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

 

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

 

 

Plant Power Fast Food ~ Encinitas

As a total omnivore I was very interested in trying out Plant Power Fast Food. While I love animal flesh in every form, I love me some fruit,veg, and grains too. Also I am always interested in people making interesting, healthy alternatives to foods, like fast food, that are notoriously full of fillers and chemicals.

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This is Plant Powers’s second location, with the first opening in Ocean Beach in 2015. You can order via drive through, an automated order system (kinda like sonic), or a walk up counter. There is some outdoor seating.

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The small outdoor seating area, going to say it seats 36ish.

“Plant Power fast food provides fast food staples like burgers, fries, wraps, tacos, salads, shakes, smoothies and other tasty treats made entirely without the use of animal products, GMO’s or artificial ingredients and served to you in 100% biodegradable materials.”

Proof is in the taste though. How did they do? Really well actually.

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My order ~ “Chicken” fingers, classic “burger” and a great organic lemon lime soda. This came to $16 but was really 2 orders to try more food out.

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“Chicken Fingers” ~ These were really good, the texture was slightly firmer than a mcnugget but softer than a breast strip. The sauce was great and had a nice heat to it. They come with choice of 2 extra sauces, which I did not totally get since they are sauced already. I did use the chipotle one as kind of a substitute for ranch dressing you get with wings. I would order these anytime.

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The Classic ~ “beef patty” lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, ‘mayo’, mustard and pickles.

A great meatless substitute for a fast food burger. I added a little extra ketchup for moisture, but if you did not tell me I would not of deduced it was vegan. They also do an avocado burger, mushroom burger, and a few other variations. There is also a black bean patty available and a raw burger version using a walnut and sunflower burger patty. You can also get “cheese” and a gluten-free bun option for a slight additional charge if desired.

The burgers are a great replacement for the likes of Wendy’s, McDonald’s and so forth. If you are a die-hard burger person they are not going to compete with higher end fast casual burgers like Burger Lounge, Pure Burger, etc. If you are vegetarian or vegan you get to have your burger and eat it too.

Some Yelp reviews commented on slow service and price. Price is right in line with anything else. They are also in soft opening mode still and the place is small so I would go off hours for the time being, but you know, who uses common sense. $100 says it took them longer to write their 3 star yelp review than get their food:)

Plant Power Fast Food

411 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas

(across from Scripts Hospital)

#food #foodporn #vegan #vegetarian #fastfood

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas (round 2 )

So, its hard for me to re-visit restaurants, especially so soon. I loved this place so much I headed back down with a Chef friend of mine to check them out again.

The place is Himalayan Kitchen at 1337 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas.

You can read my more detailed original post here.

This quick post is just to give you mine and my guests thoughts on the second visit.

First off, Momos were not ready yet 😦

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L to R

Basmati Rice ~ perfectly cooked lightly seasoned rice as an accompaniment

Rato Bhale ra Bhanta ~ Diced eggplant and chicken cooked with exotic spices Nepalese style. This was the star dish. Rich depth of flavor and perfectly cooked eggplant and tender chicken.

Lamb Biryani ~ Lamb, basmati rice cooked in special herbs and spices. similar to the one I had the last time and just as good. The lamb was tender and flavorful and the rice perfect.

We also had Badami Naan which was delightful.

This is my new favorite spot. I will be here again and again. Chef concurred its delicious.

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd Encinitas

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 🙂 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.

Weekend BBQ @ Primos ~ Oceanside

So, I am a pretty big fan of Primo’s for their Mexican food and handmade salsas and guacamole. They have a great Tuesday taco special, street tacos are $0.69 apiece. In addition every Friday thru Sunday, they BBQ outside and sell meats by the pound or as sandwiches and plates.

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Primo’s weekend BBQ ~ Primo Market 606 Morse St. Oceanside.

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BBQ menu.

One of my favorite two-word combinations is “BBQ Tri-tip”, So, I headed down Saturday to grab some.

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The BBQ is purchased inside the market to take home or eat on the outdoor seating.

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Their selection of handmade salsas and guacamole. There is a sample station by the register with chips so you can gauge the heat levels. My favorite is the green serrano salsa, it packs quite a kick.

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Tri-tip Plate ~ Tri-tip, rice, beans, guacamole, tortilla, and toppings.

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Build your own mini burrito bite. I ate the rest of the tri-tip plain because it was so tasty and ate the rest of the tortilla with guacamole, rice, and beans.

