"We're all about providing a great place with great food where people can come and have a conversation over dinner," said Katie Geppert, general manager at Encontro, which opened in North Park earlier this year. The name comes from the verb "Encontrar" (to meet, to find or to discover) and their aim is to be a community hub at the corner of University and 30th Street.
The interior, designed by Paul Basile of BASILE Studios, features lots of wood, copper and other metals. "It's very industrial-chic," Geppert said. "We've softened it up with some hanging plants and pretty greenery going up the walls. It's a feast for the eyes." The community-style seating is designed to get people talking and meeting others. True to North Park's atmosphere, owner John Sarkisian is all about supporting local businesses: "We have 24 taps, and almost all are San Diego or California beers," Geppert said. They also serve delicious milkshakes made with Hammond's Ice Cream.
As for the food? The menu features a variety of sandwiches and fresh, filling salads. You can't go wrong with their sausages, which are made fresh in-house every day-Geppert's favorite is the Thai, which is made with a shrimp and duroc pork blend. The Portobello fries, which come with shaved parmigiano-reggiano, shouldn't be skipped. "I haven't met someone who hasn't liked it yet," said Geppert. She also recommended the Grilled Little Gems, "which is basically grilled lettuce-it's so good and you wouldn't really expect it." Other sides include crisp fried Brussels sprouts with bacon, Baron's mini corn dogs and Mary's fried chicken sliders.
Encontro just released some new menu items, including fried chicken, a North Park BLT, pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese, as they experiment to find what North Park loves most.
Encontro is open for lunch and dinner every day. They stay open until midnight on Friday and Saturday for late night cravings, and serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Hungry diners can order online. Look for their late night window to reopen in September or October with a limited menu (consisting mostly of fried items). Get more information at encontronorthpark.com.
Encontro, 3001 University Ave., North Park