The Outdoors are Open at Park 101

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The trend of family friendly eateries is becoming the norm and certainly gaining popularity in San Diego. Gone are the days of packing parents and kids into a play zone inferno or forcing friends to join families at a disheveled arcade joint serving soggy pizza and subpar beers. No thank you.

Enter Park 101 in the heart of Carlsbad. Doors recently opened this July and North County beach dwellers are stoked. Meeting the needs and desires of everyone from toddlers to elders, health nuts to barbecue junkies, surfer dudes to busy bees – Park 101 has it all. This open-air 8,000 sq. ft. multi-use, plaza style complex is now a landmark destination for locals and visitors who are looking for a deliciously relaxing place to hang out.

You can park the kiddos on the turf to play with oversized Janga, Connect Four or cornhole, while grownups jump in a cafeteria-style line to order up eats. Meats? Oh, so many. Sides? Absolutely. Vegetarian options are also available for those that love the plant life. Peruse your way down to cash out, but before you do, unleash the inner grub rebel by ordering a freshly baked treat. The doughnuts and cookies are made in-house at Park 101’s Deli & Dough; and they’re to die for. The grab-and-go market also serves ready-made juices, take-away sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, and fresh espresso and coffee made with Café Virtuoso organic beans.

On the ground level, you will find Park Smoked Meats, where organic and hormone-free meats are prepared by pitmaster Ryan Tuskan. Tri tip shreds apart after a slight pierce of the fork. Brisket is thinly-shaven and piled high. The ribs. Oh God, the ribs. The phrase, “the meat falls right off the bone,” is often overused to describe ribs, but these bad boys served at Park Smoked Meats truly embody it. All meats have flavors straight from the smoker and sauces can be added at your leisure. Spicy barbeque and house barbeque sauces are available by the pump – so load it up or leave it dry. To complete the meal, pair that smoky goodness with a few sides. Order a hearty scoop of mac ‘n cheese to truly indulge or try the broccolini pomegranate dish to balance things out. The black bean corn salsa is light, citrusy and refreshing, while the French fries are seasoned to near perfection.

Thirsty, but a fresh juice or water won’t cut it? The Garden Pub (located on the lower and upper deck) offers members of the 21+ club over 32 drafts on tap, draft wine, sangrias, Lillet spritzers and Frozé. Don’t let the pink frozen cocktail – complete with a twisty, knotted neon colored straw – fool you. These things pack a punch. Pub goers can also order small bites and snacks from the upper deck.

For additional seating, cruise upstairs to the Tamarack Deck, complete with multiple fire pits and sweeping views of the village. Everyone is welcome here, and food can be brought upstairs on retro-style trays from any one of the Park’s dining locations. For lighter fare, their second-level deck serves up an irresistible charcuterie board including a variety of smoked meats and cheeses, pickled vegetables, fresh fruits and house-made dips.

Park 101 is open 7-days a week but goes smokeless on Mondays to care for the behemoth of a smoker, which is anchored in the back of the house. Fun fact: Park 101 was built around the smoker. The designers knew it would be too large to move in after the building’s walls went up. The beast was shipped straight from Georgia, where Tuskan handpicked it out prior to the opening. It does the place justice, so the staff give it extra TLC on Mondays to keep things smoking smoothly. On Smokeless Mondays, specials include cheeseburgers ranging in price from $7 to $10 (depending if you double up, add some fries or a salad), or a burger and beer special for $10. Veggie and turkey patties are also available.

Park 101 is located at 3040 Carlsbad Blvd Carlsbad, CA 92008. Deli & Dough opens at 6 a.m. and all other venues open at 11 a.m. Come by, bring the kids and the pub, and park it at Park 101 for the day into the night.

Paige Nordeen is a food and wine enthusiast who skips around from one San Diego joint to the next and writes about it. Questions, comments concerns? Give her a shout at [email protected].

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