Taste of The Himalayas ~ Carlsbad

So, Carlsbad has been the hot spot at the moment for new restaurant openings. Though, with the upcoming projects in Oceanside and Encinitas, North County as a whole is continuing to expand its restaurant scene . Of course you want quality establishments and a varied choice of cuisines along with the growth. Thankfully, Taste of The Himalayas offers just that. The restaurant is part of a local, family owned, chain of five restaurants serving Napalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine. Their other restaurants have garnered high praise for the flavor and authenticity of their cuisine and after eating at the new Carlsbad location I would say deservedly so.

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Taste of the Himalayas’ new location at 300 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad. It is located in the downstairs area next to Naked Cafe where Mazen 101 used to be.

Himalayan cuisine covers the countries of Nepal, Northern India, Tibet, and sometimes Bangladesh. If you are familiar with Indian cuisine you will be comfortable with the menu.

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They did a great job, in a pretty short turn around, with the look of the restaurant. It is both comfortable and inviting. Perfect for lunch or a dinner date.

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A view from one of their comfortable couches.

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Mixed Momos ~ Chicken and lamb, mixed with onion, cilantro and spices. The vegetable Momos contain cabbage, spinach, mushrooms, cashews, nuts, paneer, onions, cilantro, green onions and spices.

I love Momos, they are my favorite style of dumpling. Taste of the Himalayas’ are great but I would say Himalayan Dine Inn (San Diego), and Himalayan Kitchen (Encinitas) edge them out slightly in the Momo department, in that order.

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Chicken Tikka Marsala and Aloo Cauli Ko Tarkaru with rice.

This is part of their great lunch specials menu. You get a choice of an entree and a vegetable dish served with a cup of lentil soup,  rice and naan for $9.99, it is a steal.

Both the Tikka and the Tarkaru were wonderful, with great spice and depth of flavor. I asked for an 8 spice level on my Chicken Tikka. I feel the cream mellowed out the spiciness a bit and would go higher next time with my spice level if ordering a similar dish. I loved the cauliflower and potato dish immensely.

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Bhera Ko Tarkari ~ Boneless lamb curry with fresh tomatoes, garlic, ginger, onions and Himalayan spices.

I went to lunch with Christine, who owns Petite Madeline in Oceanside. She ordered the Bhera Ko Takari lunch special. Though she ordered a 4 spice level hers was a bit hotter due to the absence of cream in the dish. She was fine with it, having tasted a bite, I thought it had a nice back heat but was pretty mild. My advice would be if the dish you are ordering has cream or yogurt in the sauce you can edge up a little as far as spice level goes. If it does not and you are sensitive to spice, order conservatively.

Another thing Christine commented on a few times was the fact they used whole spices, or coarsely ground spices, rather than powdered, which added a lot to the flavor of the dishes.

They have been open for two weeks now. When we went they had only been open 4 days or so and were still having some tech. issues with the point of sale system. The staff was great and the owners son was there and was able to provide a lot of in site into the dishes.

  • I also wanted to point out they do charge for refills on beverages, which I personally am not a fan of. This did not stop me from enjoying the experience and they did mention it before refilling, it just made me switch to water after my iced tea.

A great little addition to Carlsbad Village. Their lunch special alone makes it silly not to try them out.

Taste of The Himalayas

300 Carlsbad village Dr., Carlsbad

 

#food #foodporn #indianfood #nepalesefood #curry #carlsbad #spicy

 

 

 

Coming Soon ~ New Ramen & Beer Places ~ Encinitas

Really excited about both these projects. The first is Rooster Ramen from Chef David Volk. Rooster Ramen used to be a nightly pop up at the Encinitas Bull Taco. David pulled out due to factors I won’t get into with the owner, but I am happy to see some of the best ramen I have had in North County coming back. You can read about the concept here, though I do not think this location will have outdoor seating.

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Rooster Ramens new home at 914 South Coast Highway, Leucadia. Right before Leucadia Blvd.

Also, Modern Times got approval (barley) to open their new tasting room at 470 South Coast Highway. The location is across from the La Paloma Theater between Ironsmith Coffee and Filberto’s.

#beer #craftbrewer #ramen #food #chef #encinitas #tastingroom #food #restaurant

Guava Lava Frozen Desserts ~ Oceanside

So, I had been told about Guava Lava Frozen Desserts around a year ago by the husband of the owner and then again more recently from a follower of North County Food. This, and the fact that I recently moved across the street, finally got me to check them out. To be honest my mind-set was “It’s a Mom and Pop yogurt shop, how great could it be?” Turns out, pretty great.

