It’s on. There’s never been a more exhilarating time to explore the upper half of the city. Meet the actors and culture makers of the new northern avant-garde.
Tristan Detwiler’s ratty quilt recycled into a jacket for morning surfs at Pipes in Cardiff? A version of the old one landed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So, yeah, that’s the abbreviated success story of the 24-year-old Encinitas native and USC engineering turned fashion designer behind it. Stan. Her handcrafted luxury clothes, made from antique quilts and textiles, were featured opposite Ralph Lauren at In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, a Met exhibit curated by Andrew Bolton. With his third New York Fashion Week collection under his belt, he and his mother attended the show’s premiere and Met Gala alongside Anna Wintour and Thom Browne.
“I’m very handy,” says Detwiler, who spent his youth in Olivenhain tinkering in his mother’s art studio. “I got into quilting because of my baby blanket.” Today, he is a member of the Bumann Quilters of Olivenhain, an otherwise women-only group, while going the extra mile for global textiles.
“The most worn and the most mended are the richest of all.”
“There’s power in a corner,” says Brendan Foote (left), one of the developers behind Investments in fabric. He would know. After cornering the adaptive reuse market from South Oceanside to State Street in Carlsbad, Foote and business partner Curtis Cave (right) are turning fallow blocks into vibrant arteries. Tremont Collective, a strip of old machine shops off Coast Highway, is a remarkable reset. Anchored by Communal Coffee and along with Brixton and Bottlecraft, the hub is thriving thanks to a diverse mix of tenants and ample outdoor space. “It’s about retaining the soul and character of the neighborhood,” says Cave, “and refining the story.” It’s a thoughtful ecosystem that spawns a similar concept in the upcoming Freeman Collective to “South O,” as the locals affectionately call it.
Located on Vista Way and Freeman Street, the dazzling F&B range includes HomeState, Artifex Brewing and Blackmarket Bakery. Meanwhile, Nick’s on State is betting on Carlsbad, which will open opposite Jeune et Jolie, one of Fabric’s early successes.
Valle de Guadalupe is a magical stretch of land. The Baja wine region (90 minutes south of the border along the coast, turn left) has become an R&D lab for some of the country’s top winemakers and chefs, like Roberto Alcocer, who has made a name for himself with its flagship product, Malva. For Valley, he brings that modern Mexican food/wine alchemy to Oceanside. It’s no lark Alcocer moved his family here to oversee the ocean-view restaurant; he works with local farms and aims for a Michelin star. While some cuisines don’t survive offshoring (see: New York bagels), Baja and San Diego are a super-region. Whether it’s the rabbit taco (carnitas-style slow-cooked, then compressed to sear and caramelize) or the ash-rubbed wagyu with candied leeks in the bone marrow, it’s a big step for Mexican food from city.
201 North Myers Street, Oceanside
It’s just cabbage. You’ll keep telling yourself that as you try to figure out why humble green blows your mind. They squeeze the cabbage, reserve the pulp, sauté it, infuse the juice with kombu and fresh herbs, stuff it in charred cabbage leaves, dress it in sesame and togarashi oil, place it in a bowl with caviar and cabbage dashi (broth, the soul of Japanese cuisine). It’s 100% cabbage gyoza, and in this singular bite, you see why Matsu by Chef William Eick is special. Eick has been a rising talent for years, and Matsu is his arrival – a multi-course tasting experience paired with sakes and wines. The dimly lit room in South Oceanside (former home of The Flying Pig) is sleek minimalism, and each table has its own spotlight. Which seems right, because it’s art.
626 South Tremont Street, Ocean Side
The “family” portrait by the photographer David Lopez has little to do with smiles. The moody cluster of palm trees on Swamis’ horizon is a popular print from his Earth Series collection. The longtime Spanish-born surfer, skateboarder and landscape photographer moved to Encinitas ten years ago. Master craftsman, he manufactures each surfboard and skateboard by hand for utilitarian but also decorative pieces.
