Feast! North County Inland

Growing foodie movement in the county's northwest corner

Wagyu Beef Tartare at Cork and Craft
  • Wagyu Beef Tartare at Cork and Craft

Food chains and family restaurants once dominated the dining hours of Escondido, Rancho Bernardo, and Poway, and the rest. But a growing foodie movement looks to change this. They've added some quality midrange fare to go with the smattering of high-end joints that cater to the owners of suburban minimansions.

The Cork and Craft

16990 Via Tazon #123, Rancho Bernardo

Cork and Craft

Ignore the industrial-park locale of this “refined casual” restaurant — it’s merely a zoning concession to the onsite Abnormal brewery and winery. But the “craft” part of its name applies just as well to the food made from scratch. You’ll find bread baked using spent beer grains, house-smoked or cured meats, and handmade pastas. Dishes range from comfort staples — pork belly and tater tot poutine and a bacon-pâté topped burger — to more ambitious fare including Wagyu beef tartare and a rib eye cooked sous vide. This place may ultimately prove upscale dining and craft-beer culture have a future together. —Ian Anderson

Mille Fleurs

6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe

Mille Fleurs

Long considered one of the region’s finest fine-dining restaurants, Mille Fleurs combines high-quality ingredients and European-style cooking techniques. Dishes change seasonally, but the soft shell crabs with lemon garlic sauce are a must if available. Ditto the quail with foie gras and bing cherries. Expansive wine and cocktail list. The service is exceptional without being overbearing. It seems like every table is celebrating an engagement, anniversary, or closing of a multimillion-dollar business deal. —Patrick Henderson

O'Sullivan's Irish Pub Escondido

118 East Grand Avenue, Escondido

O'Sullivan's Irish Pub of Carlsbad

640 Grand Avenue, Carlsbad

O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

Two words — corned beef. At both locations, O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant serves mildly spiced, juicy, thick slices in dishes both customary and not. The classic corned-beef plate has all the crucial elements: plump slabs of house-cured meat, lightly boiled (not mushy) potatoes, carrots, and cabbage all napped in a silky parsley béchamel sauce. A traditional Irish “boxty” takes these same delicious components and wraps them, omelet-style, in a huge potato pancake; a take-home container will likely be needed. If you don’t fancy corned beef, other time-honored Irish fare includes an All Day Irish Breakfast of eggs, rashers, sausage, black and white puddings, baked beans and soda bread, Shepherd’s Pie, and seafood boxties. This is pure comfort food, so loosen your belt a notch and enjoy. —Mary Beth Abate

Nessy Burgers

3235 Old Highway 395, Fallbrook

Nessy Burgers

Burgers in the hills! Most days, right by Pala reservation, you can see truckers and travelers lining up outside a converted 1950 Navy gedunk trailer. They want to get their mitts on a half-pound burger done “the Scottish way”: double-sized, Aberdeen Angus-style premium chuck sirloin grilled juicy inside, crisp outside, for $6.35. When you’re standing in the wind up there chewing this “monster” burger, it can cool down and dry out pretty quick, but if you chomp it hot, as you take in the San Luis Rey River Valley laid out below you, you can reach a kind of burger-lover’s ecstasy. It’s beautiful up there. Sandra Webster, who started this gedunk 26 years ago, also sells Nessy Dogs, Polish sausages, nachos. But for most, the original burger is still the hit. —Ed Bedford

Poway Sushi Lounge

13132 Poway Road, Poway

Poway Sushi Lounge

This sushi spot comes from two friends who formerly worked at Sushi on the Rock in La Jolla and Carlsbad. The lounge’s happy hour runs Tuesday–Sunday from 4–6 p.m. Offerings include $2 spicy tuna spring rolls, $2.50 shrimp tempura hand rolls, $1.50 oyster shooters and chipotle-baked mussels, and $2.50 hot sake. The menu features an extensive selection of gluten-free sashimis, rolls, and entrées, while ten specialty rolls go for half off on Mondays. The most popular special, the Red Dragon, is a tsunami of spicy krab, cucumber, sprouts, pepper-crusted tuna, avocado, and green onions crosshatched with a sweet-and-spicy sauce. —Chad Deal

Vincent's Sirinos

113 W. Grand Avenue, Escondido

Filet Mignon at Vincent’s

Filet Mignon at Vincent’s

Vincent’s

Vincent’s French cuisine hits the mark every time. The wine list is long and Wine Spectator–approved, so be sure to engage the assistance of your server for suggestions. Each entrée comes with the Soupe du Jour to start, which makes the prices ($20–$36) that much more reasonable. I’ll never tire of the Le Tournedos Merlot ($34), filet mignon with Stilton cheese and Merlot wine sauce, served (as are most of the entrées) with potato gratin and seasonal veggies. I suggest sharing a starter. The Brie en Croûte is delightful. —Barbarella Fokos

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