Up in Carlsbad, there’s a cool new restaurant called Bushfire Kitchen that’s serving up cafeteria-ish style food. It’s a similar concept to Tender Greens or new the Lemonade that’s opened up recently in San Diego (post forthcoming) – except you order your food and they deliver it to your table. Recently I was invited to come in and check out Bushfire Kitchen for myself.
Bushfire Kitchen is in the southern part of Carlsbad, around La Costa. It’s inside a shopping plaza, near the Vons.
They are dog friendly with their big open patio and a bucket of doggie treats! I didn’t know this, otherwise I would have brought Maya with us.
The food counter is laid out before you once you step inside.
There are a few pots and hot items out showcasing some of the available options.
And the prepared salads are on display for you. Instead of pointing and asking for which items you want, you simply go down to the register and order. There are also burgers, sandwiches, and other items available.
Here’s the full menu. Once you pay and order something, that’s when they start cooking it (versus the other way around at Tender Greens – order first and they start cooking/prepping it and then pay at the end while you watch them run around in front of you).
I made my own Arnold Palmer with the iced tea and the Strawberry Cucumber lemonade. Yum!
They also offer craft sodas. I’ve never seen Shirley Template offered in a soda fountain before.
I was thrilled when we picked a place to sit that the tables had purse hooks underneath! Attention to details, man. I love it!
[californian burger – sharp cheddar, avocado, baby arugula, picked onions, tomato, basil pesto / $11.95]
We met with the general manager, Eddie. We let Eddie pick out all of the items for us that day so he could guide us through Bushfire Kitchen’s menu. The first item we received was a freshly made burger called the Californian Burger.
The burger was cooked to a nice medium with a bit of pink showing. The meat for the patties is ground in house from a blend of brisket and chuck. Despite being medium (I prefer medium rare) the patty was quite juicy. I threw those pickled onions out, naturally, but left the baby arugula in this time. The baby arugula didn’t seem quite as strong to me but still gave the burger a peppery taste. The only sad part was when I took a bite of this burger, the fillings would get pushed and fall out of the burger. I’d have to keep rearranging it. The bun was a nice and fluffy and complimented the insides nicely. I’d get this again or try another burger since I really liked the taste of the burger patty!
[millionaire blt – bushfire millionaire’s bacon, pepper and red hot chili peppers, tomato, lettuce, and fresh made mayo on ciabatta / $8.95]
Bushfire Kitchen makes their own in-house bacon (yesssss) that’s made with brown sugar and other good stuff.
The bacon is slightly sweet and cut on the thicker side. It works great in this crazy Millionaire’s BLT. The bread here is cut on the thick side and is quite fluffy. I had no idea this sandwich had chili peppers in it before I took a bite and was quite surprised that it was spicy. The spiciness just sticks around in your mouth though and doesn’t travel down to burn you further. I noticed the mayo tasted extra good and creamy and then found out from Eddie that they make their own mayo, too! Man, it’s crazy what a difference those little touches can make in a sandwich.
I kind of just ate the bacon after awhile since the sandwich was a touch on the spicy side for me! Jake and T just loved it. The sweet potato fries were also really nice – I liked the ridges on them which seems to make the fries a little crispier.
[baby back ribs]
They have three sizes for ribs – quarter, half, and a full rack of ribs. I am guessing this is half, but I don’t actually know. The baby back ribs were quite tender. There was still a little bit of pull on the ribs when you bite into it, but with a few tugs the meat came all the way off. The sauce wasn’t too bad, either. I’m personally not a huge baby back rib fan so while these weren’t my favorite, they were tasty enough for lunch.
We liked the macaroni and cheese so much we asked for a larger portion for the three of us to share. Jake said this macaroni and cheese was almost like the one I make at home! I loved the really crunchy top of the mac and it was nice and gooey on the inside.
Roasted veggies! These suckers look fresh off the grill, too, don’t they? I avoided the brussels sprouts but pretty much ate all the onion and squash on my own. I told Jake and T that they were both required to eat some vegetables. Luckily I got no arguments that day.
I don’t think this is actually on the menu but would be a great idea – a salad sampler! The bottom left is a Caesar salad, to it’s right is a Spinach and Strawberry salad, above that is a Quinoa, Beet and Arugula Salad and in the upper left is a Mixed Seasonal Greens salad. My very favorite one was the Spinach and Strawberry since I liked the inclusion of the fresh strawberries. The Caesar was also nice with a good mix of cheese in there. The mixed greens salad had raspberries in it! The last one I took one bite of and that was enough for me – arugula is too strong for me. It tasted like chewing on pepper. Ugh.
[tri-tip with two sides / $13.95]
Last but not least, Eddie got us the tri tip plate and served it with mashed potatoes and a bean medley. The tri-tip was served with a bright green chimichurri sauce which I really liked. The tri tip was not bad – again, not really my favorite cut of meat, personally – but I liked it even more paired with the chimichurri sauce which gave it a burst of flavor.
All in all I was impressed with how much they make in house (sauces, mayo, bacon, meat, etc etc) and everything has a really fresh, bright, flavor. Bushfire Kitchen has two locations – one in Carlsbad and the original location in Temecula. I believe they have plans to open up more in San Diego and I think they’d do quite well with the fresh approach to food.
3433 Via Montebello, Suite 166
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Disclaimer: I was invited to come in to try out Bushfire Kitchen. Our meal was complimentary and I was not further compensated for this post. All opinions stated here are my own.