Oceanside has been coming into its own as a dining destination for several years now with options ranging from funky lowbrow to fine dining and just about everything in between.
Masters fits nicely in that in-between space with its comfortable cool (but not too cool) atmosphere and a menu that goes from solid staples to more adventurous gourmet fare that reflects the impressive resume of Executive Chef Christopher Gallo.
Master’s is located blocks from the beach in the heart of Oceanside in an industrial space with classic history as Masters was once a dragster shop. Built in 1938, the classic, historic building was originally Master’s automotive and machine shop.
At the time it was the only auto parts store in North County. In the 1950s, the machine shop partnered with a drag shop to become Drag Masters Auto.
The Jubela family purchased the building in the 1970s, and housed an automotive/parts store, corporate office and warehouse from the space. Even up until 2014, it was an automotive business. The revamped restaurant keeps its authentic character, and offers a warm and inviting dining experience.
A separate bar with communal seating serves traditional craft cocktails and a good selection of beer.
Brothers Ryan and Adam Jubela are a chef and architect, respectively, and worked together to design and build out the industrial space. In addition, the two hand-built many custom features and fixtures in the space.
In designing, the brothers made an effort to keep as much of the original building as possible; keeping the original infrastructure, floors and textures of brick and reclaimed wood.
The design of the interior melds old with new, while plants and fresh skylights brighten up the masculine space.
They felt it pays homage to guys who worked for years in the building and contributes to the history of Oceanside. I think they succeeded in their objective.
Now back to the food, or the talent in the kitchen executing the menu. Gallo cooks up California casual comfort food “with an artisan’s twist” as they put it.
The focus is on fresh food served without pretense. Gallo has spent the last 10 years working on his own style of cooking and has brought that passion and swagger to Master’s Kitchen and Cocktail.
He has worked for some of the finest chefs in San Diego starting in 2006 as chef garde manger for Chef Stephane Voitzwinker at Bertrand at Mister A’s downtown.
Gallo worked his way through countless stations over the next three and a half years to become a lead line chef.
He then then went to learn from Chef Jeff Jackson at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.
From my experience interviewing chefs over the years, every single one that spent time with Jeff Jackson at A.R. Valentien has made their mark elsewhere and Gallo is no exception. He spent more than three and a half years working many different positions for Jackson including lead line chef for A.R Valentien, hotel butcher and hotel saucier.
Both Jackson and Voitzwinker helped Gallo find his own professional style in the kitchen at it shows at Masters.
It should be noted that the cocktail program at Masters is headed up by Tommy Shankland, a noted mixologist who has created a menu that can be described as traditional with with a modern twist.
Whatever you call it, it adds a very fun and delicious element to Masters.
So with all this talent in the kitchen and behind the bar, you might be curious as to what they are serving up.
My suggestion would be to check out the menu on a regular basis, as they are quite good at keeping things seasonal and trust me, with Gallo at the helm, you are going to find something to enjoy on this menu.
The marinated watermelon salad with mint pesto, crispy avocado and confit baby heirloom tomato is a nice way to start and the Durac pork chop with chorizo cornbread, cotija and lime skillet corn and pork jus is a good one to follow with.
I’d wrap things up with the fabulous candy bar dessert — just trust me on this one. There are some fun-looking sandwiches, burgers, salads and small plates to share as well.
Masters is open seven days for lunch and dinner, and serves brunch on weekends and Sunday dinner. It is located at 208 South Coast Highway, Oceanside. Call (760) 231-6278 or visit mastersoceanside.com for more information.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.