Yes, it’s happened, critical restaurant mass has been achieved in Leucadia and more are on the way. I realized this last week when riding my bike north on 101 through the Taste of Leucadia that out of nowhere, a restaurant scene has developed and it is rapidly changing this sleepy little slice of Encinitas and food and nightlife enthusiasts are taking note. Personally, I’m fine with it as long as we continue to support the old-school places that helped shape its identity and not turn this into another overly gentrified party zone. Hopefully the crowds that this new scene will inevitably draw, will respect the Leucadia funk and realize that this is not Pacific Beach, or even downtown Encinitas for that matter. With that, I’ll get off my high horse and provide a quick tour up the 3 mile stretch that is Leucadia.
I checked with my neighbor and Leucadia 101 board member Patricia Bell to get a definitive answer to what boundaries actually make up Leucadia. She replied with, “The Leucadia101 Mainstreet program area is from La Costa Ave., to Encinitas Blvd. Many of the vintage locals still argue where Encinitas begins and Leucadia ends, but one motto our organization lives by is, it’s all good." OK then, that clears things up. Kidding, that is the area I’ve been defining it by for years so let’s stick with that.
Before we begin our journey up the coast, I have identified places that I’ve dedicated columns to with an asterisk and you can check out their full story at www.lick-the-plate.com .
A slice of Jamaica at Jamroc begins our journey on Coast Highway 101 just north of Encinitas Boulevard. . Captain Keno’s* is next and should be designated as the one of the original funky places in Leucadia. Please, stop in, and you will see what I’m talking about. HapiFish* is walking distance up 101 and has finally made that space work with their sushi and seafood menu and happening social scene. In fact, the crowd there has been known to migrate down to Keno’s after they close. The Birdcage* is next and brings Turkish delights and belly dancing on the weekends to the scene. Up the way a bit is Juanita’s*, my favorite Mexican spot anywhere. The Pannikin* is an institution, enough said. Cross the street to Robbie’s Roadhouse and Vigilucci's Pizzeria* both part of the Vigilucci empire. We are blessed to have a great selection of Mexican soup in the area and La Especial Norte is always in that conversation. Vegetarians and vegans get their greens on at Mozy Café and Peace Pies which occupy one corner of 101 and Daphne Street.
Monster subs at really reasonable prices can be found at Sub Palace a bit further north. If you are thinking about a sub and want something a little more original than Subway, give this place a shot. Pandora Pizza* was a forerunner of the currant Leucadia influx of quality when they landed over a year ago near the corner of 101 and Leucadia Boulevard. Right next door is another fine Mexican option in Kotija, Jr. Karina’s and Foodie Amor sit side by side and are a perfect example of old school and new coexisting. This is also the beginning of what could be Leucadia’s restaurant row with the soon-to-open Solterra Winery, followed by El Torito Market, Café Ipe*, and The Regal Seagull, the new sausage and beer joint that just opened.
A Little More Diner keeps it classic and non-pretentious followed by the Beach Tea House which is on my list to check out, and the wonderful world of Hago’s Organic Taco’s* that combines funky and delicious. Situated right next door to a used car lot, Yu me Ma* Sake House is the intimate Japanese tapas style that must be experienced. Dos Palmas is another fairly new entry on the scene that combines a bakery and Mexican food.
Rounding out the northernmost stretch of Coast Highway are the wildly successful Fish 101*, Leucadia Donut, and one more Mexican option in Roberto’s.
That’s roughly 30 food options in a 3 mile stretch with more coming soon. And by the way, while you are eating your way through Leucadia, be sure to support the local retailers that occupy that stretch as well. Places like Lou’s Records and Ducky Waddles are part of what’s keeping Leucadia funky too.