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

 

 

Irina’s Bar and Grill ~ Oceanside

großes deutsches Lebensmittel!

Irina’s bar and Grill is a medium-sized bar located at 3375 Mission Ave. in the valley in Oceanside. It boasts a fairly modest exterior and a nice, clean interior with a long “L” shaped bar, plenty of seating and two pool tables. Nothing that really distinguishes it from plenty of other local bars…except for the food.

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You see, Irina’s has a secret weapon, great German food. They have a regular bar menu as well but that’s not why I come here. I come here because good German food is hard to find.I used to travel the U.S. with work and my boss Marc was from Germany. It was our goal to track down any German restaurants we could find coast to coast. They were few and far between. The best we found was in LA, it is no longer around and I can not remember the name. We have Tip Top but I think Irina’s edges them out slightly.

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I started with a Bitberger on tap and a half order of Currywurst.

 

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Currywurst ~ Sliced bratwurst topped with a curry tomato sauce.

Good quality brats topped with a slightly sweet tomato curry served with very nice french fries.

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GESCHNETZELTES VOM SCHWEIN ~ pork ragout in mustard cream sauce w/ honey, pickle + green bell pepper, served w/ sautéed spätzle.

I love Spatzle, this was a good dish. It could have used a touch more seasoning but I ate every bite. Everything is very reasonable the most expensive dish on the German menu is the Jagershnitzel at $12.50 and its huge.

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The huge Jagerschnitzel from a previous visit.

If you’re looking for some different bar fare I would highly suggest checking them out.

They open at 4pm weekdays, noon Saturdays, and 9:30 am Sundays. On yelp you will hear “Sketchy Neighborhood” it not, its fine, I swear you would think no one has ever been to a major city in their life time. They see one homeless person and lose their shit.

Irina’s Bar and Grill

3375 Mission Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #germanfood

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.

 

 

 

New Chef / Menu Items At Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen ~ Oceanside

So, I was invited with about 120 others to try some of the new menu items that will be coming to The Flying Pig’s Oceanside location starting Tuesday.

The new menu will feature Craft, Italian inspired dishes created by new Chef  Justin Lappies. Justin has been working with Executive Chef Mario Moser for the last three years and was tapped to replace exiting Chef Samantha Parker, who is now at Campfire.

Do not worry, it is not a complete menu change and you will still see Flying Pig staples on the menu, it is just an infusion of freshness accompanying the new Chef.

All the dishes were served “family style’ and varied with each table.

What we had…..

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Panzanella Salad ~ Heirloom tomato, red romaine, onion,basil, cucumbers, capers, fried house focaccia, house vin.

Great salad with super fresh ingredients. I would say an interpretation of a panzanella.

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Arancini ~ Arborio rice, herbs, mushrooms, house red sauce and truffle aioli.

A great light version of what can sometimes be a heavy appetizer. I loved the filling and the mushroom flavor. I did not care for the truffle aioli but the red sauce made up for it in spades.

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Meat Flatbread ~ Pepperoni, ham, sausage, house red sauce, caramelized onion, opal basil

Classic, tasty flatbread.

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Tagliatelle ~ Daily Bolognese, with aged parm.

This was my dish of the night. Perfectly cooked, hand-made pasta with a rich sauce that contrasted perfectly with the freshness of the greens.

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Campanile ~ Daily pesto, house sausage, mushrooms, aged parm.

Another tasty pasta dish, loved the pesto and the sausage. Pasta may have been slightly to al dente for my taste.

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Olive Oil Pound Cake with Champagne Gastrique

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Spumoni ~ Pistacio Gelato, Brandied Cherries.

Excellent gelato, could have used more kick out of the brandied cherries.

Overall, great food that will be a nice addition to the Pig’s menu. Just as long as the pork chop does not go anywhere:)

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

626 South Tremont Street, Oceanside

Vamos A Texacoco ~ Vista

With my move into my new place closer to Vista, you will see more reports from that area. One place I have been meaning to go back and report on is Vamos A Texacoco. What sets them apart from other taco shops is their menu. It’s all about the BBQ Lamb here and that is what you should be ordering. They also serve goat as well as huitlacoche ( corn mushroom or fungus) and zucchini flower quesadillas.

Vamos A Texaco is a nondescript strip mall taco shop on the exterior.

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Vamos A Texacoco ~ 950 East Vista Way, Vista

I ordered the mixed lamb meal, a combination of lean meat and fattier cuts,

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Lamb Broth ~ Lamb broth, gabanzo beans, and tripe.

The order starts off with a lovely, rich cup of lamb broth. This has true depth of flavor.

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Full order of BBQ Lamb ~ 1/2 lb of mixed lamb meat, tortillas, and accompanyments.

The mixed plate is the way to go, you get the gamey, soft, and moist bits and the lean pieces that add structure.

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You can make little lamb tacos. ~ Lamb, cilantro, onion, and green salsa.

I made 4 hefty tacos with my order. The green salsa has a really fresh almost grassy flavor that goes great against the richness of the lamb and the cilantro and onions add texture. Tip ~ they are great dipped in the lamb broth.

At $10.75 this is an authentic, delicious, satisfying meal.

They also have whole lambs head if you are so inclined.

Vamos A Texacoco

950 East Vista Way,  Vista

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

El Chapin Guatemalan Cuisine ~ Oceanside

I have not been this excited about a restaurant since Campfire opened. I highly (stress highly) you check this restaurant out.

El Chapin is a Guatemalan restaurant located at 3753 Mission Ave. in Oceanside. If you are driving east on Mission it is on the right in the last little strip mall before El Camino Real.

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It is run by Fiances Dinora and Gabriel. The couple had a restaurant in Escondido for three years before moving to this location due to landlord troubles. While I wish they did not have to deal with that, I am so glad they chose Oceanside to be the home of their new location.

