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Jun 30, 2006 12:15 PM

Restaurants in North County San Diego

I have been spending a week in Carlsbad for the last 10 years. I am looking for new, great restaurants to add to the below repertoire...which are getting old.

Cafe Japengo
Mille Fleurs
Pacifica Del Mar


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  1. "La Bonne Bouffe" in Encinitas in very nice; rustic country setting, but located in a strip mall. The cassoulet is great.

    I have to take exception to "Tapenade" in La Jolla being listed as a great restaurant. Based upon the wonderful tapenade that was served at the bar, we decided to have the tasting menu with the appropriate wines. EVERY dish was too salty; we returned every one of them.

    With a seafood special Pamplemousse Grill served us tennis ball texture lobster.

    If you want to go to a really great restaurant go to "Basilic" on Balboa Island. It's a small restaurant, but the food is really wonderfu.

    The restaurant at the Auberge Del Mar is really nice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: souschef

      I've been to Basilic. What a great restaurant! Though it's in Newport Beach, not Carlsbad - a bit of a drive.

      1. re: souschef

        Had dinner a couple months ago @ Pamplemousse; both our seafood & game came out very nicely.

        For lobster, we like to go to Rimel's Rotisserie ( which is a very casual small restaurant in La Jolla.

      2. too salty?

        i havent been to tapenade in years but it was once one of my rare once a year treats to dine at.

        perhaps a case of basking in their own glory and the consequent decrease in quality.

        can you go more in depth?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kare_raisu

          As I said, each and every dish was far too salty, and went back almost untouched. We identified it to the waiter in each case. Finally on the 3rd or 4th course we just sat back with our cutlery down, and the maitre d' walked by and asked if everything was okay. We told him it was not, and we wanted to teminate the meal there. I think they charged us for the wine and a drink before - we came out of there $120 poorer, and hungry! I sent a note to the chef, who responded with a $50 gift certificate. I was unwilling to give them a second chance at my cost (dinner is considerably more than $50 there), so sent it back. It was a HUGE letdown after the promise of the wonderful tapenade. In retrospect I should have kept the gift certificate and used it to drink a few glasses of Champagne at the bar without eating anything, to make a point, but I live in Eastern Canada, so getting there is not that easy. When that happened the exchange rate was high, so I really got stung.

        2. Souschef, I really hope it was a one time bad experience. I frequent Tapenade and have never had a bad experience (Boar Ragu wasn't gamey enough, but that not really a bad experience). Give it a try on Thurdays, happy hour till 9:00 pm, %50 food at bar, and live music.

          1 Reply
          1. re: stevuchan

            I would have understood one salty dish, but EVERY one? A one-time bad experience is tolerable with just one dish, but not with every one. And of course to add insult to injury I was charged $120.

          2. Arterra in Del Mar was/is very good, at least when Carl Schroeder and Bradley Ogden were running it. Both recently left and I have not been back to see if they've maintained their quality. It was one of our favorite places.

            George's on the Cove (downstairs dining only) has excellent food, easily on par, w/ Tapenade (I have NOT had a bad dining experience there) and I think better than Mille Fleurs.

            Nine-Ten in La Jolla also has excellent food.

            If you want great steak, Donovan's in UTC is the place to go.

            Sushi on the Rock in La Jolla and Carlsbad has good, trendy style sushi.

            Blanca in Solana Beach just opened up. Have only been once. I would put it a level below all your favorites but it otherwise pretty good. My only problem with the dinner we had was that the filet mignon was overcooked, tough and below room temp by the time it hit the table. The appetizers, desserts and everyone else's entrees were good. I'm hoping my filet snafu was a "new restaraunt" mistake and am willing to give it another try.

            1. For casual dining I love Fidel's in Solana Beach. Their fajitas are great, especially with the chile peppers and green onions. For sushi Station Sushi in Solana Beach has very good specialty rolls. For finer dining Arterra continues to be good, at least last month. And for Vietnamese Le Bambou in Del Mar is excellent and very reasonable with a tranquil environment.