Living in Carmel Valley San Diego

Living in Carmel Valley San Diego

Today on Off the 56 Courtney Solis and I are taking you on a tour of the awesome Carmel Valley, San Diego neighborhood. Carmel Valley is full of family-friendly parks, awesome restaurants and shopping, and award-winning schools – and it’s just five miles to the coast! Does it get any better than that?!

We began our tour at the Western end of the Peñasquitos Preserve. There’s a trail that runs along the 56 freeway which you can follow all the way to the ocean. It starts at the 15 freeway and you can bike, walk, horseback ride, and hike down to Torrey Pines Preserve. This is a great trail that many locals love to take advantage of and you’ll often see people enjoying the trail at all hours of the day!

From there, Courtney and I headed to Pacific Highlands Ranch, the newer section of Carmel Valley. Many of the homes were built in the last five to seven years (2012 and later) with some still being built today! The median home price in Carmel Valley is about $1,300,000 for a single family home. Townhomes and condos are more affordable, with townhomes starting at around $650,000. If you’re in the market for a new home, reach out to me – I’d love to talk to you about your options.

The local schools are one of the main reasons people choose to move to Carmel Valley. This community is home to some of the best schools in the state! In fact, Canyon Crest Academy located right here in Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Pines High School, Pacific Trails Middle School and Carmel Valley Middle School are all ranked in the Top 30 on the Niche.com list of the Best Public Schools in California. Many of the local schools in Carmel Valley are known for the strength of their S.T.E.M. Education. S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Next, we visited the Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park in Pacific Highlands Ranch. This park is fairly new and has brought some much needed recreation space to the community. The park features playgrounds for kids, a bike track, a large open field, basketball courts, and a skateboard park with a halfpipe! This park truly has something for everyone.

Our tour of Carmel Valley made us work up an appetite so we stopped at local favorite doughnut shop, Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee, in the Del Mar Highlands shopping center. If you’ve never been, be sure to put it on your list – trust me, they have some of the best doughnuts you’ve ever tasted! Click here to get the address and see all of the Sidecar Doughnuts locations in Southern California.

After fueling up, Courtney and I stopped at the newly opened One Paseo. One Paseo has a host of new restaurants and shops worth checking out like International Smoke (opened by basketball player Stephen Curry’s wife, Ayesha!) Salt & Straw, Pigment, Urban Beach House, Blue Bottle Coffee, and so much more! There’s even a Susie Cakes at One Paseo – that’s where I got my wedding cake from! Although there aren’t any specific kid-designated areas, there’s plenty of open space to sit and relax throughout the shopping center. Click here to see a full list of the shopping and dining options at One Paseo.

We conclude our tour with – of course – a trip to the beach! We stopped by Torrey Pines Beach, which we’ve visited before on Off the 56. One of Carmel Valley’s best features is definitely its location. Centrally located, it’s only about five minutes from Torrey Pines State Beach and just about twenty-five minutes from anywhere in San Diego County. Whether you head to Downtown San Diego often, fly frequently, or work out of Carlsbad, Carmel Valley is the perfect place to call home!

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Carmel Valley! I know we did! If you want to pick up the California Explorer Pass Courtney mentioned in the video, click here.

And again, if you’re thinking of making a move to Carmel Valley, don’t hesitate to reach out – I would love to help you find the perfect home!

 

Living in Rancho Penasquitos

Living in Rancho Penasquitos

As many of you know I live Off the 56 in the Rancho Peñasquitos neighborhood of San Diego. I thought we’d do something a little bit different today and go on a neighborhood tour to show you what life is like in this great community. With me is my neighbor and friend, Courtney Solis. Join us as we take you through our neck of the woods and show you all the best that Rancho Peñasquitos has to offer!

We begin our day at the Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. This is a beautiful, 4,000 acre preserve that is open to the public to enjoy hiking, biking, and even horseback riding on the trails! A lot of the trails in Peñasquitos Canyon are fairly flat, which makes it a great place for all skill levels to get some exercise. If you’ve been a regular viewer of Off the 56, you’ll remember this is the same canyon where I hung out with Canicross San Diego! So whether you’re looking for an easy family hike or something more challenging, you’ll want to check out Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve which is right in our own backyard.

