Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas

I was so excited when I came across this place. Great Himalayan food in North County…YAY! I was having to sneaking down to San Diego’s Himalayan Dinning Inn every month.

Himalayan cuisine encompasses food from the countries of India, Bangladesh, and my favorite Nepal. Though a lot of the ingredients are similar, the meats and spices will vary from country to country.

In India you see more curries and hotter spice levels. Nepali cuisine in general uses different spicing and is usually more mild.

That is why I love a restaurant like Himalayan Kitchen that can do these different variations on dishes and do them well.

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Himalayan Kitchen 1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas (sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

Before the food let me mention the staff, I was so impressed. Professional, cortiouse, and friendly. Two of the staff were new. First day I think? They handled a lunch rush better than I have seen trained wait staff.

The other thing is they were very informative. I am not the normal customer. I do research. I actually read the menu a few times online, looked stuff up, and like most cases know what I’m getting before I come in. The other customers on the hand, had generally no idea what anything was. The staff was great in walking them through it. The other thing I thought was great was a lot of the customers sayed ” we saw you and wanted to learn more about this kind of food”. That was great to hear.

On to food……………

I love Momo. “Its kind of like a Gyoza or Chinese steamed dumpling” or that is what people would have you believe…it’s not. Because of whats inside, the spices, plus a slight lightness to the dough it is a Momo, or as I call them little packets of love.

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Vegetarian Momo ~ minced cabbage, spinach, cashews, nuts, paneer, onion, cilantro, green onion, and spices.

what does that filling look like?

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That is what love looks like.

Seriously, so much flavor. Great mix of spices. Slight heat at the back. They also come in chicken and lamb. As much of a carnivore I am, I suggest going with the vegetable ones.

Momo is one of the most popular snack foods and is sold on almost every street corner in cities in Nepal. With good reason.

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Himalayan Biryani ~ Vegetables, paneer, Tandori cooked lamb, Tandori cooked chicken, shrimp, Himalayan spices.

Loved this dish. The rice was perfect, every grain was separate, had seasoning, and the right tooth. All three proteins, perfect seasoning, and tenderness. This is a huge portion. You could easily order Momos ūüôā and two entrees for 3 people.

They have heat levels much like a Thai restaurant. Their heat levels are honest. I ordered an 8, they warned me and suggested a 7. The 7 had heat that built with the dish as you ate through it. I could have done an 8 and will next time, but be warned the first time round down 1.

There are, at least, over 60 versions of this dish in the Himalayas. Just depends where you are what spices and proteins will be involved. In the more northern reasons you will see nuts and raisins for example, like this version. While it reminded me of paellea, unlike that dish these ingredients are cooked separately and then assembled.

Quickly, on the menu are over 51 items as mains, many are vegetarian. Field day for vegetarians man. If you are gluten-free plenty of vegetables and they did find a man who was there while I was some crackers as well.

Also great lunch specials ~ two curries, rice, lentil, soup and bread $7.95 to $11.95 depending on what curries.

It is not an Indian restaurant, it is a Himalayan restaurant. You will find some familiar dishes but many new ones as well….and Momos.

Wheeew, lots to say but it’s because I loved this little place. I think this and El Chapin were my two favorite strip mall restaurant finds in the last 8 months or so. I already knew about Irinas’a so they do not count.

Strip mall restaurant is the political correct term for hole in the wall:)

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

(sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

#indian #himalayan #nepal #food #foodfinds.

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

Rooster Ramen : The Return ~coming Spring / Summer

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“Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah, here come the rooster
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, you know he ain’t gonna die”¬†¬†¬†¬†

Alice in Chains ~ Rooster

So, a little while ago I mentioned on northcountyfood’s Facebook page, which you should be following as well, that a great Ramen place is returning to North County.

That place is Rooster Ramen. The original, high quality pop up Ramen in North County. Do not be fooled by Johnny come latelys.

Now, I am happy to say Rooster Ramen is returning with a full-fledged brick and mortar restaurant.

Having eaten Chef David’s Ramen at the old incarnation of the restaurant, I am eagerly awaiting and trumpeting the return!

Here is what David has told me about his new restaurant

Opening late spring / early summer

Highway 101 in an undisclosed location.

Full 30 plus Sake list, plus Sochu cocktails and a complimenting beer list.

Over 9 traditional ramen dishes taken from different regions of Japan, as well as a number of specialty takes on the noodle dish.

The menu will also feature small plates and Yakatori grilled items prepared on a traditional Binchotan charcoal grill.

