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

Corner Bakery Cafe ~ Encinitas

I can not eat high-end restaurant food all the time, so I like it when I can find high quality fast casual places like Lemonade, Flower Child, and I would now add Corner Bakery Cafe to that list.

I was in Encinitas on other business and came across the re-designed strip mall just east of El Camino Real on Encinitas Blvd. There is a lot going into that spot, a tap-room, Luna Grill, and it already houses a Habit Burger and the previously mentioned Corner Bakery Cafe.

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Corner Bakery Cafe ~ 1476 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas.

I did some research and this is the fourth San Diego location operated by the Feast Restaurant Group. They have another North County location across from the outlet stores in Carlsbad in the plaza that houses PF Changs and King’s Fish House.

The best reference I could give you is think Panera with better food and a real kitchen. I used to work for Panera and have nothing but positive things to say about my experience but I also know fresher ingredients when I eat them. Plus, working kitchen.

The interior is simple and clean. You order at the counter and then your food is brought to your table when ready. Pretty straight forward Fast Casual Dinning. I do not have any interior pics due it being somewhat busy and ripping one-off the web is always dicey.

They serve a full range of breakfast items from eggs, pancakes, and oatmeal. As well as sandwiches, salads, Pastas and chili. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are open till about 8 or 9pm.

I was down there at lunch time for my appointment so went the Sandwich and salad route.

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Harvest Salad ~ chicken, field greens, green apples, toasted walnuts, cranberries and bleu cheese with raisin pecan sweet crisps and balsamic vinaigrette.

This was the smaller “cafe” size and it was big. It was everything I like in a salad, lots of different textures, great quality field greens, and I really liked the raisin pecan crisps. It was better than any salad I have had at Swami’s.

The bread that came with it was also really good.

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Uptown Turkey Avocado Sandwich ~ Smoked turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo on whole grain harvest toast.

Great sandwich, lots of Avocado, Turkey and again, great bread. I should have re-plated it to show it better but I already get enough looks for spinning my plate around and taking like 10 pictures.

This was a lot of food, but they have combos available where it would be smaller portions of both.

Oh, they also have great lemonade and Iced tea. Hibiscus lemonade Arnold Palmer for the win. I love quality lemonade.

If you’re in the area they are a good quality option for a meal.

Probably my last post or next to last post for the month as I just had to throw some groceries away because I have not been eating in and I have to go through my groceries before I lose more.

Corner Bakery Cafe

1476 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas.

#food #lunch #foodporn

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

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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Gelato-Go Coming to Downtown Oceanside

Gelato-Go a small franchise chain with 6 locations in Florida is coming to downtown Oceanside. Their Florida locations have great reviews. Their Gelato runs $4 to $6 depending on size. They also serve coffee and pastries. The location is next to American Deluxe Barber Shop across from Barrel Republic on the 101 in Oceanside.

They are doing a full build out, not just putting in a fridge case and some shelves like the other short-lived gelato location.

Rumor has it Baked Bear is also looking for a spot downtown (Ice cream and cookies). So, summer should have plenty of options for cold treats.

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#gelato #icecream #sweets #food #foodporn

Rosati’s Pizza ~ Vista

So, a few weeks back when it was still raining, I had a craving for deep dish pizza. I did a lot of research and searching and the only place I could find was Rosati’s in Vista. Now I normally don’t cover chains, but I have occasionally in the past. Also funnily enough a friend texted me asking if I knew anywhere to find deep dish pizza on Sunday, so I steered her to Rosati’s. Figured I’d post about it.

Now , I have never been to Chicago, though I have on two occasions ordered frozen deep dish pizza delivered to me from famous Chicago pizzerias. One was Giodarno’s and I forget the other one. They were good but frozen, thawed, and reheated in a home oven takes its toll on the end product. I have had deep dish on a few occasions across the country but nothing super special.

Even with my lack of deep dish expertise, I have my palate and a lot of restaurants under my belt to, I feel, make a fair assessment. I liked Rosati’s.

