops are too fatty or they use the cooking liquid to hide the dryness of the pork. These were tender and juicy.

Suadero, a very favor cut of beef. Actually reminded me of a cross between steak and a pork chop.

If you are looking for good honest Mexican food at a great price this is a place to try out. Any of the “bertos” style places are not even in the same league. Even my go to street taco place Primo’s gets edged out slightly.

One complaint, and if you go you will get this, they need bigger salsa cups.

 

Taco’s Don Paco

800 Civic Center Dr. Vista

#taco #food #foodporn

New Paleo / Gluten Free Coming To Leucadia.

A new Paleo and Gluten free eatery and bake house called Cultivate 101 will be opening in the space that until this month was El Torito Market & Taco Shop in Leucadia at 948 N. Coast Highway.

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The old El Torito Market. It is now totally gutted.

More when I know more.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Mission Ave. Bar and Grill ~ Oceanside

So, side stepping politics, and there are a lot right now in Oceanside’s food world. Mission Ave bar and grill has a new Chef. Chef Daniel Luevano.

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Chef and owner. Good feeling about this:)

It has been a while since I stepped into Mission Ave., for some reasons, but there is a freshness. You can feel it. I have talked with Chef Dan 3 times now and think he is a good fit. He seems passionate, energetic, and right for the business.

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So, again menu is new. This was his take on Crab Rangoon. Instead of cream cheese, he used Avocado. Which was smart. It added that cream texture but freshened it as well. Also perfectly deep-fried, yet all the internal elements were perfectly handled. I really did not need the aioli.

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Perfect Rib-eye. Funny enough, I was more fascinated with the potatoes and the chimichurri. This was probably a tie with my favorite chimichurri (Davin makes a great one) this one was not acidic and had a great balance of garlic. Plus the potatoes, which should be an after thought….nope, so good. Of course perfect steak, it was just the surrounding things that surprised me.

If, you have not been for a while I would revisit…

seriously:)

 

Mission Ave. Bar and Grill

711 Mission Ave., Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside

 

 

The Kettle Room @ Ballast Point 2nd Take

Words & Pictures bt Justin Kunert.

Buried behind beer bars and brewing equipment lies Ballast Point’s fine dining experience, the Kettle Room.  It seems weird to call this a hidden gem, given its location at one of the most popular breweries in San Diego.  But after swimming through the crowd of thirsty folk and busy servers, Chris and I found ourselves behind huge sliding glass doors in a dimly lit room, only accompanied by the three skeletons below.

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The Kettle Room greeting crew

And just like that, we were the only ones in the whole place.  Given the speakeasy vibe and lack of clientele, it felt like I was in on some secret that the rest of San Diego hadn’t caught on to.  It was a cozy spot set in the heart of the brewing area.  Here was the view from our table.

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Piles and piles of malted barley

I accepted the honor of ordering beer, and Chris handled the food.  The Kettle Room offers a concise menu focused on quality over quantity, with options for a prix fixe menu with or without beer pairings

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Slider (tart wheat ale), and the Sea Rose (cherry wheat ale).  The Habanero Sculpin is a favorite of mine and was a good way to start the meal.  The Biere de Garde had hints of both a Belgium style and a Saison.  I really enjoyed the Red-Eared Slider, it was tart, refreshing, with lots of carbonation – perfect for the start of summer.  We paired the sea rose with our dessert, it went well with the food, but otherwise this beer would probably be too sweet and fruity for me.

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The Biere de Garde and the Red-Eared Slider

As Chris mentioned in his article, this was truly an exceptional dining experience.  The service was incredible, the food was unlike anything I had ever had, and the beer was the perfect complement to round out the meal.  So next time you find yourself at Ballast Point in Little Italy.

tossing back a few beers and munching on pretzel bites, remember the culinary marvel hiding away in the back and go give it a try.

*editors note..this is why you have a second person, they pick up on things you miss:) Thanks, Justin.

The Kettle Room

2215 India St
San Diego, CA

 

#food #foodporn #beer

 

608’s 1 year mark ~ Oceanside.

There are lots of posts coming but this deserves dibs:)

Where to begin? Chef Willy Eick is probably one of the best Chef’s I have ever met. That is not a slight to anyone else. I have just spent time talking with him enough to know. A. how much he cares, B his skill level, C, his desire to continue getting better, and D, probably the best plating skills I have seen. Also, I understand this all subjective. Yet, I am comfortable with my praise of him.

This is just going to be pics. This was $25 …really. Go find better food for that price.

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Squash Blossom with shrimp stuffing.

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Beets and mushroom. Long live beets:) Under-rated veg.

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Scallops, broccoli ( he loves brocoli for some reason) The star, other than perfect scallops were the little squash…no, really, they were.

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I was just done at this time. Great dessert, could have used a sauce? That is just me:)

This guy is one of the true. You do not just get this talent you are born with it.

608

608 Mission Ave., Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside #608

 

508 Tavern ~ Vista

Another great after work or lunch place. 508 Vista Tavern , gasp, in Vista.

