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Jun 21, 2012 05:28 PM

North Park-like restaurant near RSF

Next week we're scheduled to take some clients to dinner and I'm finding myelf in a situation where I just don't know where to go. Clients are older and live in Rancho Santa Fe. When they go to dinner they usually do fine dining (George's California Modern, AR Valentin, etc.). Mr. Client wants to try some places in North Park that we've mentiioned before (Linkery, Sea Rocket, Smoking Goat) but Mrs. Client told me as an aside that she doesn't like her husband driving on the freeways at night and prefers they stay closer to home. Any ideas of a North Park-like place that's near RSF that offers good food in a setting that's not too loud? I don't even know where to begin and would love your suggestions. Thanks!

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  1. There is so much that I love about this question! Such quotidian absurdity!

    As a genus, "North Park Restaurants" might be characterized by their relatively youthful clientele; lack of serious concern for noise levels; moderate price; focus on regional cuisine or organic ingredients; emphasis on simple, hearty flavors over complex preparation.

    I would propose that this complex entity cannot survive in a social environment that supports the kinds of people who are afraid to drive twenty minutes to North Park.

    Would your clients be willing to take a taxi? The amount they save on the final bill (when compared to the fine dining establishments you name) will more than pay for the taxi fare.

    1 Reply
    1. re: notjustastomach

      Ha! I know - it does seem slightly impossible but I knew my fellow 'hounds would come through.

    2. Ranch dining and not North Park..could use a dose of it.
      Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
      Mille Fleur

      Back road to Esco on Del Dios highway is the lovely Hacienda de Vega..lovely waterfall patio..15 minutes
      Kitchen 1540
      Flavor Del Mar
      Red Tracton's..old of my faves
      Tony Jacals in Solana Beach
      Paon Carlsbad
      Blue Ribbon Encinitas
      Solace in Encinitas..probably your best bet

      You can get them a room in the Gaslamp for the night and car service/taxi to North Park..

      6 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Thanks Beach Chick! Solace in Encinitas is a great call. I had completely forgotten about it.

        1. re: Beach Chick

          Neither Mille Fleur nor Delicas are worth the money- and I LOVE fine dining and am not price sensitive. Service and food quality have waned at both over the years.

          What about Pantry? If Loic was still open for dinner I would have suggested that.

          1. re: chetatkinsdiet

            Have you tried Delicias under Chef McCabe ? If he is able (and I have little doubt) to cook on a similar level as at Kitchen1540 Delicias will become one of the best restaurants in SD

            1. re: honkman

              We were there about 45 days ago (so not sure if that was under the current chef) but our meal was mediocre, our service was terrible and it was WAY overpriced. I remember when Delicias was at least fun to go to- it's turned into one of my "avoid" places.

              1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                I'm so sad to read this. We got engaged after a dinner at Delicias about 16 years ago, have gone back a few times over the years and enjoyed it each time. I'd hate to think of such a special place going so far downhill.

                1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                  He started in February but the new (his) menu is about a month old. He posted many pictures on Twitter and a lot of the dishes are quite similar to his work at Kitchen 1540 where we had one of the best tasting menus in recent years in SD. You should give them another try and also ask for a tasting menu at Delicias.

            1. There are a few places that I like that are in RB but have the fun food vibe of North Park.

              Barrel Room
              Urge Gastropub

              Prep Kitchen is very close to the Linkery not so much with links but with not terribly expensive food with fun and innovative menu offerings and non pretentious service.

              7 Replies
              1. re: DeLobstah

                I immediately thought of URGE in Rancho Bernardo too. Probably the most North Park-ish place in that area.

                1. re: bizzwriter

                  Hell, I need to get out more..never heard of Urge gastropub but thats gonna change soon!


                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    This is a new one for me too!
                    Craft beer, farm-to-table menu - just what I was looking for. Thanks so much for the idea DeLobstah and +1 from bizzwriter. I'll be sure to report back.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      Watch out for their so-so service and crowds around dinner time. I also had one of the worst salads of my life, there. That being said, the beer selection is good. I think they are doing well because there aren't really any other options in the area.

                    2. re: bizzwriter

                      The website for URGE makes it look incredibly corporate and generic, like an upscale Applebees or sports bar. In terms of aesthetic charge, this is the exact opposite of most "North Park Restaurants." Places like The Linkery, Searocket, Tiger Tiger, Smoking Goat, etc., have a vaguely anti-establishment charge. One feels that by entering those restaurants one is taking a stand against the bright blandness of modern consumer society. (Whether this feeling corresponds to a true "reality" or not is beside the point.)

                      I haven't been to Urge and cannot speak to the quality or taste of the food. But certainly, as a longtime participant in the North Park Restaurant scene, I am put-off by Urge's self-representation. It looks like a suburban restaurant for people who want good beer and (possibly) good food.

                      1. re: notjustastomach

                        I've eaten at Urge a couple of times - its been open for a couple of years folks, I know its in RB but. . .anyway, the beer selection is very good, and covers a wide range of styles. The food is your basic pub grub but with some interesting choices (wild boar burgers, Welsh rarebit, etc.). For lunch, its not bad, but I'd avoid dinner service because the bar (and consequently, the restaurant) gets unbearably loud.

                        1. re: jmtreg

                          That's good to know. We are planning to eat early, but if it's "unbearaably Loud" then that's a dealbreaker. We''l have to try it another time. Thanks!

                  2. I thought I responded to this, but maybe it got deleted - or maybe I just spaced. In any event, just wanted to add Blue Ribbon Pizzeria to your list if they haven't already been. It's in the Lumberyard.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: melee

                        Craftsman is opening up this week in the old Savory space on ECR in Encinitas. It is the new venture of the people behind Blue Ribbon. I stuck my head in early Friday evening after picking up some dry cleaning and they did a nice job with the space. Another place with a north park vibe is Union Kitchen down on 101.

                        1. re: littlestevie

                          Just went to The Craftman's website. Looks perfect! They don't take reservations for parties fewer than 6. Hmm, we are planning to go early but it might be too crowded during opening week. It's down to Craftsman or Solace right now . . .

                          1. re: littlestevie

                            Good to know! Wade Hageman was the opening chef at Blanca and we've always liked his food. Just wish it was closer!