Sustainability is a priority by using reclaimed or recycled woods for the skateboards (maple, Peruvian oak) while the surfboards are made with eco-forms (recycled polyester or epoxy). The process takes months, using old-school techniques and his architectural background to create modern heirlooms that have been featured in Vogue, Vogue Spain and Harper’s Bazaar. The next step ? A black and white photography project in collaboration with his favorite Leica camera.
In a new showroom in Encinitas, readers won’t need to be a paying customer to experience the finishing touches favored by a pair of in-demand North County architects, married couple Lindsay and Rory Brown of The Brown Workshop. SOTA (for “State-of-the-Art”) is like a vision board that has become tactile and vibrant.
“We had all these design elements that go into the architectural and interior design aspects of our projects,” Rory explains. “And you couldn’t see them, touch them and smell them! ” The solution ? Create a community-friendly space in their lofty studio HQ, housed in a vintage warehouse-style building, which showcases a curated selection of their global finds, from their must-have Caesarstone picks to pieces by Encinitas artist Tait Hawes of Sons studio. “We wanted to create a hub in North County that would celebrate all the different arts that we love: architecture and interior design, but also a place where artists could showcase their work and bring the community together.”
Fresh off a cover story in Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine, Kylle Sebree making headlines everywhere. This summer, he opens his high-design studio in downtown Carlsbad, raising the aesthetic bar even further in the Village and State Streets. Known for his masterfully reductive woodworking style, he takes wood, walnut and white oak and transforms it into sophisticated benches, tables, credenzas and even (soon!) headboards. He became something of a prodigy in the design world for his mid-century coastal collection, executing custom commissions from architects and designers from across the United States (including June and Jolie owner John Resnick) and making local fans such as Rancho Santa Fe interior designer Amy Meier. .
Without wishing to exaggerate, but Pacific Mission Hotel might just be the burgeoning HQ of Oceanside’s best. First, there’s the quintessentially Californian modern vibe at the Rooftop Bar, which just completed a stylish refresh this month and is launching a lineup of DJs starting in June. Speaking of good beats, the hotel recently hailed local soul musician Shane Hall (creator of “The O,” Oceanside’s unofficial anthem) to be the hotel’s musician-in-residence. While there, he is recording his next album, performing at various venues on location, and recording a behind-the-scenes docuseries that will also cover his performances at Coachella and Red Rocks. In the hotel’s courtyard, witness even more cinematic history at the Graves House, or as the locals lovingly call it, the Top Gun House, since parts of the iconic 1986 film were filmed there. The house has undergone an award-winning renovation to serve as a decadent new dessert bar just in time for the highly anticipated Top Gun: Maverick released in May.
201 North Myers Street, Oceanside
Treat yourself to Spa Alila. Alila MareaSpa heaven just got better with Sangha: Circle of Wellness, a three-tier membership offering year-round treatments, pool access, and perks. Or if self-care is more like a four-course meal, stop in Vaga for the bagna cauda clams and a chocolate bomb.
Someone has finally cracked the code to one of San Diego County’s hottest and most infuriating spots. Even with its huge ocean view at the corner of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street, the space has been haunted for years by an awkward, enclosed, segmented layout. Social Syndicate opened it wide in 2020, and now it’s a sprawling open-air restaurant with ocean views that breathes new life into Del Mar. Monarch has become the neighborhood hub for craft cocktails (dragon fruit margaritas, blueberry mules), weekday happy hours with $5 specials, and Sunday brunches with freshly shucked oysters and mimosa kits. Along with the main restaurant, the coastal hangout has a rooftop terrace with fire pits and Adirondacks, plus a casual, airy lounge that connects the two.
1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar
Inspired by Bali’s all-day cafes, vaguely offers an airy, edgy coastal vibe that’s an extension of its Cardiff roots. Note the seafoam and bird-of-paradise green tiles, Singaporean-style rattan lights, and bright yellow umbrellas that brighten up the patio. Evening jazz on Wednesdays and weekend DJs elevate the scene. Spend an afternoon sipping on fruity cocktails while enjoying chef Brian Redzikowski’s signature Caesar salad topped with “Twinkie Croutons,” a concoction of crunchy nuggets filled with mascarpone cheese as a tribute to his favorite childhood snack.
2005 San Elijo Ave, Cardiff