This is a great weekend lunch for $8.99. The tri-tip is flavorful and juicy. I mean it is not “Flying Pig” good, but it is close.

Primo Market

606 Morse St, Oceanside

#BBQ #food #foodporn #oceanside

Senor Grubby’s ~ Carlsbad

So, a few posts back I visited  The Taco Stand in Encinitas. I had written I thought it was a bit better than Grubby’s in Carlsbad. In order to be fair and due to the fact it had been a while since eating at Grubby’s I thought I would re-visit them in order to maintain journalistic integrity. Really,  I was just in Carlsbad and craving tacos:).

Grubby's ext

Senior Grubby’s ~ 377 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad

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They have expanded a bit since I was last in adding a patio bar area in the back.

Grubby's kitchen

large, open, and clean kitchen area.

They have expanded their menus as well. Both the drink and food menus sport a lot more options.

I went for a trio of Tacos. Two off their “Gastronomo” taco menu and one off their “Traditional” menu.

Grubby's Tacos 1

(From the top clockwise.) Carnitas ~ Guacamole, onion, and cilantro.  Home Smoked Honey Jalapeno Pork Belly ~ Guacamole, cilantro, and onions.  Duck Chicharrones ~ Avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, Manchego cheese.

To start off the pork belly taco was insane. The pork had a great smokey flavor and not too much fat. Five content kittens rating…5 cats

The Duck Skin Chicharrones taco was great as well. Crispy flavorful fried duck skin with the perfect amount of toppings.

The Carnitas was a perfect example of what it was supposed to be.

Another thing I like about Grubby’s is their salsa bar. They serve really good homemade salsas in a range of styles and heat levels. I used their Verde salsa ( medium heat) on the two pork tacos and the second hottest red salsa (forgot the name, pretty hot)) on the Chicharrones.

The street tacos at Grubby’s are true to street taco size and price $2.55 to $3. So, I went back for more since my first tacos were great.

Round 2 ( I did circuit training in the morning).

Grubby's Tacos 2

Grilled Fish Taco (L) and Shrimp Diablo Taco (R)

Both tacos came with their appointed proteins plus pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, and a chipotle cream sauce.

The shrimp taco was good but the fish in the fish taco lacked flavor and acid. Neither were in the class of the first round of tacos.

So, after a revisit, I would put Grubby’s in the same league as The Taco Stand, at least on what I experienced. Both places are different though and the made to order fresh tortillas at The Taco Stand do add another element. Yet, the pork belly I had at Grubby’s was killer.

Coin toss.

Senor Grubby’s

377 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad

 

Birdseye Kitchen Lunch Report, Plus New Openings, and Coming Soon. ~ Encinitas

So, I was in Encinitas yesterday afternoon walking the 101, north of Encinitas Blvd. and decided to have lunch at Birdseye Kitchen after my first choice was closed (more on that later).

Birdseye Kitchen is a smallish cafe serving both Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. So after my first place did not pan out I made my way inside for what turned out to be a nice lunch.

birds eye kitchen exterior

Birdseye Kitchen ~ 504 North Highway 101, Encinitas

birds eye kitchen int

It is nice there main front window rolls up to give the dining room plenty of light and fresh air, especially on a hot day like Friday.

birds eye pork cheek

Pork Collar ~ Pork collar and bang bang sauce.

A simple dish of tender yummy pork with a great sauce to go with it.

birds eye Green papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

As good of an example of this dish as you can get. Light and full of Umami. I ordered an 8 on the spicy scale and it had a nice kick to it without overpowering the other flavors.

Birdseye Kitchen

504 North Coast Highway, Encinitas

As I was saying I had an original lunch destination. I had planned on hitting up a new Sushi and Bento box place that just opened called Ajito. It is the sister restaurant to one of the best Sushi places in all of San Diego, for traditional Sushi, Kaito in Encinitas. Unfortunately, the owner has taken some time off to spend with the family so they will not be back until August 22nd.

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The building on the left of Fully Loaded Juicery is the “blink and you will miss it” Ajito.

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Ajito sign

The only signs.

Culture Brewing

Making my way to downtown Encinitas it appears culture Brewing is set to expand to a third tap-room. There were a few small Culture Brewing signs, a permit application notice in the window, and a large fan blowing along the floor like it was drying sealant. The space is next to Vuori Yoga Clothing on Coast Highway, Encinitas in the 600 block.

Just a mural I liked.

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Have a great weekend.