Coming Soon ~ Oceanside & Carlsbad

So, one up-date on Oceanside and downtown Carlsbad continues to bring in new restaurants.

We finally know what is re-placing the old Jenny’s breakfast spot along coast Highway.

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Two Brothers from Italy, a local chain with four North County locations will open their fifth spot at 1001 South Coast Highway in Oceanside.

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Taste of  The Himalayas is opening their fifth San Diego location in Carlsbad Village in the old Mazen location at 300 #106-A Carlsbad Village Dr. I am excited about this as I love Nepalese food.

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Blue Water Grill is opening their seventh west coast location at 407 Carlsbad Blvd, once home to Fish House Vera Cruz. Fish House Vera Cruz used to be really good but went down hill in recent years and was in dire need of at least a remodel. I believe their Escondido location closed as well , leaving only San Marcos.

The breakfast place that closed a while ago at the corner of State St. and Grand Ave. now has a new tenant moving in.

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Shorehouse Kitchen a breakfast and lunch spot originating in La Jolla is opening their second location in Carlsbad.  They have an interesting menu, more complex than a run of the mill breakfast and lunch spot with some interesting sandwiches and a doggie menu.

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Did not get the address but its next to the corner and next to, the now also closed, T3 Tactical shop at 2825 State St.

There you go.

#food #foodporn #restaurants #foodie #carlsbad #Oceanside #seafood #himalayanfood #breakfast #pizza

 

 

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

 

 

The Roosevelt ~ Carlsbad

The Roosevelt is an Italian style gourmet Pizzeria located on, funnily enough, Roosevelt street in Carlsbad. It is owned by Hector Reyna who helms the kitchen along with his son Stephen, you may know Stephen as former head Chef of the Privateer.

The Roosevelt is a little off the beaten path. The best way to find it is to find Pizza Port in Carlsbad and then walk on by it to The Roosevelt.

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Almost there just keep going. Walk on by, nope, walk on by. You’ll be glad you did.

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There, you found it. 3067 Roosevelt St. Carlsbad.

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Simple, modern interior. Seats about 60? Plus a patio.

The Roosevelt serves Classic Italian with a twist. A farm to table mentality with almost everything made in-house.

The menu features salads, veggie dishes, piatti like meatballs, lasagna, stuffed shells, and of course pizza.

I started with the caprese…

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Caprese ~ Mozzalrella, basil, local tomato, olive oil, balsamic.

I love caprese. It is a simple flavor combination that is just perfect. Because it is so simple the ingredients have to be top-notch. These were. You can tell a cheap mozzarella a mile away. it should be like this, soft and creamy. Also tomatoes at room temperature, as they should be. A+

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Carlsbad Pie ~ Tomato, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic, black olive, mozzarella, and an add-on of their house made sausage.

A pizza requires a great crust, a great sauce, and great cheese, otherwise it falls apart. It is like culinary Jenga.

The crust was perfect, crispy yet still light and fluffy. The sauce is so light with a slight acidity that works off the sweetness of the dough. I love Hen Of The Woods (Maitake) mushrooms. The in-house sausage was great, yay no nitrates.

OK, cheese. If you are used to shredded cheese being spread all over your pizza, this is not that. This is slices of mozzarella that melt. Think of it as a topping and not a base.

Prices are reasonable for the quality you are getting. I would say almost a steal. My pizza was $13 plus $3 for the additional sausage. A Papa Johns large sausage pizza is $18 and should never be eaten. *if you are extremely drunk you get a pass on that decision.

We have a lot of great pizza in North County take advantage.

The Roosevelt

3067 Roosevelt St. Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #pizza #italianfood #carlsbad

Pokewan Plus Some Coming Soon News ~ Carlsbad.

First up Pokewan then coming soon news.

So while waiting for a restaurant to open I was took a stroll around Carlsbad.

I headed over to see if Pokewan, Blue Ocean’s fast casual poke concept, had opened yet.

Turns out it has….

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Pokewan ~ 2953 Madison St. #101, Carlsbad

Pokewan is one in a list of fast casual poke places that has opened up in North County in the last year and a half or so.

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As per standard, you pick the size of your bowl. base, add ons, toppings, sauce. Its like subway with poke.

The interior is a clean design with touches of whimsy. I really liked it. Even though I was about to go to dinner I decided to grab a small bowl.

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See clean with whimsy. There was more whimsy I just did not take pictures of it, one can only handle so much.

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Small poke bowl ~ Salmon, albacore, lots of ginger, avocado, wonton crisps, and lots of other stuff. the one thing I did, which I recommend, was get the cucumber spaghetti as a base. It adds a nice vinegar touch and lightens the bowl up.