A revolving specials board will be available daily and feature items based off of what is fresh and in season. Luxury items such as Osetra Caviar, Monk Fish liver, and pork cheeks will also make an appearance.

Prices for Ramen will run $9 to $14 with build your own as well as vegan and vegetarian options available. Expect to see a good bowl of Pho make an appearance.

The restaurant’s digital ordering system will emulate the Ramen vending ticket machines in Japan. This will not only give customers full control of the ordering process but will also increase its speed.

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Example of a Ramen ticket machine.

The restaurant will have the feel of a Japanese farm-house with plenty of outdoor seating, a lengthy Ramen bar, and a semi open kitchen.

Hours will be 11 am till midnight weekdays and till 2 am Friday and Saturday with an early morning Sunday hangover brunch. This will make it North County’s only late night spot, sans a few Mexican places..

All the restaurants plates, bowls, and cups will be hand-made ceramic from Pawena Studios out of LA.

More news and info to come as things progress.

Perfect timing as this is The Year of The Rooster! My sign as well)

North County 2016 ~ A look back

So, while 2016 did not see the growth explosion of new places opening  that 2015 did, it did see some important restaurants open and trends take hold or fade.

While this post is too short to be all-inclusive, it hits on what I think was important to the North County food scene over the last year. You know things are good when you really have to edit your self. Other wise it would be “Things I love in North County, see entire website.”

I am going to start with some of the most important restaurant openings in North County (IMO).

Campfire ~ Carlsbad

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Campfire is important for a number of reasons. One it is a great restaurant and would be right at home in the East Village, North Park or Little Italy’s ¬†Food scene. Two, along with Land and Water Company it adds a second ingredient driven, properly sourced, foodie destination restaurant to the mainly touristy, mediocre Carlsbad Village food scene. Lastly, along with Carruth Cellar’s tasting room and Babba Coffee, it is helping to revitalize the north end of state street.

608 ~ Oceanside

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Opening in June of this year 608 brought upscale food in a comfortable setting to Oceanside, and at a price point that made it accessible. Chef Will Eick, in my opinion, is one of San Diego’s most talented young Chefs. He is bringing fine dinning techniques and ingredients and making them approachable. He also just introduced a seven course tasting menu option on the weekends offering the first non Omakase tasting menu option in Oceanside.

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill ~ Vista

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Like Campfire did in Carlsbad, Belching Beaver joined the Flying Pig and added another farm to table, high calibre restaurant to the growing Vista food scene. Combine that with a talented Chef who focuses on farming and teaching children about food, where it comes from and how to grow it, you can not help love the place. Their beer is alright too:)

It is constantly on my visit, when I can list.

There were quite a few trends in the national food scene that were also seen in North County.

Some have hit their peak…

Fast Casual Poki restaurants. The trend actually hit last year and made its way to San Diego and in turn North County in 2016. You have Wicked Poki, Sunshine Japanese Food, and Poke Poke in Oceanside, Poke Waii in San Marcos, and soon to be opening PokeWan in Carlsbad. I think from the ones I have been to, Poki Poki is the best. If you want higher caliber, chef made Hawaiian food and Poke, I suggest checking out Lanai in Leucadia or Yoshino Japanese Deli in Carlsbad for Poke and Japanese.

Some trends are just continuing to grow…

The Artisanal Coffee / Tea scene has continued to show no sign of stopping for years now. It has finally hit Carlsbad and Oceanside. I should not say finally hit, but grown. The major players that have shown up recently are Banana Dang!, Loose Leaf Tea, Sleeping Tiger, Revolution Roasters, Copa Vida and Steady State Roasting. Who join a number of great coffee houses already in the area. For the first time, in its four-year history, Caffeine Crawl has added two North County routes in Oceanside and Carlsbad that are set to kick off this years San Diego event in January.

Caffeine Crawl San Diego

Declining and rising…

I think the fast casual Gourmet Burger explosion of the last few years is dying down. Not that I think these places will go away, I just feel you will not see as much of a proliferation of places like Habit Burger, Burger Lounge, and Pure Burger as you have.

I think the pendulum is on the up swing for fast casual healthy options like Lemonade, Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Tender Greens and the like.

Best Dishes of the Year…

This is hard, but because these spring to mind instantly, I have to go with them. Two are from San Diego but deserve mentioning.

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Spicy Scallop Nigiri ~ Wrench and Rodent (Oceanside)

Made for me by Alex, this dish was perfect. Just a slight heat from the red Cyclops Farms jalapenos, and melt in your mouth scallops from Catalina Offshore.

