Monday, January 30, 2012

The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro, Encinitas, California - Review

Just 25 minutes (on a traffic free day) north of downtown San Diego, lies Encinitas, California, a quintessential surf town featuring streets lined with restaurants, shops, cafes and about six miles of gorgeous California coastline.  A popular tourist destination, Encinitas has stepped up its restaurant offerings bringing numerous choices for a good meal.

Drawing me from the neighboring city of Carlsbad, The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro has been my dining venue of choice no less than three times in the last month, and is bound to be a favorite for food and wine enthusiasts alike.  The 3rd Corner web site seems to sum it up best:

The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro is a restaurant revolution. Like the cell phone to the land line, The 3rd Corner has made eating out fun again. Our living wine list, fine food and affordable pricing all add up to the perfect dining and wine shopping experience. Food critics and wine writers alike agree that The 3rd Corner is an idea whose time has come.

With tables nestled around a veritable wine shop, one dines among the surrounding bottles and has the option to order wine by the glass or by the retail priced bottle (corkage fee applies).  With over 800 bottles to choose from, finding a bottle to your liking and within your budget is nearly guaranteed.  Might I add that the '09 Elk Cove Pinot, with its hints of cherry, blackberry, cream and espresso, remains my current favorite.

Offering lunch, Happy Hour, dinner, and Sunday Brunch, The 3rd Corner presents menus featuring fine, fresh food at prices that will not break your wallet.  From salads to fish tacos to juicy New York Steaks, choices abound and should please everyone from the vegetarian to the meat eater in your party.

Beginning two of my three visits with the Artisan Cheese Plate, I've gushed to friends about the bountiful, higher end, cheese offerings paired with apples, walnuts and a delightful sweet, date spread.  For our Mom's Night Out, the cheese plate was plentiful enough for 3 moms to snack on as we enjoyed a glass or two of wine while enjoying our conversation.  The artisan plate also served to appease the hunger of my husband, Father-in-law and myself after a particularly stressful afternoon as we de-stressed with our wine after ordering our meals.

Wild Arugula Salad with Grilled Salmon
Each of my three visits provided excellent service and always with friendly, knowledgeable, servers who have made us feel as though we were returning friends.  My choice of the Wild Arugula Salad with pickled red onions, hard boiled eggs, bacon, croutons and a balsamic vinaigrette became a bit more substantial with the addition of a grilled to perfection salmon fillet.  My Father-in-law has proclaimed the 3rd Corner Burger one of his favorites (the salty/crunchy French fries were addicting), while my husband thoroughly enjoyed the Pan Roasted Salmon atop a caramelized onion potato cake with a tomato and fennel confit.

Lunch, just this afternoon, has me gushing once again.  This time it's the Grilled Fish Tacos accompanied by cabbage-jalapeño slaw and aioli with a side of black bean salad that has my attention.  My two lunch mates (also tired moms in need of a good meal out) enjoyed their lunches just as much as I did complimenting the 3rd Corner Steak Sandwich (thin sliced N.Y. steak, peppers, onions, aged cheddar cheese, jalapeño aioli) and the Roasted Portabella Sandwich (boursin, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, greens, balsamic glaze served on a fresh roll).

While I have only sampled desserts to share with my dining companions, I can definitively say that the Vanilla Creme Brulee was as good as described, and the Chocolate Turtle Torte exceeded expectations with those fought after candied pecans.  Rumor has it that the Chocolate Chip Croissant Bread Pudding is also not to be missed.

Chocolate Turtle Torte with Candied Pecans and Vanilla Ice Cream
My visits to The 3rd Corner have focused on meals, however I've heard over and over about the popularity of the bar venue for evenings and weekends, and have been advised that reservations are in order for peak hour dining.  Leaving the restaurant around 10 PM on our Mom's Night Out, I can vouch that the bar was indeed packed with a demographic of mixed age locals - meaning my mid-40's aged self was not the oldest to be found.

Located in the Lumberyard Center on South Coast Highway in downtown Encinitas, I'm deeming The 3rd Corner one of my new favorite places.  Fine wine, fine food, a beautiful wine-flaired decor and friendly service will have me returning often.


  1. Thanks for the review! I will have to check it out. It is only 15 minutes from me. Next time you go let me know! I am in Carlsbad. We can exchange blog ideas and recipes over wine =)

  2. I grew up in encinitas and I went to this restaurant for New Years this year. We had a terrible expereince. We made our reservation for 9pm and by the time we got there, they were out of half the stuff on their menu. We ordered vodka sodas and they were out of soda. Crazy things like that. They were out of their nightly special, duck wings, the mahi mahi, and other things!! The food that they did have available was delicious. The service was snail slow and they werent even busy anymore. The manager came out to make sure every thing was alright with our dinner but she was didnt introduce herself and she was drunk!! It became a joke by the end of the night. I do want to try this place again beacuse the food was soo good ( I had the burger) but the service was extremely bad!!

  3. this post made me miss my home in Carmel Valley so much. It was just sinking in this morning while i watched a golf tournament on tv in Torrey Pines. Yep after 4 months of moving here to STL that TV replay plus this post made me miss SD soooo sooo much!

  4. Anonymous... so sorry you had a bad experience!! I was actually there New Years Eve as well and had quite the opposite.

    We had prompt service and wonderful food. Can't comment regarding the soda being out as we drank wine...

    The restaurant was decked out for the New Year and our night was a good one. If you give the restaurant another try I hope your next visit is a good one.

  5. Love your photos and that wine mecca sounds great :-) In fact, Pinned that cork wall - great idea for a cellar, n'est-ce pas? You mean there were people older than your good self in there, Kim? Lol. Sounds a great Mum's night out - now try saying Chocolate Turtle Torte 5 times extremely fast after a glass or two of that yummy Elk Cove Pinot.

  6. What a great concept! I wonder if something like this would go here. ALL of that food looks fabulous. I want to take a trip to the Bistro NOW.

  7. What a fun place to go! The food looks amazing, and I can only imagine how wonderful the wine is! I am all over the steak sandwich - too bad I don't live near by :(


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