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

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

 

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

Crack Shack ~ Encinitas

The Crack Shack Encinitas, located at 407 Encinitas Blvd., is the second incarnation of the fast casual chicken restaurant by Michael Rosen and Richard Blais. Richard Blais is probably best known for his appearances on Top Chef as well as owning San Diego’s Juniper an Ivy.

The Encinitas location used to be Coco’s. With extensive remodeling I believe nothing remains of the former structure other than support beams and foundation.

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Hard to miss a giant chicken.

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The interior is one large open room with a large wrap around bar. They serve beer, wine, and liquor.

It is a fast casual order system. You order at a window outside near the entrance and food is then brought to your table.

They serve a number of sandwiches, fried chicken, salads, and a few odd ball items like Mexican poutine, deviled eggs, and matzo ball pasole.

When I first tried the Crack Shack at their little Italy location I declared it to be the best chicken sandwich I had ever had. While this time it was not that much of a life changing moment, it was still damn good.

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G-Bird and Firebird

The G-Bird ~ Chicken breast, shishito pepper relish, swiss, romaine, tomato, whole wheat brioche.

This was my favorite of the two. Really fresh tasting. I think the shishito pepper relish added a lot of flavor. Chicken was moist and beautiful

Firebird ~ Spicy fried thigh, cool ranch, pickles, crispy onions, potato roll.

Not very spicy and the crispy fried onions became wet limp onions. Still tasty chicken and the pickles are a smart addition.

The sandwiches are not pretty ( don’t be sandwich hating) but are tasty.

So, the plan was to have a friend come with me so I could show you guys two sandwiches. She could not make it so I ordered two and figured I’d take half of each home. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Lots of walkies tomorrow.

If you have not been I would check them out. They get busy so best to go off hours. I went at 1:30 ish on a Thursday and it was slow. They open at 9am but serve full menu.

They are expanding, to Costa Mesa I believe. This is a money-maker, best of luck to them.

The Crack Shack

407 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

#food #foodporn #friedchicken #encinitas

 

 

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

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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Easter Sunday Dining Options Around San Diego

Some great Easter dining options around the Greater San Diego area.

Lakehouse Hotel & Resort & Decoy Dockside Dining            

1025 La Bonita Drive

San Marcos, CA 92078

(760) 744-0120

http://www.lakehousehotelandresort.com/

Dining dockside on Easter makes for a true southern California spring holiday. Enjoy an Easter Sunday brunch buffet on April 16 with sweet and savory breakfast favorites, a chilled seafood display, hand-carved meats and a decadent dessert bar, all beginning at 9:00 a.m. The little ones can take part in free Easter egg hunts, taking place at 10:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. Brunch-goers will listen to live music performances from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for a truly relaxing holiday. The cost to attend is $60 for adults, which includes free-flowing sparkling wine, and $19 for children 12 and under. To reserve your spot, call (760) 744-0120. Be on the lookout for a special appearance by the Easter Bunny!

Photo Below: Decoy Dockside Dining

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TRUST

3752 Park Boulevard

San Diego, CA 92103

(619) 795-6901

www.trustrestaurantsd.com

Nestled in the neighborhood of Hillcrest, chic eatery TRUST is taking Easter brunch to the next level this year. Soak in the sunshine on the restaurant’s patio while indulging in the Lemon Meringue French Toast, a mountain of Brioche bread topped with vanilla Ricotta, toasted almonds, lemon curd, graham crackers and blueberry. Let the bartenders at TRUST work their mixology magic by making the perfect brunch beverage to pair with your meal. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For additional information and reservations, call (619) 795-6901.

 

Photo Below: TRUST’s Lemon Meringue French Toast

 

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The Westgate Hotel

1055 2nd Avenue

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 238-1818

www.westgatehotel.com

The Westgate Hotel invites locals and weekend visitors alike to join in Easter Sunday festivities! The hotel will feature Easter-themed afternoon teas and a festive Easter Champagne brunch where a cotton-tailed guest is scheduled to hop in and say hello.

Easter Bunny Teas: Enjoy a European-style afternoon tea, featuring kid-friendly petit fours and mini pastries, along with an Easter egg hunt and magic show on the Riviera Terrace. Families can meet the Easter Bunny beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15. The price is $50 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under, plus tax and gratuity.

Champagne Brunch: On Sunday, April 16, experience The Westgate’s traditional Easter Champagne Brunch, complete with fresh seafood, made-to-order omelets, carving stations and a children’s section. Little ones will be entertained by a face painting artist and a visit from the Easter Bunny. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The price is $89 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under, plus tax and gratuity.

Reserve online today! http://www.westgatehotel.com/events-promotions/special-events/easter-celebrations

Photo Below: Easter Bunny with kids

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Parc Bistro-Brasserie

2760 5th Ave.

San Diego CA 92103

(619) 319-9472

http://www.parcbb.com/

Enjoy a lovely Easter Sunday brunch at Parc Bistro-Brasserie in the heart of Banker’s Hill. With classic French dishes ranging from sweet and savory crepes to steak, seafood towers, and more, there’s something to satisfy everyone at the table. Brunch offerings also include specialty cocktails and $13 bottomless mimosas. View the brunch menu by visiting www.parcbb.com or call (619) 319-9472 to make a reservation.

