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Homemade Tortillas, Fresh Fish and So Much More, Come Spring of 2019

Written By: Anna Keeve New Mexican Restaurant Carlsbad Casero Taqueria

The once sleepy town of Carlsbad has experienced a food renaissance over the last few years. From veg-friendly casual eateries like Choice Juicery to fine-dining like Jeune et Jolie, Carlsbad will soon have the perfect ‘in-between’ dining spot: Welcome Casero Taqueria, an innovative Mexican concept that ushers in a new era of elevated fast-casual dining. We spoke to restaurateurs Craig Applegate and Clayton Wheeler, co-founders of Blacktop Restaurant Group and the duo behind Casero, to give Locale readers a first look at the forward-coming restaurant.

Here’s what comes to mind when first hearing from Applegate and Wheeler about their new Mexican dining concept: Authentic. Locally-sourced. Fresh. Inclusive.

Taking inspiration from the neighboring Guadalupe Valley in Mexico, Casero promises house-made corn-tortillas, locally-sourced meats and line-caught fish—all cooked up over an open wood flame. Plus, sauces and marinades are made fresh in-house, capturing the flavors of Mexico, something most current restaurants miss the mark on. Food will be served up alongside a full bar, which will include curated cocktails, beers on tap and wine.

The substantial 5,000 square-foot restaurant, situated in the highly-anticipated The Square at Bressi Ranch neighborhood center, will include four distinct dining areas: a dedicated kids’ section with private patio where little ones will be entertained while parents can kick back with a beer; an indoor/outdoor bar perfect for a post-surf-sesh margarita and taco reprieve; abundant table space for a business meeting, date night and everything in between.

Applegate and Wheeler are no strangers to the restaurant industry. They successfully scaled up popular SoCal eatery Board and Brew—and own seven out of the 15 locations—and have worked on a number of household-name restaurants. But Casero Taqueria is the first venture of their own. There’s something readily apparent when talking to the two about their Mexican dining concept: The amalgamation of industry experts is a winning combination to bring their vision to fruition.

They’ve brought on board Alex Carballo to help on the menu development; he has been involved with dozens of successful restaurants and pulls inspiration from his Mexican lineage. “One thing [Alex] really brings to the table is that taste from his grandma’s recipes that you can’t really replicate unless you’ve tried it over and over again,” says Applegate.

Wisely, the two also brought on Snake Oil Cocktail Company to curate a full cocktail list and handpick small batch mescals and tequilas. Casero will also have a full wine program and about 12 beers on tap. “It’s a little bit of everything for everyone,” says Wheeler, noting the void in robust beverage programs at restaurants in the area, and in the Mexican-cuisine space in general.

As for the Casero design vision, function and authenticity were central. That’s why Valletta Design Group—best known for their work on the outdoor eatery, Crack Shack—was brought on to execute the vision. They worked cohesively to ensure that the aesthetics reflected an authentic Mexico feel, taking inspiration from Valle De Guadalupe and Northern Baja, sourcing handmade tiles from Baja and incorporating elements of steel and wood.

A community-first concept is reflected in the form and function, but also in the food. “The idea is to serve items more a la carte rather than large entrée items so guests can customize exactly what they want,” says Applegate, adding that this is the way much of the food is served in Baja and how they experienced it while on surf trips growing up. They’ll also have a mini-market type concept selling house-made tortillas and sauces that can easily be purchased to go, enabling customers to bring the authentic Casero flavors into their homes.

We wrap up our conversation with the two noting that Casero means ‘homemade,’ a nod to the fresh and locally-sourced ingredients and an homage to Mexico. “We wanted to capture the vibe and authenticity of Baja and bring it to Carlsbad,” says Applegate.  

Residents have a lot to look forward to with Casero Taqueria, slated to open Spring 2019. New Mexican Restaurant Carlsbad Casero Taqueria

Casero Taqueria
2674 Gateway Rd, Ste 195 New Mexican Restaurant Carlsbad Casero Taqueria
Carlsbad, CA 92009 New Mexican Restaurant Carlsbad Casero Taqueria