I love cold treats. I can not buy popsicles without the box being gone in two days. I also love Ices, sorbets, sherberts, and fruit based smoothies. This fact makes Guava Lava a perfect treat destination for me, you think I would have gone in sooner.

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Guava Lava Frozen Desserts ~ 3910 Vista Way #115, Oceanside Ca. (Home Depot Center & 78)

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Owner Marlene and her husband previously owned and operated their own food truck before deciding this was more reflective of their life style and love for Southern California.

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The interior is colorful, very well put together, and exceptionally clean.

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The surf and beach decor is carried through out making for a calm and cheery environment.

The menu at Guava Lava features frozen yogurt and Ices, smoothies, Acia bowls, coffee drinks, and various other treats.

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Blackberry Ice and mixed fruit non- dairy yogurt with fresh fruit toppings.

I was very excited to see they had an Ice and non – dairy options ( I eat dairy I just prefer non – dairy). It was full of fruit flavor and the addition of the fresh fruit just made it that much better.

They have about 14 to 15 flavors available at one time and the choices range from classic frozen yogurt, gelato, and custard, to the above mentioned Ice and non – dairy options. You have a choice of cone or cup. The cups come in 16 and 24 once sizes and are priced by weight. I had the 16 oz. and it ran about $6 and was more than plenty as an after dinner dessert.

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On my second visit I had a cherry and cranberry smoothie. I love tart flavors over sweet and this has become my new go to drink. All of their smoothies are dairy free and use fruit juice and no added sugar. There are two exceptions on the menu, one being the PB & J smoothie ( peanut butter and strawberry ) and the other the Maikai Monkey ( peanut butter and banana ), which contain dairy.

So, after procrastinating for a year, I am glad I went in and tried them out. It’s also great they are within walking distance, so I can go back when I am craving a cold treat.

Guava Lava Frozen Desserts

3910 Vista Way, Oceanside Ca

#food #foodie #foodporn #yogurt #frozenyogurt #oceanside #coffee #dessert

Dona Elena Pozoleria ~ Vista

So, while walking to La Takiza last month along North Santa Fe Ave. in Vista, I caught a sign out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it said “pizzeria”, which seemed out-of-place for the area.  Upon stopping I found out it said “Dona Elena Pozoleria”. I got excited, immediately looked at the menu and added it to my must try list. I actually added to my “drag Chef Beau or Christina along” list.

So, Beau and I took the sprinter out to Vista to have lunch.

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Dona Elena specializes is Pozole, menudo, and soups. While they have some other items on their menu, the focus is on their soup based dishes. A lot of restaurants only offer these specialty items on Sundays or the weekend, Dona Elena offers them every day.

Their Pozole is offered in three varieties. White (Pozole without red or green sauce and ingredients), Red (addition of red sauce and chilis), and green (addition of tomatillos, cilantro, and jalapeno).

I went with the red pork Pozole and Beau got the green.

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Red Pozole ~ Pork, hominy, cabbage, onion, garlic, radishes, and limes served with crisp tortillas.

The large was huge, with plenty of pork, hominy, and all the accompaniments making it quite the lunch. It was not that spicy but Beau got a side of chili oil to add in and with its addition I was able to up my spice level to where I wanted it.

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Green Pozole ~ Chicken, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cabbage, onion, radishes, and limes with crispy tortillas.

I did not try the green pozole but Beau commented on how good it was, and like me finished the entire bowl.

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As if we did not have enough food, we split a beef sope. A great example of a sope but I think the reason to come here are their soup based dishes.

If you want to try another hidden gem in Vista I would add Dona Elena’s to the list of them along North Santa Fe Ave.

Dona Elena Pozoleria

1120 North Santa Fe Ave., Vista

#food #foodie #foodporn #vista #mexicanfood #pozole #lunch #dinner #san diego

Great Farmer’s Market Food ~ Oceanside and Leucadia

So, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the food at farmers markets. While I love small independent food vendors offering ethnically diverse cuisine, in a venue that allows them to do so without the investment required by a food truck or restaurant, I still expect value for my money and want true authenticity. A lot of times the quantity and quality of food does not justify the price and the “authenticity” can be debatable.

Luckily enough there are a few that produce great authentic food at a good value. These are two of my favorites.

Ed’s Filipino Cuisine

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Ed’s sets up their stall Thursday mornings from From 9am till 1pm at the Oceanside Morning Farmer’s Market on Pier View Way. They really are not in full swing till around 9:30 or 10 due to them cooking everything on site, which makes it worth the wait.