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Pan Seared Opah ~ Flying Pig . (Oceanside)

This was a nightly special, beautiful Opah ( one of my favorite, if not favorite, fish) on red farro and micro greens.

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1 year Anniversary BBQ plate ~ Flying Pig (Vista)

Everything you could want (especially me) on a plate. Perfect Tr-Tip, Pork Loin, and Brisket, cooked over open flame and served with veggies and mash.

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Coop De Ville Chicken Sandwich ~ Crack Shack (SD but soon coming to Encinitas)

Apply named Crack Shack, so good. One of the best fried chicken sandwiches ever.

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Chicken Skin Sandwich ~ Biga (SD)

You think it would be heavy because the main ingredient is chicken skin, nope light and flavorful. I plan to return to Biga for dinner in the new year.

 

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Char Grilled Oysters ~ Campfire (Carlsbad)

Great dish that reminds me of oyster festivals on the sound in Washington State. I get this every time.

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Pork Belly ~ 608 (Oceanside)

I love me some pork and this is a perfect pork belly dish. It is smoked before curing (usually it is the other way around.) making it full of porky goodness.

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Assorted Cookies ~ The Cravory (Carlsbad)

Their cookies will change your life, they changed mine. You can get them at their shop in Bressi Ranch, or in Oceanside at Banana Dang! Favorites are the Red Velvet or Birthday Cake.

Special places that I was so happy to discover this year...

El Chapin

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Authentic and delicious Guatemalan food that can not be beat.

Sitaram

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Family run, fixed daily menu, vegetarian, Indian restaurant that needs to be tried by all.

 

What I’m looking forward to next year….

Trying 608’s tasting menu, Flying Pig’s Brewery, That Boy Good / Alpine Brewing restaurant and ¬†brewery, LTH’s second concept , and much, much, more.

What you can look for from North County Food. A 3 to 4 chef “Dessert Dinner” at Petite Madeline for Oceanside Valentines Week. Another Chef Wine Dinner in March / April, and of course more restaurant highlights.

There you go a short recap of a great year food wise. Happy holidays to all and thanks for your support.

 

 

DOH! Gourmet Cookie Dough ~ North County (soon to be everywere)

So, DOH! Gourmet Cookie Dough is made by Chef Annalise Brolaski and Nick Hart, right here in North County. They have created an amazing vegan and gluten-free cookie dough.

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Annalise and Nick

Unlike the vast majority of gluten-free cookie products it has an incredible taste and texture. Unless you were told it was vegan and gluten free you would not know.

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Prepared DOH! cookies. It is also great straight out of the tub raw,baked, or baked and then chilled in the fridge. You can also get baked, bake, and then chill, it’s a fourth option. I have had it three of those four ways and raw and baked then chilled are my favorites.

A little about Chef Annalise. I met her while looking for a third chef for an all dessert dinner I was putting together. At that time she was a pastry cook at Cucina Enoteca. She was extremely talented and impressive. At the age of 20 this is what she produced for the dessert dinner.

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Annalise’s Dish for the dessert dinner~ Citrus Shortbread, Strawberry Grand Marnier Sauce, Honey Comb, Basil (red local basil which is incredible), Meyer Lemon Curd, Strawberry Honey Sorbet, Local Bee Pollen.

See what I mean?

Shortly after that she dropped out of the cooking scene for a while (which sucked because she had a lot to add to the culinary world and in my opinion was far from done.) She reemerged briefly doing some incredible deserts for Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub and starting her own company Deep Sea Desserts. Then as my friend Chef Beau put it when DOH! appeared “Yeah, those guys disappeared for a bit, went and had some kind of retreat / brainstorming in Hawaii and came back killing it.”. I do not know how accurate that is but it makes for a great story, and I like it so I’m sticking with that as to what caused the catalyst, because killing it is exactly what they have been doing.

They launched around October with the product and 2 months later can be found at Both Frazier Farms locations (Oceanside and Vista), Cream of The Crop in Oceanside, Carlsbad Ranch Market, Seaside Market (Cardiff), and soon, Specialty Produce. That is an insane amount of distribution for a start up. If they do not achieve national distribution in a year, I would be surprised. Their main hurdle is going to be production, the product and packaging are already there.

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The DOH! stand at the Leucadia Farmers Market. (You can also find then at the Encinitas farmers Market.) They tend to sell out so get there early. I believe you can email them in advance to have an order ready for you.

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Product ready for sale.