Next we stopped by Peñasquitos Park, which is right across the street from Park Village Elementary School. As Courtney tells us, this is one of the many elementary schools in the area ranked in the fifty best schools in California! Schools in Rancho Peñasquitos are part of the award-winning Poway Unified School District. If you’re looking to enroll your kids in a great public school district, Rancho Peñasquitos might be a great fit for your family!

After enjoying our hike and visit to Peñasquitos Park, Courtney and I headed to a popular spot in the area, Andell’s Bakery. Andell’s is just around the corner from Bad Ass Coffee, which I visited on my Off the 56 coffee shop tour. Andell’s is an Asian-Pacific Bakery and Kitchen. As Courtney told us on the video, one of the most popular desserts on the menu is the Ube Londres Cake. Unfortunately, as we found out, Andell’s is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we weren’t able to try the purple cake for ourselves. We’ll be back another time for sure!

Next on our tour, we visited the neighborhood where the first Paranormal Activity movie was shot on Bavarian Drive. As a Realtor, it’s pretty cool to have a famous house in the neighborhood!

But the Paranormal Activity house isn’t the only famous house in Rancho Peñasquitos. We also checked out Christmas Card Lane, which isn’t as impressive in the summer, but turns into a magical place during the holidays! Courtney and I both highly recommend visiting Christmas Card Lane during December. All the homes on the street light up and the community of Rancho Peñasquitos truly comes together to celebrate Christmas.

After exploring Christmas Card Lane, Courtney and I headed to Hilltop Community Park. Rancho Peñasquitos has lots of great parks throughout the area. Besides Hilltop Park, there’s also Torrey Meadows Park and Black Mountain Open Space Park. But at Hilltop Park, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the ocean, great playground equipment, and plenty of open space for the kids to run around in. If you have young kids, you will love living in Rancho Peñasquitos.

For the last stop of the tour, we headed to one of my favorite local restaurants, Knotty Barrel. Home to great food, locally brewed beers, and an awesome outdoor dining space. If you haven’t checked out my latest visit to Knotty Barrel on Off the 56, click here to watch my interview with the owner.

I hope you enjoyed our day out and about in Rancho Peñasquitos! What was your favorite part of our tour? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you are thinking of making a move to Rancho Peñasquitos, don’t hesitate to reach out – I’d be happy to help you find the perfect home.

BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs in Torrey Highlands

BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs in Torrey Highlands

Are you a fan of BT’s BBQ in Torrey Highlands? Well you might have noticed they recently changed their name to BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs! I stopped in recently to chat with owner, Brad Taylor, about his business and what’s behind the name change.

 

Brad discovered a love of cooking (and barbecue in particular) at an early age. He spent years perfecting his recipes and eventually started a catering and event company. Now as the owner of BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs, he gets to share his barbecue magic with the Off the 56 community.

BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs serves a broad selection of southern barbecue favorites like baby back ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. But the true “sleeper on the menu” is the smoked turkey breast, which is packed full of flavor and absolutely delicious. BT’s also offers a menu of daily specials. In fact, the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken was a Wednesday special for years until enough customers raved about it to get it permanently on the menu – hence the rebrand to BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs! BT’s current daily specials include Smoked Meatball Madness on Monday, Taco Tuesday, New Orleans BBQ Shrimp on Friday, and more. Have little ones? BT’s has a kid’s menu that serves up smaller portions of some of their main menu favorites. Click here to check out the full menu.

Brad also took me through their new menu items. BT’s is now serving up four sandwiches that feature their signature Nashville Hot Fried Chicken: the original Nashville Chicken Sandwich, the Nashville Chicken Parm, the Nashville Pitmaster, and the Clux Capacitor. You’ll have the option to choose your heat level, so if you don’t like your food too spicy you can still enjoy one of BT’s new chicken sandwiches.

