In our last column, we mentioned the impending arrival of Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas. Now that the restaurant has recently opened—and has already started packing them in—it’s a good time to take a look at the latest dining news in the city.
Another newcomer also made its debut recently at the opposite end of Coast Highway 101. Fish 101 in Leucadia bills itself as a “modern interpretation of a traditional West Coast fish house.” That translates to lighter, healthier dishes with a local, seasonal and sustainable focus, says chef John Park. Park co-owns the restaurant with his wife (and pastry chef) Jessica, and Ray Lowe, who runs the front of the house and worked with John in sushi restaurants in San Francisco, where the Parks were based before moving here.
“We use a lot of local product from the Carlsbad Aquafarm and aquafarms in Baja and Northern California,” says John, adding that all the seafood aligns with the watch program issued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “Our goal here is to be good stewards of the sea. Everything on the menu is really thought out and a responsible choice.”
The seafood is incorporated in dishes such as a made-from-scratch clam chowder boasting fresh Manila clams. Other menu items that have been early standouts are the grilled and Baja fish tacos and crudos, as well as the oyster bar. Attention to quality extends to the beverage menu, which includes San Diego craft microbrews as well as wine on tap, which John says can be found in only a handful of area restaurants and bars. “Essentially, some of the more progressive wineries are going straight from the barrel to the keg, so there’s no bottling costs, labeling or corks,” says John, adding that Fish 101 will be offering an organic Chardonnay soon.
Equal to the emphasis on fresh, seasonal food is the importance placed on building a community restaurant. The Parks, who have two young sons, want Fish 101 to be a local hangout that is casual and welcoming. That atmosphere is reinforced with details such as counter service and mason jars that serve as drink glasses. “I went to high school in Orange County and spent a lot of time in North County to surf,” John says. “I knew that someday when I had a family I wanted to live in North County.”
Right now, Fish 101 is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Next month, the restaurant will also start serving lunch. For more information, call 760-943-6221 or visit fish101restaurant.com.
Pacific Station should be full steam ahead this summer. Whole Foods Market has set June 29 as its opening day, starting at 9 a.m. You have until May 31 to vote on whether the Community Resource Center, the Encinitas Library or the Magdalena Ecke YMCA will be the recipient of five percent of the store’s net proceeds on its first Community Support Day; simply visit the Encinitas store’s Facebook page and click on the poll on the left.
In addition to Whole Foods, another long-gestating component of Pacific Station is due this summer. Matt Gordon, chef and owner of the acclaimed Urban Solace restaurant in North Park, says he hopes to have Solace and the Moonlight Lounge open in Encinitas in early July. While work at the Pacific Station restaurant is in full swing, Urban Solace has another big project under way: a 3,000-square-foot garden in Logan Heights. For more information, visit pacificstation.net.
It’s hard to miss the supersize that recently opened in the Village Square Shopping Center, in the spot where the previous Taco Bell building was razed. But the more interesting food story may be taking place in a much smaller space in the Encinitas Boulevard center. A new eatery named Zardo Organic Pasta is taking over a former self-serve yogurt shop.
There always seems to be a crowd clamoring for the grub at , and now there’s more room to accommodate everyone, thanks to new patio space. It’s sure to come in handy as even more people come to check out the “inauthentic Mexican” food that won Bull Taco the Golden Fork Award for the second year in a row at last week’s . For more information, call 760-635-3595 or visit bulltaco.com.
Local foodies will want to mark Sept. 8 on their calendar—it’s the date of the 2011 Taste of MainStreet, the popular sampling smorgasbord of downtown restaurants. This year marks a change from the event’s usual late August slot. Tess Radmill of the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association, which presents the Taste of MainStreet, says the change was made to accommodate restaurateurs, who are busy during the racing season at Del Mar. The $25 tickets will go on sale Aug. 18, and can be purchased at the DEMA office or online. For more information, call 760-943-1950 or visit encinitas101.com
has always been known for its breakfasts, but the restaurant has recently branched out: It’s now open for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with happy hour deals from 4 to 7 p.m. on those days. For more information, call 760-753-5411 or visit stgermainscafe.com.
Fight the battle against skin cancer at a fundraiser Wednesday at . The Cardiff stores and Dr. Melanie Palm of Surfside Dermatology are teaming up for a night of complimentary cocktails and appetizers, a raffle, music and a silent auction. If you buy anything during the event, you could qualify for a gift with purchase, and 15 percent of the sale will be donated to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The party takes place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the north courtyard of Cardiff Towne Center, located at 2021 San Elijo Ave. For more information, email email@example.com.
Moonlight in the Spotlight
Moonlight State Beach won the 2011 Best Restored Beach Award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, it was announced May 23. The city, which runs the state beach under a long-term lease, earned the honor for its sand replenishment projects.