The Belly Up in Solana Beach is one of those classic concert venues that is intimate enough so there is not a bad seat in the house but large enough to draw an eclectic mix of big name talent. While the big names tend to sell out quickly, it’s also a great place to see an old favorite that is still touring and a venue that many local bands aspire to on their way up. Picking my top 5 concerts there was tough but I had to give it a shot. I’d have to go with Wilco, Gogol Bordello, Jens Lekman, OK GO, and any one of the many Dave Wakeling/English Beat shows I’ve seen there over the years.
I caught up with the team that books and promotes the shows at the Belly Up recently to discover some of their favorite places to eat around town.
Beth Bennett handles marketing and special events for the Belly Up, Pacific Coast Grill and Wild Note Café. So Beth is a bit partial when it comes to PCG and it led off her list. “When it comes to Pacific Coastal dining, nobody beats Pacific Coast Grill. In addition to having the best views around, the seafood is second to none, and Miguel's fresh mixed cocktails get me feeling fine every time. I usually gravitate toward the sushi and love the seafood pasta most of all! The dish is a seafood lovers delight boasting generous portions of shrimp, lobster, scallops and mahi mahi in a smokey tomato sauce”. When it comes to breakfast, Beach Grass Cafe holds a fond spot in Beth’s heart as she was hired there by the Belly Up team 8.5 years ago. “They serve breakfast all day and always have interesting omelet/scramble combos.” I’m with you Beth, I’d say Beach Grass is my favorite North County breakfast spot. For drinks, I should have known that Beth would be a fan of Captain Keno’s. And she elaborated on in perfectly. “For a nice, stiff CHEAP drink in North County, the captain rules, Cap'n Kenos that is! From eighty-year-olds to hipsters, you'll fit right in whether you're sporting an ironic mustache or just bombing around in your flip flops. As for their food menu, I cannot vouch for the $3.99 spaghetti plate.” Well I can Beth…and the chicken fried steak for $3.49! One of my favorite places ever, good stuff.
I must say, Chris Goldsmith from the Belly Up has one of those gigs that those of us passionate about music are quite jealous of. Chris is the Musical Guidance Counselor, so basically he oversees talent and marketing. Chris kept it very local with his picks. “My favorite Mexican dinner is at Tony’s Jacal in Eden Gardens/Solana Beach. They’ve been around for 50 years and roast their own turkeys so I almost always get the turkey burrito with sauce and cheese. They also have the best nachos I have ever had in my entire life and a very old school family vibe.” I did not know that about the turkeys, very nice! For breakfast, Chris went for T’s Café. “T’s Café for the home made Bloody Mary’s that are almost a meal by themselves and the “Country Bennie” with biscuits, sausage, gravy instead of the usual English muffin/Canadian Bacon/Hollandaise sauce.” So Chris, do you schedule a nap after that breakfast?
Meryl Klemow handles show promotions and social media so she is very connected to what’s happening in the area dining and drinking scene. We are lucky enough to have a great restaurant attached to the Belly Up, the Wild Note Cafe! Meryl kept even closer to the office, right next door at Wild Note. “The Wild Note is also owned by Steve and Phil who own the Belly Up, and I eat there almost every day for lunch and most certainly gained the infamous "Belly Up 20" because of it! My favorite dishes at the Wild Note are the Mac and Cheese, the Lobster Dumplings and the Rad Thai. Wow I eat a lot of carbs. I also love the Yu Me Ya Sake House in Leucadia. In my opinion that is the best date place in North County! I love the shrimp dumplings, the happy vibes and the awesome management there.” Nice call on the Sake House Meryl, one of my favorites as well, such an intimate, cool vibe at that place.
Chad Waldorf is a talent buyer at Belly Up, another cool gig for a music lover. I’ve known Chad for a while and he has always had a pulse on the dining scene in the area. His picks include some new ones for me. “Rico's Taco Shop in Encinitas has been a 20 year staple for me. I think their cane asada and hot sauce are the best and are what I compare all other carne asada and hot sauces to. Chick's Chicken in Encinitas and Fish 101 and Mozys in Leucadia are regular cravings when I want something good, quick and healthy. I'm really excited that Bagby Beer has opened up in Oceanside just in time for the "local summer". They have a lot of shaded outdoor seating and is great place to spend a few hours with a wood fired pizza and a drink. Lastly, I'm looking forward to checking out the new Carnitas Snack Shack in Del Mar. Chef Hanis Cavin works magic with pork.”
And there you have it folks, some very nice selections from the Belly Up promotional team. To check out their amazing concert calendar and subscribe to their email list go to www.bellyup.com.