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Mar 2, 2008 02:00 PM


Planning to visit Carlsbad for a weekend getaway in a few weeks. Need suggestions for a couple of casual dinners and Sunday Brunch for our family which includes two teenagers. Any suggestions ? Thanks.

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  1. if you are staying near downtown then casual is Fidel's, Fish House Vera Cruz, Pizza Port, Dini's by the sea, Koko Beach if you need more info, just ask,

    2 Replies
    1. re: septocaine_queen

      FIdels is terrible. Try Las Olas or Garcias for mexican.

      1. re: SeanT

        i know.... but lots of out of towners enjoy the ambiance. Las OIas is marginally acceptible also.

    2. Sunday brunch in Carlsbad, I can't recommend Mariah's enough. It's a small little converted house on Carlsbad VIllage Dr. that's pretty easy to miss, but it really has that down home feel with excellent food to boot.

      If you're into the whole buffet thing, apparently Ocean House has a spectacular brunch buffet, but I've never been, so I can't say for sure if it's worth it.

      As for dinner, the places mentioned above are pretty decent, although I'd wholeheartedly recommend Knockout Pizza over Pizza Port if you're in a mood for pies. Las Olas, right next to Knockout Pizza, supposedly makes some great Tex-Mex style Mexican food as well, so that's another choice.

      1. I had the Sunday brunch buffet at Bellefleur (Carlsbad outlet center) and it was really good. A bit pricey, but still a very good deal for the price.

        1. These recommendations are for the downtown/beach area. If you are looking for something off the coast, let me know and I'll post again.

          Pizza Port - great pizza, fun (loud) surf atmosphere with great microbrew selection, Jay's Gourmet - atmosphere is lacking and you can have a long wait, but the food is worth it. Armenian Cafe - again, not great atmosphere, but they have some wonderful dishes.

          I've never been, but have hear wonderful things about Fish House Vera Cruz.

          If you are looking for a traditional brunch/buffet - I'm at a loss unless it is over a holiday and then I have HEARD that Neiman's champagne brunch is fine but pricey (and I'm not sure the quality justifies the price).
          Honestly, there are only two places in Carlsbad that I like for breakfast (Al's and Armenian Cafe - but I have never been to Maria's). I think Oceanside (2 miles north from downtown Carlsbad) has them beat in the breakfast arena.

          In Oceanside I like Hill Street Cafe - green restaurant & art gallery in an old Victorian home with great coffee and wonderful breakfast options - unfortunately, service can be surly and Longboarder - surf themed with delicious breakfast plates and lots of options including vegetarian.

          1. Man if this sorry list doesn't show the problems with dining in San Diego--bad Mexican food, terrible pizza (there is no good pizza in CA) and nothing special joints for breakfast.

            The best I can do: King's Fish House. Mini SoCal chain with a huge menu, consistantly good to excellent food (recommendations sand dabs and the spiny lobster) and a very fun atmosphere. Karl Strauss Brewery has a nice tourist menu. It's right by the great Flower Fields that are just now in full bloom and has beer tasting flights. Also, if you travel further down, about 10 minutes, to Robbie's Roadhouse. and good scene to checkout bikers and locals. It is owned by Robbie Vigiluccis. If you go to his website you will find information on all of his very good restaurants--most are A very happening scene is the Coyote Cafe--loud outside, nice inside and good quality Tex-Mex. We like getting lots of appitzers and splitting them.

            Breakfast--the best anywhere is the chain The Original Pancake House. The closest is in Encinitas. Must have: apple pancake and German pancake. But, many people have these in their area.

            I like Dini's but their seating is very odd, you assume it's going to have an oceanview, but you rarely get it.

            17 Replies
            1. re: The Old Man

              Dude, that's pretty broad to condemn San Diego off of Carlsbad, which isn't one of the better dining areas here. Every metropolitan region is going to have some sort of weakness.

              "bad Mexican food" - I think you're the only person saying that all Mexican food is bad in San Diego. Sure there's some bad (maybe there's more bad than good) but there's also excellent Mexican food here too. Just go to Super Cocina and witness.

              "there is no good pizza in CA" - Hilarious! You sir are funny. Very, very funny. I wonder if you're joking or just trying to start a rouse. You didn't just complain about San Diego (there's good pizza here, see: Bronx, Luigi, Hoboken, or Lefty's Chicago) but all of California; that's awesome. Besides, no one goes to Pizza Port for the pizza; you go for the beer which is some of the best in the country.

