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The foodie members of Dorothy & Bill, from left, Billy Schwartz, Nell Blevins, Walter Bitts, John Finkbiner and Matt Weaver. Photo by David Boylan
Columns Lick the Plate

Lick the Plate: Where killer local band Dorothy & Bill eats around town

If you have been out and about in the coastal Encinitas music and art scene over the past 20 years, there is a good chance you have come across the stellar artist and musician John Finkbiner. John, along with his super cool wife Judi, have been a part of several bands including The Stereotypes and Lo-Fi Nipple that play primarily original music that is really good and always has folks moving on the dance floor.

Their latest band, Dorothy & Bill, is as tight and fun as anything they’ve done in the past but with a more nuanced sound that will still have you shaking it around but also appreciating their talented songwriting. John describes it as “Psychedelic Garage-Folk Rock ‘n Roll.” In a perfect world, songs like their “Paint You by Numbers” would be in heavy radio rotation.

If you have found yourself in a cover band funk and want to hear some fun, danceable live music from some talented local musicians, check out Dorothy & Bill on at 9 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at 1st Street Bar in downtown Encinitas. After sitting in on a recent rehearsal, our talk turned to food and restaurants and I thought it would be fun to let the band take over LTP for the week. With that, I present where the band members of Dorothy & Bill like to eat around North County.

I’ll start with vocalist and rhythm guitarist extraordinaire John Finkbiner. John’s picks include Viewpoint Brewery in Del Mar where he says, “The view is great and the atmosphere is fantastic but the beer by Moe is the real winner here. Add in delicious food and a clever menu and I keep going back.”

Tony’s Jacal in Solana Beach is another favorite. “This is the real deal. Their wagon wheel chandeliers, fireplace, warm tile floors and an abundance of art gives it amazing ambience. Their Mexican plates and Cadillac margaritas are to die for.”

John shares my affinity for Pannikin. He digs the “old wooden floors, tall doors, multi-level seating and patio with Adirondack chairs and that each month features a local artist.” He wanted to give a shout out to The French Café in Leucadia. “The back patio is perfect for writing and my favorite is the French roast iced coffee with anything on the menu.” I should add that they have very good simple ham and cheese baguette sandwiches.

Lead guitarist Billy Schwartz decided to give all his culinary love to Hello Betty Fish House in Oceanside. “If you’re looking for great food and cocktails at a reasonable price then Hello Betty’s in Oceanside is where it’s at. It’s a fish house in Oceanside right off Mission Avenue on the coast with a great selection of food and drinks with both seafood and other options. Along with the ocean view and a rooftop patio it also offers a tremendous happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. I really enjoy the salmon sliders and the smoked fish tacos on the happy hour menu and for dinner I always order the Salmon Platter that is a half of a pound of mesquite grilled salmon with your choice of two generous sides. I highly recommend this spot to all locals and visitors alike.” Nicely put Billy, it may be time for me to revisit Betty’s.

Drummer Wally Bitts keeps the backbeat solid in Dorothy & Bill and kept his list tight and to the point. He started with Kaito saying, “This small gem is tucked away but is the real deal for great sushi. The fish is fresh and the service is great. Please don’t tell a lot of people because I don’t want to wait for a spot.” Sorry man, too late. He rounded out his list with Duffs at the Beach for pizza and beer. “I like the vibe here and the staff is nice and friendly and you can get a slice and mason jar of local beer.”

Next on his list is Goodonya. “It’s super fresh food, offers organic wine and is locally owned.  Order their zucchini brownies for sure.” He rounded out his picks with Biergarden in Encinitas for its “great people watching and day drinking, solid Bloody Mary’s and a nice brunch menu. I also like Cotixan on El Camino Real in Encinitas for drive-thru Mexican food, but I mainly go for the orange hot sauce, which is the best in town. I usually will buy a pint or more for parties.” Nice tip Wally, it’s on my list!

Nell Blevins is the super talented guitarist and vocalist and we share many local favorites.  Bestawan in Cardiff tops her list. “This is hands down this is my favorite place to eat. Everything here is delicious and consistent. Features I will get regularly are the mini corn dogs, Cabo San Lucas Chicken Salad, and of course just a Banks Pizza sans the pineapple. They make their pizza here the way they do in the Midwest, which is where I’m from. The toppings go underneath an ungodly amount of cheese and if you ask them they will cut it in squares the way it should always be cut in my opinion.” I’m with you on the square cut pizza Nell!

The Pillbox Tavern and Saddle Bar is Nell’s go-to for Sunday football where she can go next door to Pill and place an order and they deliver to Saddle. Favorites for her are the Dante’s Inferno Wings with blue cheese straight from Hades itself. We also share an affinity for Fish 101 in Leucadia. “This spot is literally a minute walk from the casa. And it’s nice to know people. Brian, Miguelito, Jorge and Kyle frequent where I work which is next door (the Leu) and my favorites here are pretty standard. Fish Taco with everything on the side and a side of house requested hot chipotle salsa. I love the veggie sides also so if your friends are into the non-meat stuff they can eat there too! And I love the Seafood Curry which is a sizable portion.”

She takes it up the coast next to Local Tap House and Pho Oceanside. “The cocktails are on point at LTP plus a great beer selection and Quinoa Burger is my go-to.  When I’m up in O’side Pho Oceanside is the place … pho-sho. I’m not a vegetarian by any standard of the word but hands down it’s the best veggie pho around.” Nice picks Nell; let’s do oysters at Fish 101 soon!

Bass player Matt Weaver provides another one-stop love fest for Crust in Solana Beach. Its known as a pizza place but the menu is much deeper. The Italian beef sandwich with sausage is unbelievable. The Garbage Salad, ahi poke and the sausage sliders are unreal. For pizza, I get the Elle and add pepperoni on it. All the pizzas are named after females, case in point the Kelly and the Jennifer. They have a gluten-free pizza also that is excellent. The bar is great and serves full alcohol plus plenty of TV’s for games. The music is always good and usually is rock ‘n’ roll.  We just need them to get Dorothy & Bill on the system! The best part of Crust is the staff. The owners are extremely accommodating and the bartenders and servers are personable and provide excellent service.” I will be checking that place out, thanks Matt and the whole band for your fine suggestions.

Catch Dorothy & Bill Thursday, May 10 at 9 p.m. at 1st Street Bar in Encinitas. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Lick the Plate has interviewed over 700 chefs, restaurateurs, growers, brewers and culinary personalities over the past 10 years as a column in The Coast News and in Edible San Diego. He can be heard on KSON, FM94/9 and Sunny98.1. More at