Meet our Oceanside Culinary Insider
Hello and welcome to the Visit Oceanside Culinary Insider Blog. My name is Christopher Messenger. I am a Freelance Food Writer, Culinary Event planner, and Website Administrator. I have been running my own website focusing on North County Restaurants and Chefs, Running Culinary Events, and writing about all subjects regarding food for the last couple of years. I grew up in Oceanside and attended school here.
My goal, along with Visit Oceanside is to provide a platform that highlights the culinary scene in useful ways for visitors and locals alike. You will hear from me on a monthly basis highlighting something new about the Oceanside culinary scene; whether its events, special celebrations, or what to do food wise in a particular neighborhood.
Having a day at the beach, a girls night out, and want some cool options? The answer to these questions is what I hope to provide.
Like all things it will be a work in progress and I would love to not only have you follow along but participate with feedback and tips.
After graduating from Mira Costa I moved to Las Vegas. At that time Las Vegas was just starting to begin its growth into one of the food destinations of the United States. That is where I discovered my intense interest for food and everything surrounding it. I wanted to understand food not only from the perspective of the diner but from the people working passionately behind the scenes.
I left Vegas after about ten years and moved back to California, this time San Diego. I lived Downtown just when the Ball Park had been built and the restaurant scene was expanding away from the Gaslamp into places like The East Village and Little Italy, so again I was surrounded by great food opportunities and the excitement of growth of a culinary scene.
A couple years later I attained a job that allowed me to travel the country and use the perks provided to explore restaurants across the United States. I was able to do everything from eating great Ethiopian food at a hole in the wall in Atlanta to dining at three stared restaurants in New York and L.A.
After seven years fate and company downsizing brought me back to my old hometown of Oceanside. I was working and eating lunch out downtown most days. I started frequenting two places in particular TBG BBQ and Petite Madeline. I started talking with the Chefs about their backgrounds and how they sourced their produce, their goals and motivations. I was happy that people and places like these were starting to gain ground here. I also started to realize no one outside the immediate area really seemed to be paying it much attention. That is when I took it upon myself to do just that and get the word out through a website and eventually local food events.
About the Oceanside Culinary Scene
Oceanside has always had a lot of food choices, from the regional taco shops to staples like Angelo’s and Classics like the 101 Diner. What had not been present were restaurants fitting the Farm to Table movement that were starting to dominate most city’s, including San Diego’s, food scene. These restaurants served upscale versions of familiar comfort foods using high quality ingredients that were being locally sourced and prepared with respect and care as to their heritage. Another hallmark of these establishments were smaller menus that changed seasonally and focused on quality over quantity.
Things started to change in Oceanside to this respect with the addition of four restaurants that I feel were lynch pins in progressing our restaurant scene to where it stands today. First was The Fish Joint with Chefs and brothers Davin and Lauren Waite bringing fresh innovative sushi with a strong passion for quality ingredients and focus on the local customer and community. Next came The Flying Pig on Wisconsin Street a pioneer with Oceanside’s first Farm to Table Gastropub, filling to capacity pretty much every day of the week and proving the demand was there. Following shortly behind was That Boy Good featuring Chef Mark Millwood’s family recipes of southern BBQ executed with a true Chefs’ hand, and then Petite Madeline using traditional techniques to create classic pastries from scratch on a daily basis. These restaurants showed that there was a need and desire for something a step above fast casual even if it ended up costing a little more to attain the quality provided.
Fast forward to today and we have had a huge expansion in just these kinds of locally owned locally focused restaurants here in Oceanside. The best thing is these restaurants are not replacing places like Primo’s Market on Myers Street, where you will gladly find me getting my street taco fix, they are just expanding the dining options for locals and visitors alike. It really is an exciting time in this city’s food scene and there is only more to come.
Christopher Messenger runs a successful restaurant and food website as well as acting as a freelance food writer for a number of publications. He has been an avid foodie for over 20 years and worked in the restaurant industry behind the scenes to improve his knowledge of Chefs and food. An Oceanside native his goal is to highlight the North County culinary scene.