The Crack Shack #2 Opening in Encinitas

This past Tuesday the littlest and I headed out to Encinitas to check out the latest from Juniper & Ivy owner Michael Rosen and acclaimed Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais. The Crack Shack Encinitas, the second location of their fast casual concept restaurant that originated in Little Italy, is opening up on Monday, 2/13 at 9am. 

Occupying a former Coco’s – originally a Bob’s Big Boy circa 1975 – on the bustling corner of Encinitas Boulevard and Calle Magdalena, The Crack Shack Encinitas brings the brand’s playful approach to traditional chicken and eggs to coastal North County. Even the toddlers will want to come back again and again after enjoying this deliciousness! 

Just like their location to the south,  The Crack Shack Encinitas menu features an all-day selection devoted to fried (or grilled) chicken and egg-centric dishes conceptualized by Chefs Blais and Jon Sloan (Juniper & Ivy Executive Chef.) However, the new location will expand its offerings with the addition of their six signature sauces on tap, and an espresso bar fueled by the local Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.

The Food

Sourcing both produce and proteins from boutique local farms, the menu utilizes free range, non-GMO eggs and high-end organic ingredients while relying on its own custom bread program to produce hundreds of handcrafted English muffins daily. My little one’s favorite part of the menu? The “deviled chickens” or deviled eggs. The delicious eggs are paired with candied bacon and a french toast crumble to create a tasty 2-3 bite appetizer. 

Other menu highlights include The Royale with savory chicken sausage, organic sunny side egg and smoked cheddar on a house made English muffin, the Firebird with spicy fried thigh, cool ranch, crispy onions, and pickles on a potato roll, Fried Chicken available in five or ten piece portions, hearty Matzo Ball Posole with braised chicken, lime, schmaltz, and all the fixins’, as well as lighter options such as the Downward Dog with local vegetables, hazelnuts, quinoa, hummus, kale, lemon yogurt vinaigrette and option to add a fried egg and the newly revamped Kale Salad with sliced apples, goat cheese, hazelnuts and champagne vinaigrette. But my favorite salad has to be the Baja Chop. Absolutely outstanding! 

The Crack Shack’s signature topping-centric Soft Serve will also be making its way to the Encinitas location, in addition to a variety of other desserts to complement the savory side of the menu.

To seamlessly balance the restaurant’s chicken- and egg-inspired menu, The Crack Shack Encinitas will feature a full bar program with craft cocktails developed by Bar Manager Eric Johnson, while also offering 32 taps – including two on nitro – of local craft beer and wine at their 18-seat wraparound bar. Mindful of the range of meal opportunities presented by the all-day menu, Johnson’s drink list has been fashioned with something to appeal to imbibers at any and every point in the day, and the beverage program will also include a variety of options catering to those abstaining from alcohol. 

We were able to chat with Eric and are excited to come back and try some of the tasty cocktails he’s crafting up. Including some beer cocktails, classic flavors, and a few locally highlighted breweries on tap. 

The Ambiance

With the keen attention to detail they applied at the original location, Bluemotif Architecture is back again with a strong emphasis on the overall experience that The Crack Shack Encinitas will provide, and design elements that play to that mindset. In addition to staying consistent with signature elements from Little Italy – custom-made tables, bocce ball court (that can be turned into a putting green if needed) – The Crack Shack Encinitas will feature a kid-friendly sandbox and chalkboard wall, an all-weather outdoor dining area with retractable roof, chicken-themed American Gothic mural, custom chandelier, and a semi-private room with fireplace and multiple large screen TV screens along with the restaurant’s now signature nine-foot-tall chicken statue.

If you have small kids, this outdoor area is the perfect place for you to enjoy good food and a good beer while still entertaining the little ones. The one thing the little one wanted to do when we got there was jump into the sand box. Too bad it had rained the night before! Next time we come back, it’s on! 

