Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi ~ Carlsbad

The last time I was at Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi was back in 2014 a few weeks after they opened. I have been meaning to go back and explore the menu a little more but you know, stuff. So, when they reached out to me I jumped at the opportunity and grabbed my friend Chef Beau to tag along. It is always good to have a backup palate.

If you did not know, Blue Ocean is operated by the same group that owns Love Boat Sushi and their five locations around San Diego County. They opened Blue Ocean in 2014, offering an expanded menu and unique setting. More recently they opened Pokewan next door, serving poke bowls in a fast casual setting.

On a tangent, if you like poke, I would highly suggest Pokewan. In my opinion they are the best of the fast casual poke places around and benefit from being attached to Blue Ocean and their sushi bar. The quality of the seafood puts them above the competition. Hint, get your bowl with cucumber noodles instead of rice, it makes for an extremely light and refreshing treat.

OK, back to Blue Ocean…

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The interior was designed by Bells & Whistles who have also designed Starlight, Smoking Goat, and Bracero. I love the design, its modern without being sterile and has a very sexy vibe to it.

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The restaurant boasts a 20 seat sushi bar in addition to the dining area.

The menu is large enough to offer variety without being overwhelming. In addition to a great sushi menu, offering a nice selection of rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, the menu also offers small plates, specialty dishes, and desserts. A robata menu starts at 4pm offering traditional Japanese charcoal grilled meat, seafood, and vegetable skewers.

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Bao Bao Buns ~ glazed pork belly, napa cabbage slaw, spicy mayo.

I love Bao and pork belly so this was a no brainer. Perfect, melt in your mouth pork wrapped inside soft fluffy bao. The thing that pulled it all together though was the slaw. It was not mayo heavy like a lot of slaws and provided the needed crunchy element and a nice hint of heat.

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5 Spice duck Tacos ~ Coconut scallion crepe, mint napa slaw, hoisin lime, fried ginger.

Another great dish. The use of a crepe instead of the overused fried won ton as the taco shell was great. The duck was tender and flavorful with the slaw making another appearance, though this time sporting a different flavor profile. To quote Beau “the kitchen knows what they are doing”.

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Screaming Yellow Tail ~ ponzu, crispy garlic, olive oil, cherry tomato, sweet onion.

Now things started to get serious. Lovely yellow tail in a very tasty and interesting sauce. It is one of those dishes that when you first taste it you get one thing, in this case sweetness from the ponzu, then as you eat it your palate starts picking up more and more depth. Beau actually broke out his phone and took notes. The consensus was the oil the garlic was cooked in was then poured over the dish slightly searing the fish adding smokiness and depth. This was recommended by our server and rightfully so.

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Albacore Delight ~ Albacore and krab mixed with miso sauce, cucumber, crunch powder
Topped With ~albacore, avocado, green onion (chili oil, ponzu).

This is my go-to roll. I am not usually a roll person, I like nigiri and sashimi, this is the exception. I always ordered it at Love Boat Sushi (which is where I discovered it). I will go so far as to say this is my favorite sushi roll ever and anywhere. I know, big statement and that includes the local big players as well as nationally. Note I said “roll”. The reason is it ticks all the boxes for me, it is light with a hint of sweetness and then you get heat (that is not overwhelming) from the chili oil. If you want more heat just dip the piece into a little more chili oil. Truly a joy to eat.

I was really glad I revisited Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi. I knew it was going to be good but it actually exceeded my expectations. They have a really good happy hour and the atmosphere really makes it a good choice for a date or night out.

 

Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi

2958 Madison St., Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #sushi #japanesefood #robata #carlsbad #northcounty #seafood #spicy

 

 

 

Bluewater Grill ~ Carlsbad

So, though this was only their first week officially open, I went down to Carlsbad Village and checked out Bluewater Grill. I was not too worried about them being so new ( I usually give restaurants a few weeks to settle in) due to the fact they have 6 other locations and were running test lunch services all last week.

Bluewater Grill is in its 20th year of business. Having started in Newport Beach, they now have locations from Catalina to Temecula. The Carlsbad location moves into the space previously occupied by the Fish House Vera Cruz.

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Dinning room. Psst. those people look a lot like the owners of the Flying Pig:) They loved their lunch as well and were quite surprised at the price for quality. Restaurant and food cost stuff which I love talking about. That is not irony, I’m a nerd.

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Bar area.

The renovation changes out the dark motif of the Vera Cruz for an open bright dinning and bar area.

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Like their predecessor, they also have a fish market element.

It is nice now we actually have some good fish market options back in North County again with Pelly’s, Top Choice Fish, and now Bluewater.

The menu is straight forward with appetizers, salads, a few specialty dishes and of course fresh fish.

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Seared Scallops ~ Jalapeno aioli, chopped bacon and cilantro.

Perfectly seared U-10 diver scallops using a classic flavor combo. These were so delicate and sweet.