Photo Below: Parc’s Seafood Tower

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Monello

750 West Fir St.

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 501-0030

https://www.lovemonello.com/

Make Milanese cuisine part of your Easter celebration this year at Monello. On Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16, Monello is showcasing an “egg”-stravagant selection of dishes for their crowd-favorite brunch including Eggs Benedict con Agnello e Spinaci or lamb eggs benedict and spinach. They will also serve a special Lamb Pizza made with cheese, mushroom and spinach. Top these delicious dishes off with the perfect cocktail from their new brunch drink menu including mimosa carafes with your choice of juice or a Caprese Bloody Mary made with vodka, in-hour tomato juice and topped with a fresh mozzarella Caprese skewer. To make reservations, please call (619) 501-0030 or reserve a spot via OpenTable.

Photo Below: Monello’s New Brunch Cocktails

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Bencotto

750 W Fir St #103

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 450-4786

https://www.lovebencotto.com/

 

The chefs at Bencotto Italian Kitchen, right next door to Monello, will also be serving up a few specials to celebrate Easter this year. Lunch and dinner specials on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 will include Lasagna Agnello + Porcini e Fontina, homemade lamb lasagna with mushroom and porcini, and Stinco de Agnello con Patate Arrosto al Tartufo, lamb shank and roasted truffle potatoes. Bencotto is open for lunch and dinner every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling (619) 450-4786.   

 

Photo Below: Bencotto’s upstairs dining area

 

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Giuseppe Fine Restaurants & Catering

700 Prospect Ave.

San Diego, CA 92037

(858) 581-2205

www.grnfc.com

Don’t feel like going out for Easter brunch this year? Giuseppe Catering’s Pronto Delivery program allows you to forget about the stress and cleanup that comes along with hosting, so you can sit back and enjoy your get-together, guests, and an exceptional meal. For formal or large-scale events, the Fine Catering team will be there every step of the way to make sure your event is unforgettable—in the best way. Find full menu details and catering options at www.grnfc.com or call (858) 581-2205 to learn more.

Photo Below: Giuseppe Catering Deviled Eggs

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Have a great Easter! North County options coming shortly.

#food # restaurants #easter #brunch #easterbrunch #sandiego

Belching Beaver Brewery Refresh Party / Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill ~ Vista

Belching Beaver Brewery Brand Refresh Party.

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Patio setting

Belching Beaver Brewery out of Vista is spicing up their logo and giving it a new look.  To mark the occasion, they hosted a beer and food event on their back patio on what turned out to be a gorgeous, warm sunny day in downtown Vista.  The event provided some new beers, an array of old favorites, and tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere.  The clincher was getting there early enough for a shady corner of the patio, only facing the sun to grab thirst quenching pours of Belching Beaver.  It was worth the sun exposure.  Having just experienced Chef Ramiro’s food pairing concoctions for The Bruery, I was excited to see what he could do with beers brewed just feet away from him.  All of his creativity is discussed below.

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Carnitas Tostada with Mango IPA

San Diegans know you can never go wrong with tacos and beer.  An IPA paired with spicy pulled pork on a fried tortilla was a fancy twist on the classic, as the mango salsa on the tostada married well with the Mango in the IPA.

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Green Papaya with Me So Honey Blonde

I was pretty skeptical when I grabbed this dish, curious how slaw would survive a hot afternoon.  I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the green papaya, mixed in a Me So Honey mustard.  It was a light, sweet, refreshing combination that reminded me of mid summer BBQ’s.

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Grapefruit Blintz with Hop Highway IPA

This fancy pancake was likely meant for last as a dessert, but my beer instincts told me to save the dark beer for last as I barbarically folded the fancy cake in half and ate it like a taco.  Washing down the sweet cream and sour grapefruit with a solid IPA made for a lovely “dessert.”

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Vegetable Mole with Viva La Beaver

The final dish and drink was a vegetable mole paired with their peanut butter and chocolate milk stout.  This beer is so delicious and creamy, and the bitter chocolate was a nice addition.  It helped to wash down the little bit of spiciness in the mole.

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To end the day, we tried one of the new beers released at the party.  It was the Coffee-Maple-Vanilla Scotch Ale.  If the name sounds like a mouthful, you should try the beer.  All the flavors mesh beautifully in this unique pour.  I noticed the maple mostly in the aroma, and the vanilla and coffee collapse onto the palate and end with a smooth, creamy finish.  It was on the sweeter side, so if you are not into sweet beers I suggest starting with a taster.  But this beer, among others, is definitely worth making the trip over to the Vista Tavern to drink and enjoy the outdoor patio as we get closer and closer to summer.

All Words & Photos by:  Justin Kunert

Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill

302 E. Broadway, Vista

#Vista #food #foodporn #beer #brewery #craftbeer #belchingbeaver