Another thing I will add is being attached to a sushi bar adds a lot to the freshness and selection of fish available.

Forgoing restaurants that do poke, I would rank the fast casual poke places thusly…

Pokewan ~Wicked Poke ~ Poki Poki

It is very close, no one is light years ahead of the others. I just give Pokewan the edge due to the fish.

On a note do not contact me with the spelling of Poke or Poki. I know the difference and there is no real answer it’s all grey area depending on who you talk to. I spell it how the restaurant spells it. It’s a losing battle for you and a waste of my time and yours.

Pokewan

2953 Madison St. #101 Carlsbad

Coming Soon (ish)

So, while walking around Carlsbad village I came across these two projects in development.

The building at 2833 state st. (right near the transit station) has a restaurant called Shorehouse Kitchen coming in. No idea on style of food.

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2833 State st. Carlsbad.

Next up is a little more interesting. The space just south of the new Barrel Republic has a gourmet doughnut shop going in. I talked with the Husband of the Wife and Daughter team who will be running it. He is doing all the build out and from what I saw and what he described it should be a really nice spot for doughnut in or doughnut to go. Plans for a July 4th opening.

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Home to future gourmet doughnut shop.

Also, at 3135 Tyler home of offshore crossfit. That building will become either a brewery or distillery (please be a distillery). The City Council has to approve rezoning but since the Mayor of Carlsbad owns the building you wanna put bets on that passing:)

The above is a rumor but from a good source with a business in that area.

There you have it lots going on in Carlsbad.

Harbor Fish Cafe ~ Carlsbad

First off you may be asking ” Why didn’t you go to the Oceanside Harbor Fish and Chips”

One, the Oceanside harbor is in dire need of a remodel upgrade, as our second biggest tourist attraction (next to the pier) it is kind of sad.

Second, Squirrels.

As a 5-year-old boy I was at the Carlsbad lagoon feeding ducks and some loons. A squirrel showed up, so I fed him too. Then another one, then another one. Then one decided he was not going to wait for me to throw bread and climbed up my leg and attached himself to me. I freaked. Spinning around trying to throw him off. My parents were too far away to realize what was going on. Eventually I fell to the ground and he scampered off. So that is why I do not go to the harbor.

When you see a squirrel you see this…

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When I see a Squirrel I see this…

evil-squirrel

Anyway back to fish and chips.

Harbor Fish and Chips has been around since 1981

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See the sign says so!

The View can not be beat.

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On a sunny day, please.

On to the fish and chips..

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Fish and Chips ~ It is Fish and Chips.

Really nicely battered fish, crisp chips, malt vinegar and tartar sauce. What more do you want. I really like the batter. I lived in England for 7 months and this place has my favorite. There are other places that do a lighter tempura style batter which is good and a lot of places that do beer batter (or tout it), Yet this is my go to.

This is Nirvana, sitting at the counter, looking at the ocean, and eating my fish and chips.

Oh, by the way. The squirrel story..totally made up:) I just like this place better. Yes I am an asshole:)

Harbor Fish Cafe

3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad,

#fishandchips #squrrels #food #foodporn

Top Choice Fish Market & Eatery ~ Carlsbad

Top Choice Fish Market & Eatery has opened recently at 6118 Paseo Del Norte in Carlsbad. Located next to Tip Top Meats the Top Choice Fish shares the same owners as the famous butcher shop and German market.

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The interior is simple and clean as one would expect from a fish market. It is divided into two sides. The retail market and the eatery.

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The eatery.

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The fish case.

The quality of ingredients is apparent. Perfect flesh and also perfect butchery. All fish are provided by San Diego’s very own Catalina Offshore Products.

They also have a selection of whole fish. Every fish I saw head the clearest eyes.

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The one at the bottom of the middle row looks pissed.

In addition they carry shellfish as well as a freezer case of other items like fish heads.

Taking a note from the butchery next store Top Choice Fish offers consumers the opportunity to buy 8oz cuts of fish and have it cooked and paired with two sides for cost of purchase plus $5. This what I came here for.

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I selected a beautiful piece of Opah for my lunch.

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Opah, grilled medium rare with coleslaw, Spanish rice, and a small salad

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Perfect medium rare, as asked for.

They offer a number of cooking styles and bastes. You could have Salmon fried fish and chips if so desired. In addition a selection of seafood gumbos, and chowders are also able to be purchased.