Keeping the original bones and concrete floors from the Coco’s overhaul, additional construction of The Crack Shack Encinitas has centered around a focus on sustainability and an homage to the true chicken ‘coop’. Each design element has a story to tell from the reclaimed corrugated metal roofing that was part of an actual chicken barn to the communal table benches made from local Torrey pines that fell naturally due to weather or age. The landscaping is deliberately native and drought-tolerant, while solar panels on the roof work to offset power consumption. Additionally, the design team has incorporated chicken coop wire to surround the outdoor fire pit, as well as stained mirrors, vintage inspired tiles and a trough-style sink, all reminiscent of the mid-century chicken farms that defined portions of American history.

From the custom-made communal tables, including one with seating for 10 along an open fire pit, to the various large screen TVs, low Adirondack-style chairs, and turf court that can be utilized for bocce, cornhole and mini-golf, the indoor-outdoor dining area was intentionally designed to encourage guests to eat, drink and linger throughout the day, while the retractable roof eliminates weather concerns that are sometimes a consideration at the Little Italy location. 

Meanwhile, those opting to take their meal to-go experience an expedited ordering process from a walk-up station that affords the opportunity to skip long lines at the main entrance.

Whatever way you choose to enjoy The Crack Shack – dine in or take out – I suggest just heading over and trying a little of everything! 

The Crack Shack is located at 407 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, CA. For complete information, visit: www.crack-shack.com.

You can follow The Crack Shack on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Cafe Coyote Old Town Celebrates Mexican Independence All Month

Cafe Coyote Old Town

One thing I always remember about growing up is how my dad raved about his father’s homemade tortillas on the weekends. He always was bummed that he never got the chance to learn how to make them himself. The pre-packaged ones just aren’t the same. Luckily here in San Diego, we can pick up fresh, homemade tortillas anytime when we stop by Cafe Coyote Old Town. Not only do they sell them to passersby on the street, they also serve them in their restaurant. And boy are they good!

This month Cafe Coyote is celebrating Mexican Independence Day all month long with delicious specials that’ll tantalize your taste buds and leave you feeling satisfied. And this week, on Mexican Independence Day, I was invited to head out and try a few of the specials they have created for this special occasion. How could I say no? Mexican food is pretty much my favorite food in the world.

Cafe Coyote Old Town patioCafe Coyote Old Town - fresh handmade tortillasCafe Coyote Old Town - eating with baby

With my little buddy in tow, and help from my mother-in-law, I excited to check out the extensive margarita menu I had heard so much about. They’re just as famous for their margaritas as they are for their handmade tortillas. At quick glance, and after talking to the waitress helping us out, I decided on a delicious tamarindo margarita called “El Grito”. It’s a sweet and spicy combo that’s sure to  bring back memories of childhood if you were like me and my siblings running after the ice cream truck getting our fill of Lucas and other tamarindo candies. The “El Grito” includes Gold Tequila, Triple Sec, Tamarindo, Sweet-N-Sour, & Fresh Lime Juice.

Cafe Coyote Old Town - “El Grito” Tamarindo margaritaCafe Coyote Old Town - Sopes De Carnitas

To start out, we ordered a few of the specials celebrating Mexican Independence Day including the sopes de carnitas, birria, and Zucchini Flower Stuffed Empanadas. We enjoyed everything family style and shared so that we could taste everything. I think this is an awesome way to enjoy lunch out with friends and family and makes it easy to feed everyone, including baby.

The baby’s favorite dish? The birria. She LOVED how tender and delicious the meat was and enjoyed the broth as well. I used the fresh tortillas we ordered to help eat the soup instead of using a spoon. It was quite fun. And my favorite dish had to be the sopes de carnitas. Each was topped with a different sauce – red, green, and white in celebration of the Mexican flag – and topped with carnitas. If you’re not familiar with sopes, think of them as an open faced sandwich made with thick corn masa.

