Bushfire Kitchen – (La Costa) Carlsbad, CA

Food brings people together in a funny way. It brings stories to life and can make a whatever day just so much better. I dare say it can even give you a glimpse into someone’s soul. Sometimes all three of these factors collide together and creates a meal that’s easy to write about because it brings back memories you wish you could savor all over again. I received an invite to try out Bushfire Kitchen and decided this particular Sunday would be a nice day to visit this new location in La Costa.   

 

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN
BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

I read great reviews about Bushfire Kitchen and Kirbie recently visited as well. The restaurant is located in the La Costa Town Center which in itself is a grand strip mall. It reminds me of Caesar’s Palace for some reason. Anyhow, forget brain fart, look for Vons and Bushfire Kitchen is a few doors down.

OUTDOOR PATIO
OUTDOOR PATIO
LIVE MUSIC
LIVE MUSIC

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Eddie, the General Manager, and I bumped into each other when I walked in. He has an intensity and a genuineness that left me nodding my head. Intensity is my middle name right. He spoke about the owners Brandon and Clive, who are cousins, and their passion for food & people. I believe Brandon is the cousin who is the chef and creator of the recipes here at Bushfire Kitchen.

The restaurant  is set up cafeteria style in the sense that you walk down the showcased items (and look above at menu) and then place your order with the cashier.

BRAISES
BRAISES
CHICKEN AND HOT SIDES
CHICKEN AND HOT SIDES
SALADS
SALADS
TRI TIP
TRI TIP

I was particularly impressed with the medium rareness of this beautiful tri tip. They also have fresh burgers.

CRAFT BEER AND WINE SELECTION
CRAFT BEER AND WINE SELECTION

CDJ was running late and I didn’t really know what to order (starving will do that to you, seriously). So I asked Eddie if he could bring out whatever two entrees he thought would be fun to try out. He thought that was a great idea and said he’d bring out samples of other items. Samples is my third name after Intensity so bring it Eddie. I’m telling you – food brings out different funnies in people and Eddie just happened to understand this.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

I believe they have 8 craft beers on tap and 4 wines on tap.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN
REFUGE BREWERY: BLOOD ORANGE WIT

This is Eddie’s favorite beer. Oh this was a much better beer than Blue Moon. And the frosted cup – thank you.

We both laughed as he asked if I liked Ballast Point Sculpin. I nervously shook my head and he smiled ‘I don’t either’.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

Then a customer ordered a Sculpin. The irony. Eddie said they have a great happy hour here from 2-5p (I think). Sculpins are $3.50 and the others are only $3.00 (I think).

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN
J LOHR PINOT NOIR

I noticed the wines on tap and didn’t want to scoff that tap wine reminds me of boxed wine. But Eddie beat me to it as he said that’s what most people think but the tap wine, here at least, tastes surprisingly good – especially the Pinot. I don’t think this Bostonian would exaggerate so I took his suggestion to try it. The Pinot comes out cold which brought a comforting smile to me remembering my chilled wine lesson from Savoie Eatery with the GM there. I enjoyed this light chilled Pinot on a humid Sunday afternoon.

CRAFT SODA AND DRINKS
CRAFT SODA AND DRINKS

They have craft soda which he explained would taste better as real cane sugar is used. CDJ said the cola did taste like Mexican coca cola. There’s also freshly made lemonades and ice tea (unsweetened).

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The restaurant wasn’t terribly busy so it was relaxing sitting by the window (the restaurant has a/c BTW so thank goodness). Eddie said the food would come out in a bit so CDJ and I spent the time gossiping about his dating life (he had the funniest first date story).

CEILING FIXTURES
CEILING FIXTURES

I liked the feel of the restaurant as it felt organic and earthy with all the natural light and woods.

