Perfect pies made at Vista’s Picket Fence restaurant

Separately and together, John and I have been  dining at the Picket Fence ever since Nancy and Rod Jensen bought the former Carrow’s at 945 S. Santa Fe in Vista. They continued a fine Vista tradition begun at Debbie Ann’s Pie Shop (now the Vista Way Café) by a sister, Ann, and now continued at Debbie’s in San Marcos.
The pies at all these places have been and are legendary. The Picket Fence features 27 of them, and the pie lady has been in their kitchen forever.
Best of all, we don’t have to dine there to get a pie: They’re for sale for prices from $8.50 to $10.50, and most slices are $2.95 to $3.25.
When we set out to have our “column meal,” as we have named it, we didn’t order as well as we could have. The special of the day was an $8.25 grilled salmon meal with barley soup, mashed potatoes and gravy, and steamed winter squash. We asked to split it and it was adequate for two, but not very. I served gingerbread when we got home.
An apricot chicken dish for $6 would have been an alternative, and we could have split a slice of pie. Another option would have been a couple of Belgian waffles for $3.99, the least expensive in town. Or a sandwich, as imaginatively named as those in Vista’s Icebox and the Curbside, both reviewed previously in this column. Some examples: Willy’s Avo, with grilled eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, sprouts, and jack cheese on wheat bread. Court House, another favorite, features grilled kielbasa with grilled onions, sauerkraut, tomato and cheddar on rye. Most sandwiches are surely ample enough to split and range from $7.99 to $8.99. If you’re feeding a grandchild, a grilled cheese and tomato is $4.95.
 A very tempting offering is the half-sandwich, soup and pie for $7.99. The menu includes tasty salads, which we have eaten on other occasions, chili and burgers.
The servers here reflect the fact this is a happy place. The décor is lace café curtains in the main room and a garden room in the back for private parties. The place indicates its origins as a Carrows, for the management (Nancy and Rod and often their sons Matt and Scott) didn’t fuss it up. No pretence, just good healthy fare.
Picket Fence bills itself as “Your favorite hometown restaurant.” It comes pretty close to that, all right. It’s located at 945 S. Santa Fe in Vista and the phone number is (760) 945-4357. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, after a few visits you’ll know to nod to the regulars.