Upscale, sustainable cuisine stars at Solace & the Moonlight Lounge


When it comes to restaurants offering creature comforts, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge is among the local stars.

Just a few steps off the Coast Highway, at 25 E. E St. in Encinitas, this cozy and often lively establishment serves “home-style” American food and beverages crafted in-house. It’s a popular draw, with reservations encouraged in general and recommended for parties of six or more.

For that idyllic, first-time experience, visitors might consider arriving before sunset, requesting an outside seat on the second-floor Moonlight Lounge, then watching the sun descend while sipping a libation. One

of the signature cocktails is the Cuke Mule, a spicy-yet-refreshing combination of ginger beer and cucumber-infused vodka with key lime. Java fans gravitate toward the Dude Abides, a spiked iced coffee. And there are more than a dozen beers on tap, along with wines from around the world and a “Bubbles Flight.”

While poring over the menu, guests may notice the selections are prepared with organic and sustainable ingredients, many obtained locally.

“A few years ago (my wife and I) had our first child and decided to raise her on a natural diet … no artificial ingredients, fake sugars or other junk. And we had a revelation,” founding partner and Executive Chef Matt Gordon explains on Solace’s website.

“We had both been in the industry for years and worked in some very stellar places, but when we took a look at all those standard ingredients that restaurants and bars use, we realized that an upscale commercial kitchen is still a bastion of artificial or overly processed junk. … So we set out on a mission: to create a place where we felt good about the product we serve, down to the most basic ingredients.”

Since opening in 2011, Solace has followed that philosophy, in everything from its salads and seafood to its steak and poultry.

“We have something for everybody,” General Manager Claude Renner said of the offerings.

One starter that is a crowd-pleaser is the flaky Warm Cheddar and Chive Biscuits, which can be slathered with orange honey butter or smoked tomato jam. Another is the Shrimp & Roasted Corn Fritters, small fried cakes stuffed with pieces of Baja white shrimp and corn, adorned with jalapeño rings, arugula, shaved radish and harissa aioli. There’s also the Burrata Salad and the Clam Chowder, a savory blend of clams, ’taters and bacon that’s topped with house-made oyster crackers and a drizzle of chive oil.

Among the entrees, Mary’s Duck Breast is a specialty of Gordon’s. The rich slices of meat rest on a medley of duck confit späetzle, Napa cabbage, maitake mushrooms and spring onion, enhanced by carrot-coriander puree. There’s also the Orange Glazed Cook Pigs Ranch Pork Belly with slightly crispy skin, surrounded by carrots in carrot-coriander puree, shaved radishes, pea tendrils and lightly roasted turnips. Other main dishes include the Mustard Crusted Sea Bass, Beef Cheek, Natural Hanger Steak and the Grilled 4 Cheese Tomato & Basil Sandwich.

Guests should leave room in the tank for dessert, though — especially for the huge, decadent slice of Coconut Cake. It’s covered in flaky coconut, cream cheese frosting, rum caramel sauce and sugared macadamia nuts. A smaller delight is the triple-layer Salted Caramel Pot de Crème with chocolate ganache and whipped crème fraîche, sprinkled with cocoa nibs.

Lunch is also available at Solace, with a heavier emphasis on sandwiches.

On weekends, patrons can kick off their day with brunch. Most people begin with the Best Darn Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll, with a whipped cream cheese icing that resembles ice cream. They move on to options such as the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, “Bennies” (Benedicts) and the Kitchen Sink, which has everything from sausage and eggs to bacon. Beverages include the Hot Hot Mary and a six-serving Mimosa Carafe.

Specials run on various days throughout the week, and happy hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Solace’s hours are 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.

Call 760-753-2433 or visit