I can’t be the only one who makes entire meals out of side dishes. In fact, I often prefer to eat from a combination of appetizers and starters rather than order an entree. In this quest to compose the perfect side dish meal, I’ve come across the culinary delights listed below that I continue to frequent again and again. Please note: Anything savory that’s not the main meal counts as a side dish in my book.
Here are some outstanding small plates/side dishes/appetizers/noshers available on North County menus.
1. Squash Blossoms | Cucina Enoteca
These stuffed and fried blossoms boast a soft-but-firm texture that’s divine. Think delicious fried coating, lemon ricotta and mint arugula gremolata all in one place – your mouth. Also, I don’t always see it on the menu but the spicy carrot hummus is a fantastic dip accompaniment.
- Address: 2730 Via De La Valle, Del Mar 92014
- Website: urbankitchengroup.com
2. Charred Brussels Sprouts | Westroot Tavern
I know, I know. Brussels sprouts are available on every menu. But when they come with pork belly and citrus-herb vinaigrette, chives, and cotija cheese, you cannot live without them once they’ve been in your company. I feel almost as strongly about Westroot’s carne asada fries.
- Address: 6025 Village Way, San Diego 92130
- Website: westroot.com
3. Chili | Mama Kat’s
Please tell me you’ve been to Mama Kat’s, the mother of all comfort-food joints? Most homemade tasty Mama Kat concoctions rock, but the chili is something special and a full meal unto itself, even if I eat it as a side dish.
- Address: 950 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos 92078
- Website: mamakats.com
4. Mediterranean Platter | Yanni’s
This platter, available in small or large, like all good platters should be, comes with beets, feta, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, roasted vegetables, tomato basil, avocado, pepperoncini, olives, Prosciutto di Parma ham, pita, and tzatziki. Along with a glass of wine and a basket of Yanni’s crispy breads, this platter leads to side-dish nirvana.
- Address: 12205 Scripps Poway Pkwy., Poway
- Website: yannisbistro.com
5. Cheddar and Chive Biscuits | Solace & Moonlight Lounge
Not convinced? These are warm. These come with orange-honey butter and smoked tomato jam. These are biscuits.
- Address: 25 East E.St., Encinitas 92024
- Website: eatatsolace.com
6. Charcuterie Platter | Solterra Winery
Solterra serves one of the best charcuterie platters I’ve had in the county. As an added bonus, it’s enormous and breeds leftovers, unless you’re really hungry, which is my go-to state of being. It’s really in your best interest to get the mixed plate, which features meats and cheeses, plus olives, almonds, and housemade condiments.
- Address: 934 N. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas 92024
- Website: solterrawinery.com
7. Bread with Extra Marinara Sauce | Sorrento’s Pizza
Here are your instructions: order the garlic bread with a side of extra marinara sauce. Sorrento’s is one of my favorite authentic Italian spots in North County, and you’ll see why if you do what I tell you.
- Address: 1450 W. Mission Blvd., San Marcos 92069
- Website: sorrentossanmarcos.wixsite.com/pizza
8. Fried Cheese Curds | Urge Gastropub & Whiskey Bank
I hail from the Midwest and went to college in Milwaukee. I require cheese curds remain at a certain level in my system at all times. These are tasty white cheddar curds California-ized with chipotle tempura batter (not greasy in the least) and chipotle aioli. It’s a fantastic combination.
- Address: 2002 S. Coast Hwy., Oceanside 92054
- Website: urgegastropub.com
9. Meatballs | Sublime
Sublime may not be known for its meatballs, but I know Sublime’s meatballs. That wasn’t a riddle, it’s a fact. I tend to order two meatball bowls at minimum because I inevitably have to share, and I need an entire bowl to myself or someone’s gonna pay.
- Address: 1020 West San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos
- Website: sublimealehouse.com
10. Fries with Three Dips | Wooden Spoon
The Wooden Spoon just calls them “House Fries” and lets you order your choice of dips. I renamed them “Fries with Three Dips” because dips give me life. I usually get these fries with the poutine (DO IT!), bacon-onion jam, and roasted chicken gravy.
- Address: 805 E. Valley Parkway, Escondido 92025
- Website: woodenspoonsd.com
I expect passion here – what’s your favorite side dish and where do you get it?