CAESAR SALAD WITH BACON AND AVOCADO
CAESAR SALAD WITH BACON AND AVOCADO

Bacon and Avocado in a Caesar Salad. YES. The dressing was richly anchovy which I loved. The chunks of avocado with the crispy bacon worked well with this salad.

FOCCACCIA BREAD & SCALLION DIPPING SAUCE
FOCCACCIA BREAD & SCALLION DIPPING SAUCE

They make all their breads and sauces in house.

Millionaires BLT Sandwich
Millionaires BLT Sandwich

Our house made heritage bacon, roasted with sweet and hot spices, tomato, lettuce and our freshly made mayo, served on our house made baked organic focaccia bread

Eddie said this is one of his favorite sandwiches on the menu. The thick bacon is house cured with brown sugar and spices.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

Dayum. This was a great BLT sandwich. The homemade foccacia tasted nice and fluffy with the crisp bacon and cold lettuce & tomatos. There’s something about brown sugar bacon as the salty & sweet combination brings this BLT to another level. CDJ normally dislikes mayo but he said the homemade mayo brought a creamy aspect to this sandwich which he enjoyed.

SWEET POTATO FRIES
SWEET POTATO FRIES

The side of sweet potato fries couldn’t have been crispier as they came out piping hot. Success, to me, is when you burn your mouth eating something fried. The exterior of the fries were crunchy while the potato interior remained creamy sweet.

Eddie came by to check on us and to say there’s more food arriving soon. I gave him the shrug-ok mouth full of food smile.

Californian Burger
Californian Burger

ORGANIC 1/2lb Beef patty patty with aged Cheddar, hass Avocado, wild baby arugula, tomato, house pickled red onion and basil pesto aioli. Served on our freshly baked ORGANIC focaccia bun

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

Double dayum. Come on man. The thick beef burger patty was topped with ripe avocado and pickled onions. And do you see the basil pesto aioli dribbling out of the bottom. The pickled onions was a fun surprise as it added a tartness to this burger.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

The beef is hand ground here at Bushfire Kitchen and I believe you can specify the doneness you want for the burger patty. The patty here was prepared a medium plus but still retained juiciness with each bite.

I would come back to try their burger (requesting a rare doneness patty) that’s smothered with their braised brisket.

MAC N CHEESE
MAC N CHEESE

The mac n cheese side is topped with toasted bread crumbs.

Someone then brought out another dish. I haven’t had a food baby in ages so this was the perfect Sunday to birth one.

Chicken & Rib Combo
Chicken & Rib Combo

1/4 Free-Range chicken led and thigh & 1/4 rack of ribs with your choice of any 2 sides

This was the entree I really wanted to try here at Bushfire Kitchen. They don’t offer ribs at Urban Plates or Tender Greens so I was curious to see how the ribs fared here.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

These were meatier ribs. Case in point –

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Look at this. These ribs were much better than the ‘thinner’ ribs I recently had at Wood Ranch Grill & BBQ. We enjoyed these ribs as they were tender with a nice ratio of meat/fat to each rib. The bbq sauce wasn’t too sweet and was thick enough to coat each bite without having to ask for a side of extra sauce.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

I grew up eating Pat & Oscar’s chicken (or whatever the restaurant is currently named after 5 name changes). And I occasionally eat the ridiculously affordable whole rotisserie chicken from Costco. So eating roasted chicken is a mere boring shrug for me at times.  But the chicken here at Bushfire took me by pleasant surprise as it was simply seasoned with salt & pepper (I think) and roasted perfectly in the oven. The dark meat was incredibly juicy, moist, and flavorful without any unneeded fuss. The skin wasn’t crispy but I didn’t mind that as the soft roasted skin added more suppleness to the dark meat. I heard the chicken is made in batches and sells out during peak hours so give them a call beforehand to make sure what’s on hand before you visit.

MASHED POTATO
MASHED POTATO

Fresh potatoes whipped up fresh each day with a hint of garlic and sour cream

This mashed potato was fantastic. It was smooth yet chunky enough where you could taste the texture of the potato. I think a nice hot chicken gravy would go great with this side dish.