In additional to all their awesome food items, BT’s also has sixteen craft beers on tap. If you stop in between 4-6pm, you can take advantage of their happy hour special and get a pint for just $5.50.

BT’s is open every day after 11am. It’s the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner with the family. You can also pick up one of their family packs to go which is designed to feed a crowd. And if you can’t get enough of BT’s southern favorites, you can also hire them to cater your next event.

Have an idea who I should feature next on Off the 56? Drop me a line here.

Knotty Barrel Rancho Penasquitos Opens

Knotty Barrel Rancho Penasquitos Opens

Last August we broke the news that Knotty Barrel was coming to Rancho Penasquitos. Now that they’ve finally opened to the public, I went back to check out the new space, grab a beer, and interview James Thorp, who is the General Manager of the new restaurant and a local PQ resident himself.

Ok I’ll be honest – this wasn’t my first visit since Knotty Barrel Rancho Penasquitos opened. But I’ve been enjoying the new spot so I knew I wanted to do another feature with these guys to share with you all the cool things they’re working on. If you missed our first interview with the owner of Knotty Barrel, Ken Lovi, you can check it out here.

What really impressed me about the new restaurant is their commitment to making Knotty Barrel a place by and for the community. Yes they serve great food and great beer, but they also have a vision in mind of Knotty Barrel as a gathering spot for the people of PQ.

First, there’s the great indoor/outdoor space they’ve created. They have tables and a bar inside, but outside they’ve got great conversational spaces around fire pits, AstroTurf for the kids to play on, and even a dog hooks so you can bring fido along without worrying about spilling your beer. Knotty Barrel is really a place for the whole family to comfortably enjoy and that’s reflected in the thoughtful way the restaurant space has been designed.

Next, they’ve designed their menu to serve the quality food and drink people were looking for without breaking the bank. They’ve got a great Monday special right now – $13 for a burger and pint of beer. On Wednesdays, they do half off pint nights after 8pm. On Thursdays they host a trivia night. And they’ve got Happy Hour from 3-6pm Monday through Friday. James also told me they’re working on creating a more sharable menu for large groups like the Little League and soccer crowd. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re also planning to launch a weekend brunch menu this summer.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out their menu yet, click here. I’ve tried a bunch of things off the new menu, but I really like the Knotty Burger and the steak sandwich. The salads are also quite good. And of course, you have to try a pint of their own Knotty Brewing beers. The beer is made downtown next to the other Knotty Barrel location. They also have additional craft beers on tap and a robust drink menu if you’re more of a cocktail drinker.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the new restaurant continues to develop in response to what the community is looking for. It’s obvious James and Ken are very open to feedback from their customers and that’s a really exciting thing to have for the people of PQ and the rest of the Off the 56 communities.

 

Have you checked out the new Knotty Barrel Rancho Penasquitos? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

The Barrel Room Opens in Carmel Valley

The Barrel Room Opens in Carmel Valley

Since The Barrel Room opened in Carmel Valley a few months back, it has already become a welcome addition to the neighborhood! Located at Merge Carmel Valley off Carmel Mountain Road, this spot offers good food, good wine, and good whiskey. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with General Manager Brett Preston to talk about the vision for The Barrel Room Wine Bar and Bistro and, of course, to sample some of the delicious menu items they’re cooking up.

As Brett mentioned in the video, The Barrel Room was conceived as a community spot where locals can go to enjoy dinner with the family, a romantic date night, or even an office happy hour. Owned by 3LB Restaurant Group, The Barrel Room is another fantastic entry from the people who brought you Urge Gastropub, Mason Ale Works (their tasting room and kitchen is also in the Merge plaza), and Brothers Provisions. This casual, yet classy eatery has an inviting ambiance, rustic modern décor, and friendly, knowledgeable staff like Brett.

