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Amazing artichoke at Mr. Peabody's in Encinitas. Photo by David Boylan
Amazing artichoke at Mr. Peabody's in Encinitas. Photo by David Boylan
CitiesColumnsEncinitasFood & WineLick the Plate

Mr. Peabody’s still thriving in Encinitas

On my semi-regular visits to the Moonlight Marketplace shopping center over the past few years, it’s always been good to see Mr. Peabody’s bustling. It’s been 13 years since I first heaped praise on this killer food and music joint that was and is still run by Brie Cardosa.

I thought it was time to revisit this Encinitas gem and share its charms with a new round of readers who have not been or maybe just needed a reminder that there are solid restaurants east of the 101 in unexpected places.

First, a brief history of the family behind Peabody’s, as their story is a good one. Brie’s dad, Bobby Cardosa, ran establishments like Fish House West in Cardiff when buying fresh fish from the last of the Cardiff Dorymen was still in practice.

This was pure, old-school Cardiff with fresh fish purchased right off the beach — does it get much better? Bobby went on to open Fish House West Seafood Products on 2nd and I Streets in Encinitas and the first Peabody’s in Mission Valley in 1995.

Brie started working with him in 1999 and has been a partner since 2005, still running the day-to-day operations at their current Encinitas location. The fact that this family has been around that long and not only survived but thrived in a fickle and constantly changing restaurant world is worthy of admiration…and support.

One of my top 5 French Dip, or Prime Dip, sandwiches. Photo by David Boylan
One of my top 5 French Dip, or Prime Dip, sandwiches. Photo by David Boylan

OK, I walk into Peabody’s on a Thursday around 5:30 p.m., and the place is hopping. They run a solid daily food and beverage happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. that is worth checking out.

Some highlights from that menu include three wings and three ribs for $8.99, two fish tacos for $3.99, and a nice serving of baby back ribs for $10.99.

I had my eyes on three items I’ve not had at Peabody’s but really needed to try. The first is a classic Shrimp Cocktail, with five very nice-sized shrimp hooked over a glass goblet on a bed of lettuce. The red cocktail sauce and horseradish are there for easy dipping. Some thought was put into this presentation, and it was delicious. And at $7.99, which, in my opinion, is a solid value.

Then there was the simply named Artichoke. Given my first agency was called Artichoke Creative, and I grew them for years, I’m still a bit of a freak for artichokes. You never know how an artichoke will be served at a restaurant, and most of the time, it leaves you wanting more.

Crazy good shrimp cocktail at Mr. Peabody's in Encinitas. Photo by David Boylan
Crazy good shrimp cocktail at Mr. Peabody’s in Encinitas. Photo by David Boylan

That is so not the case at Peabody’s. Out came three sizable halves, so really, you get one and a half artichokes, and they were hot, the choke was removed and had a nice creamy jalapeno sauce for dipping. This could easily be split, and for $8.99, another solid value. It says “when available” on the menu, but my server assured me it has not been unavailable since she can remember.

As you may remember from a column a few years back, I’ve been known to hop on an Amtrak train to Los Angeles for a French Dip from Philippe’s, the storied birthplace of one of my favorite sandwiches.

So when I saw the Prime Dip on Peabody’s menu, with thinly sliced certified Angus prime rib, pepper jack, and Ortega chile on French Bread with a super fine cup of au jus, I was all over that. Wow. I’d put this right up there with the best of them and definitely more convenient.

And it’s a huge portion with your choice of fries or Bleu Caesar. While we are on the topic, their Prime Rib has been a crowd-pleasing favorite for years. Weekend brunch is still always busy, and lunch is also going strong.

Of course, they have a full bar. Mr. Peabody’s sources tortillas, buns, and a good portion of its menu ingredients locally. Many of the dishes on the menu are made in-house from scratch, and the portions are hearty.

Before I run out of space here, I must mention the live music scene that is still going very strong at Peabody’s. This includes Sunday jazz jams, open mic nights, karaoke, and some of the best bands in the area, including one of my favorites, Brenda Gail. It’s worth keeping an eye on their website or social media, as they really do offer a diverse mix of music.

I’m very happy to report that 13 years later, Mr. Peabody’s is going stronger than ever. If you’ve not been, it’s definitely worth checking out and including in your regular local restaurant mix.

Check out their menu and band lineup online at www.peabodysrocks.com.

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