Coming Soon ~ Oceanside & Carlsbad

So, one up-date on Oceanside and downtown Carlsbad continues to bring in new restaurants.

We finally know what is re-placing the old Jenny’s breakfast spot along coast Highway.

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Two Brothers from Italy, a local chain with four North County locations will open their fifth spot at 1001 South Coast Highway in Oceanside.

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Taste of  The Himalayas is opening their fifth San Diego location in Carlsbad Village in the old Mazen location at 300 #106-A Carlsbad Village Dr. I am excited about this as I love Nepalese food.

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Blue Water Grill is opening their seventh west coast location at 407 Carlsbad Blvd, once home to Fish House Vera Cruz. Fish House Vera Cruz used to be really good but went down hill in recent years and was in dire need of at least a remodel. I believe their Escondido location closed as well , leaving only San Marcos.

The breakfast place that closed a while ago at the corner of State St. and Grand Ave. now has a new tenant moving in.

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Shorehouse Kitchen a breakfast and lunch spot originating in La Jolla is opening their second location in Carlsbad.  They have an interesting menu, more complex than a run of the mill breakfast and lunch spot with some interesting sandwiches and a doggie menu.

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Did not get the address but its next to the corner and next to, the now also closed, T3 Tactical shop at 2825 State St.

There you go.

#food #foodporn #restaurants #foodie #carlsbad #Oceanside #seafood #himalayanfood #breakfast #pizza

 

 

Yaya’s Fruit Bar ~ Vista

Yaya’s is the kind of place I love to coming across. It’s under the radar, unassuming,  family run, and delivers different and tasty food you do not find very often.

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Yaya’s is located in an aesthetically boring strip mall in Vista behind a McDonald’s at 1450 North Santa Fe Ave. at Bobier.

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The interior is clean with light wood and bright colors.

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In addition to their great fruit desserts, they offer 14 flavors of Thrifty’s Ice Cream, numerous fruit sorbets, smoothies, Acia bowls, and a few hot dishes like tortas and nachos.

Their assorted fruit desserts are what makes them special though. The walls are lined with pictures of them because the menu descriptions can not do them justice.

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Desserts Clockwise from top left ~ Chamango, Raspado, Acia Bowl , and Papas Preparadas.

All their desserts are extremely reasonable and made to order. Mine was $6.50 and huge…….

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Pepino Prepadado ~ Cucumber, jamica, papaya, cacahuates japoneses (japanese peanuts), Pica Fresca, hot sauce, and chili powder.

Just a taste and texture sensation. Sweet fresh fruit, crunch from the peanuts, chew from the candies, sourness from the lime juice, and heat from the chili powder and hot sauce. It was not too sweet, it was very vibrant and fresh tasting. Just a great dish.

I will definitely be back to try more or their creations.

Yaya’s Fruit Bar

1450 North Santa Fe Ave., Vista

#food #foodporn #vista #mexicanfood #mexecandessert #foodie

 

Panda Garden ~ San Marcos

So, one of the things I have been striving to find here in North County is a good Chinese restaurant. I have tried quite a few. The reason you do not see posts about them is that they did not meet the same level of quality as most of the restaurants featured on this site. Opinions, like most things, are subjective but I found nothing in the Chinese food category  I would feel comfortable sending someone to on a recommendation.  That has now changed, I can honestly recommend Panda Garden in San Marcos. It’s not on the level of Bay Area Chinese restaurants, but it is quite good.

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Standard strip mall location. I have never been to a great “fancy” Chinese restaurant.

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Nice clean interior. I liked the calmness of the bamboo green accents.

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Lunch specials come with the Chinese version of chips and salsa, fried won-ton chips with sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard. I’m convinced good Chinese hot mustard is on par with Wasabi for sinus clearing ability. Also included with the specials are a bowl of egg drop soup and an egg roll.

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Yu-Shang-Chicken ~ water chestnuts, tree ear, white onions, green onions, bamboo shoots, celery, and carrots in a spicy garlic sauce.

Perfectly cooked vegetables and chicken in a spicy garlic sauce (not that spicy). The dish came out piping hot straight out of the wok and was very tasty. The egg roll was pretty standard.

One order? Ha, amateur hour with your “one order”.

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Noodles in Black Bean Sauce ~ Shrimp, beef, and vegetables in black bean sauce.

This is under their soup section on the menu, but it does not resemble a soup. The black bean sauce has more of a gravy like consistency. It is hearty, a little earthy and very delicious. I also loved the noodles, thick, and slightly chewy similar to Udon style noodles.

This is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea, even though it actually originated in China, you can find it being served in almost every Chinese restaurant there.

So, I would reiterate that I think Panda Garden is the best option for Chinese food in North County ATM. As a caveat, I do have to revisit Spicy King in Vista for a second try as I think I just ordered wrong due to my lack of understanding the Chinese language when I was there.

As for Korean and Italian. I have a review of the new Manu Korean BBQ hitting later this week and an Italian place in my sites that looks promising. Right now my recommendation for Italian is Trattoria Itrulli in Encinitas we will see how Vista fares.