The prices vary by choice of fish but my Opah plate came to about $15. I was happy with that. The quality of product and cooking would stand up to any restaurant kitchen worth their weight. The sides were a let down, not bad just OK. Because it is a market there is no sales tax on most items.

The fishmongers were on point but the staff, though nice, was still a little bit green. I noticed a few order mistakes, which were quickly and appropriately handled. All in all a great lunch.

There is now North County access to the same great seafood products used by San Diego’s best Chefs. Now just because you have a paint brush does not mean you are gonna be Picasso, but at least now you have a really good paint brush.

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I drew a Opah.

Top Choice Fish Market & Eatery

6118 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad

#food #seafood #foodporn # fishmarket #restaurant

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Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

Crust Pizzeria is a Chef driven, gourmet pizza restaurant located on the border of Carlsbad and Encinitas at 3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad. (sprouts shopping center.)

The restaurant is pretty large with a medium-sized bar area, an open kitchen area, and seating for about 75 inside and an additional 40 on the patio. Still it gets busy on nights and weekends.

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Crust Pizzeria

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Crust Pizzeria interior.

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Master Pizza Chef Charlie Meola working at his craft.

Chef Meola has been working at his craft for 18 years. This experience and his passion for only using the best ingredients shows in his food. I was luck enough to grab some of his time and you can read that interview Here.

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Cheese Pizza by the slice available at lunch.

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Pepperoni Pizza ~ Grande mozzarella, Boars Head pepperoni, and fresh-cut basil.

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Tasia ~ Belle chevre goat cheese, kalamata olives, grilled eggplant, zucchini, Grande Mozzarella, feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest, and chili flake.

The pizza I had on a previous visit was the Sophia ~ Spicy sausage, crispy chard, olive oil, fontina cheese, ricotta, and rosemary.

I do not have a pic because my phone ate it:(  but it was delicious. Perfect crust, loved the quality of the cheese and the balance of flavor.

I would put crust in the top 4 pizza places in San Diego at the moment. First off don’t give me the Filippi’s they are mediocre. Pizza Port is OK if your close and want to grab lunch. Urbn does not know how to cook or time their crust, both times it was charred and inedable around the outside ( and I was there when it was slow so it’s not like they got distracted.)

No, I would say Biga, Crust, and The Privateer followed fourth by Pizza Maniac (for an old school grab a slice after work or school place.)

I know I talked mainly about pizza but Crust also does pastas, salads, and sandwiches.

I plan on going back for non work eating soon to explore the menu a little more along with going back to Biga for lunch because it was too dark for pics at dinner.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #Pizza

Chef Interview With Chef Charlie Meola Of Crust Pizzeria ~ Carlsbad

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Chef Charlie Meola of Crust Pizzeria in Carlsbad recently. You can also see my article on Crust HERE.

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Chef Meola working at his craft.

 I know you started in NY correct?

Yes.

Can you tell me what your seminal moment was or what made you decide you wanted to pursue being a Chef?

Basically I was 13, started off as a dishwasher, went to counter, went to prep, went to sandwiches and basically learned the whole thing. But at that point and time I did not realize this is what I want to do forever. I enjoyed it but I was going to college.

At The University of Arizona right?

Ended going to University of Arizona. Went for three years, did not graduate. I started bartending, making really good money. I worked from 81 to 87 bartending. At that time I kind of realized there are not many old bartenders around, so maybe I need to look for something else.

I was just driving down the road and saw a pizza place for sale. I called the guy made a deal. Then I put two weeks of renovation in it and opened up. I owned it for 26 years, I just sold it about two years ago.

After That?

Went to Alabama, opened up two restaurants in Alabama. I did not like Alabama at all. Then I came here and opened this.

So the moment I realized I wanted to do this was in 88, when I opened up that pizzeria. The goal became just to make pizza better. With the basis of knowledge I already knew I knew I could do it.

Basically for 5 years from 88 to 93 I strived for that. I went on to resource different products from different parts of the country. Research and development trying this and trying that. Still to this day I do the same thing.

What I tell people who come in, like if a purveyor walks in I say “if you’re here to try to save me money and lessen my product, we are wasting each other’s time”. “If you are here to make my product better we can talk.” If you’re here to make my product better and save me money, that’s the cu de gras.”

I’m open to making it better and paying more as opposed to going the other way. I have fights with my accountant on how much I pay for cheese.

When I had my pizzeria in Tucson the Montage in Laguna Beach would fly me out to make pizza for the Chefs who were cooking for the James Beard Award Dinners. So, I cooked for Alex Stratta, Nancy Silverton, these top chefs in Southern California. That’s really it. The integrity of the food the craft are the most important things.

