Encinitas becoming a dining destination

With the recent announcement that the owners of Urban Solace, the award-winning North Park eatery, will be opening a new Encinitas restaurant, it became very apparent to me that Encinitas is transforming itself into a town any foodie would be proud to call home.
The new restaurant from GW Restaurant Group Inc. will combine Urban Solace’s signature comfort cuisine and service with menu items and décor inspired by the ocean and the local Encinitas community. Upstairs, there will be a full service bar, dining and entertainment space, called the Moonlight Lounge. The new restaurant will be located at 25 East E Street, right off Pacific Coast Highway, which is an amazing space.
The new restaurant’s Moonlight Lounge will offer an additional small plates menu, featuring cheeses, salumis, oysters and other cocktail and wine friendly eats. These dishes will be prepared at a live bar station upstairs. The full menu will be available at the Moonlight Lounge, as well. There will also be a seaside-version of Urban Solace’s famed Bluegrass Brunch every Saturday. How cool is that?
One of the design highlights that stood out is a 12-foot-long community table on the second floor to encourage guests to mingle and make new friends. I love this concept and have taken advantage of it many times while traveling solo on business. Look for this yet-to-be-named eatery to open in the spring of 2010. I can’t wait.
That, combined with our under-construction Whole Foods Market, will make it even more difficult for me to leave this oasis by the sea. I can name 20 Encinitas restaurants that prevent me from leaving the city limits on a regular basis, and the list may surprise a few. These are in no particular order and range from high brow to low brow and a few in-between. With that, I give you the Lick the Plate Encinitas top 20.
Savory consistently delights. Firefly Grill & Wine Bar and their ever-changing tasting menu. Third Corner for the steak frites and full menu till 1 a.m. Q’ero for an overall experience and the quail appetizer. Raul’s Shack for great soup on the cheap. La Especial Norte for the best soup around. Bull Taco for its innovative street tacos and deep fried catfish. Yu Me Ya Sake House for Udon noodle ecstasy. Trattoria i Trulli because it’s the best in an overcrowded Italian restaurant town and Daniela rocks. Juanita’s because it’s the best late night budget chow down around and they have done something different and amazing with their fish tacos. Vigilucci’s Pizzeria for the egg and asparagus pizza. Ogata for budget-minded sushi. Brett’s BBQ satisfies my regular BBQ jones. Pannikin quiche and pies rock my am world on a regular basis. Calypso Café simply because it’s just such a cool vibe and their dedication to live music.
Annel & Drew’s Kitchen at the Leucadia Farmer’s Market for the best Cuban sandwich in town. East Coast Pizza in Cardiff serving a righteous slice o’ pie. Kim’s Vietnamese out of pure authentic goodness. Mozy Café for a dose of funky Leucadia healthiness. And finally, simply because it’s such a random combination that makes me chuckle every time I pass it by, Chinatown Chinese and Italian. First of all, I want to know who is ordering Italian food at a Chinese restaurant given all the choices for Italian food in Encinitas? To be fair, I will admit I order Chinese there occasionally and it is perfectly satisfying and a much better option than driving over the hill to the generic Pei Wei. But hey, it’s complete randomness like this that puts the “fun” in funky Leucadia.
With that, this list could change by the time this article goes to print, but for now, that’s what I’m feeling about the culinary scene in Encinitas. It’s a good thing being a surfer/foodie living in Encinitas right now and I only see that getting better. Now if we can support a live theater group we will be on to something truly well-rounded.

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