Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be included in a media field trip up to Park 101 and Barrel Republic in Carlsbad! Getting up to North County is not a thing I do very often, especially if I’m going to want to try some signature cocktails, so this was the perfect opportunity to see what Carlsbad has to offer!
We started the day by hopping onto the Coaster for a quick 1-hour train ride up to the Carlsbad Village station, and after hopping off the train just took a short walk right over to Park 101. We were greeted by a gorgeous spritzer, the Tamarack Sunsetter, and then given a tour of this new space.
Park 101 is an upcoming 8000 sq. ft. multi-level, plaza-style complex dining community. The lower level puts the “park” in Park 101 and is the perfect family friendly space, with lots of room for kids to run around, and some fun adult games as well! There is a downstairs bar where wine and beer based cocktails are beautifully crafted and presented, and of course, there is the food! Park 101 is serving up delicious smoked meats and was built around their smoker as it was too big to bring into the space after construction! In addition to their smoked meat offerings, Park 101 offers a beautiful selection of salads and sides, grab and go sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, cotton candy, fresh espresso and coffee, and handmade donuts. There is something for everyone in this space.
After thoroughly exploring downstairs, we headed up to the Tamarack Deck on the top level. This space is adult paradise and offers up the most relaxing atmosphere, beautiful views, and a perfect San Diego vibe. Once landing upstairs we were treated to the most beautiful meat and cheese board, dips for days, an array of smoked meat and side offerings, the beet salad, and the pomegranate broccolini salad. This meat and cheese board was one of the most well thought out and put together I had ever seen, with a perfect balance of flavor, texture, and color. Dips for days was another highlight with a bbq black bean dip, smoked tomato and goat cheese dip, and tapenade and served with marinated olives and nuts! These were the perfect starter snacks before the star of the show, the meat, arrived! This tray of meat was seriously impressive, even for someone who only eats birds and fish! Included was a variety of tri-tip, brisket, chicken, turkey, salmon, pulled pork, and sausage, and the few things I was able to sample were seriously tender and delicious! Along with the meat came three sauces, corn salad, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw!
Moving right along to the seriously delicious cocktails! We were already off to a great start with the Tamarack Sunsetter, featuring Lillet Rouge blackberry, lemon, and pomegranate kombucha. Once upstairs we cooled down with a Frose, with cupcake rose, strawberry syrup, fresh strawberry, and lemon, and this one was definitely a favorite! I also sampled the Park 101 Mule with vodka, elder flower, lime, ginger beer, cucumber and mint and it was a perfect contrast to the sweetness of the other cocktails.
To wrap up our time at Park 101 we were given the cutest tokens for a cotton candy from downstairs, and it was so fun feeling like a kid again!
Next we headed over to Barrel Republic right down the street to check out their unique tasting room! Barrel Republic puts an entirely new spin on the beer scene and I was hooked immediately. Their tasting room is lined with taps, and upon arrival you are given a wristband, you then simply use this wristband to fill up your cup as much as you’d like at as many taps as you want. You can pour one ounce for a little taste, or fill up an entire pint of your favorite. The wristband is only loaded with 40 ounces to start, but can be refilled once you’re on empty. Each beer, select wine, and non alcoholic beverage in the tasting room has its price listed when you pour, and when you turn your wristband in at the end of the night, you pay only according to what you drank!
Barrel Republic is also serving up some seriously tasting eats, and we got to try quite a few of them!
First up was the Crisp Cheese Tacos, topped with avocado, shredded lettuce, queso fresco, lime pickled jalapeno, and jalapeno lime vinaigrette. We all know I am the taco queen, and these did not disappoint! If I hadn’t been so stuffed, I may have eaten them all! Next up was the Socal Flatbread, with cilantro lime pesto, heirloom baby tomatoes, black beans, avocado, mozzarella, charred salsa, and red jalapeno, this captured everything I love about food in Southern California. Next up were the Mini Crabcake Bites, and these were seriously cute! Seasoned with old bay, garnished with pickled tomatoes and preserved lemons, and served with lemon aioli, these were the perfect little starter!
We finished with what I could only call a life changing dessert, the Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Bars with stout braised cherries. Literally, stop everything you are doing, get on the Coaster, head up to Carlsbad or drive over to the Pacific Beach location, and eat this right now. It is that good, I promise you.
After a very full day of delicious snacks and sips, we made our way back onto the coaster and headed back into south San Diego with a whole new appreciation of the North County food scene. What Carlsbad is serving up should not be missed, and luckily, it’s only a Coaster ride away!
Thank you to Alternative Strategies for the invitation to join them on this adult media field trip and to Park 101 and Barrel Republic for all of the tasty snacks and sips!