“I love to take something ordinary and make it really special.”
~Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa
Everywhere I go, I try to experience the local fare. Food is such an integral part of travel; it allows you to delve into the local experience. Whether it is domestic or international, I always try to sample the local cuisine.
So even though I have been to Encinitas and Carlsbad a number of times, I decided to branch out and try some different dining experiences, outside of Fidel’s Little Mexico, which we always enjoy. Here are some new favorites that stuck out that I just had to share. (And make sure you make it all the way to the end because the last place has changed my dining expectations forever.)
The 3rd Corner Wine and Bistro
This little gem is right in the heart of Encinitas, and it features over 800 wines from around the world for purchase. And a fantastic brunch with bottomless mimosas for only $20.95, total. Sweet deal!
We went to town at this brunch. I ordered the chilaquiles with scrambled eggs instead of fried eggs. Chilaquiles are tortilla chips smothered in salsa or enchilada sauce, topped with eggs, cilantro and cheese. It was savory and delicious and definitely one of the best plate chilaquiles I have had in Southern California, which is saying a lot. The breakfast potatoes were perfectly seasoned and the mimosas flowed plenty.
And then there was dessert. The Chocolate Turtle Torte with Vanilla Gelato. Chocolate. Turtle. Torte. Vanilla. Gelato. Let that one sink in. (Not to mention the caramel and pecans.) It was amazing and rich and clearly we only had a couple of bites.
All in all, this was a restaurant I would definitely visit again. Brunch is Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. And I loved the outdoor patio facing out to the main street in Encinitas was quaint.
Just next door to the Courtyard Marriott Solana Beach is a little restaurant called Bangkok Bay, which serves up delicious Thai food. After a long drive, I walked the several steps over the restaurant, and just barely beat the huge rush.
I started with a cocktail. I don’t love coconut, but I love mango, so instead of their typical Mango Martini with a coconut sake, the waitress whipped me up a ‘Mango a Go Go,’ which was all mango deliciousness topped with mango slices. I had two.
Then, because I wanted to try a sampling of appetizers, I ordered the Bangkok Bay Boat. It was a little of everything: Chicken satay, golden flowers, golden fingers (shrimp wontons), a star ton, and spring rolls. It was delicious. I don’t eat items like crab Rangoon often, but the Star Ton, a wonton filled with cream cheese and avocado was delicious. All of the items were great and it was a wonderful sampling of everything. Clearly, I took some to go.
I also ordered the crab fried rice. It came with huge chunks of real crab meat and it was so flavorful.
But you know what else it was? Spicy. The waitress asked what level of heat I like. Those who know me know that I am a huge lover of spicy food. But this is Thai food, so spicy tends to take on a different meaning. So I decided to play it safe and order the rice at a level 5, which is supposed to be medium spice.
Wooooo, child! Their five does not equal my five. It definitely had some serious kick and cleared my sinuses a bit. But it was delicious and I would definitely return (but maybe order a level 4).
Pacific Coast Grill
I wanted to experience a restaurant right on the beach and the Pacific Coast Grill did not let me down. The restaurant was literally right on the beach with a lower patio that was on the sand and an upstairs covered patio that overlooked the beach and ocean.
The view was spectacular and so was the food. And drinks. I started with a Mai Thai and it was massive. Perfect blending and presentation. You could swim in it!
As an appetizer, we had the Lobster & Dungeness Crab Guacamole. It was a game changer. Never had I heard of a lobster and crab guac and it was awesome!
As entrees, so we could try everything we shared the Bag O’ Bonz and the Lobster BLT. We had the Lobster BLT on brioche bread and it was full of rich lobster salad with crispy applewood smoked bacon. The Bag O’ Bonz was a literal bag of bones: Applewood smoked Hawaiian style baby back ribs with fresh cut fries. Again, not a rib girl… but these ribs were heavenly. The Hawaiian style sauce really complimented the tender meat that fell off the bones. We were so full we didn’t even order dessert… and that was my only meal of the day.
Next time, though, I am going to be sure to make it a sunset dinner. That will be perfection.
Solace and the Moonlight Lounge
This place changed me. Period. My friends set up “brunch” at this corner restaurant in Encinitas and casually mentioned that we had to have the cinnamon rolls. We got there and enjoyed a carafe of mimosas. We ordered 3 cinnamon rolls for a table of 6 (5 adults and 1 child), and a couple of us lamented only ordering 3 cinnamon rolls for the table.
We were dead wrong. These cinnamon rolls were massive! And yes, that is cream cheese frosting on top along with an optional pecan glaze sauce. We took one bite and dropped our forks. A collective “MMMMMMMM” came from everyone at the table. It was like magic.
After that, I didn’t know how my meal, a breakfast burrito with green tomatillo salsa could even compare to the decadence we were experiencing at the moment. But alas, my bacon and cheese breakfast burrito was delicious as well. It was the perfect blend of flavors with the breakfast potatoes being slightly soft to make the burrito soft, not crunchy.
Everything on the table looked good. I tried a couple of fries, and they were amazing. Even the Bloody Mary’s looked excellent, and are in fact called Hot Hot Mary’s because of the chipotle and Serrano infused vodka.
My friend explained that whenever people come in town they say, “Okay, let’s go to brunch,” and it is always implied that it means taking a trip to Solace and the Moonlight. Now I see why. And I fully agree.