I have a very high standard for Filipino food. My brother-in-law is Filipino, so I have been spoiled with great home-made Filipino dishes at large family occasions like holidays and birthday parties for years. Ed’s is the only place I have found that comes close to what my extended family can throw down. (and I have searched long and far).

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$9 Lunch ~ Lumpia (2 pork, 1 beef, 1 vegetable), Pancit, and a pork skewer.

Lumpia are very near and dear to my heart. They are time-consuming to make, like tamales, and good ones deserve respect. One of the keys is a light flaky crust, deep-fried just enough so it has a beautiful crunch and crumbles a bit like a great baguettte when you bite into it. Ed’s lumpia do this perfectly. Way too many lumpia I have tried just mimic egg rolls in texture making them, well, egg rolls. I do wish the sauce had more vinegar and was less sweet, but these are some of the best lumpia out there IMO.

The pork skewers are perfectly charred and full of flavor. I really like the marinade he uses and his charcoal hibachi grill gives the meat a nice, flavorful sear. The pancit is great and does not need any additional soy sauce or flavoring, bulking up the meal to provide a filling authentic Filipino lunch.

Second on my list is Arepas Papachon at the Leucadia Farmer’s Market, hosted Sundays at 185 Union Street from 10 till 2 in Encinitas. If you have not been to the Leucadia Farmer’s Market, it is really nice, especially for produce.

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Arepas Papachon ~ The arepas are formed and cooked to order, so it is a good idea to place your order and have a look around at some of the other stalls as it takes about 10 minutes.

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Pulled pork arepas plate , black beans, and plantains.

The arepa is sliced down the middle so you can stuff the pork inside. The first time I ordered this I thought the portion was a bit small but it ended up being very filling. Everything is very flavorful. The pork is nice and moist, the dough is hearty without being dense, and the black beans and sweet plantains round out a nice Venezuelan brunch.

So, those would be my top two food places I would recommend if someone asked me “what are some good food choices at the local farmers markets?”

I would also highly suggest stopping by Cheryl’s Caramels at the Oceanside Sunset Market for local hand-made candies and Doh! at Leucadia’s or Carlsbad’s markets for great vegan cookie dough.

Oceanside Farmer’s Market

Pier View Way, Oceanside

(Corner of Pier View and Mission)

9am till 1pm

Leucadia Farmers Market

185 Union Street, Encinitas

( Paul Eick Elementary School)

10am till 2pm

#food #foodie #farmersmarket #foodporn #Oceanside #leucadia #filipinofood #southamericanfood #venezuelanfood #lumpia #arepas

 

 

 

 

 

Teri Cafe ~ Oceanside

Teri Cafe has been serving their freshly made ramen, udon ,and soba noodles in a casual environment to Oceanside residents for over 30 years. Their operation has grown so much they have an offsite noodle factory here in Oceanside to produce noodles for their two restaurants as well as professional and consumer clients.

I had not been to a Teri Cafe location in quite a while, not since they were in the old, now demolished mall near JoAnne’s Fabrics off of South El Camino Real. Since I now live near their Plaza Dr. location and love Udon I decided to pay them a visit, or two.

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Teri Cafe at 3809 Plaza Dr., Oceanside. They also have a location at 2216 South El Camino Real in Oceanside.

Teri Cafe serves their noodle dishes, as well as teriyaki bowls and plates, daily specials, and sushi in a fast casual atmosphere with the average price being around $10 to $12 depending on what you order.

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Teriyaki Chicken Plate ~ Teriyaki chicken, rice, salad, potato salad, and miso soup.

The teriaki plate comes with quite a bit of food. The chicken is moist and tender with a sweet teryaki glaze and perfectly cooked rice. The meal is rounded out with miso soup, a side salad and a scoop of potato salad. The accompaniments are fine but nothing overly exciting.

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Gyoza

On my second visit I decided to order two of my favorites, gyoza and udon soup. The gyoza were really nice with a crispy outer shell and flavorful filling.

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Chicken Udon Soup.

People say the star of udon soup is the broth. Teri’s broth is nice, it has depth and is not overly salty. In my opinion it is all about the noodles and these were perfect, soft thick udon with just a little tooth to them. You could tell they were fresh.

I am glad I paid them a few visits and now that one of their locations is within walking distance to me I will have it as a lunch or dinner option when I’m craving udon.

