Sunday, August 7, 2016

Encontro North Park

When people come to San Diego, I always hope that they look beyond the beach communities and downtown to see all of the eclectic things San Diego has to offer. It's hard to know at this point how San Diego looks to outsiders -- the city has changed a bit in the time that I've lived here, and the world around us has changed. For example, I know that San Diego is a craft beer destination, but do people in New York think of it as such? 

I'm getting pedantic, so I'll just continue and say that I really hope that visitors explore more than just the Hotel Del and La Jolla Cove. Check out the great restaurants, bars, and art galleries of North Park, Normal Heights, Hillcrest, and University Heights! These are the heart of the city, and some of the best places for a unique meal or experience. 

Encontro is the new kid in the bursting indie scene of North Park. Taking full advantage of San Diego's reign as craft beer capital, Encontro offers an extensive list of local beers to compliment their delicious gourmet sandwiches and salads.

 With an open-air atmosphere, patrons can drink in the energy and views of the North Park neighborhood. Stop by for lunch and indulge in a window seat accompanied by a local beer and artisan sandwich.

I made a visit this week for lunch, and was very impressed by the varied beer list -- everything from IPAs to sour beers, it would be impossible for a beer aficionado to refuse one of these brews! I chose the Council Brewing Beatitude Guava Saison: sour on the nose, with a clean, crisp, fruity finish. Steve chose the Fall 2 AM Bikeride, a vanilla coffee stout. Whoa, Nelly! Such a rich, slightly sweet beer.

 So how was the food? Very good! Scrumptious, in fact. Keeping with the casual "bar food", the menu consists of gourmet sandwiches and salads, but prepared in a manner and using ingredients not typically employed by pubs. The bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich enchanted me, while Steve stuck with a classic favorite of his -- pulled pork with french fries.
 For a twist, I chose as a side the portobello mushroom fries, something I would never think to make into a fry preparation, but certainly something that delivered big on flavor and presentation. The mushroom is cut into strips, then gently battered and lightly fried. They aren't terribly salty, as the flavor of the mushroom is quite enough to satisfy. I really enjoyed them and would order again.
 The pulled pork sandwich was solid: flavorful pulled pork that was moist and had a good bit of sauce, but not a messy amount; the bun was sturdy and did not become soaked from the meat; and the cabbage was lightly dressed with vinegar to make the slaw.
 We also ordered the buttermilk corn biscuits, which were divine. Very soft and sweet, they were the perfect accompaniment to our meal. They would be a great bite for those looking to pair with a salad! I'm from Appalachia so I take biscuits pretty seriously, and these passed muster. Enough said.
The double-stacked BLT with avocado was all San Diego and all delicious! There is seriously nothing safe from us San Diegans and putting avocado on everything! Why? Because it makes everything better and delicious! The sandwich was already great -- thick-cut bacon, crispy lettuce and juicy tomato, all between toasted, buttery sourdough. The avocado really brought the sandwich to the next level, and made it so filling as well! I only managed to finish half because it was so hearty.

We finished up with a churro milkshake, served charmingly with a churro as garnish. I had never had a churro until I moved to SoCal a number of years ago, but now I can't get enough of them! My favorites are sold at the border crossing at Tijuana, freshly fried and heavy on the cinnamon sugar. This churro tasted just like those! The milkshake was the perfect finish, a great dessert to share or keep for yourself, and a great alternative treat-drink for those who do not favor beer.

Encontro is a great addition to the already amazing restaurant collection of North Park. It's sure to find a great home and add a lot of interest to the neighborhood with great food and drink, wrapped up in cheerful service and a beautiful venue. Cheers! 
August 07, 2016 / by / 0 Comments

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