May 3 2013 04:48 PM

Carlsbad shipping-container's food is fine; it's the picnic atmosphere that's a winner

Photo by Jenny Montgomery

Pelotons terrify me. Don't get me wrong—I love bicycles and support making our communities more bike-friendly. But after living a stone's throw off Highway 101 for a few years, my trusty Honda and I had to dodge many a pack of bike riders, and although I'm happy to oblige and move well out of the way, I've never been able to shake the nightmare of some poor Spandexed soul blowing a skinny tire, taking a spill and ending up under my bumper. Eek!

If that isn't bad enough, there are very few bike-friendly dining options for a group of hungry cyclists to take their clickety-clackety spiked shoes into for a decent bite to eat, especially places where their very expensive wheeled equipment will remain safe and within eyesight. Enter a plucky little snack shack in Carlsbad called Box'd.

Box'd has taken over the corner of State Street and Carlsbad Village Drive (430 Carlsbad Village Drive). It's not so much a restaurant as a shipping container and a large patch of soft, artificial turf. Every day, they open up the sides of the container—a box, if you will—and serve up simple sandwiches that use waffles as bread. (Waffles also are patterned with little boxes—see the theme here?)

If this sunny little spot showed up in traditional restaurant form, the food wouldn't cause much of a stir. I've been recommending Box'd for a while now, not for their food, which is fine, if not particularly imaginative, but because the combination of a sunny, picnic-like atmosphere and food that's not tacos is a welcome treat along the coast. I'm charmed every time I go there and I get to stretch out on the soft ground under an umbrella or lounge in one of the Adirondack chairs, nibbling on something wrapped in a fancy Eggo.

The waffle batter mixes up nice and sweet and spongy—stretchier than you'd want for your normal breakfast platter, but toothsome enough to work as a wrap for various fixin's. I keep going back for the chicken with brie, arugula and garlic aioli. It's creamy, with just a bit of heat from the garlic; although, quite frankly, if you stuck some brie on a manhole cover, I'd probably eat it.

There's a vegetarian option that offers up a biting zing, as well. Roasted peppers, basil and cool goat cheese play nicely together, but a healthy addition of cracked black pepper gives a surprising amount of warmth with each nibble.

Sweeter offerings, as well as breakfast options, abound at Box'd. You can never go wrong with bananas and Nutella on anything, or go savory and get some eggs, cheese and melted butter. Or just grab a warm waffle slathered in peanut butter and strawberry preserves. 

Pull up a pack of strollers for a play date, gather with friends for coffee and hangover-absorbing waffle sticks and syrup, or put down your kickstand and cool off after a two-wheeled cruise. It's always time for waffles.

Write to and Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennymontyinsd.


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