You have to be pretty far off the beaten path these days not to have access to gourmet dining. Not that regional and ethnic food doesn’t keep us well fed and happy, but it is reassuring to know that there is no longer a corner of the Union that doesn’t have at least one place offering high quality cuisine and a decent wine list.
In Escondido, CA that place is Tango, a full service eatery, lounge and wine bar. Nationally acclaimed chef Rico Bartolome offers a constantly changing array of fusion dishes, including on my last visit tempura oysters (on arugula with a remoulade), a duck comfit (rhubarb jam, strawberries, goat cheese and candied pecans), and an amazing korean hot pot (miso-marinated sea bass, shrimp, kimchee, bok choy and assorted mushrooms in dashi). Applying classic European kitchen techniques to Pacific Rim-influenced dishes made of fresh seasonal ingredients results in offbeat creations from chorizo-wrapped loin of venison with chimichanga and mole through osso bucco with panang curry to pistachio duck schnitzel with sweet and sour cabbage. The wine list is always well-selected. Desserts change daily (think sugar pumpkin and mascarpone cheesecake with spiced whipped cream or crêpe stuffed with chocolate, banana fritter and banana ice cream), and last visit fresh pies to go were by the cashier. Lunch Monday to Friday and dinner every day. Monday to Thursday, $25 sunset prix fixe dinners are available. Happy hour 4-7 every day but Monday, when it’s 4 to closing. Half price wine on Wednesdays. Events nightly in the lounge. There’s a private dining room for parties of 10-30, and you can dine on the patio weather permitting. Despite the sometimes brutal desert heat, this is one place worthy of abandoning the comforts of the coast. Tango is at 417 W Grand Ave in Escondido; 760-747-5000.