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Lunch around San Marcos

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I work in San Marcos and like to get lunch in the area. Are there any places that are quick that people might recommend. Some that I found so far that I like are:

Philly Franks - I'm from Philly and find the steaks aren't too far off from what I would expect back home.
Kim's Noodles - not bad pho
Pitas - OK shwarma, though not super flavorful. I like the pita chips that come with the sandwiches.
Mr. Taco - a quick carnitas or fish taco is yummy.

I heard of a BBQ place but haven't found it yet...
I might also be willing to head into Escondido if the trip is worth the bite.

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  1. India Princess for Indian lunch buffet at San Marcos Restaurant Row.

    1. Brunos in San Marcos Restaurant Row. They have a nice lunch buffet till 3pm M-F.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kitchenhag

        In my experience I've found Bruno's to be a "one-hit wonder", their one hit being their olive oil pizza, which is a real standout. I went there on account of several enthusiastic recommendations on this particular pizza, though if one went simply by the looks of the restaurant, it wouldn't look very promising.

        When you're greeted by pictures of Harvey Korman, Carol Burnett, and Abe Vigoda in the lobby, it feels like you've just entered into a cultural time warp... Must be due to the proximity of Lawrence Welk Village!

        They don't use a brick oven, but somehow the crust, though thicker than I'd like, comes out with a perfect texture every time. (Not to say it's a thick crust-style pizza either...)

        They do make thier own pasta, but I've found it to be uncompelling. Like most pasta in the States they over sauce and do not take the time to "marry" the sauce with the pasta. One can do much better at home.

        The olive oil pizza, though, is fantastic. A cheeseless pizza, it's topped simply with olive oil, finely chopped jalapenos, garlic and parsley. It shows an amazing amount of restraint in the toppings, which is what I believe a good pizza should do. And though I'd prefer a cracker-thin crust, it is what it is and makes for a delicious one-course meal.

        One more note: the pizzas are huge. Order one size smaller than you'd usually do and expect left-overs!

      2. there's a japanese cafe called 'Boo & Mee' never been there though.

        1. I heard that Thai Pasta has decent lunch

          Thai Pasta
          1876 Hacienda Dr
          Vista, CA 92081

          1. You'd think there would be a lot of great lunch places in San Marcos because they have a ton of restaurants. I love the Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Old California Restaurant Row has a lot of choices, but not really. Most is standard fare - Tony Roma's & Ribs; Aculpoco - Mexican; IHOP - Sandwiches. Bruno's scares me. I heard it's mafia and it looks really dated. The coffee shop has OK wraps and salads. Next to it is a place called Market Street Bakery that is trying, oh so hard, to be French, but it's a disaster. I'm sure their breads are'nt even really made there - probably pre-baked and just finished off there. They have big salads and sandwiches, so if your appetite is enormous you can take a box and eat wilted lettuce for your dinner. A hawaiian Bistro has had a Grand Opening sign up for about a year now. My excitement is starting to wane. Next to it is a wine bar and dinner restaurant, Friars Folly Wine Cellar, that claims they too are opening for lunch. If they can do for lunch what they do for dinner, then we really have a lunch place to talk about. I love this place. I think the owner is French or Italian and you can feel it is very warm and European, friendly and hip. I'll be there every day.

            New restaurants open every day, but they all seem to be chains. I avoid them like the plague - Elephant Bar, Johhny Carinos, etc.

            Let me know where else I can go. I'm hungry for good food!

            4 Replies
            1. re: AlaPierre

              I'm sure no tears will be shed about this, but Johnny Carino's is closed.

              1. re: araknd

                First Krispy Kreme, then Johnny Cariono's? Have any other restaurants in that cursed new mini mall (anchored by Lowe's and Best Buy)?

                I suspect In-N-Out is safe.

                1. re: RB Hound

                  Krispy Kreme's place was taken by Chick Fil-A. Haven't had the courage to try it yet. ;-)

                  1. re: araknd

                    Chick Fil-As are pretty good for fast food. Just don't go there on Sunday. :)

            2. Have you tried Mining Company in Old California Restaurant Row? Their smoked tri-tip sandwich is very tasty as well as their Frisco burger.

              1. Smoke House Grills is the BBQ place. It's in the San Marcos Theater parking lot with rubios & Cold Stone. 1158 w San Marcos Blvd
                Great Pulled Pork, Tri Tip Chicken & Ribs. Also they serve the best Oven Baked Sandwiches. You have to try it.

                1. My standard lunch stop when in the area is Churchill's Pub. Good pub food, very good fish & chips, and if you like a glass of beer with lunch, they have a great selection of local craft brew as well as tons of imported strong ales and such.

                  1. Actually I can recommend a place for pho. I've only been there once, and I really was doubtful that there can be good pho in San Marcos. So with my lowered expectations I stepped in not ready to be completely blown away by Pho San Marcos.

                    First off, the soup was the most wonderful Pho broth that I have yet to come across. You wouldn't think so by its looks, as it is quite light in color. But talk about flavorful, nuanced, and wonderful. ...and aromatic too!

                    The broth alone would have stolen the show if it were not for the incredible quality of the tai (rare steak). Make sure you order it on the side - it's a special item on their menu. That was the most beautifully marbled tai I have ever come across

                    Actually if I remember right the marbling was not that obvious just looking at the plate. However it was very beautifully cut and arranged, almost as if it were a pricey sashimi plate of Fugu. But as I dipped each piece into the broth the fine marbling became visible and really took me by surprise.

                    It's a shame I haven't been able to make it out there for even a second visit. (I still wonder if I was just "off" that day and somehow read something to be better than it was. But since then I've told a fellow Foodie friend who's checked it out on two occasions and have confirmed my findings...)

                    So Pho San Marcos would be my (only slightly) tentative vote, as I've only been there once but was completely blown away!