Re-visit report: Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie ~Oceanside

So, while it has only been about a year since my last visit to Panca (that’s pretty good for me with my schedule.) I wanted to stop by and try some of the dishes I have passed over during my previous visits. The thing I love about Peruvian food is that it truly is a “fusion” cuisine. In addition to the variations of flavors and ingredients based on geography and family tradition, you see the influences of Peru’s diverse cultural make up. “Peruvians view themselves as a racially mixed people: a “half indigenous, a third European, a sixth African and one part Asiatic”. Add to that the creativity of a talented Chef like Ioli and you get great Peruvian staples through an exciting lens.

I dragged my friend Chef Beau Bonham along for the meal. I learned he had not been to Panca so, this was going to be a treat for him to experience it and me to have someone along with another strong pallet to “food nerd” out with.

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Tiradito ~ Fresh fish slices with a Peruvian yellow pepper lime sauce, Rocoto and Aji limo.

This along with the Wonton scallops are a must have dish when visiting for me. Unlike Ceviche the fish is not marinated in citrus. It is raw with the sauce added right before service. The freshness of the fish is highlighted against the citrus and heat from the sauce. It is quite spicy and will quickly catch up with you.

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Aji De Gallina ~ Chicken in creamy spicy sauce made with Parmesan, Peruvian yellow pepper, and walnuts, served over a bed of potato and a side of Peruvian white rice.

This was my first time trying this dish and both of us agreed it was the star of the meal. The sauce, while reminiscent of a curry is something unique. It has a body to it which we guessed was probably from slowly introducing parmesan into it while cooking.

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Ocopa ~ Homemade Peruvian spicy sauce, Ocopa is made with Huacatay (black mint), peanuts, animal crackers and Peruvian yellow pepper, over a bed of potato.

Another fantastic interesting sauce. Thick with a mild bitterness or earthy quality. The closest comparison would be a mole sauce. The dish is Served chilled over boiled potatoes. This is an appetizer and like all her appetizers is easily sharable.

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Alfajores ~ Two short bread cookies with “manjarblance” (dulce de leche) in the middle; then topped with powdered sugar.

Beau insisted on getting their famous Alfajores. If you want a perfect example of how a text-book short bread is supposed to be, this is it. Perfectly light and flaky.

What a great meal, I’m glad I took the time to re-visit them. I whole handedly believe Panca is the best Peruvian food in San Diego County. Q’ero gets more attention (and is good) but Panca is a notch above and slightly less expensive.

Panca has future expansions in the works Here.

Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie

1902 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside #peruvian #southamerican #peruvianfood #restaurants

 

 

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

 

 

Restaurant Re-Visits ~ Oceanside Privateer & TBG BBQ

So part of what I wanted to do this month was do a couple of restaurant re-visits. These are places that I have covered before, but it has been a while. In that time they have gone through changes or are on the verge of expansions. Plus with a lot of new followers since I last covered them, I though it would be a good idea.

First up is Privateer Coal Fired Pizza. Since opening The Privateer has been a staple in South Oceanside, not only as a great restaurant but as a champion for local Oceanside culture.

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Recently, The Privateer went through a Chef change. Original Chef Stephen Reyna left to work with his father in the kitchen of Roosevelt Pizzeria in Carlsbad. Hopefully we will soon see a solo project from this talented Chef.

Not missing a beat, the Privateer brought on a new Chef and has continued to deliver the excellent food they are known for.

I went in and wanted to try dishes that were recent additions to the menu and would give me a glimps at how the new Chef has influenced the food.

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Coal Fired Corn ~ Smoked chili butter sauce.

A beautiful dish, perfectly sweet and tender corn with a great sauce.

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Spice Rubbed 1/2 Chicken ~ Arugula, and lemon.

Perfectly moist chicken with a flavorful spice rub that worked perfectly with the freshness and slight bitterness of the arugula. Spice rub, chicken, fresh arugula, and lemon..all that is needed.

Like the Privateer in South O, TBG BBQ (That Boy Good) has been around in downtown Oceanside since the early days of the North County Restaurant movement. In-fact Friday the 4th marked the 5th year of operation for the Louisiana style juke joint. In that time they have developed a strong consistent following of people who love Chef Mark Millwood’s BBQ, which is based on his family’s recipes, and the restaurants funky and casual feel.

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Within the last year TBG has added a full liquor license expanding on their already established craft beer list.

Poised for an expansion that will add a second location at the top of Pier View Way at 326 N. Horne St. in conjunction with Northern Pine Brewing Company, later / early next year, things are looking good for this Oceanside staple.

The new location will differ in concept, though still focusing on southern food. In the mean time my friend Alex and I headed in for some old staples.

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BBQ Chicken Wings. Mark makes some of the best wings IMO. The secret is they are smoked, par fried, and then finished in the fryer on order. This gives them a depth of flavor and nice crunch, while retaining their moisture.

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Half rack of ribs, fries, coleslaw, and their signature corn bread.

Everything you want from ribs, smokey flavor and fall of the bone tenderness.

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Fried Chicken Thighs ~ Coleslaw, their awesome mac and cheese, and cornbread.

This is my go to, either in platter or sandwich form. I love the use of thigh meat and the slight spiciness to the crunchy batter.

If you have not been to either of these Oceanside staples, go check them out. If like me it has been awhile, go see an old friend for dinner.

Coming up ~ A Panca re-visit and their goings on, new vegan fast food in Encinitas, and hopefully good Chinese and Italian in North County.

Privateer Coal Fired Pizza

1706 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

That Boy Good BBQ

207 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside

Northern Pine Brewing Co.

326 N. Horne St. (upcoming)

#food #foodporn #southernfood #privateer #tbgbbq #fsdm

 

4th of July parking lot Pop Up for the homeless ~ Oceanside

So, North County Food (me) teamed up with Chef Beau Bonham to stage a free pop up event on the 4th of July holiday. We used Beau’s catering van and grill and set up in the parking lot of the closed Ralph’s parking lot on Oceanside Blvd.

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Chef Beau and our fancy set up.

Our goal was to feed the homeless and disenfranchised, as well as anyone who came along.  The menu consisted of bacon wrapped hot dogs, home-made coleslaw, and ranch style beans.

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Our guests enjoying some lunch.

Beau did all the prep and cooked the hot dogs. My job was funding the event, plating, and doing recon runs to find people and let them know what we were doing. unfortunately, we did not feed as many people as we had hoped. We had learned with talking to our guests that the Sheriff department started doing “sweeps” of the homeless starting Wednesday in prep for the holiday weekend. I went downtown and the normal train stops I meet homeless all the time and it was pretty dead. Still it was fun and if we did not get the crowds we wanted it was still worth it.

#Oceanside #food

 

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