The Coast News Group
The Herman Cook Volkswagen crew
The Herman Cook Volkswagen crew, from left, Allison Mote, Connor Cook, Jon Thompson and Jojo Bott. Photo by David Boylan
Columns Food & Wine Lick the Plate

Where Herman Cook Volkswagen eats around town

As the previous owner of a Volkswagen Dasher station wagon in college, I’m a big fan of the brand and our iconic local dealership, Herman Cook Volkswagen in Encinitas. I recently connected with the group after they decided to power the dealership with solar installed by my day job employer, Stellar Solar.

Those meetings led to some fun conversations about everything from the history of the dealership, the cool vehicles they have sold over the years including their amazing new electric cars, and of course the evolution of the local food scene with Connor Cook, general manager and third-generation Cook VW co-owner.

Given those synergies, I extended an invitation to Connor and some of his staff to have some fun and take over this week’s column.

Sales consultant Jojo Bot shares my love of the Encinitas Café and Q’ero

“I love the comfort food they offer, particularly the open face turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. It reminds me of a coffee shop we had growing up.

“The family-owned Q’ero Peruvian is another favorite and right across the street. Their Crispy Yuka spears and the famous Chicha Morada — a traditional Peruvian drink made of purple corn boiled with cinnamon cloves and fruit — are a must.

“Swami’s Cafe is my go-to for a healthy Swami’s veggie mix juice, açaí bowl and California scramble stacked full of veggies, avocado and bacon.”

I’m with you on all those places Jojo, nice picks!

Sales Manager Jon Thompson lives in Carlsbad but gravitates to Cardiff

“My favorite spot in Cardiff is Besta-Wan Pizza. I did not know Besta-Wan was more than just pizza until I experienced this place for myself. My favorite choices are the ‘Banks’ from the pizza menu and the French Dip and sometimes I throw in a riff and go for the Chili Plate.

“Also in Cardiff is VG Donut & Bakery. It’s nice to see the entire baking operation while you are waiting in line and it’s worth the wait.

“If I had to choose one final meal, my last supper so to speak, it would be the Cowboy Bone-In Ribeye at Pacific Coast Grill. This 18oz steak combined with the fingerling potatoes and bacon-wrapped asparagus is my idea of the perfect meal. I ask for the bone to go which provides hours of enjoyment for Roxy, my Chiweenie.”

Thanks for the tip on the ribeye Jon, it is now on my shortlist!

Allison Mote, office administrator at Cook VW, takes us to Solana Beach

“My all-time favorite place to eat is Tony’s Jacal. It has been there forever, and I never stray from the “a su gusto,” which means “as you like it,” with a turkey taco and a cheese enchilada. Whether you’re sitting inside or out on the patio you will feel like you’re vacationing in Mexico. While you’re there, grab yourself a pitcher of margaritas, they are classic and refreshing.

“Another favorite is Borrelli’s Pizza & Italian Food in Encinitas. I grew up going there every Friday night. My friends would want to come to my house because they knew that was what was for dinner! Trust me, the white broccoli pizza is garlicky and delicious, and includes a vegetable!

“Lastly, Sushi Huku in San Marcos. I know everyone has their go-to sushi place, but this is hands down the best. It’s always fresh and it’s a fun atmosphere. Jay, the owner will make you feel like family — sake shots for everyone!”

Connor Cook wraps up our takeover column with some fine selections and a worthy debate. He leads it off with Buona Forchetta in Encinitas.

“If you’re craving a night in Italy, stop in at Buona Forchetta. My wife and I love to share a bottle of wine over a wood-fired Nicola pizza with mushrooms, prosciutto di Parma and truffle oil. The Lasagna Bolognese will make you feel like you’re dining on the side streets of Florence.

“For Japanese, it’s Samurai that has been family owned and operated since 1979 and was the first Japanese restaurant in North County. My friends and I have been sharing cold, unfiltered bottles of sake while sitting around their infamous Teppanyaki tables for years.

“I order their filet mignon off the Teppan menu, which is cooked to perfection right in front of you. The plate comes with the best miso soup in town, salad, shrimp appetizer, veggies and rice. Their dragon roll is always a favorite and don’t forget to order the freshest maguro sashimi you’ve ever had.

“The great debate between Tony’s Jacal vs Fidel’s rages on at Cook VW. Allison may love Tony’s, but I always opt for Fidel’s when given the chance. My family has been coming here for celebrations since I was a child and my parents started coming when Fidel was still cutting hair and just starting to sell tacos.

“The two-story house has long since been converted to a restaurant, but you will always feel at home when eating their delicious enchiladas and crunchy tacos. Their Cadillac margaritas are second to none and I can never get enough of their bottomless chips and salsa. When the mariachi band starts playing, you know you’re in the right place.”

And there you have it, folks. A sampling of where this iconic 50-year-old Encinitas Volkswagen dealership eats around town. Check out their full line of gas, hybrid and electric vehicles at

Leave a Comment