The brussel sprouts were ok but that’s because I heard they used to serve the brussels with a thick fig (?)  balsamic glaze. I think the brussels would benefit from having that sweet fig balsamic as brussels sprouts can taste a bit strong & naturally bitter.

We were beyond happy and grateful for all that was brought out as of this point. So imagine our eyes when the next unexpected dish came out.

Thai Chicken Curry Bowl
Thai Chicken Curry Bowl

chicken braised in coconut milk and spiced with red chilies, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, galangal, cumin and coriander, on your choice of Basmati Rice, Organic Brown Rice or our famous mashed potatoes, topped with either grilled veggies or roasted squash

I think Eddie saw me eyeing this dish when I was taking pics of the braising items. I believe this item was listed as Panang chicken curry on the written menu description when we visited that day. I would have never thought a restaurant such as Bushfire could make even a decent thai curry dish.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN

Eddie chose their organic brown rice as the bedding for this curry. The panang curry was AMAZING. I joked to CDJ that they must have a tiny Thai woman in their kitchen making this batch of curry because the curry sauce tasted legit. It was rich and creamy without being too heavy. The beautiful orbs of brown rice absorbed the panang curry sauce perfectly (see above). They use white breast meat in this dish but the chicken breast tasted moist. Not sure if they use the same chicken from their roasting menu or if it’s because the meat was braised for awhile? Note that this curry was spicy which I loved (but others/kids may not).

Eddie topped the curry with the grilled veggies which at first seemed strange but gosh did it work well with this curry. CDJ and I both agreed this had to be our favorite dish of the day (actually CDJ wanted to add that he really liked the BLT sandwich too).

The best thing in life happens when you least expect it. With food. And that’s about it. I’ve realized that. Eddie doesn’t know my penchant for sarcastic ‘omg life’ thoughts but he has an innate sense of reading people. He gave me his .02c on a few issues that still has me thinking.  Then this dish arrived at our table –

Tri Tip & Sides
Tri Tip & Sides

The tri tip was prepared a beautiful medium and comes with two sides. The tri tip was delicate and soft. I believe there were about 4 nice slices on the plate. The co-star on the plate would be the chimichurri sauce which isn’t oil based. This aioli type chimmi was creamy, garlicy, pesto-y. It was awesome with the tri tip.

The butternut squash was nicely roasted and we could taste a bit of the thyme.

And with that. Finito.

These media meals are meant to benefit everyone (the blogger, readers, the restaurant). I get to try a few dishes, share them with everyone, and that’s that. I’ve looked forward to every media invite but must say that this particular meal was probably the most memorable due to the entire experience. Food isn’t always about eating for me. It’s about the memories you create and gather with others when eating. Eddie actually made me remember the meaning of smiling slump shoulders (you’ll have to research this blog to get that meaning).

This is a laid back restaurant but it’s not fast food. I know people are comparing this place to Urban Place and Tender Greens. But CDJ said it best – you can tell the food here is prepared with love.

Kind of a girly thing to say but he said it.

BUSHFIRE KITCHEN
3433 Via Montebello
Ste 166
Carlsbad, CA 92009
(760) 456-7620

Disclaimer: We were invited to lunch here and not compensated for this post. All opinions stated here are my own. 

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15 thoughts on “Bushfire Kitchen – (La Costa) Carlsbad, CA”

  1. Ms. Faye Intensity Sample!! Haha. That would be good name. Wonderful post on this place. Are the planning on expanding.

  2. wow, a lot of food for lunch for 2 people. How were the sweet potato fries? I want to try this and the Tri Tip & Sides.

    Btw: what does BLT and CDJ mean?

