Beer, food and fun in EncinitasTop Highlights Thursday, January 26th, 2012
With so many great eateries right here in our city it is sometimes easy to forget that just north of San Diego there is literally a whole other world of eating experiences. North County houses some of the newest hot spots for restaurants and more and more top San Diego chefs are making their way up there to open bistros and trattoria’s.
One afternoon I decided to make the drive north and discover just what everybody has been talking about. It was to my surprise when I came across an awesome converted space nestling on the historic 101 in Encinitas.
Union Kitchen & Tap is a true ale house by virtue of the beer they purvey, but they go one step further by offering some incredible dishes for brunch, lunch and dinner. Only open since May, they have already put a big culinary stamp on this surfing beach town.
The menu is eclectic and offers all kinds of dishes from flatbreads to salads to full entrées. The burger selection is one of the best in the area, as are the craft beers. You won’t find chicken wings and nachos here. Start with one of the flatbreads for the table; they are big and great to share. The Prosciutto bread ($14) is delectable and unique with a farm egg and burrata topping.
If you are looking to stay on the healthier side, or just crave something lighter, try the Roasted Beet Salad ($12). Fennel, mint and blue cheese all come together to heighten the beets flavor. The maple vinaigrette is interesting and a bold choice, but works perfectly.
Burgers are a true hit here and I’ve tried all of them. My favorite is the Green Eggs & Ham Burger ($13). A perfectly cooked juicy burger is topped by a fried egg and laid with sliced prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes and pesto.
The entrées here are certainly a surprise and very pleasant ones too. The flavor caliber of these dishes can rival any fine dining restaurant. The UNION Gumbo ($8) is straight from the streets of New Orleans. Chunks of andouille sausage, chicken and green onions all come together with a sauce that is out of this world. Just the right amount of spice, it offers a tang that is both sweet and sour. Mixed with rice this dish is the star.
Following right behind is the classic Fish & Chips ($12). Firm local bass is coated with a stout batter and deep fried to a golden brown. Crispy on the outside, and juicy and flaky inside, every bite that was dipped in the homemade malt aioli was a flavor explosion. I love the stout batter coating on this fish. It really modernized this dish and it goes so well in this place.
With all this great food you need something to wash it all down with and they give you plenty of options. They have a massive variety of local craft beers and offer them in ounces so you really can taste as many as you want and still be able to walk afterward.
If beer isn’t your thing, don’t worry, their crafty cocktail menu is inventive and creative. Classics like mojitos and cosmos are offered with twists of their own mixes. Herbs such as rosemary and thyme make an appearance with infused vodkas and rums. Even the wine list is a step up from what you might find in the area.
Next time you feel like taking a trip up north, make Union Kitchen & Tap a stop on your list. Whether you are there for lunch, dinner or just a drink, it is worth the trip. The friendly staff, the great food and even better drinks will make you want to go back again and again. I know I’m already planning my return.
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