Why it rates: A new inland Encinitas restaurant that says, "This isn't the place for prefab anything."
The $16 fettuccine is house-made. The thick $24 hanger steak with crispy, hand-cut duck-fat fries tastes special.
At the Craftsman New American Tavern a mound of slippy fat called pork belly with Manila clams is greasy eats, but you can order artisanal cheese, charcuterie and Pacific cod coated with earthy porcini instead.
From Wade and Kristi Hageman--owners of Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria, the coastal Encinitas place for gourmet pizza--the 100-seater Craftsman gives off a whiff of Americana (salvaged wood; chart with cuts of pork).
And executive chef Marlaw Seraspi exhibits kitchen know-how--he worked at Michael Mina venues in San Jose and San Francisco, and at the old Blanca in Solana Beach under chef Wade.
Blanca lovers will recognize the $24 merlot-braised short ribs and the tangy $7 side of Wade's Mac and Cheese.
"This joint's jumping!" a 40-something guy in cargo shorts noted one Saturday evening, when the wait hit a half-hour and the restaurant was a roar of voices. You should also know Craftsman's selling out of porchetta on busy nights.
The Craftsman New American Tavern
Located in a shopping plaza at 276 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas. (760) 452-2000 or craftsmantavern.com. Beer - 13 craft ones are on tap - wine and classic cocktails. Closed Mondays. Open for dinner Tuesdays through Sundays.
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