Carin de Ria (Escondido)
A new Filipino fast food/casual restaurant called Carin de Ria opened in Escondido a little over two months ago. I am practically a newbie when it comes to Filipino food so before we headed there, I asked my trusty Filipino coworker for recommendations! Lumpia, pancit and adobo... sounds like a plan to me!
We easily found the restaurant in the middle of a small business plaza right off the Via Rancho Parkway exit from the 15 and took a seat inside. The restaurant fit approximately 3-4 tables on each side but did have a stream of customers doing pickup or to-go orders. I had to know what made this Filipino restaurant special so the owner Archie informed us that all food was made fresh to order and without MSG! There are also a couple of gluten free and vegetarian options, which helps cater to a bigger crowd (always good for a restaurant)...
To start, we got the Chicharon Crispy Pork Rind Cracklings ($3) complete with a vinegar dip. I do not like a strong vinegar taste but this particular dip was light enough and balanced out the slight salty pork rinds (as I believe they tend to be). It may sound a bit silly too but I really enjoyed dipping these just to hear them crackle * crackle * crackle before I ate them!
Pork rinds and beer are a great combination. We got to try a Filipino beer, San Miguel, the most popular beer in the Philippines. It was very similar to a Heineken in taste from what I could tell. There was also a light version and a few other beer choices available at the restaurant. To the left of the cashier in the back was a TV so diners may be able to catch some sports while visiting during their 4-6 happy hour.
The Classic Lumpia ($3) were probably the best lumpia we've tasted so far. I liked that they weren't completely meat and had some shredded vegetables mixed in. The outside was fried to a nice flaky shell and wasn't oily. These were served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
The pancit ($5) contained glass noodles and stir fried vegetables. I noticed that the carrots had a little snap when biting and carried a strong "fresh carrot" taste for me. Dennis liked this dish because it reminds him of some vietnamese noodles. It wasn't too bad for me but I think a little shredded meat wouldn't hurt either (but that might make it non-filipino)!
The Seared Tofu with Bean Sprouts ($4) used a medium firm tofu in smaller chunks in a mild saute. Since I'm not a fan of beansprouts, especially raw, I liked how the beansprouts blended in with the rest of the dish and were softer to the bite. The carrots were similar to the ones in the pancit. It's a good vegetarian option though.
This was the Adobo Na Baboy ($8) which was pork cutlet. This dish was reminescent of Vietnamese pork and egg in brown sauce (minus the egg) but less thick and less sweet. This tender plate of pork was our favorite entree.
Each entree came with either white rice or brown rice and two sides. It's nice that there wasn't an extra charge for going healthy with the brown rice. There was also four different sides to choose from. One of our sides here was the charred corn salad which I thought didn't have much seasoning so swayed on the plain side for me. The other side was the pepper, jicama & mango salad populated with chunky fresh slices. *crunch crunch*
The Bistek ($8) was a grilled carinderia steak. The center was cooked to a nice medium and topped with carmelized onions, which had a slight vinegar flavoring. The outer edges were cooked a little more but the middle was relatively tender for steak and paired well with the onions. We ordered the other two sides to go with this dish. The Fire Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad had an interesting marinated eggplant with spices. We also nibbled on the refreshing Cucumber Tomato Salad. This was a decent entree as well.
We ended the evening with Banana Turon ($2). These were stuffed full of a yummy banana mixture and a similar fried shell to the lumpia. It was also drizzled with something sweet and was a great finish to our meal. We were super stuffed from sampling so many foods!
For my first Filipino food experience, I was relatively pleased! If I find happen upon another Filipino restaurant or catering, I won't be as clueless! Dennis thought this was the best Filipino food he had tasted in a while plus the prices were reasonable. We don't travel to north county that often but grabbing some more of that delicious lumpia would be a reason to stop by! Fresh is always YUM!
Disclaimer: we were hosted for this meal but the opinions are strictly our own.
Carin de Ria
3440 Del Lago Boulevard
Escondido CA 92029