Lunch around San Marcos
I work in San Marcos and like to get lunch in the area. Are there any places that are quick that people might recommend. Some that I found so far that I like are:
Philly Franks - I'm from Philly and find the steaks aren't too far off from what I would expect back home.
Kim's Noodles - not bad pho
Pitas - OK shwarma, though not super flavorful. I like the pita chips that come with the sandwiches.
Mr. Taco - a quick carnitas or fish taco is yummy.
I heard of a BBQ place but haven't found it yet...
I might also be willing to head into Escondido if the trip is worth the bite.
Actually I can recommend a place for pho. I've only been there once, and I really was doubtful that there can be good pho in San Marcos. So with my lowered expectations I stepped in not ready to be completely blown away by Pho San Marcos.
First off, the soup was the most wonderful Pho broth that I have yet to come across. You wouldn't think so by its looks, as it is quite light in color. But talk about flavorful, nuanced, and wonderful. ...and aromatic too!
The broth alone would have stolen the show if it were not for the incredible quality of the tai (rare steak). Make sure you order it on the side - it's a special item on their menu. That was the most beautifully marbled tai I have ever come across
Actually if I remember right the marbling was not that obvious just looking at the plate. However it was very beautifully cut and arranged, almost as if it were a pricey sashimi plate of Fugu. But as I dipped each piece into the broth the fine marbling became visible and really took me by surprise.
It's a shame I haven't been able to make it out there for even a second visit. (I still wonder if I was just "off" that day and somehow read something to be better than it was. But since then I've told a fellow Foodie friend who's checked it out on two occasions and have confirmed my findings...)
So Pho San Marcos would be my (only slightly) tentative vote, as I've only been there once but was completely blown away!
You'd think there would be a lot of great lunch places in San Marcos because they have a ton of restaurants. I love the Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Old California Restaurant Row has a lot of choices, but not really. Most is standard fare - Tony Roma's & Ribs; Aculpoco - Mexican; IHOP - Sandwiches. Bruno's scares me. I heard it's mafia and it looks really dated. The coffee shop has OK wraps and salads. Next to it is a place called Market Street Bakery that is trying, oh so hard, to be French, but it's a disaster. I'm sure their breads are'nt even really made there - probably pre-baked and just finished off there. They have big salads and sandwiches, so if your appetite is enormous you can take a box and eat wilted lettuce for your dinner. A hawaiian Bistro has had a Grand Opening sign up for about a year now. My excitement is starting to wane. Next to it is a wine bar and dinner restaurant, Friars Folly Wine Cellar, that claims they too are opening for lunch. If they can do for lunch what they do for dinner, then we really have a lunch place to talk about. I love this place. I think the owner is French or Italian and you can feel it is very warm and European, friendly and hip. I'll be there every day.
New restaurants open every day, but they all seem to be chains. I avoid them like the plague - Elephant Bar, Johhny Carinos, etc.
Let me know where else I can go. I'm hungry for good food!
In my experience I've found Bruno's to be a "one-hit wonder", their one hit being their olive oil pizza, which is a real standout. I went there on account of several enthusiastic recommendations on this particular pizza, though if one went simply by the looks of the restaurant, it wouldn't look very promising.
When you're greeted by pictures of Harvey Korman, Carol Burnett, and Abe Vigoda in the lobby, it feels like you've just entered into a cultural time warp... Must be due to the proximity of Lawrence Welk Village!
They don't use a brick oven, but somehow the crust, though thicker than I'd like, comes out with a perfect texture every time. (Not to say it's a thick crust-style pizza either...)
They do make thier own pasta, but I've found it to be uncompelling. Like most pasta in the States they over sauce and do not take the time to "marry" the sauce with the pasta. One can do much better at home.
The olive oil pizza, though, is fantastic. A cheeseless pizza, it's topped simply with olive oil, finely chopped jalapenos, garlic and parsley. It shows an amazing amount of restraint in the toppings, which is what I believe a good pizza should do. And though I'd prefer a cracker-thin crust, it is what it is and makes for a delicious one-course meal.
One more note: the pizzas are huge. Order one size smaller than you'd usually do and expect left-overs!