Editor’s Note: making pizza for Nancy Silverton (Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza..) is damn impressive. Just had to say that.

That’s about it, I have noticed now that it’s not all about food it’s about service too. When I started service was an afterthought. I was just in Mexico and noticed how people would be waiting an hour and a half for their food and not even care. Here people 15 min. and want it for free. You are a product of your environment and have to adapt.

Tell me about the products you use.

It’s real simple I keep rules to certain things. I just changed my tomato sauce for the first time in 28 years. These guys from Italy came in, brought some Italian tomatoes. I put what I was using, which was Escalon, next to this Sanyo(sp), it’s a Campagnia tomato, and I was like “this is better I’m gonna buy them.” That’s a big change to make.

You have your three bases your dough, your sauce, and your cheese. That’s your foundation. To change one of those is a big move. You can change your mushroom.

Or your pepperoni

Actually not, we buy Boars Head, which is $5.99 a pound where I could be getting it for $2.00. We get our sausage from a guy named Phil Scimeca who owns a little sausage shop. I met him in Alabama. I get goat cheese from a lady who makes goat cheese. I know everyone goes local and I would if I could find a product that equals. I’m all go local for vegetables, but if I’m going to buy a cheese…. I actually brought my Italian sausage to a guy in little Italy and said “can you duplicate this” and he said no.

Every day we make our own dough, all our salad dressings from scratch everything.

On a side note Chef also dabbles in photography. I was admiring the Surf photography on the wall, thinking it was Aaron Chang’s work, nope it turned out to be his. When you go there check it out, it’s really good.

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 So, there you have it Chef Charlie Meola of Crust Pizzeria. It always interest me to talk with Chefs. You go to someplace that is really good and then learn in talking with the Chef, oh that’s why. Plus as a food writer you have to listen and learn.

Crust Pizzeria

3263 Camino De Los Coches

Pre – Opening Dave & Busters ~ Carlsbad.

So, I was invited recently to check out the new Dave & Busters opening January 30th at the Carlsbad Mall. Though different from my normal restaurant modus operandi I was excited to grab my friend Mario from Banana Dang! and Check it out.

I am glad I did I had a lot of fun and was I impressed with the build out.

The new Dave and Busters inhabits what was the lower part of the old Robinson’s May Company. It shares this newly remodeled wing with Regal Cinemas, 24 Hour Fitness, Pizza Press, Luna Grill, Pannera Bread, and soon The Cheesecake Factory. The rest of the mall is 80% boarded up and under construction.

Before bemoaning corporate entities too much, the reality is, it is a mall and the Dave and Busters alone employs 216 locals, that whole wing alone once completed probably 600+.

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Putting the final touches on the exterior at 2501 El Camino Real Suite 140, Carlsbad.

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Entry way on the lower level of the east wing.

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40,000 square feet of sports bar, restaurant, and games.

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The restaurant section of Dave & Busters. I’m guessing it holds 80 to 100ish.

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The facility hosts 2 private meeting rooms. This is the larger which has an independent audio and video system. They offer catering services which offer customizable menus for any occasion.

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I was impressed with the sports bar area. A Huge amount of TVs including 3 4k digital 100″ screens. They carry all sport packages including UFC events.

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It was nice to see Belching Beaver’s mango IPA on tap as well as Stone.

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You gotta have an updated version of old school skeet ball.

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Marc, another member of the press, playing Mario Olympics.

They have, obviously, a ton of games that work off of a ticketless card system for credits and points. Dave and Busters is 18 and up unless that person is accompanied by a guardian 25 or older.

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I really wanted to play the Star Wars Battle Pod game but I ran out of credits shooting robots and racing cars badly with Mario. I would treat this place like Vegas come in with a set amount or it could quickly become a money sink.

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You can redeem your points from playing games at the prize center.

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The prizes have upgraded since I was younger, I usually left from an arcade with this…..

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I’d still get stuck.

We were treated to a buffet of their menu items to try out. The quality was better than expected putting it above places like Buffalo Wild Wings.

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Sample offerings.

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One of my plates:) The baby back ribs were especially good for a non BBQ specialty joint. I also went for seconds of the fish and chips.

My favorite offering was (and I’ll use their pic because its pretty)…

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Cheese Burger with smoked bacon. This was really tasty.

So, there is your sneak peek at Dave & Busters in Carlsbad. I will be back to grab a drink and a bite at the sports bar…and play that Star Wars game.

Dave and Busters

2501 El Camino Real, Carlsbad