So, there you have it a local success story that is nowhere near done. Go, buy, support, eat, enjoy. Great gifts or for Holiday entertaining.

If you are a cafe or restaurant and want to add a great Vegan / Gluten free, easy to prepare option, trust me it is better than what you are currently buying and serving and it works out to about $.20 some odd cents per cookie at the wholesale price.

DOH!

Available at Frazier Farms, Seaside Market, Cream Of The Crop, Carlsbad Ranch Market, Leucadia and Encinitas Farmers Market, and coming soon to Specialty Produce.

#vegan #glutenfree #food #northcounty #cookies

 

 

 

 

Moto Deli ~ Encinitas

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Moto Deli has finally opened their brick and mortar location in Encinitas at 810 North Coast Highway. The location formerly housed the Sub Palace. They must have run into some snags because I have been following the build out for a while.

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Build out starts ~ October 2015

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The end result ~ nice modern exterior.

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You order at the counter and your meal is brought to your table.

The service was very friendly and knowledgeable.

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In addition to a small interior seating area they have a patio with gas heating. The building is a historic building, all the beams you see are original. This may have led to the long build out as seismic retrofitting may have been required.

The menu consists of starters, salads, and open and close faced sandwiches. All their meats are roasted, cured, smoked, poked and prodded in-house. OK I don’t know if they poke or prod anything but if its required I’m sure they do:). They also make all their condiments, pickles and chips.

Their motto is “Our sandwiches are not engineered with over powering condiments, cheap chemical additives, or assembled to be anything more overtly garish than the sum of its parts. If singular ingredients don‚Äôt shine on their own, they have no chance of performing any better when layered together.”

It shows in their final product.

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Spanish Pulpo ~ braised octopus, papas, evoo, smoked paprika

Perfectly cooked octopus and potatoes. Maybe a bit too much evoo but that is nit-picking.

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Cubano ~ pork belly, turketta, aged cheddar, muenster, pickles, mustard, sourdough

Brilliantly elevated version of a classic cuban sandwich. All the ingredients were spot on and balanced perfectly. My plan was to take half home..that didn’t happen. served with house made pickle and chips.

So, was it worth waiting over a year for? Yes it was.

Moto Deli

810 North Coast Highway, Encinitas

Black Friday Shopping For Foodies

Why deal with the lines and being told we only had 4 of those $200 TVs in the ad. Grab a San Diego Dining Out Passport at 35% off if you use this website’s code. Regularly $99 – $35 with code NCF2016

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These are all foodie restaurants that do not give out deals regularly. You get 2 for 1 entrees at some of San Diego’s best restaurants. Just show them the passport, they stamp their page and you save. No unfolding a piece of newspaper coupon that you have stuck in your wallet or purse.

There are many North County locations including 608, The Whet Noodle, and The Land and Water Company. Hey, jump on the Coaster and head down to Little Italy in SD and go to Bracero Cocina (that right there pays for 80% of the book.)

Disclaimers: Do not buy this as the sole gift for the one you love, do not use on a first date  (unless you are sly enough just to slip into the credit card holder with your payment). these situations will end badly.

Seriously, though it will allow you to try some great places at a great discount. Dining Out San Diego Magazine is well respected in the industry. Plus I would not be posting it if I did not think it was of value or pizza hut was in there.

Check out the magazine as well some great articles, the latest features an interview with North County’s own Davin Waite of Wrench & Rodent. ¬†Click here

Dining Out San Diego Passport

So, if you follow me you know, I do not sell things on this website. This is a bit different, Dining Out San Diego has partnered up with me to offer their Dining Passport at a special rate through my site.

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If you’re not familiar with Dining out San Diego it is a great magazine featuring Chefs and Restaurants across San Diego. Also, unlike other publications, they have supported North County Chefs and Restaurants.

The Passport allows you to receive 2 for one entrees at 50 San Diego Restaurants that normally do not do deals.

Some of the North County restaurants include 608, The Whet Noodle, Land and Water Company, Harney Sushi, Iron Fist Brewing, Wooden Spoon. There are more great restaurants up and down the coast.

Normally it costs $99 and is good for a year. With our partnership, it is $35 (64% off).

At that cost, it pays for itself in 2 meals.

You keep the passport and every time you use it that page is stamped. It is not a coupon book. These restaurants have a great relationship with the magazine. They want to be in it.

I mean Bracero Cucina De Raiz does not put coupons in the reader.

To order go here ~ Dining Out Passbook  and enter code NCF2016 at checkout.

