Stroll. Sip. Nibble. on Downtown Patios



Story by Pat Mues
Photos by Tehara Tweed
(Reprinted with permission of Escondido CITY Magazine, read online here)

Looking for an easy evening out?  Take a stroll down Grand Avenue and you’re sure to find the perfect spot for a drink and some of the best appetizers around.  From a busy streetside scene to a secluded table for two, we spent an afternoon at six of the street’s hottest spots to give you a sneak peak at what’s cooking on Grand.

Sidewalk cafe.  We began at Delight of France with a classic cheese plate with crisp apples and pears, luscious berries.   Charcutière included thinly sliced ham and a rich pate de campagne.  Along with freshly baked baguettes and glasses of red and white wine, we enjoyed the contrasts between savory and sweet, crunchy and creamy.  It felt like we were at a country picnic set in the heart of the city.

Guys’ Night Out.  When we arrived at O’Sullivans, there were a dozen drinks waiting for us so we pulled up stools at the wrap-around bar and grabbed a glass.  The Guiness had the proper bitter bite while a spicy Jalapeno cucumber martini had heat but the favorite was a Root Beer “Float.”  We ordered the Irish nachos—a bed of potato “chips” smothered in shredded corned beef with all the California condiments—sour cream, avocado and salsa.  We dug in—there was plenty to go around. (Happy hours: M-F 4-7, Sat. 11-4, Sun. all day)

Cocktail hour.  With a new name and new French chef, we were curious about  Bellamy’s.  We began with a house cocktail, the Pear Blossom, which was sweet, tart and refreshing.  We considered pomme frites and burgers, but opted for chilled corn soup with a scallop ceviche and a squeeze of lime—smooth and slightly sweet, it was addictive.  A plate of Santa Barbara spot prawns with garlic and cilantro provided flavors that were clean and decidedly French. (Happy hour M-F 3-7pm)

Intimate evening.  Boxwoods atop a wrought iron fence gave seclusion to Vincent’s front patio.  Crisp white tablecloths, gleaming flatware and sparkling crystal gave a formal touch to classic French starters.  An evening special, house-smoked fish in a pool of dill sauce, was served with the thinnest, crispiest toast points.  A beet salad done carpaccio-style with lemon vinaigrette, arugula and goat cheese quenelles—we cleaned the plate.  Along with a crisp white wine, it made for a bonne soirée. (Specials TWTh)

Party for four.  Rustic tables and a wood bar made Intertwined outside a great spot for people-watching.  We looked at the menu and wondered what to choose. Red wine or white?  Beef or something light? We picked them all.  A Trio of Beef Sliders with blue cheese, bacon and caramelized pear were wonderful with a flight of three Cabernets.  Then the Avocado and Mango Tower topped with a luscious crab salad arrived and that was everybody’s favorite, especially with its own threesome of Chardonnays.  (Happy hour Tu-F 4-6:30pm)

Cool courtyard.  Vinz has patios front and back, we chose the lush courtyard with climbing bougainvillea.  A picture-perfect Root Beer Martini was a potent twist on a childhood favorite. White wine—aptly named “Butter”—was a good pairing for both goat cheese wrapped in crispy filo with fruit and Cajun sesame salmon with a colorful confetti of peppers.  With the last bite of salmon, the glass of white wine was emptied and the church bells chimed six.

For four hours we’d wended our way up and down Grand, tasting and sipping and tasting again.  We found bold new flavors, interesting takes on classics, inventive cocktails, and an impressive selection of beers and wines.  Let the happy hours begin.

A Delight of France  126 West Grand Ave 760-746-2644
O’ Sullivan’s Irish Pub  118 East Grand Ave  760-737-0954
Bellamy’s   417 West Grand Ave  760-747-5000
Vincent’s  113 W. Grand Avenue  760-745-3835
Intertwined Bistro and Wine Bar  113 E. Grand Avenue  760-432-9839
Vinz Wine Bar  201 E. Grand Avenue  760-743-8466