TR Robertson -Linda Pina and Carla Werts love good food, good restaurants and telling people about what makes Oceanside and Vista so special. Seven years ago, they began a Walking Food Tour company, called Carla and Linda’s Walking Food Tours, that took those signing up to a variety of restaurants in Oceanside and while walking to the restaurants telling people a little history about the area and pointing out special features in the area. The premise of the tour was to meet at a location, walk to the first stop pointing out things along the way, sit and eat a sample of their food while socializing, staying about 30 minutes then moving to another location repeating the same itinerary. Four restaurants were included, making the food tour about 2 ½ hours long. Two years ago, they added Vista to their tour list.
Initially the Walking Food Tours for Oceanside divided Oceanside up into three locations, North Oside, South Oside and Heart of Oceanside. Some of the restaurants included were Petite Madeline, Jalisco Cantina, Orfila Wine Tasting, PCH Bar & Grill, Privateer, Flying Pig, Exhale, Baggy Beer and Masters. The restaurants used periodically change. The Heart of Oceanside tour is no longer offered. Carla and Linda also offer Wine & Beer Tours and Private Tours for events like Bridal Showers and Birthday Parties.
For the Vista Walking Food Tour on Saturday, Carolyn and I met Linda at the Starbuck’s on Main Street around 1:20 pm. Also going on the tour was Denis and Debbie Litalien from Augusta, Maine. They said they come to Oceanside for a few weeks during the winter season, liking California better than Florida. Denis and Debbie had been on the Oceanside Walking Food Tours with Carla and Linda and loved the chance to try new places as well as find out about the area. Our first stop was a leisurely stroll to URBN Coal Fired Pizza at 203 Main Street. We were in for quiet a treat as our small group shared an URBN Salad and a Mashed Potato Pizza. The URBN Salad is amazing including field greens, pear, walnut brittle gorgonzola and a suburb house vinaigrette. The thin crust coal fired pizza is tasty, the Mashed Potato Pizza a first for me. It was a white pie pizza with bacon, fresh mozzarella and parmigiana. Great flavor. You can also order any of their pizza’s half and half, such as the Mashed Potato Pizza and a B(URBN) BBQ Chicken Pizza. There are eleven pizzas’ available or you can create your own. URBN will also deliver across the street to Barrel and Stave Public House. This was a great start to the walking tour. Go to www.urbnvista.com for a complete menu.
Off to the next stop, Linda pointed out the unusual iron artwork statue, Alley Cat, just outside of URBN, one of the Randall Art Ranch pieces in Downtown Historic Vista. A short walk down Main to Indiana St. down to our next destination, Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill, 302 E. Broadway. First, we passed another of the Randall Art Ranch large iron sculptures, Alley Art Man. In the distance we could see the large iron hearts facing Main St., each one holding hundreds of locks people had carefully secured to a spot on the hearts. Entering Belching Beaver our group headed to the Vault, an actual vault once used by the Vista Bank that was converted into the brewery and restaurant. The Vault now is the ‘wine cellar” for Belching Beaver and it also is a tasting room for events like out Food Tour. The large table in the center of the Vault is a former bank of safe deposit boxes, now laying on their sides and covered by a large clear glass top. Executive Corporate Chef Michael C. Brown gave a presentation of what our tasting meal would be today. We would be sampling Potato Leek Soup, Tempura Leeks with Pesto Sauce and Leeks with off bone braised short ribs. All three were amazing dishes. Chef Michael said the Leek Soup was something he put together for us and was not even on the menu. I also had a delicious tasting Belching Beaver Scroopy Noopers Amber beer, one of the 70 beers on tap inside the restaurant. A total of 126 beers are on tap including the taps in the outside entertainment area. Chef Michael recommended a few items from the extensive menu in case we returned for a lunch or dinner meal. Some of the recommended selections included the Warm Crab and Artichoke Dip, the Corned Beef Rueben, the Steak Plate, and the Bacon Poblano wrapped Pork Tenderloin. Chef has been at the Belching Beaver site for two years and he said they are extremely proud that they did not lay any employees off during the COVID years and they fed 350 Seniors every day during that time. This was a very tasty and informative stop on the Food Tour. Go to www.tavern.belchingbeaver.com for a complete menu.
We next set out for Mikko Sushi, located a block away at 330 Main St. Mikko Sushi has a great selection of rolls, noodles, tempura, appetizers, salads, Bento boxes, small plates and kids plates. Entering the restaurant, the first thing you see is the long sushi bar. One thing diners will like about Mikko’s is the quick and friendly service. Mikko Sushi was nominated this year for a Vista Chamber of Commerce Heroes of Vista Best Small Business of the Year Award. For our Food Tour Linda had ordered their California Roll and a Mikko Roll. The Mikko Roll had both salmon and tuna in it and I would definitely it order again. Go to www.mikkosushi.com for a complete menu.
From Mikko Sushi Linda decided we needed to walk off some of what we had consumed before our last stop. We walked down Citrus to Broadway, passing by a number of small businesses including the Broadway Vista Theatre, home of numerous local theatrical productions. Across the street Linda pointed out the Yellow Deli, operated by the Twelve Tribes, opening in 2010. The popular Deli is famous for great healthy sandwiches and salads as well as offering breakfast and dessert items. It is open 24 hours a day Monday thru Thursday and closed on Saturday. Friday and Sunday times listed online. Across from Belching Beaver is the third and newest Randall Art Ranch sculpture, the Time Machine. Linda pointed out additional businesses as we moved down Broadway, passing Sonic Drive-in, turning south on S. Santa Fe. We passed by the very popular Pepper Tree Frosty famous for their wide variety of malts and shakes, open since 1953, and next-door Danny’s Donuts famous for their Blueberry Donuts, open since 1973. We crossed over to the Vietnam Memorial Park, dedicated in 2016. It features some beautiful sculpture and letters engraved in the concrete that were sent home by soldiers serving in Vietnam. A number of art pieces are found along the walkway. One impressive artwork is the three Healing pieces, by Vicki Leon, that change color as you walk by them. The walk ends at Main St. and directly across the street is a large art sculpture called Big Blue Kite by Robert Rochino.
We turned on Main St., passed our starting point at Starbuck’s and entered the home of Little Cakes Kitchen, two-time winner of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, 2012 and 2013. They have a large selection of cupcakes and other dessert items for sale. I tried The Pearl – Almond Champagne with Bavarian cream, a winner at one of the cupcake war events. Carolyn tried the Chocolate Tuxedo. A sweet way to end a great food experience. Go to www.littlecakeskitchen.com/menu.
Even though you may think you know a lot about the town you live in, it is always nice to find out even more about the place you live. Carla & Linda’s Walking Food Tours offer a ground roots approach to not only great places to eat, but also a chance to learn more about your town. For more information, prices and registration go to www.shoesandchews.com or call 760-401-5968 or 760-401-6231. On page 31 of the Spring 2023 Edible San Diego Magazine a full-page ad for Carla & Linda can be found detailing with even more information about the Oceanside tours. Go online for the info on the Vista tours and other information. Also go to www.facebook.com/16690091900/videos/17712833545632558/