Visual Feast

“My own enthusiasm and admiration for the creativity, sense of design and color in the Mexican culture is depicted in its regional folk art.” ~ Diane Powers, owner of Bazaar del Mundo family of restaurants

Diane Powers

Diane Powers

Two inviting restaurants located in North County not only serve delicious Mexican food, but also feature wonderful folk art pieces. They are Diane Powers’ Casa Sol y Mar and Casa de Bandini. If the name Casa de Bandini seems familiar, that’s because it’s the name of the very popular eatery formerly in Old Town now located in Carlsbad, where it serves scrumptious food and offers a visual feast of colorful handmade art objects from Mexico, and Central and South America. The ebullient setting prepares diners for tasty, beautifully presented and reasonably priced food, along with signature frosty margaritas. Vintage woolen serapes from Saltillo are on display at the entrance. In the dining room, guests sit on chairs of hand-burnished leather, Zapotec inlay, gloriously colored with vegetable dyes. Those are just the seats. The backs of chairs are formed of hand-woven Oaxacan/Zapotec weavings. Diners are surrounded by Santos artwork and carvings from Peru and a dramatic bar composed of copper, wooden rope detailing, and moldings with oversized iron nails. The bar rail is handcrafted ironwork. In fact, ironwork is ubiquitous, seen in many objects. Gold leaf Peruvian mirrors and copper pots from Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico are among the myriad folk art objects collected through a lifetime by Powers. Eating at Casa de Bandini is a total cultural experience. The joyous ambiance is infectious; guests enter Bandini happy and leave even happier.

Casa de Bandini

Casa de Bandini

Diane Powers’ newer restaurant Casa Sol y Mar is located in Del Mar. Like her other restaurants, Casa de Bandini, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, and Casa de Pico in Grossmont Center, Sol y Mar is chock full of artisan-crafted objects. Sol y Mar celebrates art of the people in colorful and dramatic style, with hand-woven fabrics from Oaxaca, restoration glass and hand-forged iron lighting fixtures, rich Mexican tiles, and antiqued glass and brass lanterns and stars. There is a terracotta-hued floor and a rustic latilla wood ceiling in the center of the bar, as well as hand-carved Cantera stone fountains with hand-painted Mexican tiles. The beautiful surroundings complement the cuisine, which, like the decor, is also a visual treat. (760.634.3443, 858.792.4100)   DARLENE G. DAVIES

Casa Sol y Mar

Casa Sol y Mar

Casa de Bandini & Diane Powers: Photography by Ted Walton     Casa Sol y Mar: Photo by Martin Mann