The interior is simple and clean with the blue walls mimicking the colors of the Guatemalan flag.

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The menu is in Spanish (the official language of Guatemala) but Gabriel, who runs the front of the house will gladly go over dishes with you. If you have never had Guatemalan food it is similar to other Latin American cuisines. Dishes usually contain a starch, rice or potatoes depending on the country, vegetables, and beef, chicken, and seafood usually served with a sauce or in stews and soups.

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Brocheta Mixita ~ Beef, chicken, and shrimp in red sauce served with sides of macaroni salad, rice, and fresh made to order tortillas.

This was delicious, all three proteins were cooked to perfection and full of flavor. The tortillas were some of the best I have had.

I want to go back and try their hen stew ( Gallo en chicha) made with fresh free-range chicken. This is one of the most popular dishes among their Guatemalan customers. They are in the process of attaining their liquor license and plan on carrying an array of South American beers.

Because everything is cooked to order and they can get busy do not expect a 5 min turn around (this is not a taco shop and they are not making carne asada burritos). Gabriel recommended calling ahead for take out or calling ahead and letting them know how big your party will be and if you know what you want they can start your order so your wait is shorter. This mainly for peak hours during lunch and dinner.

Gabriel is also a Chef and cooks Puerto Rican cuisine, his plan is to get this location up and running to a point where he can open a Puerto Rican restaurant along the coast in Oceanside. Another reason to check them out and support them, I really want a Puerto Rican restaurant in Oceanside.

El Chapin restaurant

3753 Mission Ave. Suite 121-A, Oceanside

(760) 842-7683

#guatemalan #food #southamerican

Taps and Tapas Beer Event @ The Miller’s Table Sunday

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To kick off San Diego Beer Week join The Miller’s Table Sunday, November 6th for a special 4-course Tapas and beer flight menu featuring beers from San Diego’s 32 North Brewing Company.

The menu is $25 dollars and pairs tapas dishes like…

Fresh rosemary popcorn with rosemary butter, sweet and spicy nuts, tuna and olive tapenade on cucumber paired with 32 North’s Pilsner

and..

Tortilla Espanola with sweet peppers and lemon aioli paired with their Berliner Weiss.

 

In addition, The Millers Table will serve its standard menu and beer and wine selection.

for more info contact Staci @ The Miller’s Table 442-615-7200

The Miller’s Table

514 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

#themillerstable #sdbeerweek #32northbrewingcompany

Pappalecco Caffe’~ Cardiff

I journeyed into the deep south (Cardiff) to check out casual Italian at Pappalecco. Pappalecco is a fast casual, high quality, Tuscan inspired, small, local chain with outposts in Little Italy, Kensington, Hillcrest, and now Cardiff.

They were getting a lot of positive reviews on Yelp, and you know what I say “Yelp is never wrong”. Oh, wait I meant, you know what I say “F%#k Yelp”, yep that was it. I do use Yelp as a tool to find places along with other sources like Eater and Chowhound. Wow, I just realized I despise all my sources. Ok, back on track.

The Cardiff location opened a few weeks ago, so I grabbed a bus and headed down.

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Yep, I’m in Cardiff.

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Pappalecco Caffe’ ( you can tell it is extra fancy because of the two ffs and the ‘ ). It is located in a small strip mall at 2101 San Elijo Avenue, Cardiff by the Sea.

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Simple clean interior (thought I was gonna say light and airy didn’t you). Sorry, I’m in a weird mood tonight.

You place your order and then put a number on your table. I will say the staff was very polite and friendly.

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Toscano Panini ~ Prosciutto, Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella

Great sandwich, fresh ingredients and a great balance between the flavors. I’m a stickler for good Mozzarella and they used good Mozzarella.

In addition to the Paninis, Pappalecco makes in-house Pastries and Gelato.  I imagine these are made centrally by them and distributed to the various locations. They hold their pastries and gelatos to only 5 main natural ingredients. Again, I do not know if that means only five , or five core ingredients. Regardless, its good hand crafted stuff:)

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See, told you five main natural ingredients. They have about 20 or so flavors, about four of which are gluten-free and vegan.

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I went with the Lemon. It was dense as you would expect from gelato, with a nice vibrant lemon flavor.

If you find yourself in the tail end of North County ( I do not want to hear it Del Mar and Solana Beach) I would check them out if you are looking for good quality quick Italian.

 

Pappalecco Caffe’

2101 San Elijo Avenue, Cardiff by the Sea

 

 

 

 

Elena’s French Crepes Cafe ~ Oceanside

Elena’s French Crepes Cafe recently opened in downtown Oceanside at 511 Pier View Way. They are located right next to Breakfast Club Diner in the space that used to house a small gift shop.

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I am so glad that they chose Oceanside. They fill a void that existed for alternative breakfast and lunch choices. Though Petite Madeline does offer a mighty fine crepe on their menu, the choice is limited to one or two varieties depending on the weekly specials.

The Cafe is run by Elena and her husband, who are just the nicest people you could meet. They had always wanted to open a cafe upon retiring and when the time came they chose to do it.

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Elena and her husband

The cafe is simple and bright inside, they did a great job on a fast turn around on the old space.

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All the art in the cafe was created by Elena.

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The menu is straight forward, their philosophy is, do one thing, do it well and do it with passion.

They feature 5 savory crepes and 11 sweet varieties. They feature Peet’s coffee and teas.

This post is just to get the word out, I will return Thursday Morning to have a couple crepes. I have been doing this long enough that I have no doubt they will be great. Give them some love. Let me know what you think if you beat me there.

Elena’s French Crepes Cafe

511 Pier View Way Oceanside

Hours: 6am to 3pm Sunday to Wednesday

              6am to 8pm Thursday to Saturday