July 16 2012 06:15 PM

German delights and your go-to North County butcher

A Tip Top meat counter
Photo by Jenny Montgomery

I craved a good ribeye one weekend, and the Stater Brothers meat department wasn't going to cut it. But making the pilgrimage down to Morena Boulevard to drool over the meat case at Siesel's is far trickier when you live in North County and have a squeaky infant. Where's a carnivore in the 760 to go?

Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad (6118 Paseo Del Norte) has the beef selection I was looking for, but it ended up delighting me further with a restaurant and market, both chock full of uniquely German culinary delights.

The ribeye and filet I took home and grilled were great—I've found my North County butcher. But when I saw the extensive deli menu, I hopped in the long weekend line to grab some lunch to go. Who needs a plain old turkey sandwich when there's one with Hungarian smoked sausage? The term "sandwich" might actually be a stretch. The sausage itself is fantastic, with sweet paprika and earthy herbs and a fresh casing that has the telltale snap of a nicely steamed link. But when I opened my to-go box, the ample serving of sausage was merely plopped onto a pile of soggy white bread triangles, spread with a thimbleful of mustard. The sausage is so good on its own, I'm not sure why they even keep up the pretense of serving it sandwich-style.

Tip Top's breakfasts are more traditionally American, with omelets, waffles and the obligatory SoCal offering of chorizo. But if you're visiting Tip Top Meats to dine, sample quirkier offerings available on the lunch and dinner menus.

Maybe you're feeling a bit peckish and are wondering if you can find a meal with two types of gravy on one plate. Look no further than the Holsteiner Schnitzel. Pork tenderloin is ground with ham and Swiss cheese and formed into a dense patty. It's then thickly breaded and sautéed in butter before being topped with white gravy. (Might I recommend a side of fruit?) Sharing space with this plate of gout are some mashed potatoes, smothered in brown gravy (which I'm not convinced wasn't canned) and a vivid side of pickled red cabbage. Though not as biting as Tip Top's eye-watering sauerkraut, the red cabbage was nonetheless a tangy and lightly sweet way to cut the richness of the meal.

This meal is massive and leaves you feeling like you've made a very naughty choice for your health. But don't get the wrong impression: I loved it. It tastes fantastic and would definitely fortify you for a winter in crazy King Ludwig's castle.

Wander through the aisles of the European market and have fun trying to pronounce treats like kartoffelknödel and der knusprige. Pick up a soft and salty pretzel for just 80 cents, along with a packet of bratwurst, and have your own Oktoberfest in the middle of summer.

This isn't food with finesse or delicacy. It sticks to your ribs (and most likely your major arteries) and encourages covertly unbuttoning that top button on your pants. But I won't tell.

Write to jennym@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennymontyinsd.


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