Oceanside was never known as a “foodie” town. Not until Roddy Browning opened the Flying Pig a couple of years ago did any local restaurant get rave reviews by food critics who mattered.Now Browning is looking to Vista to clone his second pig.
There is still no movement on the long vacant Flying Bridge restaurant, easily the best dining room-with-a-view in San Diego County. It overlooks the harbor, the pier and, on a clear day, Catalina Island. And the long closed Mira Mar restaurant down the street (where Highway 76 dumps into Coast Highway) remains shuttered.
But there is a lot happening on the local restaurant scene. Look for a new sushi venue to open on Coast Highway in South Oceanside in the next couple of weeks. A Buffalo Wild Wings is planned for the building that used to house Red Lobster adjacent to state Route 78.
And although he isn’t ready to disclose its name yet, a chef who has trained at two different culinary institutes is working on opening a “California coastal cuisine” in October.
Ryan Jubela is waiting for approval from the city of Oceanside for his plans for his new eatery on the 200 block of S. Coast Highway in a building that has been vacant for three years.
“It sold customized wheels and tires,” says Jubela. “It’s never been a restaurant before.” It currently has the words “Wheel Store” along the front.
As any cafe owner will tell you, installing grease traps, proper cooking vents and all the fixtures is a very costly and time consuming venture.
Jubela says he was inspired by Willie’s Raw Bar in Healdsburg, Calif. “We will have seafood, oysters as well as pulled pork or spare ribs and vegetarian. We want to have small servings so people will try five or six different things. We want to have everything as fresh and as local and as seasonal as possible.”
I asked him what local cafe comes anything close to what he wants to do. “That would be 333 and the Flying Pig. There is nothing else in Oceanside besides them. People in Oceanside are starving for this.”
Unlike 333, which overlooks the pier, he says his new venture will be more affordable. “This is not La Jolla.”
He says he will start with a quality beer and wine selection but eventually wants to have a full bar.
The biggest problem is parking. “There is really no parking for any business on Coast Highway. We do have nine spaces (along the side). Everyone else will have to park on Coast Highway.” He says he is working on leasing a lot for parking.
While Jubela is going through all the hoops to get his plans approved, another restaurant hopeful did not follow the same path.
The new owners of the building that housed the now closed Azafran Cuban restaurant on the 1000 block of S. Coast Highway started remodeling after taking possession of the property. But a few weeks ago the city posted a “stop work” demand on the building since no discussions or plans were shared with the city, according to a building department staffer. Rumors have swirled about the future of the building that housed a florist in the ‘70s.
Oh, and let’s not forget this trivial but important Oceanside culinary item: the Dairy Queen on Mission and Cleveland now serves Orange Julius drinks.
Brew This, Tap That
And after many delays, the major brewing equipment has finally arrived at Legacy Brewing, located in the building that housed the Transworld Surf media group, on Airport Road, just south of Highway 76. It is assumed that the place will open just as soon as the first batch is ready, probably in six weeks or so.
Across the street from Legacy is Tap That. Opened by Travis and Kelly Esquibel three years ago, Tap That originally serviced parties and private parties with tapping equipment, kegerators and kegged beer. At its new location since March, the current Tap That has their rental tap business in the front and a tap room in the back, with 20 taps, featuring brew from local breweries like Belching Beaver, Rip Current, Green Flash, Latitude 33 and St. Archer. This allows potential customers to sample beer before they throw a Tap That-furnished party, or locals who just like a good beer to sit at the bar and enjoy.
The Tap That grand opening is 3 to 10 p.m. July 20, and will be catered (while food lasts). There is also a bottle shop up front that allows you to take 22 ouncers home.
Beach shorts redux
Oceanside continues to evolve as a craft beer mecca. Oceanside Ale Works, our first in-town brewery, is planning to open a beer tasting room at 507 N. Coast Highway. The seven-year old brewery will still maintain its brewery and tasting room at an industrial park off of Oceanside Boulevard. This new tasting room to be called Surfside Taproom will only serve OAW product (just as Stone Brewery’s satellite tasting room on Tremont Street only serves Stone product).
The OAW adjunct is planned for 507 N. Coast Highway where Ocean Breeze Flowers has been based for six years. The only problem is that Ocean Breeze says it still has five years left on its lease. This could get interesting.
Across the street from Ocean Breeze is Jitters Coffee, which many locals know serves up great breakfasts on weekends and fresh java all week long. Local singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, who has lived in east Oceanside for years, has become a regular at Jitters. His presence has apparently attracted other big names passing through Oceanside, including actor Neil Patrick Harris and singer Colbie Caillat.
Word has it that the building that housed the old Vaughan’s Market on Coast Highway (across the street from Anita’s) has been purchased by Las Vegas developers who will convert it to a restaurant.
And while there is no activity at the old Mira Mar restaurant building (where Highway 76 dumps into Coast Highway), the adjacent lot on the corner of Neptune and Coast Highway will soon be auctioned off to the highest bidder by the city of Oceanside which owns that parcel. Look for commercial or mixed use.
Oceanside born and raised, Ken Leighton writes columns for The Coast News, the San Diego Reader and is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at [email protected]