 

Panda Garden

742 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd, San Marcos

#food #foodporn #chinesefood #sanmarcos #foodie

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

 

Panels Comic Book Coffee Bar ~ Oceanside

So, Panels Comic Book Coffee Bar opened this last Saturday at 713 Mission Ave. in Oceanside. Thanks to King’s Touch for instagramming about them or they would have slid under my radar for a while. They are basically 2 doors up (east) from Mission Ave. Bar and Grill.

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Talking with the owner, they had originally looked for a location in the Hillcrest area, but with the costs and amount of coffee competition chose Oceanside for its growth in the coffee and culinary fields as well as events like the monthly Art Walk and Sunset Market.

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The layout of their comic book store coffee hybrid is done very well. It feels an equal balance of both entities. It is not a Coffee Shop with some comics, nor does it feel like a comic book store with coffee. It balances both perfectly.

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The layout, which has media only along the walls helps with the clean and balanced feel of the shop.

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The menu covers all the main coffee-house staples. They are sourcing from Bird rock Coffee Roasters out of La Jolla, who are well-respected for their coffee.

So, whether you are picking up a new release, grabbing a coffee, or both check these guys out. It is a great atmosphere where you do not have to be a comic book enthusiast or coffee fanatic to enjoy it, but if you are it makes it a little extra special.

dp coffee (1 of 1)Nuff said.

Panels Comic Book Coffee Bar

713 Mission Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside #comicbooks #coffee

Park 101 ~ Carlsbad

So, Park 101, the 8,000 sq ft multi million dollar food and drink project opened a few weeks ago along Coast Highway in Carlsbad.

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The U-shaped complex features a downstairs lounging area, bar, coffee bar, and fast casual BBQ restaurant..

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Downstairs lounge complete with corn-hole and fire pit.

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Downstairs lounge from the upper deck.

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Second bar upstairs. They have 40 beers on tap, many local.

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Their fast Casual kitchen. They serve a number of salads and classic side dishes. The main focus is BBQ including, Tri-Tip, brisket, pulled pork, turkey, smoked fish and sausage. In addition they are open at 6am for breakfast burritos and the like.

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I went with Tri-Tip, coleslaw, white bread and pickles. Perfectly cooked Tri-Tip, tender and flavorful. Good portion size too.

With the summer and it being a great outdoor location it can get busy especially on the weekends.

Park 101

3040 Carlsbad Blvd. (Coast Highway), Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #bbq #carlsbad

 

 

Lionfish ~ San Diego

I took the coaster down to San Diego to check out Lionfish at the Pendry hotel in the gas lamp district. Having been open for about 5 months, Lionfish is headed by local chef Jojo Ruiz and features modern coastal cuisine using fresh catch and seasonal ingredients.

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Lionfish ~ 435 5th Ave., San Diego

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The interior features neutral tones and wood with interesting lighting elements.

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Lionfish features a pretty big wine and cocktail list but the prices are a bit too high, with cocktails costing as much as an appetizer and a glass of Orin Swift’s “The Prisoner” going for $25 where it should be around $15.

I stuck with ice water and focused on the food, choosing three apps. and one main.

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Lamb Tartar ~ Gold beets, fennel, arugula, vanouvan yogurt, lavash.

The word that kept popping into my head when I ate this was “fresh”. The flavors were completely balanced with nothing overpowering the other elements.

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Stuffed Squid ~ Tomato relish, shrimp, Italian sausage, herb pistou.

Perfectly tender squid with deep-fried tentacles for texture. Great dish, though I wish the stuffing had more heat, maybe chorizo instead of the sausage.

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Spicy Grilled Octopus ~ Fernmented chile, crispy garlic, marbel potatoes, cilantro aioli.

This dish was highly recommended by the staff and in online reviews and rightfully so. In my recent review of “The Kettle Room” I claimed they had the best octopus dish I have ever had, that spot was short-lived as this dish overtook that position. Nice heat level and the most tender and flavorful octopus I have had.

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Herb Marinated Swordfish ~ Summer squash, cherry tomatoes, nettle puree, lavender.

Again, the Chef just knows how to balance flavor. Swordfish being a steak like cut of fish, much like tuna, comes off extremely tender and moist in this preparation. The summer squash holds its own against the star of the dish.

What I took away was Chef Ruiz is adept at balancing flavors harmoniously and executing proteins to perfection. The dinner with slightly more than 20% tip ran me $100 and was well worth every penny.

Lionfish

435 5th Ave. San Diego

#food #foodporn #seafood #sandiego

 

Pho Oceanside ~ Oceanside

This is a bit of a re-visit, but I last mentioned this place was in 2013. This probably north of Convoy street is the best Pho in North County.

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Like all great Pho places, nondescript and in a strip mall.

Like Ramen, everyone has their 2 cents about pho. Their broth is deep in flavor, the price can not be beat and it will make you happy. As a writer I could go on “Oh the broth was like re living a childhood dream, it brought me back to the time when my Grandmother…:” F that. It is good food. Nuff said.

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Pho ~ Rare steak, tendons, tripe, brisket.

Go eat.

Also the pork chop is insane:) Highly recommend the egg rolls as well.

 

Pho Oceanside

518 Oceanside Blvd, Oceanside

#pho #food #foodporn