Falling for Fallbrook
Fallbrook doesn’t look avant-garde. Main Street is a bricktime capsule of 1950s California, where you can whistle the tunefrom The Andy Griffith Show as you buy envelopes, shoes, biketires, and Bazooka gum. But for the last 10 years, the charminglyretro stores of this northern San Diego County town have beenfilling up with art, so you can dine, shop, and browse thegalleries without once needing your car.
There are two places to eat and browse simultaneously. En PicoCafé ($$; breakfast and lunch Tue-Fri, Sun; 121 N. Pico Ave.;760/451-3663) is west of Main in a cottage with a large patio,an all-white garden, and paintings on the walls (some for sale,some not). For a later lunch or a weekend dinner, try the Cafédes Artistes ($$; closed Sun; 103 S. Main St.; 760/728-3350), home to twosalon-style dining rooms and Fallbrook’s reincarnated drugstoresoda fountain. If you want an authentic New York egg cream, NewYorker Michael Calvanese will make you one with the original,gleaming soda pulls. Then again, you can drink Cabernet withgrilled wild salmon panini here too.
In the same building, you’ll find the Art & Cultural Centerat Fallbrook. The center was born in 1996, when the FallbrookVillage Association, a local boosters group, sought to revivedowntown business by adding art. Since then the association hasbrought 10 bronze sculptures, 4 murals, 2 parks, and more than adozen exhibitions a year to the downtown area, including thismonth’s Sculpture Spectacular (10-4 Mon-Sat, 1-4 Sun Oct 10-24; $5 donation; www.fallbrookartscene.orgor 800/919-1159).
As you stroll down Main, don’t miss the Brandon Gallery (closed Mon; 105 N. Main; 760/723-1330), the county’s oldest artco-op; the Blue Heron Gallery (open Thu-Sat; 113 N. Main;760/731-9355), a little place packed with Arts and Craftsfurniture, paintings, and ceramics; or Chubby Chix FloralAdventures (closed Sun-Mon; 109 N. Main; 760/723-0334), a coffee shopspecializing in fresh flowers, retro candy, and tongue-in-cheekhumor: The bathroom itself is a work of public art.
Fallbrook is about 40 miles north of San Diego. From I-15, takethe Mission Rd. exit and follow the signs west. From I-5, takeState 76 east to River Village Shopping Center, go north (left) onMission Rd., and bear right onto Main St.