Gag Me Now

Picked this up from the About section of a new restaurant

"We are Encontro—from the verb “Encontrar” – “To meet, to find, or to discover”

Conceived to offer a new vision for craft beer & food in North Park.

Seasonal, chef-driven dishes served in a unique Paul Basile-designed space. Where cool coexists with quickness and convenience. And walk-up window eats—right in the heart of 30th Street—quell your late-night cravings."

I’m sorry…check that, no I’m not…but could they fit any more tired, trite foodie buzz words into their info page to describe themselves???

One look at the menu will tell you their new vision looks pretty much like every other San Diego menu. Not a new thing on it. Kale Caesar…check. Chopped Salad…check. Wedge Salad…check. Burger(s)…check. Something using Mary’s chicken…check. Something using Duroc pork…check. Yawn.

Seasonal, chef driven? What menu isn’t these days? So does that mean the menu will change and shift as the seasons do? Will certain menu items go off the menu when the ingredients go out of season?

Cool coexisting with quickness and convenience? What the hell does that mean.

It’s all just a little too cutesy, a little too contrived and a little too formulaic. Just sounds a little too insincere to me. When will we stop talking about food in overly reverential, awed and hushed tones as if it is the second coming of Escoffier?

Gimme a break and just gimme some decent food. I don’t need the side of hyperbole

Off the rant box. For all I know this place will be great, lord knows, they’ve got a great location…


The fact that you omitted mentioning their signature item - a variety of housemade sausages!!! - indicates to me that you are unfairly biased against this place. And 24 rotating taps in North Park? How could it fail - they really are starving for beer selection in that hood.

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And the hype already started on Eater. Couldn’t agree more about your opinion - one bullshit bingo word after another.


I’m on the same page with you and Honk on this one, DD. Yes, the recent crop of buzz stuff* is becoming very boring, very tiring.

*BuzzFood, BuzzWords, BuzzDécor, etc.


Actually, I really dig sausage.

Craft beer, craft burgers and craft tube steak. How can it miss!!

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LOL…Quit making me think thangs!

Sorry, its the sophomoric Virgo in me that made me do it…

So we actually tried this place the other day.

I can’t say I like it, but I am going to say that I see no reason for me to go back.

It’s basically a burger and salad joint. Ok, technically a sandwich and salad joint.

But still, in/around that intersection there are at least a handful of places that make a better and more interesting burger or sandwich and salad options (like Crazee, Urban Solace, Waypoint).

My burger with the recommended Worcestershire sauce was no better than what I could get at Shake Shack. Our other selection of a chorizo sandwich was for some reason really really sweet. Made me yearn even more for Hola Che.

The one bonus was that we were able to get a root beer float made with hard root beer, and Hammond’s ice cream. Win win.

I guess the raison d’être of Econtro is their craft beer selection. Good thing too, because North Park is definitely short on places serving craft beer (on tap, no less).

I guess if you want to get didactic and anal about it, it’s basically Tender Greens by another name, and with more alcohol.

Would’ve been better off at Urban Solace, then walked over to Caffe Calabria for a gelato night cap.

Yeah, I’ve been hearing some good reports too about this place. My complaint wasn’t necessarily about the food just how contrived and cutesy (okay, pretentious) their description of themselves was…

I don’t know but I am tired of restaurants who mainly focus on food between some kind of bread, e.g. burgers, panini, sandwich etc. This is most of the time boring food, e.g. bread with some protein which is cheap and fast to make for restaurants. I wish more restaurants would do “real” cooking either with small plates or “classic” appetizer and entrees but with more and more gastro/brew/tasting rooms opening it seems to get worse and worse, the menu of Encontro is a good example - not a single dish looks remotely interesting

It’s expensive and time-intensive to actually hire a real cook. Much less a real chef.

Easier to make assembly-food, and then to make your profits from the liquor license.

Completely agree but somehow I still prefer restaurants over food factories even if I have to pay more, I know pretty silly thought.

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As do I, and would also do the same (pay more), but most do not, and would (or can) not.

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Not going completely OT but I often hear that argument that people can’t afford good food (and obviously there are many people with significant financial problems) but I doubt that the percentage of people who would be willing to pay more for good, real food is actually significany higher than most restaurants owners believe. There is a reason why good restaurants with chefs/owners who have a good idea about the restaurant business are actually doing well even in SD. The problem with many of these restaurant owners who are starting and running these assembly line food factories is their inexperience running a “real” restaurant especially the BOH part (and if they could they would be able to run even bigger profits than with assembly lines restaurants) Running a kitchen as a Urban Solace, Georges, J&I is very different than running it at Encontro

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Although the boundary between what you define as being a “restaurant” and a “food factory” might be somewhat ambiguous, I generally agree with your comments.

It’s obviously not only black and white but recently it seems that every brewery needs their own tasting room/restaurant with this simple sandwich, fries, chicken wings type food. And since we seem to have hundreds of breweries in SD the only new restaurants opening one can read about are those types

“simple sandwich, fries, chicken wings type food”

Those are all low food cost, high menu price items that don’t require a fully trained chef. You can train just about anyone to drop fries, make wings and build a sandwich or a burger…please trust me on this one…this is what I do for a living.

We’ve had multiple generations in the U.S. who have grown up with food being an inexpensive commodity, so the inbred (at this point) cultural history and expectation is that food should be “cheap”. The reality is that food is not inexpensive and probably should carry a higher price tag to more accurately reflect the true costs of growing and getting food to market. Couple the expectation for cheap food with the inability of many to adequately process and prepare food (i.e. can’t cook), and a general lack of understanding or appreciation for taste and you end up with the taco shops on every corner and burger joints right next door that people RAVE about and call amazing. Burgers can be quite good food, but I’d rarely call them amazing.

I’m with you on the longing for real food…with interesting preparations and flavor profiles and something other than an airline chicken or preformed salmon filet. But I’m conditioned like everyone else to expect these items to carry a lower plate and menu cost whether that’s realistic or not. I balk at paying $25 or more a plate for chicken or salmon. I balked at paying $20 for one of Curtises chickens because my mind was telling me “it shouldn’t cost that much”. I had to really reexamine the whole dynamic and determine what my value structure is regarding food. Some days it is important to me to know where my eggs, or chicken came from, that my salmon was wild caught, that my food has no, or at least minimal, pesticides or other extraneous materials and is minimally processed. That the farmers that grew or raised what I’m eating are making a fare wage and can support their families. Other days none of this matters. Call me fickle but I don’t think I’m that different than most eaters/diners

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What good is having great craft beer to go with a pedestrian sandwich…nada!

Well said DD. . .

Seeing that chefs and restaurateurs have a hard time keeping “real food” places open in SD, how could you expect brewers with no food industry experience to risk $$$ to attempt running one?

The startup costs for a small brewery are well over $1 million now, that doesn’t really leave room in budgets for kitchen equipmnt and staff for startups.