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Swordfish Espana ~ Fingerling potatoes, pine nuts, and smoked paprika.

Since they own their own Swordfish boats and the season is drawing to a close I had to go with this. Swordfish is one of those fish that can be boring, not in this case. Seared so it had just the thinnest of crusts, light, and flaky. Really nice. If they have Swordfish on the menu I highly recommend ordering it.

If you are looking for great non-sushi, sustainable seafood in downtown Carlsbad, I highly recommend Bluewater Grill.

Bluewater Grill

417 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #seafood #swordfish #carlsbad #northcounty #fish

 

 

 

How to grow your restaurant business with video.

So, we have a great restaurant community up here in North County. Another thing we have, that may go over looked, is a great number of businesses that support that community. Whether it is Cyclops Farms providing great, local, organic produce to local eateries, or organizations like Mainstreet Oceanside and Visit Oceanside helping new restaurant owners build their networks and contacts. We are pretty lucky.

Another member of that community is “The King’s Touch Video” who specialize in video photography. I met the owners, Shawn and Roberta, over a year ago at a Mainstreet  promotions committee meeting. Not only was I struck by their experience and scope of work but also themselves as people. Since that time I have introduced them to a number of local restauranteurs and chefs, who they ended up doing video and photography for.

Because I am always doing one project or another, or just stuffing my face, I talk to these Chefs and owners over and over again and have heard nothing but high praise for the quality of work and customer service provided by Shawn and his wife .

The reason I am mentioning them here is because they want to focus more of their business on restaurants, chefs, and food as it is a passion of theirs.

Press play above to see their work. They also have a lot of food based examples on their website.

This is not a paid ad for their services. I just believe in their ability and think they are a great support business for the local restaurant community.

So, if you are in the market to expand coverage of your restaurant or bar through video, I would highly recommend their services.

The King’s Touch Video

#video #food #foodporn #business #northcounty #cyclopsfarms #mainstreetoceanside #visitoceanside #localbusiness

Great Dishes ~ September ’17

Near the end of the month I usually compile a list of dishes that did not appear in regular posts but deserve recognition. Sometimes it’s just a dish from a lunch I grabbed or maybe a restaurant that has already been covered quite a bit on the site. So, here are the ones from September that I think are worth trying if you happen to find yourself out and about and a bit peckish.

( No particular order )

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The House Burger ~ O’side Sports Bar and Grill.

Always great. I would put it up there with the burger at Red Rooster. Served perfectly medium rare and comes with a side of crispy french fries for around $10.

O’side Sports Bar and Grill, Oceanside

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Smoked Salmon Roll ~ Yoshino Japanese Deli, Carlsbad.

I can not say how great Yoshino is for a quick, no frills sushi fix. Fresh sushi, made every morning by the Japanese family who owns the restaurant. They do sell out by 1pm most days, so go early. A truly great, little gem in the Carlsbad Village.

Yoshino Japanese Deli, Carlsbad

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Seasonal Vegetables ~ The Flying Pig, Vista.

This plate of farm fresh seasonal vegetables packed so much flavor. The vegetables that day were green beans with garlic, bacon, and micro greens topped with a brown butter sauce. The kind of food that leaves you wanting more.

The Flying Pig, Vista

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Pork Loin Sandwich ~ Petite Madeline Bakery & Bistro.

One of Chef Marc’s weekly specials. Pork loin, cucumber, red onion, spinach, and stone ground mustard on a house made roll. Tender, flavorful pork and fresh bread are a hard combo to beat.

Petite Madeline Bakery and Bistro, Oceanside

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Summer Salad ~ The Privateer Coal Fired Pizza, Oceanside.

Dropped into the Privateer on a whim for lunch and had this amazing salad. Cyclops Farms cucumbers, mango, tomato, and greens with a spicy vinaigrette. It was a really clever play on a Thai green papaya salad as far as the flavor profile, with shaved and cut cucumber replacing the green papaya.

The Privateer Coal Fire Pizza, Oceanside

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Yaki-Udon ~ Huku Sushi & Robata, San Marcos.

I love Udon but have never had it prepared this way, I always get Udon soup. Udon noodles stir fried with chicken and lots of vegetables. I really enjoyed this, the noodles were perfect and still had bite. Also, great and attentive service, even though there was a Birthday Party with 15 people going on.

Huku Sushi & Robata, San Marcos

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Chicken Enchiladas & Carnitas Taco ~ Valerie’s Taco Shop, Vista.

A little Taco shop next to Starbucks on Emerald Dr. serving fresh, made to order, Mexican food and great salsas.

Valerie’s Taco Shop, Vista

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Hot Buffalo Chicken Strips ~ Wings-N-Things, Oceanside.

An admitted guilty pleasure of mine. Tender all white meat strips with a spicy buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing. No bread sticks, no carrots or celery, just down to business. I really like the spiciness and flavor of their buffalo sauce, making them my go to for this dish.