Teri Cafe

3809 Plaza Dr., Oceanside

&

2216 South El Camino Real, Oceanside

#food #foodporn #foodie #japanesefood #oceanside #ramen #udon

 

Gourmet Artisan ~ Oceanside

Gourmet Artisan is a prime example of me coming up with a pre-formulated notion about a restaurant and then having them prove me completely wrong. While I have a pretty good radar based on years of experience and research applied deciding if I am going to check out a place it, as I am about to admit, it is not fool-proof.

Gourmet Artisan is one of those places whose exterior does a great job of masking the calibre of the food served within. unassuming, it does not stand out amongst the surrounding store fronts or display the offbeat character hinting at the potential of a hole-in-the-wall hidden gem.

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Gourmet Artisan ~ 409 Mission Ave. Oceanside. ( Downtown Oceanside in the Regal theater plaza.)

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Nice simple interior.

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The Menu ~ A nice range of sandwiches, salads, pastas, flat breads, pastries and smoothies. Due to the breadth of the menu, its location, adjacent to the theater and the beach, it is a perfect place for family outings or groups, as everyone should be able to find something that suits their tastes. What sets Gourmet Artisan apart from the other surrounding food options near by, is the quality of the ingredients they use and the fact they have a Chef constructing and executing the menu.

“It’s a restaurant of course they have a Chef”. No, there are plenty of restaurants, some a stone throws a way, that while they may have cooks, and may have very talented ones, they do not have a chef. It is even more rare in a fast casual setting.

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“Owner’s Favorite” Sandwich ~ Prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, marinated artichokes, confit tomatoes, fresh basil, and olive oil with a side salad.

I ordered this on my first visit and it is what brought me back for my second. The bread is delivered fresh daily from (funnily enough) Gourmet Artisan Bakery in Mira Mar (no relation) and is wonderful. The chibata had a crisp and flakey crust with a soft interior that is found in truly well crafted fresh bread. All the ingredients in the sandwich were of the highest quality, from the fresh mozzarella to the olive oil. It was a joy to eat.

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Chicken Marsala with rice.

After my first visit, having realized the error of my ways, I went back a second time to try more food and write an article. Originally, I was going top go with another one of their great sandwiches or a salad but the owner steered me to a new dish the chef had just added to the menu and was quite happy with.

It’s been a while since I have had Chicken Marsala but this is easily one of the best examples I have had of the dish. The rice, chicken and mushrooms were perfectly cooked but the sauce was the real star. The sauce had a great depth of flavor, a silky texture, and just enough acidity from the wine without being boozy.  It left me satisfied without being too full, which was great because I was surprised with a crepe for dessert.

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Crepe ~ Chocolate, fresh berries, ice cream, and whipped cream.

Though not a sweets person normally, I enjoyed the crepe and ice cream.

Gourmet Artisan is owned and operated by Adrien Cotto and his wife with the kitchen being helmed by Chef  Andrew Pinzon. It is definitely worth checking out and will be added to my normal downtown rotation.

Gourmet Artisan

409 Mission Ave. Oceanside

#food #foodporn #foodie #oceanside #sandwich #lunch #sandiego

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Sushi @ Wrench & Rodent ~ Oceanside

Sushi ~ a Japanese dish consisting of small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavored cold cooked rice served with a garnish of raw fish, vegetables, or egg.

Davin Waite has been regarded as one of the best sushi chefs in San Diego for quite some time now. Not only is his culinary skill recognized by the diners of his restaurants ( previously the Fish Joint and now Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub) but also among the Chef community in San Diego. He has, just through recognition of his talents by others, become an example of the strong culinary scene that has developed in North County over the last 5 to 6 years. I’ll stop there because you do not have to look hard to find similar accolades in various publications and websites touting his virtues and those of his food.

Lately, he has been expanding his efforts in creating increasingly diverse and complex vegetarian and vegan dishes. He has always had these options on his menu, or made dishes off the cuff for guests if requested, but I feel lately it is becoming more forefront.

With this in mind, I stopped in for a vegan omakasi meal, though a few fish dishes made their way to me as well as I am an omnivore and will eat anything he puts in front of me.

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Black pepper burnt cabbage nagiri.

A ton of flavor in these little guys. The preparation of the Cyclops Farms organic cabbage gave it a smokey flavor, making it a very savory dish.

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Dulse (seaweed) and tomato.

Another savory bite. The Dulse has a flavor that some compare to bacon, and while I did not get that 100%, it was a nice contrast against the sweet tomato.

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Barbecued beet with eel sauce.

Looking and tasting very close to eel nigiri, the texture of the beet was firmer differentiating itself and making this an interesting and tasty treat.

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Avocado, chili garlic, and chili oil.

lightest of the bites the avocado contrasted perfectly with the spice from the chili components on the dish.

