Restaurants Archives - A Crafty Spoonful

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…]

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…]

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…]

5 Great Ways for Moms to Get Out in San Diego

Being a mom doesn’t mean that we can’t get out and have fun anymore. It just means that we need to get a little creative to do so. Lucky for me, I live in a city filled with entertainment and a never-ending list of places to go and things to do.

Since my time away from the family is much valued but short lived, I need to make the most of it and really create great memories to hold me over until the next time I get out.

Here are a few ways I like to enjoy my time away from the kids and family while enjoying the city I live in.

5 Great Ways for Moms to Get Out in San Diego

1. Happy Hour – 

Now happy hour is not the same as it was pre-kids. No longer are we heading to an upscale bar after work for a few drinks, appetizers, and some girl time that goes late into the night.

Happy Hour has now become any time the girls get together at a place with food without the kids. Drinks may or may not happen but all we know is that we’re eating a whole meal without having to feed another being.

We also will be able to eat our meal while it’s still hot and won’t have to worry about asking for it to-go because of a tantrum. Meals away from the family means chit chat and girl time at its best… un-filtered!

And if there is booze involved… watch out! Cause moms are usually quite fun when tipsy (but always safe)!

2. Networking in Disguise – 

One of the best things about my life as a mom is the fact that I get to hang out with other cool moms all the time. And sometimes we get to network with each other finding out that we might be able to help each other more than we thought!

And one event that brings moms together to do just that are the SD Mom’s Night Out events. They are an absolutely amazing way to relax, reconnect, and network with other moms in San Diego who you might not have known about. From Momtrepreneurs to bloggers to stay-at-home-moms looking for a great way to get out and explore. Each event is different and has something else to offer.

The next event is their one year anniversary and it isn’t to be missed! Not only is it being held at Kin Spa, it also includes some amazing perks and goodies! To read more about the SD Mom’s Night Out Anniversary Event, check out my post here.

Click here to purchase tickets for the event.

3. My Favorite Things – 

Every few months my mom friends and I get together for what we call a My Favorite Things party. We each bring 5 $6 items that we’ve dubbed as our favorite thing and we pass them out to each other (drawing names to choose who gets what). We eat and drink our favorite things too!

I love this type of event because it’s low maintenance and it’s a way to learn about things I might not have known about in daily conversations with my friends.  Our last Favorite Things party focused on our favorite kid items. And as you can imagine it was pretty hard to chose one item for $6 or less to share. But I was amazed again at the products that were shared and have fallen in love with a few new awesome things!

4. Playdates – 

Yes, I know. This technically is not getting away from the kids but my friends are awesome. And when we get together, we are able to mingle and chat while our kids play around us. Most of the time I’ll host playdates at my home and just rope the kids off into certain parts of the house and yard. That way the moms can sit in one central location and chat without having to worry about what trouble our kids are getting into.

This option does require a little bit of work but the reward is much worth it. Not only do we each get to sit and enjoy adult conversations, we also get to tire our kids out so that when we do go home they (hopefully) take nice, long naps. Win-win!

Now these adult conversations aren’t always just about us. Usually one way or another we end up talking about some pretty fun topics. Bladder control, birth, and a few other wonderful mommyhood moments having to do with poop usually come up.

5. Shopping – 

Whether it’s for groceries or for clothes… shopping alone is always considered a great way to get out in my book. Not only do I get to enjoy some peace and quiet, I get to participate in one of my favorite activities… spending money!

While I love time with my kids, I don’t love having to worry about my kids breaking everything within reach while we’re out and about. I’ve learned that I’m a lot less stressed when I can go to a store alone and actually consider it relaxing to shop knowing that my kids are elsewhere having fun and not asking if they can have every.single.thing they see at the store.

What do you do for your mom-time without the kids?

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by SD Mom’s Night out. I received two tickets for their SD Mom’s Night Out Anniversary event in exchange for this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

Mia Francesca {A Family-Friendly San Diego Restaurant Review}

Having two small kids can prove to be quite a feat when it comes to dining out. Not only do we have to be very choosy about where we go, we also have to make sure thatthe items on the menu are “kid-friendly.” And by kid friendly I do not mean breaded chicken nuggets and quesadillas (not that there is anything wrong with a good quesadilla). I mean something that will actually appeal to my children, whether it be what I order and share with them or what I order for them to eat together.

This afternoon we were invited to head over to Mia Francesca‘s newest Del Mar Highlands location to taste a bit of what they had to offer. And boy was I glad we went!

Not only is their menu simple and fabulous, everything I tasted was delicious as well! We started out with a few appetizers for the table. There were two types of bruscetta, the first was topped with bruscetta, fresh mozzarella (like… made recently fresh!), and avocado, the other was sans avocado but loaded with cheese! Both were topped with fresh basil. So good!

Next we tried the calamari. Now calamari has been one of my favorite dishes for quite some time. Not only is it delicious, but paired with a tangy marinara it just hits the spot. My son has never had calamari but when I offered him some he quickly approved and gobbled down a few pieces. So happy he enjoyed it!

After allowing our tummies to settle from our tasty appetizers, we were brought our main dishes.

I absolutely loved the kids options. Simple and, for the most part, healthy as well! I ordered pasta with broccoli for my daughter and chicken with fries for my son, knowing he’d share some of his sisters broccoli. Both shared wonderfully with each other.

The one thing I did love was that the chicken I ordered for him was not breaded tenders. It was a full grilled chicken breast perfectly seasoned. I cut it up and he devoured what I offered him. The servings were large and I could probably get away with letting the kids split a meal next time but for now we have left overs for the week!

After being undecided for quite a while about what I was going to get I decided to go with the pizza of the day. As soon as I saw fontina cheese I knew I had a winner. A simple margharita pizza with pesto sauce made my day. Sometimes a slice or two of pizza just puts you in a good mood!

The other pizzas they had ot offer also sounded yummy as well and I know my husband will want to come with us to try a few more of the menu options later on. 

While this location is a bit out of the way for us, I’m looking forward to trying out the Little Italy location closer to home. And coming back to the Del Mar Highlands location when meeting up with  my family in North County. But for the 25 minute drive, lunch was totally worth it! Both locations can be found on their website here.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant with a great, relaxing atmosphere you have to check out Mia Francesca. The patio is the perfect place on a warm day to let the kids play a bit while enjoying a great Italian meal with friends and family.

You can find Mia Francesca Del Mar on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary lunch for myself and my children at Mia Francesca. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



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