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Rosati’s Pizza ~ They have 20 locations in Illinois alone, which I guess is a good indication.

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Rosati’s Deep Dish Pizza ~ Green pepper, mushroom, sausage.

The deep dish pizzas take about 45 min. Meaning they are made to order. You can call ahead even if eating in to get one started if you want to minimize the wait.

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Still a little molten at this time. Plenty of cheese, the vegetables had a nice crunch to them and I really liked the sauce. It was chunky and had a nice acidity from the tomatoes.

I did not eat the top part of the crust, it was a little dry. the bottom crust was just fine. Since I destroyed this whole thing by myself, I really did not miss not eating the extra crust. Luckily due to tons of cardio I have the metabolism of a ferret at the moment.

They also do thin crust but I could suggest plenty of places that do a world-class thin crust, I would go here for their deep dish options.

If you are aware of any North County places that do a good deep dish let me know, in the mean time Rosati’s does a fine job with their version. I know a couple in Downtown San Diego and may hit one up on my next trip down. Another go at Himalayan Dine Inn for Nepalese food is my priority right now though for San Diego.

Rosati’s Pizza

307 Vista Village Dr., Vista

Wicked Poke ~ oceanside

So, my older brother was down from Olympia Washington to handle some house selling matters for the estate. While here I kind of gave him a tour of the food scene in Oceanside and mentioned Poke and its recent proliferation in North County and San Diego.

Apparently the Poke wave has not crashed in Olympia yet, I’m sure Seattle has seen its share with their abundance of seafood.

So, I used the opportunity to check out a new place called Wicked Poke in Oceanside. Based on word of mouth and some research I was pretty sure of the quality and giving him a good experience. Plus I get a post out of it:)

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Wicked Poke ~ 2401 Vista Way E, Oceanside

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Located in the center next to the huge LA Fitness (used to be Mervyn’s), Wicked Poke is a fast casual, build your own, Poke concept. Similar to Poki Poki if you are familiar with them. There will be a rant at the end about Poke vs Poki and trolls.

You can get a regular or large bowl. The regular is $8.99 and comes with three scoops of protein, the large is $10.99 and includes 5 scoops. You pick a base of salad, white rice, brown rice, or a mix. Your protein choices include salmon, tuna, spicy tuna, scallop, octopus and tofu. Then you pick through a myriad of topping and sauce choices. I liked that there was no additional charge for crab (probably Krab) or avocado.

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Medium Poke Bowl ~ 2 scoops salmon, 1 scoop tuna, white rice, avocado, crab, ginger, seaweed, green onions, sesame seeds, masago, sesame oil, and house spicy sauce. You also get a free cup of Miso soup which is nice.

Everything was really good. The proteins were fresh and flavorful and I liked that the sesame and house sauce were not over powering. My brother liked his as well. He is a foodie (the one who got me into food actually) and understood the concept before going in. I’m sure a Poke place will make it into Olympia’s food offerings soon.

I would rank this slightly better than Poki Poki but it’s really “6 in 1 or half a dozen in the other” it’s so close. I would just put it down to what was ordered and personal preference.

If you love poke I would suggest Yoshino in Carlsbad (get there early they sellout and cash only) and The Lanai in Encinitas (more expensive but great ingredients and Chef driven, in the old Haggo’s taco spot).

Wicked Poke

2401 Vista Way E., Oceanside

Rant time: Poke, Poki, and Trolls……advert your eyes if so desired.

So, the spelling about poke vs poki is unclear. Poke is the original Hawaiian spelling meaning “to slice or cut” or “section”.  Poki is a little more hard to get a uniform answer on, some say it is poke with japanese ingredients, some say it is just an acceptable mis-spelling that upsets Hawaiians. It is also used as marketing, lets say you want to open up Poke Garden and it is already taken by another restaurant in another city or state, Poki Garden is born.