All these dishes were interesting, exciting, and delicious. Wether part of an all vegan dinner or strewn throughout a regular omakase meal they will not disappoint.

As I had said, Davin threw in a fish dish before I even had a chance to order and I ordered a cooked dish from “The Whet Noodle”, his adjoining sister restaurant to Wrench & Rodent, just to bulk up the meal.

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Opah ~ Beet mash, kale kraut, lemon grass glaze, and lemon grass ash.

Opah is one of my favorite fish. This dish, especially the lemon grass glaze, made the fish shine. It does not look bad either:)

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Yellow Tail ~ Hatch chili romesco, herb quinoa, and fried okra.

Perfectly cooked yellow tail, a great sauce, and the best okra I have tasted. Another winner.

 

Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub

1815 South Coast Highway, Oceanside

 

#food #foodporn #foodie #seafood #sushi #vegan #vegetarian #oceanside #wrenchandrodent #organic

 

 

 

Stumblefoot Brewing & Mother Earth Brewing ~ San Marcos and Vista

Stumblefoot Brewing Co. and Mother Earth Brew Co.

All words and pictures by Justin Kunert

Near San Elijo Hills at the bottom of San Marcos, and south of the brewing and tasting room cluster where Vista, Carlsbad, and San Marcos meet, you’ll find Stumblefoot Brewing Company.  Open since 2012, it’s likely you’ve heard of or visited this spot before, or perhaps seen their sour ale, Quadraven, at bottle shops or liquor stores. But this spot may appear different from your last visit, as the company just changed ownership earlier this year.  With the change came a refreshed logo and an updated ambiance in the tasting room.  One thing that did not change is the brewer, and judging by the amount of people in the tasting room, the beer has maintained its quality taste and consistency that has kept it running since 2012.  I was eager to sample as many beers that legal blood alcohol limits would allow.

beer 1The beer line-up

I went for four 5 ounce tasters: Take This Job And Nugget  Session IPA (5.5%), Inner Penguin IPA (6.9%), Chester Brown Ale (5.5%), and QuadRaven Sour Ale (11.5%).  Chris ordered two half pours, opting for Cher-ish the Journey Cherry Kettle Sour (6%) and Strawberry Gose Sour (4.5%).  The standout for both of us was the QuadRaven, providing a noticeable pucker, slight malt backbone, and mild booziness, even at 11.5%.  The Brown Ale was unfiltered, an interesting take on recent brewing trends.  I felt it gave the beer a creamy texture, and lighter body.  The aroma on the Penguin really threw me off, I was expecting a more tropical fruit smell given it being a hazy IPA.  But it smelt more like a Belgian beer would, which I thought was really interesting.  The Session, Gose, and kettle sour were all really refreshing, especially on a hot day.

beer 2The brewing equipment at Stumblefoot

With no food options or food truck at Stumblefoot, we ventured into downtown Vista to visit Urbn Pizza and Mother Earth Brew Co.  Order pizza at Urbn and they will deliver it to you while you drink at Mother Earth.  I love this set up, it’s like having a permanent food truck at the brewery.

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Beers and backdrop at Mother Earth Brew Co.

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Clockwise from left: Say When, ESB, Rooftop, Sin Tax

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Urbn and IPA while at Mother Earth

While here, we both ordered the Extra Special Bitter (5.4%), Rooftop IPA (7.5%), Say When IPA (7.5%), and the Sin Tax Imperial Peanut Butter Stout (8.1%).  I love the ESB here; it is smooth, balanced, light, and has a wonderful maltiness on the nose and on the finish.  Definitely order it on your next visit, as it was a bronze medal winner at the 2016 Great American Beer Fest.  Sin Tax served as a perfect vessel for my last beer of the day.  After the always successful pizza and IPA combination, the peanut butter, chocolately, and roasty stout flavors of Sin Tax made the dessert like beer a perfect finish to the evening.

Stumblefoot Brewery

1784 La Costa Meadows Dr #103,
San Marcos,

 

Mother Earth Brew Co.

206 Mainstreet Vista

#food #foodporn #beer #brewery #microbrew #vista #sanmarcos #stumblefoot #motherearthbrewing #pizza

 

 

 

A Taste Of Oceanside 2017 ~ October 7th

Get your tickets early as it will sell out.  This is the 4th Year and has grown from 400 to 1000 attendees, thanks to the hard work of Mainstreet’s promotional committee, the great restaurants, and of course the attendees.

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Get tickets here.

#oceanside #tasteofoceanside #food #foodie