Cafe Coyote Old Town - BirriaCafe Coyote Old Town - Zucchini Flower Stuffed Empanadas

We ended our meal by indulging in the sopapillas. They’re perfect for a couple or family of 4 to share for a sweet treat. Even if you’re overly stuffed from lunch or dinner, just having a bite is well worth it. The sopapillas are dusted with cinnamon sugar, drizzled with honey, and served with ice cream and whipped cream. So good!

Cafe Coyote Old Town - Sopapillas

You can find these specials at Cafe Coyote Old Town all month along with the rest of their delicious menu. I can’t wait to come back and try one of their other dishes. It’s definitely a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere that my family would enjoy visiting. And it’s just a short walk from the sights and attractions of historic Old Town.

Cafe Coyote is also participating in San Diego Restaurant Week and from September 21st through the 27th you can indulge in lunch (choose from an appetizer and entree or entree and dessert for $10) or dinner (appetizer, entree, and dessert for $20). This is a great way to sample Cafe Coyote’s menu or try new things if you’ve already been here.

Have you visited Old Town recently?

Date Night at Vessel Restaurant San Diego

Vessel Restaurant San Diego - Bar

My husband and I have always been adament about enjoying date night regularly. It’s good for our relationship. Our marriage. And it’s always a fun event. Whether we’re enjoying a bite before the theater, grabbing something quick before a movie, or are invited out to a private tasting at a local restaurant like we were this past week at Vessel Restaurant at the Kona Kai resort. Something about being able to reconnect with out the kids in tow is good for us. And we enjoy the time we spend together.

We’ve visited Vessel before and love the food that Chef Roy Hendrickson prepares. He likes to create New American cuisine featuring seasonal dishes prepared with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients and always seems to hit the nail on the head with his flavor combinations.

Kona Kai Resort San Diego

Kona Kai Marina

Vessel features a stunning outdoor patio set against the colorful backdrop of the picturesque marina, a 360-degree bar at its center and a video wall showcasing local landscapes.

Dinner with a view. Only the best here in San Diego.

Vessel Restaurant at Kona Kai Tasting Menu

Before enjoying our meal, we perused the cocktail menu. I decided to indulge in a blood & sand. It was refreshingly smooth with a citrus twist and definitely hit the right spot after a long day od working and taking care of the kids.

Vessel Restaurant Cocktails

After cocktails we sat down to taste the dishes Chef had prepared. Starting with an amazingly decadent 48 Hour Pork Belly that literally melted in my mouth. And theMaui Coconut Porter he paired it with was equally enjoyable. The 48 hour pork belly was served with plantain powder, sweet potato spaetzle, anise, bitter chocolate.

Next up we enjoyed a simple roasted pear with borage flower, blue cheese, fine herb medley, caramelized black pepper vinaigrette paired with an Alesmith .394 Pale Ale. I could definitely taste summer through this sweet and savory dish.

Vessel Restaurant Summer tasting menu

Before we had to leave the tasting a little short (parenthood doesn’t always get put on hold during date night), we were able to savour a delicate corn dusted albacore with Serrano custard, bacon powder, and onion jam paired with a Refuge Blood Orange Belgian. Yes, you read that right. Bacon. Powder. Seriously amazing.

While we weren’t able to enjoy the last two dishes and the dessert course, we will still be back to try them out at another time. Date night at Vessel Restaurant was perfect. With fabulous dishes, the perfect ambiance, and tasty beer pairings, summer at Vessel is going to amazing.

When was your last date night?

San Diego Restaurant Week 2015 | The Grant Grill Review

San Diego Restaurant Week 2015 - The Grant Grill at US Grant

It’s my favorite time of year! San Diego Restaurant Week 2015 arrives on Sunday, January 18th and will run through January 24th. I cannot wait to indulge and enjoy a new restaurant or two during this celebration of San Diego’s food scene.

My husband and I were invited to try the Grant Grill this past Saturday and I have to say that this is probably one of my new favorite restaurants in Downtown San Diego.