    1. Hi Megan,

      It was a lot of food for lunch and I’m embarrassed to admit that there weren’t alot of leftovers (thanks for CDJ). The sweet potato fries were crispy, sweet, and yums. I can’t remember the sauce that came with it though. The tri tip was great (don’t forget to order the chimmi sauce with it). I suggest the mash potato and avo/bacon caesar salad for the sides. Oh and the sweet potato fries too!

      BLT: bacon, lettuce, tomato

      CDJ: one of my close friend who’s usually my dining buddy

  3. So this is the place you were talking about! From a glance, the food looks good – I looked over their website menu, and i like how you’re able to get a grass-fed lamb patty instead of a beef patty on any of the burgers. I also noticed a lamb curry option – I wonder if it’s more indian-like than thai-like, something similar to a Rogan Josh maybe?

    Those ribs look way better than the last one you had. Were they smokey(and the tri-tip too)?

    If the beers are 3.00 apiece for happy hour, that’s probably one of the best happy hours I’ve heard of (not that I drink, unfortunately). The dealbreaker is mostly that Tender Greens is about 7 minutes from me, Urban Plates is 15, and Bushfire is 30. I might try it once if I’m in Carlsbad for the Sun Flour japanese bakery, but I don’t know if it’s worth the journey for something that’s “fast-casual”, you know?

    Also, the UTC is getting another one of these restaurants – I believe it’s an LA chain called Lemonade. It’s similar in concept to Tender Greens/Urban Plates/Bushfire, as far as I can tell. I’m looking forward to it anyways!

    1. Yes I finally had a chance to visit this place! They do have lamb burgers available so you’ll have to tell us about that if you try it out (as I don’t eat lamb). And I didn’t notice the lamb curry option! Rogan Josh – have no idea what that is other than it makes me think of the UFC (Joe Rogan).

      The ribs was much better than Wood Ranch as they were meatier and more affordable I think. I can’t recall if there was a smokey flavor to the tri tip or the ribs. I remember a more grilled taste.

      I like how you know beer prices even if you don’t drink them often (I’m kinda the same way). The manager agreed their HH prices for the craft beers are pretty unreal.

      I haven’t heard of Sun Flour Japanese bakery so will have to look into that (you recommended Wrench & Rodent to me all that time ago too). I hope you get a chance to try out Bushfire if you are in the area. Their located in a strip mall that doesn’t have all that much marquis attractions so I totally get not wanting to drive out of the way for a ‘fast casual’ place to eat.

      I heard Lemonade is coming to UTC! Anything new to UTC is exciting these days (which makes understanding the parking situation even more difficult).

  4. Lucky! That was a huge amount of free food! I would have been full after the burger and a few ribs.

    Where is the CDJ dating story? No fair teasing us and not giving with the details!

    1. It was a copious amount of food that was enjoyed and appreciated. I think the human stomach can expand twice its size when challenged (I totally made that up).

      I can’t give details on his date story. Let’s just say he had a great first date (shocking I know) but there were red flags everywhere that he kinda ignored. Red flags can be funny in hindsight.

  5. copious amounts of food. that’ll charm a food blogger as long as it’s tasty. eddie took real good care of you and cdj (what a lucky guy to be faye’s plus one)! next time i visit my old coworkers in carlsbad, i’ll ask if they’ve tried this place yet! it seems to be abuzz lately!

    1. Copious amounts of food is such a food blogger’s dream isn’t it. It’s like Disneyland rides for kids or something. Yeah I’m so telling CDJ he needs to be reminded that he’s lucky to know me (I can see his eye roll right now). I hope you get to try this place. I was craving their dark meat chicken and tri tip the other night. They’re about 5 minutes from that mall that has the Anthropologie so that could give you another reason to visit Bushfire 😉

    1. Food babies hurt. And they’re not very pretty once they start to pooch 🙂 Bushfire is similar to TD and UP in that you order & pay first. But Bushfire prepares the food (in the back?) and then brings the dishes out to your table. I think you’d like the chicken and tri tip here !

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