Here is a complete list of restaurants:

 608, Americana, Arterra Del Mar, BICE, Bracero, Bullys, Cafe Gratitude, Cafe Lulu, Caffe Calabria, Cali Comfort BBQ, Catania, City Tacos, Common Theory, Crest Cafe, Cupcakes Squared, Eclipse Chocolate, En Fuego, Enoteca Style, Farmers Bottega, Fig Tree Cafe, Hacienda de Vega, Harney Sushi, Henry’s Pub, Hodads, Holiday Wine Cellar, iDessert, Indigo Grill, Ironfist Brewing, Isabel’s Cantina, Kous Kous, Land & Water Co, Maderas, Mish Mash, Napizza, North Park Market, Pearl Hotel, Petrini’s, Prepkitchen, Puesto, Pushkin, Salad Style, Salt & Cleaver, Sausage & Meat, Solare, Spike Africa, Studio Diner, Talavera Azul, Toscana, Tostadas, Tuscany La Costa, VIVA, Whet Noodle, whisknladle, Wooden Spoon, Wrench & Rodent, Yummy Cupcakes

I have used mine 3 times now and know where I’m going for the 4th.

Bits and Bites..Plus Dish Of The Month & Stuff

So, this is a way for me to call out great food or places that either, I have covered at length or it was my day off. By the way, my days off look a lot like my days on, they still involve food and friends.

Let’s get started..

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Hummer Toast‚ÄĒhummus, cranberry, pecans & white iced tea.

Mario and Ton Ton are two of my favorites and they bring passion to every dish and every coffee.

Banana Dang! 

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The “Highway To Hell” Chicken Sandwich ~¬†Grilled chicken breast tossed in wing sauce, topped with melted pepper jack cheese, crispy fried onions and jalape√Īo slices, lettuce, tomato, and PCH sauce, served on grilled sourdough slices.

Not the best pic, but I was getting too much attention. Look I’m cute, but that not cute:). I think I was made. These guys delivered elevated bar food and great local beer selection.

PCH Sports Bar and Grill

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Bagby’s anniversary tacos and margaritas.

Full Disclosure..never been a fan of Bagby’s. The food is passable. This day they shined, both the food and service were spot on. Plus for a brewery they make a great margarita.

Bagby Beer Company

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Ajito, a small and  hard to find Japanese bento box and sushi place, run by a husband and wife team who were disciples of Kaz from Kaito Sushi. It is located next to fully loaded juicery in Encinitas off the 101.

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Salmon bento box and Japanese sausage. Nice little lunch.

Ajito 

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Marinated beef omelet.

One of Chef Marc’s weekly specials @ Petite Madeline.

Petite Madeline Bakery

Dish of the month (really month and a half) …is a tie!

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Scallop Nagiri ~ red jalapeno, sesame seeds, mystery sauce.

Chef Alex ~ Wrench and Rodent

Wrench and Rodent

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Pan Seared Opah ~ grains, organic micro greens (day off was not taking notes)

Chef Samantha Parker

Flying Pig /Oceanside

#greatfood #northcounty

The Roxy Remodels & Re-opens ~ Encinitas

The Roxy, which has been open in downtown Encinitas since 1978, closed at the end of March for a major remodel and concept change. With the neighborhood changing and monthly rent in the 10,000 per month range the owners needed to attract new customers.

The new concept is a 20’s speakeasy¬†vibe, with craft cocktails and updated “New American” menu under Executive Chef Chris Gallo. Long time regulars can still find a few of the old menu’s favorites, like Falafel¬†Burgers and an artichoke sandwich alongside the new dishes.

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The remodel is still underway, plans include opening up the front so the restaurant extends to the patio area, probably with roll-up garage-style doors or open window seats. The liquor license allows the establishment to serve alcohol outside as well.

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The interior is still in transformation. The walls I doubt will remain white.

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The bar and kitchen area give more of a hint as to the finished look.

I tried a few dishes off the new menu…..

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Fig Crostini ~ aged Humboldt fog, sherry marinated figs, basil, honey

Great flavors that work great together. Beautiful figs by the way.

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Salt Cure Foie Gras Torchon ~ honey roasted fig, cognac gastrique, brioche toast.

This dish is on the dinner menu but Chef wanted to show it off, and rightly so. This is one of the best versions of Foie Gras I have had. The preparation gave the Foie Gras a depth of flavor you normally do not get. There are those figs again.

Though still in a soft open mode the Roxy is putting out good food with attentive service. The weekends feature live music acts, which is nice, we can always use more venues supporting local music.

The Roxy

517 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas