You have to love the story of the waitress at a popular nightspot in Pacific Beach who works her way up to bartender, manager, general manager then tops out as a managing partner and decides she can do it herself, closer to home in Encinitas. That’s the nutshell story of Lisa Belasco who opened the Lumberyard Tavern & Grill last November in the former Pino space in the Lumberyard. And to top it off, she pulled this off with a toddler and a nine-month old in tow as she went through the one year renovation process with her husband Pete.
Her efforts have paid off with a thriving establishment that has something for just about everyone. It’s a great looking space, with rustic wood, clean lines, a big bar area, plenty of TV’s for sporting events and surf videos, and comfortable booths. The transformation from the old school Italian of Pino’s is dramatic and if there is a look for a tavern and grill, they nailed it. It’s also one of those places where parents can take their kids along, yet feel as if they are not in a cheesy chain restaurant. It really is a great mix of clientele as the bar is bustling with an attractive crowd as well.
So, it’s a great looking place, diverse crowd, perfect downtown Encinitas location, owners worth supporting, so how about the food? To tell you the truth, I never really have expectations when it comes to bar food, unless I’m in NY or a handful of places in San Diego, but the Lumberyard has put some thought into their menu, and it’s a pleasant surprise. To start, they brought in a young, up and coming chef in Ryan Adams who honed his craft at Calypso for years. Ryan has put his touch on the menu with some innovative, tasty offerings. His starters offer the traditional tavern fare such as hot wings, calamari and sliders, but then he throws some surprises in there like a flamed grilled artichoke which is cut in half then grilled (thank you for that Ryan), and a grilled shrimp starter with chipotle aioli that is a direct reflection on his higher end days at Calypso. Other starters include fish tacos, a grilled stuffed Portobello with crab meat, and seared sesame tuna. The starters range in price from $5-$13. A daily selection of soups, salads and special Tavern recipe chili are also available.
A full selection of pizza and pastas are also available but it’s the burgers that have been drawing the rave reviews. There are eight to choose from and they are all half-pound portions served on a pretzel bun with a choice of fries or house salad. I’ve had the classic white cheddar burger and will say it’s one of the best in town. I’ll be back to try the Chili cheese burger smothered in tavern chili. The burgers are all around $10.
The large menu selection continues with a huge variety of sandwiches and wraps including a few that I will have to come back and try in the meatloaf sandwich, reuben, and pulled pork sandwich. Most of the sandwiches are in the $10 range as well.
The grill selection on the menu is where Ryan takes the leap from bar food to moderately priced steakhouse which is a nice option for those looking for more than tavern fare. A New York strip, flat iron, baby back ribs, porterhouse pork chop and grilled salmon are all available and all moderately priced under $22. I’ve not sampled this portion of the menu yet but if Ryan’s history at Calypso is any indication, they should all be solid options. We tried the strawberry waffle sundae which they form into an amazing ice cream sandwich.
Chef Adams is also featuring weekly specials that are worth subscribing to their eNewsletter to find out about in advance. Grilled Quail and some wild game selections have all been featured. You can sign up for their eNewsletter at www.lumberyardtavern.com. Lisa has also made a commitment to an extensive wine selection and will be featuring wine tasting and special pairings in the near future. They are open for lunch 7 days per week and are now offering breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lumberyard Tavern & Grill feels like it’s been a part of Encinitas for a long time, which is a good thing. They are located at 967 S. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. Call 760.479.1657 for more information.<< Back