We were recently invited to checkout Bushfire Kitchen up in Carlsbad thanks to a referral from our friend Kirbie.
The competition is definitely heating up in the high quality quick service space. With the rapid success of competitors like Tender Greens, Urban Plates, and Tin Leaf, Bushfire Kitchen needed to WOW us in order to justify our trek all the way up to North County. Let’s see if they were able to do that.
The layout of the restaurant is nice and open with warm wood tones. As we walked in we were immediately greeting by the GM, Eddie, who walked us through their farm-fresh concept. Almost everything is sourced locally (they even have pictures on the wall to prove it!) and they prepare most things gluten-free (minus the mac and cheese, etc.)
It was interesting to hear that the owners are cousins from South Africa. Their original location started up in Temecula and business has been booming. So, they’ve brought their operations a bit further South and continue to grow their locations into SD County (albeit slowly to ensure the transfer of quality).
Checkout this pretty cool light fixture that was handmade by one of the owners!
Line setup is pretty simple. Although I did notice the meats show up first and then the salads (opposite of what I see typically). I’m fine with that though because I love my proteins front and center.
Although we didn’t get a chance to try the Mary’s Free Range Chicken, it looks well roasted and tender when he was cutting it up.
This is their signature natural angus tri-tip and pan roasted veggies.
Followed up by several savory stews that are prepared fresh daily. (We didn’t sample these this time, but I’m really curious to try it on our next visit).
The first thing we tried however, was their fresh organic cactus lemonade. This certainly hit the spot for Darren, so I had to try it after I finished up my craft cola. Loved it! It wasn’t too sweet and the cactus background changed this up for a nice novel lemonade.
They also have several craft beers and a few wines on tap.
Since we decided to share everything, Eddie brought us out a salad sampler so we could try a few different ones.
I was a huge fan of the strawberries and spinach salad which was light and refreshing. The sweetness of the dressing rounded it out nicely and I’d definitely order this again.
We also got a Salmon Caesar salad topped with a sun dried tomato and caper topping. LOVE. The salmon was cooked spot on and the flavors from the topping were incredible. Darren, who doesn’t care for salmon, had to try some after I was raving about it and said that’s about as good salmon can get for him. Again, I’d re-order this.
Next up was their Californian Burger. This is made with their house made gluten-free bun and layered up with grass fed beef, sharp cheddar, avocado, lettuce, and tomato. The burger was solid, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the gluten free bun in this instance. Still though, the meat was juicy and the ingredients were nice and fresh.
I didn’t eat the veggies, but Darren seemed to enjoy them.
Here’s their Natural Angus Tri-Tip with their mac and cheese plus mashed potatoes. We had been eyeing the tri-tip well before our visit based on some friend’s recommendations. We both thought it was good, but not fantastic. In this case, the meat seemed a touch bland and the a couple pieces we drier than it looked. However, I suspect your experience could be much different just depending on which slices you’re served. I did enjoy the creamy chimichuri accompaniment.
So, I left the ribs to the end not expecting much. But, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This rack was utterly amazing! Eddie told us they use a special dry rub, then braise the meat, and finally toss it on the grill before serving. They were great! Highly recommended.
And, I had to save this Millionaire’s BLT for the end. Both Darren and I would never order a BLT on our own, or sweet potato fries for that matter. But since Eddie was taking care of us this night, we let him bring us whatever he thought we’d enjoy.
OMG. This BLT was AMAZING!! Sadly the picture doesn’t do it justice. Their house made focaccia was to die for and the inside was balanced masterfully. It had the perfect ratio of their house made mayo, smokey house-cured bacon, firm tomatoes, and lettuce.
I will seriously be coming back just for this sandwich alone. And if there wasn’t already enough surprises on this plate, the sweet potato fries were AWESOME. Seriously, just get this combination you see here. You won’t be sorry!
So, as you can probably tell, I’m a FAN! Bushfire Kitchen passed the test with flying colors. (Look out Urban Plates!) Along with excellent food, service was handled with a genuine smile by every employee there and we felt right at home with Eddie steering the ship.
Finally, don’t forget to check them out on Saturday nights when they have a live jazz band playing!
Disclaimer: As mentioned above, we were invited to dine here but our opinions stated are our own.
To see some other perspectives, checkout our friends’ reviews at:
3433 Via Montebello, Ste 166
Carlsbad, CA 92009