Not only does the menu change around daily, but for restaurant week you aren’t limited to a specific restaurant week menu! For $50 a person, you will be able to choose a starter, entree, and dessert of your choice from their regular menu.  [Read more…]

San Diego Restaurant Week is Here – September 21 – 26, 2014 | The Oceanaire Seafood Room Review

San Diego Restaurant Week - Oceanaire Seafood Room Review

San Diego Restaurant Week is one of our favorite weeks of the year. Not only do we get to step outside of our normal eateries and try something new but we also get to choose what we want to try based on our budget that week.

At the beginning of the year I attended a preview of San Diego Restaurant Week to enjoy bites from a few different places but this year I was asked to head out to a restaurant to enjoy their restaurant week menu a week early.

I was excited to try a new-to-me restaurant, The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Downtown San Diego, and had a fabulous date night with my husband while enjoying delicious food.  [Read more…]

Stick To New Years Resolutions: reFRESH from Pei Wei

This post brought to you by Pei Wei Asian Diner. All opinions are 100% mine.

 photo 1029d01a-8b80-45c8-8e25-2fe1b5556032_zps6fc4b326.jpg

Have you been sticking to your New Years resolutions? Eating healthier, staying more active, etc? Pei Wei Asian Diner wants to help you stick to those resolutions and has resolved to reFRESH nationwide with a new year full of new options!

Pei Wei Asian Diner has introduced fresh new dishes, a fresh look, and fresh small size entrée. Guests can choose from two wok’d entrée sizes – original and small, with dishes starting at just $6.39. Explore the Pei Wei Asian Diner menu  and get a taste for what’s in store at your local Pei Wei location. [Read more…]

San Diego Restaurant Week is Coming to Town January 19-24 2014

San Diego Restaurant Week Peohes Ceviche Tostadas

Peohes’ Ceviche Tostadas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not Christmas yet. But San Diego Restaurant Week is coming next week and I cannot wait!

I’m even more excited after being invited to the San Diego Restaurant Week media preview this morning and sampling a few dishes that will make their way on the menus of some of the great restaurants in our awesome city.

If you don’t have your reservations already, take a look at the restaurants participating (and grab a sneak peek at the menus they’ll be offering), and make your reservations today! You won’t be disappointment. I never am. [Read more…]

Taking a Lunch Break with Arby’s Grand Turkey Club Sandwich

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Arby’s

Lunchtime can be rushed if not non-existent most days. Especially on the days where both kids are in school and I’m running errands or getting work done. On those days I need a quick meal that’s both tasty and somewhat healthy. Luckily our closest Arby’s is down the street from the grocery store and I can simply head to the drive thru to pick up a Grand Turkey Club sandwich when I need a bite to eat.

While I typically go for the classic roast beef sandwich at Arby’s, I’ve been venturing to their other menu items the past few times I’ve gone and I have to say I’m loving the changes!

[Read more…]

Tips for Keeping Kids Entertained at a Restaurant

This post contains affiliate links. 

Ever have that moment when you wonder why in the heck you thought it was a good idea to take the kids out for dinner? Get to the point where napkins are on the floor, the salt is spilled everywhere, and sugar packets are strewn across the table? Yeah… me too.

So we started to come up with a great ways for keeping kids entertained at a restaurant. While some might sound simple enough, they truly are great at distracting our kids long enough to bridge the gap between ordering our food and being served.

Keeping Kids Entertained at a Restaurant stacking creamers

[Read more…]

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill Valentine’s Day Pizza Kits

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza Valentine's Day Pizza Kits

Looking for the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day but don’t want to deal with the crowds? Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill will be selling their popular take home Valentine’s Day Pizza Kits beginning February 4th through the 14th.

These kits provide an easy, fun, and enjoyable way to celebrate the Valentine’s season. Plus partial proceeds from all pizza kit sales to benefit the American Heart Association!

[Read more…]



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