This was tough to narrow down to 20 as the area has given me so many good things to write about in the past year. With that, let’s get down on it.
I’ll start with the addictive Blue Ribbon Artisanal Pizzeria in the Lumberyard. I raved about it in September and that rave is stronger than ever. It’s full every night, has a great soundtrack, and just completely rocks the pizza. I go in for a craft beer and order a pizza to go quite often now. The smell of the pie next to me on the drive home is crazy good and almost unbearable. My Father’s pizza is still my favorite with the homemade everything and amazing fennel sausage. Kristi runs the front of the house effortlessly while Wade stokes the fire and bakes the magical pies. Go there now.
Next up big national shout out for Juanita’s in a recent New York Times Wednesday food section. Sam Siftons best of 2010 included this line about the fish tacos. “And the fish tacos I crushed on the sidewalk in front of Juanita’s Taco Shop in Encinitas, Calif. Them, too.”
Juanita’s was my favorite story to write last year as she has just been so much a part of my life over the years. Then to see a mention by the best food writer in the country made me smile.
Market in Del Mar blew me away. I expected greatness and was not disappointed.
I did not write about Seaside Market in 2010 but rediscovered their deli, which is all-time and now my most desired lunch destination. Julie’s organic ice cream sandwiches are best in class, by far, and the Basiltops pesto … OK, I could go on and on and I will in a column soon. On top of the food, their new solar system on the front awning is stunning.
Finally made it to Kim’s and wondered why I had not been there to that point.
Lotus Café reminded me that healthy can be delicious. Loved the freshness about everything there.
Yu me Ya Saki House was a delight to write about. The intimate space, attractive crowd and world class udon noodles make it a good place to be.
East Village gave me renewed faith in the Asian fusion concept as they pull it off on many levels.
Paon in Carlsbad served up the best pheasant risotto combo I’ve ever had. I’m a big fan of game and with pheasant, duck, and venison on the menu, I was quite happy. The pan roasted pheasant and risotto with wild mushrooms, Swiss chard and truffle killed it.
Annel and Drew’s kitchen catered an event I produced at Peder and Julie Norby’s Carlsbad home and vineyard and wowed their guests with their Cuban sandwiches and uber fresh salads. They are doing great things at the Leucadia and Oceanside farmers markets with local ingredients given their magic touch.
The Encinitas Café got its long overdue shout out and continues to serve up solid old school diner food.
Besides their stellar beers, Stone Brewing Company’s World Café did just about everything right. The all-natural 13-ounce buffalo ribeye steak finished with chipotle butter and served with Cheswick aged white cheddar organic mashed sweet potatoes and fresh local greens was my choice of entrée. I’m a big fan of “tatonka” as the Lakota Sioux call it and Chef Alex Carballo did it perfectly.
Brett’s BBQ continues to be my local go to source for smoked goodness done right. I just really like what they do there. No cutting corners and it shows. Besides the meaty delights the bread pudding, which is the sole dessert choice, is the best I’ve had and worthy enough to stand proudly solo on the menu.
I went out on a limb and proclaimed my favorite San Diego restaurant to be Café Chloe and it totally deserves it but that is being seriously challenged by Kitchen 1540 at L’Auberge in Del Mar.
Dinner with Surf Writer Chris Ahrens at La Especial Norte was memorable on many fronts. Great stories flowed and the food as always was so good.
Great burgers everywhere including D Street, Encinitas Ale House, Lumberyard Bar & Grill and The Counter.
Raul’s Shack continued to serve up the best value priced soup that is delicious and healing with its big chunks of avocado, chicken, rice and fresh tortillas.
OK, that’s 20, and it really is tough to stop writing. The food scene in North County is getting better daily. Three is so much going on in the culinary world around us and so many more plates to lick. I’m looking forward to more of it in 2011.
Filed Under: Lick the Plate