Oceanside has been coming into it’s own as a dining destination for several years now with options ranging from funky lowbrow to fine dining and just about everything in between. Masters fits nicely in that in-between space with it’s comfortable cool (but not to cool) atmosphere and a menu that goes from solid staples to more adventurous gourmet fare that reflects the impressive resume of Executive Chef Christopher Gallo.
Master’s is located blocks from the beach in the heart of Oceanside in an industrial space with classic history as Masters was once a dragster shop. Built in 1938, the classic, historic building was originally Master's automotive and machine shop. At the time it was the only auto parts store in North County. In the 1950’s, the machine shop partnered with a drag shop to become Drag Masters Auto. The Jubela family purchased the building in the 1970’s, and housed an automotive/parts store, corporate office and warehouse from the space. Even up until 2014, it was an automotive business. The revamped restaurant keeps its authentic character, and offers a warm and inviting dining experience. A separate bar with communal seating serves traditional craft cocktails and a good selection of beer.
Ryan and brother Adam Jubela are a chef and architect respectively and worked together to design and build out the industrial space. In addition, the two hand-built many custom features and fixtures in the space. In designing, the brothers made an effort to keep as much of the original building as possible; keeping the original infrastructure, floors and textures of brick & reclaimed wood. The design of the interior melds old with new, while plants and fresh skylights brighten up the masculine space. They felt it pays homage to guys who worked for years in the building and contributes to the history of Oceanside. I think they succeeded in their objective.
Now back to the food, or the talent in the kitchen executing the menu. Executive Chef Christopher Gallo cooks up California casual comfort food “with an artisan’s twist” as they put it. The focus is on fresh food served without pretense. Chef Gallo has spent the last 10 years working on his own style of cooking and has brought that passion and swagger to Master’s Kitchen and Cocktail. He has worked for some of the finest Chefs in San Diego starting in 2006 as chef garde manger for Chef Stephane Voitzwinker at Bertrand at Mister A’s downtown. He worked his way through countless stations over the next 3 1⁄2 years to become a lead line chef. He then then went to learn from Chef Jeff Jackson at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. From my experience interviewing chefs over the years, every single one that spent time with Jeff Jackson at A.R. Valentien has made their mark elsewhere and Chef Gallo is no exception. He spent over 3 1⁄2 years working many different positions for Chef Jackson including lead line chef for A.R Valentien, hotel butcher, and hotel saucier. Both Chef Jackson and Chef Voitzwinker helped Chef Chris find his own professional style in the kitchen at it shows at Masters. It should be noted that the cocktail program at Masters is headed up by Tommy Shankland, a noted mixologist who has created a menu that can be described as traditional with with a modern twist. Whatever you call it, it adds a very fun and delicious element to Masters.
So with all this talent in the kitchen and behind the bar, you might be curious as to what they are serving up. My suggestion would be to check out the menu on a regular basis, as they are quite good at keeping things seasonal and trust me, with Chef Gallo at the helm, you are going to find something to enjoy on this menu. The marinated watermelon salad with mint pesto, crispy avocado and confit baby heirloom tomato is a nice way to start and the Durac pork chop with chorizo cornbread, cotija and lime skillet corn and pork jus is a good one to follow with. I’d wrap things up with the fabulous candy bar dessert…just trust me on this one. There are some fun looking sandwiches, burgers, salads, and small plates to share as well.
Masters is open 7 days for lunch and dinner, brunch on weekends, and Sunday dinner at 208 South Coast Highway, Oceanside. 760.231.6278 Check out their website at www.mastersoceanside.com