Encontro’s vision is to be more than a restaurant, they are designed to be a gathering spot in the community. And while the food brought me to Encontro, the open, Paul Basile-designed space in the heart of 30th Street and friendly staff made me want to linger.
North Park’s noteworthy foodie scene rose to new heights with last year’s opening of Encontro. Gracing the corner of 30th and University, Encontro is a neighborhood fast-casual eatery, focused on craft food. Taking some time to work through the seasonal menu of perfectly prepared dishes, I got the opportunity to chat with Executive Chef Jason Hotchkiss.
His story is a unique one. Chef Jason fell in love with food in San Francisco, recalling the sensory experience of the food culture there. After moving to LA, he helped grow a popular chain from 6 restaurants to over 200. Luckily for us, Jason’s last stop down the California coast is San Diego, moving here to be close to his sister and racking up an impressive resume working for some of the best known brands in the city, including Cohn Restaurant Group and the Patio Group. Although he helped shape the opening menu for Encontro, Chef Jason only took the helm a few weeks ago. Now, he is looking to expand the restaurant’s brunch offerings. Already, Chef Jason has reworked the dinner menu, with exceptional results:
Portobello Fries – A crowd favorite, the fried portobello mushrooms were a perfect combination of soft and crunchy, full of flavor.
Little Gems – The most surprisingly delightful dish at Encontro, the Little Gems reminded me of a new version of Brussel Sprouts. The grilled lettuce leaves are dressed with a greek dressing and Parmigiano Reggiano and are crunchy, zesty, and borderline addictive.
Homemade Sausages – We sampled a few flavors of the homemade sausages at Encontro, including:
Italian Sausage: Duroc pork blend with oregano, sweet garden fennel, grilled sweet peppers, grilled onions, and banana peppers.
Thai Sausage: Shrimp and Duroc pork blend with grilled sweet peppers, grilled onions, and banana peppers.
Lamb Sausage: Leg of lamb with tzatziki and mint.
Mac N’ Cheese – Crimini mushrooms added an unexpected flair to elbow pasta with aged cheddar, american cheese, and parsley.
Patatas Bravas – Salt roasted red potatoes with pickled fresno aioli are impossible not to love.
Fresh Catch – Seasonal grilled fresh catch with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled carrots. The day’s Ahi was perfectly cooked and full of flavor.
3001 UNIVERSITY AVENUE
SAN DIEGO, CA 92104
619 291 1220