Wings-N-Things, Oceanside

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Kimchi & Pulled Pork Monk’s Bowl ~ East Village Asian Diner, Encinitas.

I love Kimchi and I think East Village Diner makes some of the best in North County. The Monk’s Bowls, or Clay Pots, come in a variety of options from all vegetarian to beef. I went for the pulled pork with a fried egg with kale instead of rice, it made for a great, tasty and filling lunch.

East Village Asian Diner, Encinitas

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Ceviche on Avocado with Chips ~ Primo Market, Oceanside.

Bought a small container of their fresh ceviche, two avocados, and a bag of tortilla chips as a take home dinner. I like their ceviche, it has a nice ratio of fish to the tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Also it is not too acidic. Paired with fresh avocado and chips it made for nice light dinner.

Primo Market, Oceanside.

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Fish Ham ~ Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub, Oceanside.

From the ever creative mind of Chef Davin Waite. Yellowtail, brined like ham and then smoked. The name is pretty spot on as to its taste. Think smoked fish crossed with ham.

Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, Oceanside

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Big Mouth Burger Combo ~ Angelo’s Burgers, Oceanside.

Guilty pleasure for the month. A tasty double patty bacon burger with all the toppings and fries.

Angelo’s Burgers, Oceanside

Hope you had a great Month! Enjoy!

#food #foodporn #foodie #burger #lunch #dinner #oceanside #encinitas #carlsbad #san marcos #northcounty #seafood #mexicanfood #asianfood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste of The Himalayas ~ Carlsbad

So, Carlsbad has been the hot spot at the moment for new restaurant openings. Though, with the upcoming projects in Oceanside and Encinitas, North County as a whole is continuing to expand its restaurant scene . Of course you want quality establishments and a varied choice of cuisines along with the growth. Thankfully, Taste of The Himalayas offers just that. The restaurant is part of a local, family owned, chain of five restaurants serving Napalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine. Their other restaurants have garnered high praise for the flavor and authenticity of their cuisine and after eating at the new Carlsbad location I would say deservedly so.

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Taste of the Himalayas’ new location at 300 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad. It is located in the downstairs area next to Naked Cafe where Mazen 101 used to be.

Himalayan cuisine covers the countries of Nepal, Northern India, Tibet, and sometimes Bangladesh. If you are familiar with Indian cuisine you will be comfortable with the menu.

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They did a great job, in a pretty short turn around, with the look of the restaurant. It is both comfortable and inviting. Perfect for lunch or a dinner date.

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A view from one of their comfortable couches.

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Mixed Momos ~ Chicken and lamb, mixed with onion, cilantro and spices. The vegetable Momos contain cabbage, spinach, mushrooms, cashews, nuts, paneer, onions, cilantro, green onions and spices.

I love Momos, they are my favorite style of dumpling. Taste of the Himalayas’ are great but I would say Himalayan Dine Inn (San Diego), and Himalayan Kitchen (Encinitas) edge them out slightly in the Momo department, in that order.

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Chicken Tikka Marsala and Aloo Cauli Ko Tarkaru with rice.

This is part of their great lunch specials menu. You get a choice of an entree and a vegetable dish served with a cup of lentil soup,  rice and naan for $9.99, it is a steal.

Both the Tikka and the Tarkaru were wonderful, with great spice and depth of flavor. I asked for an 8 spice level on my Chicken Tikka. I feel the cream mellowed out the spiciness a bit and would go higher next time with my spice level if ordering a similar dish. I loved the cauliflower and potato dish immensely.

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Bhera Ko Tarkari ~ Boneless lamb curry with fresh tomatoes, garlic, ginger, onions and Himalayan spices.

I went to lunch with Christine, who owns Petite Madeline in Oceanside. She ordered the Bhera Ko Takari lunch special. Though she ordered a 4 spice level hers was a bit hotter due to the absence of cream in the dish. She was fine with it, having tasted a bite, I thought it had a nice back heat but was pretty mild. My advice would be if the dish you are ordering has cream or yogurt in the sauce you can edge up a little as far as spice level goes. If it does not and you are sensitive to spice, order conservatively.

Another thing Christine commented on a few times was the fact they used whole spices, or coarsely ground spices, rather than powdered, which added a lot to the flavor of the dishes.

They have been open for two weeks now. When we went they had only been open 4 days or so and were still having some tech. issues with the point of sale system. The staff was great and the owners son was there and was able to provide a lot of in site into the dishes.

  • I also wanted to point out they do charge for refills on beverages, which I personally am not a fan of. This did not stop me from enjoying the experience and they did mention it before refilling, it just made me switch to water after my iced tea.

A great little addition to Carlsbad Village. Their lunch special alone makes it silly not to try them out.

Taste of The Himalayas

300 Carlsbad village Dr., Carlsbad

 

#food #foodporn #indianfood #nepalesefood #curry #carlsbad #spicy

 

 

 

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.