As for trolls, do not email me with trivial BS ” Poki? you obviously have not done any research.” Look asshat sometimes I do not mention things in detail because I do not think its pertinent to the post. Save us both time and instead of emailing me lay down on the train tracks and wait for the Sprinter…I can give you the schedule.

Funny thing is $100 says this kind of email, like the one “Your name Northcountyfood” is misleading or is this some kind of coastal elitism”, are most likely both from restaurant owners whose restaurant I have not covered, or I mentioned their competition not them.  lots of space out there in the blogoshere, start your own and try and keep up.

Constructive criticism is always welcome, lame comments not so much:) I was a semi pro video gamer for a number of years your not gonna rattle me by trolling,

Now go eat some Poke?, Poki? ….decunstructed sushi.

 

Bits and Bites ~ December / January

So, here are some meals I had over the last month and a half, that while don’t fit into a stand alone post, deserve mentioning. You may want to check them out if you want a solid bite to eat.

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Greek Chicken at Paul’s Place ~ Oceanside

Paul’s Place is owned by, I believe, the brother of the owner of Angelo’s. It is a fast casual restaurant serving a smaller but similar menu. The one thing I like is they serve a few more Greek items, like the Greek Chicken. Moist lemon chicken with rice pilaf and pita bread. A winner for lunch at under $10.

Paul’s Place ~ 3671 Mission Ave. Oceanside.

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Carnitas Plate Combo at Primo Foods ~ Oceanside

Perfectly moist carnitas, guacamole, rice, beans, flour or corn tortillas and a drink for $5.99 on Wednesdays. That can not be beat. Also check out their $0.69 Taco Tuesdays and BBQ on the weekends. They also have great homemade guacamole and salsas to go at the market. It’s a cornucopia of delicious options.

Primo Market ~ 606 Morse St. Oceanside

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Cornish Game Hen at Luna Grill ~ Carlsbad

So, first off , it was surprising to see Cornish Game Hen at a fast casual restaurant, more surprising how well they executed it. It had a nice char on the outside and was tender and moist inside. Served with Basmati rice, charred tomato, and a house salad.

If you find yourself at the, hugely under construction, Carlsbad Mall, Luna Grill is a solid fast casual choice.

Luna Grill ~ 2501 El Camino Real, Oceanside.

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Pepian at Aydee’s Garnacheria ~ Fallbrook

Aydee’s is a small cafe near downtown Fallbrook that does Mexican and Guatemalan dishes.

I wondered in for lunch and had a very solid version of Pepian (think Guatemalan Mole). While I wish the sauce had a little more depth it was still very satisfying. I also really liked the rice and beans. The rice was more of a Pilaf style and the beans were cooked rather than refried.

Aydee’s Garnacheria ~ 110 east Mission Rd. Fallbrook

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Wood Fired croissants at Biga ~ San Diego

I was given one of these while at the Hog Roast at Biga last week. I did not mention them in that report because they were not part of the event but still wanted to give them a shout out. I have a pretty high standard for croissants and these are right up there with the best, plus the wood fire cooking just pushes them into that very special place. Definintly grab one if your in downtown San Diego, even if you’re not eating at Biga (which i highly recommend you do).

Biga ~ 950 6th Ave. San Diego

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Pizza Of The Month “Spicy Spinach” at Pizza Port ~ Carlsbad

So last, and surprisingly my least favorite, pizza at pizza Pizza Port. Now, there was nothing wrong with this pie. The crust was good and I finished it, it just did not wow me. I have never been to Pizza Port and they are somewhat of an institution, so I was nearby and decided to try them. Maybe it was an expectation thing? I would much prefer The Privateer or Pizzamaniac for flavor. I know usually, I just won’t mention it but it did surprise me so I thought I would. I did not go in expecting Mozza, but was expecting more than I got.

Pizza Port ~ 571 Carlsbad Village Dr.

Ok, back to looking for a room to rent.

 

 

 

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)