Americans love the great outdoors, and a trio of new local restaurants are capitalizing on our affection for camping, fishing and cooking over an open fire. One Door North in North Park, Campfire restaurant in Carlsbad and Decoy Dockside Dining in San Marcos all feature design elements that celebrate nature as well as dishes that capitalize on nature's bounty. Here's a primer on the eateries that celebrate the outdoors, indoors.
One Door North
Fred and Tammy Piehl, co-owners of North Park's popular The Smoking Goat, leased the former wine bar next door and last spring converted it into One Door North, a casual, affordably priced woodsy restaurant and bar with a name that matches its location.
The Piehls both grew up in small towns back East and share an affection for nature and adventure. The design team ran with the theme to create a sun-filled, light-woods campground decor that earned the restaurant a recent Orchid nomination in the San Diego Architectural Foundation's annual Orchids and Onions awards.
The centerpiece is a trio of tables under safari tents, backed by a forest photo mural. There are antler tap handles in the bar, kerosene lantern-inspired chandeliers and wall art includes a compass, bicycles and a mountain range painting.
Chef Fred's casual American menu has a few summer camp items, like burgers, backyard chicken schnitzel, Idaho trout almondine and a toasted s'mores bar, but he said One Door North is more about spotlighting fresh produce and proteins and artisan pizza. A few signature dishes are the farro and farmers market vegetable salad with house-made ricotta, the cheddar bratwurst mac 'n' cheese and butcher's cut steak with blistered shishito peppers and charred onion sauce. And Smoking Goat's famous duck fat fries make a cameo appearance on the appetizer menu.
Because the Piehls inherited the wine bar's 21-and-up liquor license, they can't host families yet, but they're working to change that this fall, and brunch service will be rolled out in October.
3422 30th St., North Park. (619) 618-1285 or onedoornorthsd.com
Decoy Dockside Dining
San Diego hospitality collective Eat.Drink.Sleep. went all out on this upscale culinary tribute to the hunting and fishing lifestyle.
The two-story A-frame restaurant, with a wall of glass that overlooks Lake San Marcos, was modeled by Costin Architects after a luxurious lodge in Montana. Decoy opened on Aug. 29 as the centerpiece of the company's Lakehouse Hotel & Resort.
Decoy Dockside Dining's menu is focused on fresh-water fish and wild game cooked in a wood-burning oven. Anthony Garcia's eye-popping interior decor includes a duck decoy logo, a huge model of a fish, a wall of plates that resemble fish scales, tin cutouts from an antique shooting gallery, illuminated forest wall panels, a ceiling art installation of 300 colorful buoys and leather menus stamped with the words "Open Season."
The chef team has enthusiastically embraced the unique concept with a menu featuring elk osso bucco, lavender duck, bison tartare, grilled quail, rabbit sugo pasta, bass and trout.
The formal dining room upstairs offers dinner and brunch. Downstairs, the patio Dock Bar offers a more casual lunch and dinner service.
1025 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos. (760) 744-0120 or lakehousehotelandresort.com/decoy/
In mid-September, owner/manager John Resnick of Leucadia opened this restaurant/bar in Carlsbad Village that's built around the concept of live fire cooking techniques and the communal celebration of conversation around a campfire.
Campfire's glass-walled kitchen features a 12-foot hearth, nicknamed "Grace," where executive chef Andrew Bachelier cooks, roasts, grills and smokes food with wood, charcoal, embers and ash.
The menu is locally sourced and seasonal with sustainable seafood and meats. Early top-sellers are the grilled broccoli, smoked chicken, ceviche, whole fish, brisket, lamb shank and, of course, s'mores.
An outdoor patio features a wood fire pit and a large teepee where children, like Resnick's 2-year-old daughter Elsie, can hang out while awaiting their meal. The nature decor includes a mountain mural, a wall of camping gear, arrows, oars and 10-seat private dining room (built inside an old corrugated tin shed from Camp Pendleton) with a tented firewood storage area.
The bar program, managed by Leigh Lacap, carries through the theme with outdoorsy cocktails inspired by grilled pineapple, smoked almonds and roasted corn (the latter is tinted gray by charcoal flakes).
2725 State St., Carlsbad. (760) 637-5121 or thisiscampfire.com
Source: Discover SD