The menu is best described as a fusion of American and European style Bistros and Restaurants. You’ll find classics like soup, salad, and steaks, but perfected with unique ingredients and accompaniments. Their most popular menu item is their meat and cheese board. You have the opportunity to create your own board by choosing from premium options like Port Salut Smoked Gouda, Chorizo, and Hot Coppa. But no matter what items you pick, you can’t go wrong – Brett and I enjoyed one of these famous boards during filming and it was absolutely delicious! I also sampled the Pistachio Crusted Seabass and Brett’s favorite menu item, the Jambalaya. Both were outstanding! I can already see myself coming back to The Barrel Room in the near future to enjoy a date night with my wife.

My favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned, so trust me when I say they know their whiskey here! The Barrel Room offers diners an extensive list of specialty cocktails, but if you’re more of a wine drinker, they’ve definitely got you covered. You can order wine by the glass or bottle at a variety of price points. Not sure what to get? Order a wine flight instead! They also have beer on their menu from neighboring Mason Ale Works, AleSmith, and others.

The Barrel Room is open for dinner every day, with lunch served Monday through Saturday. On Sunday you can enjoy a special brunch menu with tasty items like the Crab Cake Benedict, Chicken Chilaquiles, and their special Barrel Room donuts. They also offer daily happy hour specials from 3-5pm.

Have you checked out The Barrel Room yet? What did you think? Leave me a comment below. And with so many new spots opening Off the 56, let me know what I should visit next!

Gravity Heights Opens Off the 56 in Sorrento Mesa

Gravity Heights Opens Off the 56 in Sorrento Mesa

Sorrento Mesa isn’t typically the first place that comes to mind when you think “cool beer spot” or “fun restaurant to enjoy with the whole family,” but the newly opened Gravity Heights is determined to change that. I recently dropped by to talk with General Manager Jon Broesel about the vision for Gravity Heights and of course, to sample some bites and brews.

The brainchild of Whisknladle Hospitality Inc.’s Arturo Kassel and the original Alesmith brewmaster, Skip Virgilio, Gravity Heights is a 12,000 square foot brewpub just a stone’s throw away from Qualcomm’s massive campus. Part restaurant, part bewery, and part event space, Gravity Heights is a feast for the eyes and the palette. Vibrant, California modern dining spaces flow seamlessly from outside to inside, with seating options allowing for everything from intimate conversation to casual gatherings to large celebrations.

Rather than restricting their clientele to the 21+ crowd, Gravity Heights has embraced families by filling their outdoor side yard with games and AstroTurf. As Jon Broesel explained, the vision for Gravity Heights was to create a space that families could enjoy as well. I’d say this vision has been well executed. On any given visit to the brewpub, you’re sure to find the crowd is representative of the diversity of people living in our Off the 56 community from young professionals to families to retirees.

But what really makes Gravity Heights stand out in my opinion is the quality of the food AND the beer. Like I said in the video, usually when you find a place with good beer, they don’t have good food and vice versa. But the team at Gravity Heights has really nailed it on both fronts. While I was meeting with Jon, I got to try a few of their beers and the Meat pizza. That pizza is honestly one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in San Diego – I’m still looking for an excuse to go back and order it again! And the beers were outstanding. I particularly enjoyed the June Gloom Hazy IPA.  Though if you’re not into IPAs, they have plenty of other beers on tap including some collaborations and guest beers, hard kombucha and cider, mixed drinks, and wine. To try the menu for yourself, make plans to join them for daily happy hour from 3-6pm in the bar and beer garden!

If you’re looking for a space to host your next event or celebration, look no further. Gravity Heights is equipped to handle parties of all shapes and sizes. They also have a private mezzanine you can book that overlooks the brewery and restaurant below. In addition to having its own bar and lounge, the mezzanine also has a pool table, shuffle board, and arcade games.

Gravity Heights is open every day except for select holidays. Click here to browse their dining menu and their current drink list. They do accept dining reservations, which I highly recommend as they have been quite popular since the brewpub opened at the end of January.

Have you checked out Gravity Heights yet? If so, let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment below. And if you’ve got a business Off the 56 I should hit up next, just post it below!

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