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508 S Santa Fe Ave, Vista, CA

A sign would do them well:)

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Small, interment, clean. What you want from a local place.

Run by a great Boy and Girlfriend team. They were bartenders at Harrah’s for years. I think bartenders are the Marines of the kitchen world. They face all the MG fire, Kitchen staff is Army, sit back and use artillery, and executive Chefs are the Air force. I will stick by that:)

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Fried olives. Perfect beer food.

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Spicy Korean tacos. Again, great bar food.

Check them out. Great after work place or even first date. unassuming low-key.

508 Tavern

508 S Santa Fe Ave, Vista, CA\

#food #foodporn #vista

 

Bread and Barley ~ Leucadia

So, Bread and Barley recently opened a second restaurant in Leucadia along the 101 at 542 N. Coast Highway. The first restaurant is located in Covina, Ca.

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I hit them during soft opening. They focus on affordable well crafted food and craft beer, though they do run a full bar. It is just good solid food. It is not going to change your life but if you want a good lunch or dinner, I would check them out.

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The place is not that big. When I was there they could not open the patio, I am guessing 60 seats or close to that either way.

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Steak Sandwich~Grilled Hanger Steak, Chimichurri, Gruyere Cheese, Sourdough

Great sandwich, the steak was so tender and had obviously been marinated for a while. probably one of the best steak sammies I have had in a long time. House made chips.

If you are in the area, perfect place for a business lunch or a meet up. Roll up windows, so light and airy. great staff. They will do just fine, especially with the coming summer foot traffic.

Next week they should be in full open mode, with a full menu.

Bread and Barley

542 N. Coast Highway

#beer #food #foodporn

 

 

The Kettle Room @ Ballast Point ~ San Diego

Some time the best laid plans go to waste and you discover something new. Originally me and Justin, beer contributor for North County Food, were going to a beer dinner at Biga. It was cancelled, so I rallied and have been wanting to check out The Kettle Room. Basically the Ballast point brewery opened a fine dining room in the back of their place. Probably seats 30ish. We were the only 2 there on Sunday. This is probably one of my favorite dinning experiences of my life. Food . service, atmosphere. I do not say that lightly.

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The adventure begins.

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That mural, that art, is insane. It is vinyl “I had to touch it” This just made me happy.

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To our backs, basically we are sitting in the heart of the beast.

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There was lots of beer:)

We had the whole place to our selves. It was like a private dinner. Service was on point, food on point. This cost me $100 with tip, I would have paid 3 times as much.

On to food.

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Grilled Octopus ~ Ramp Kimchi, 3-Herb Salad, Peanut Crisp.

This is probably the best octopus dish I have ever had. I know, but honestly it was so good.

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Mussels ~ Normally not a huge fan of mussels. This dish changed me. I had the Chef come out at the end of the meal because the broth was so good and I wanted to pick his brain. I was expecting “we boil down fish bones for 18 hours…” Nope, he was like”lots of butter” Again so good.

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See, told you.

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Halibut. Perfectly cooked, perfectly sweet, simple but not simple.

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rhubarb w/ doughnut. Not a huge dessert person but this was great.

I wish I had better menu descriptions but it changes all the time. I should have stolen the menu:) What I can say is this is in my top 5 dinning experiences. It is not just about the food it is when everything comes together. Food, service, atmosphere. The Langham when Micheal Voltaggio was there, Saam by Jose Andres, and The Mansion at the MGM, and now the Kettle Room, and I’ll hold the last one.

Highly recommend going.

The Kettle Room @Ballast Point

2215 India St, San Diego,

#food #foodporn #beer

Holme Estate Cellars ~ Oceanside

Two weeks ago Holme Estate Cellars opened their first brick and mortar tasting room in down town Oceanside at 216 N Coast Highway. The Holme Winery has vineyards located in Mount Benson, South Australia and they also produce wine out of Paso Robles, Ca.

The winery is run by the husband and wife team of Julia and Craig Holme. They have both worked on vineyards all over the world from South Africa to South America.

Personally I think we are very lucky they chose Oceanside to open their tasting room.

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The tasting room has a nice light, relaxed atmosphere. I have been to too many that are all dark oak and low lighting.

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Nice lounge area up front next to the roll up window. Perfect for the coming summer.

No use talking about a winery without talking about the wine. I judge wines like cologne, I want balance from start to finish. The worst thing is a fruit forward wine with no finish or a week start followed by a heavy tannic finish. That is not the case with Holme’s wines they are balanced and delightful.

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2011 Shiraz, Library special release. 24 months in French oak.

A great wine. The extended aging softens the tannins associated with shiraz.

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2015 Rose. Rose used to be what your mom kept a box of in the fridge. Now days they are complex and cover a verity of styles from sweet to dry. This one is on the drier side, yet still has plenty of fruit on the palate.

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2013 Cabernet. A great wine for red meat or duck. If you have not delved into bigger reds this is a great starting point due to the balance.

So, there you have it, Holme Estate Cellars. Go check them out. One of the owners will be there and can walk you through their wine selection.

Holme Estate Cellars

216 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside

#wine #food #foodporn