              "nothing special joints for breakfast" - that's debatable. I'm not sure if these are special, but they're all good: Parkhouse Eatery, Cavaillon, Broken Yolk, Cafe on Park, and said Original Pancake House.

              1. re: DougOLis

                Yes, I am being a little broad. I do say that San Diego is not a great restaurant town. As for pizza, I'm from Chicago--enough said. Most of the sausage pizza here has little rabbit pellets instead of the chucks you find on at good Chicago pizza places.

                Mexican food? It's a land of chips and dip places. I am sure there are some secret, or out of the way places, but that doesn't make for a great Mexican food town. Something you might expect with the country of Mexico on our border.

                Sorry to create a dust up and I don't want to be preceived as a troll, but I think you will find that most people from major cities don't consider SD a great restaurant town.

                1. re: The Old Man

                  Actually, if you read any of kare_raisu's posts, he's found quite a few Mexican places that are hardly secrets. University Heights, Barrio Logan, and National City are not obscure areas. For tourists, sure, but a resident shouldn't have any problem visiting KR's latest discoveries.

                  I don't think anyone who lives here will delude themselves into thinking that the San Diego dining scene is on par with cities like LA, New York, and San Francisco. However, there is good food around here if you look. I'm a Los Angeles native and I know that, especially in the Asian food department, better stuff can be found in LA. I'd just rather look for what's best around here, the best that San Diego can do, and enjoy it. Complaining about how this isn't LA, SF, etc. is counterproductive and, trust me, most San Diego 'Hounds have had their moment of "there's nothing to eat here!"

                  If you want to vent about SD's restaurant scene, there's always the infamous "San Diego Restaurants Are Bad" thread. The debate's been done. Otherwise, we'd appreciate not being slammed for trying to recommend whatever is available here. The OP asked for Carlsbad recs and that's what others tried to provide.

                  I have a couple of good friends from Chicago that find Lefty's to be more than passable. Have you been?

                  1. re: geekyfoodie

                    As I said, I don't want to cause a dust up so I will just leave this topic alone. I think I did contribute with some good eating suggestions for the OP. I have not eaten at Lefty's, but at this point I just can't try anymore of the "almost as good as Chicago" pizza places. They never are.

                    I will peruse the thread you suggest. Sounds like a fun read.

                    1. re: The Old Man

                      With all due respect, I think you've already created a dust-up between this thread and the fish tacos thread. We're all entitled to our opinions, of course, but SD 'Hounds really go on the defensive when anyone posts "I'm from (city known for food) and San Diego sucks!" You'll see in that "SD restos are bad" thread. For the record, no one wants you to stop talking... you're challenging San Diego dining as a whole and we're defending it. Hopefully, something useful comes out of it.

                      I do hope you try Lefty's. I'm not from Chicago, so I can't tell you how it really rates. However, no matter where you go and what you try, it'll never be as good as home. Never. If you always measure SD to Chicago wherever you eat here, you will be disappointed.

                      For me, I bitched for a long time about San Diego's Asian food. I'm from LA, as I said, but I'm also from San Gabriel Valley, home of some of the best expat Asian (broad umbrella, but I won't go into details as to which regions are best represented) cuisine in the world. It's never going to be as great here, but there are places that are good. Quite good, actually. Once I put away the Los Angeles measuring stick, I found my meals to be more enjoyable. By no means am I settling for bad food, I just stopped expecting this city to be Los Angeles. It's not. It will never be.

                      I don't know what your situation is, but it does seem that you might be new to San Diego. Keep bringing your gripes to this board and hopefully you'll find the feedback to be helpful. The one thing to remember is that a lot of San Diegans are transplants, given both the military and biotech presence... it gives an interesting perspective to the dining scene.

                      1. re: geekyfoodie

                        bravo, geekyfoodie! Thank you for giving me a heads up on this thread . Its funny. Best part is that he says san diego's restaurants sucks then he proceeds to reccomend chain restaurants and admits ignorance (Chicago Pizza)

                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          "admits ignorance (Chicago Pizza)"
                          I have no idea what this phrase means.

                            1. re: The Old Man

                              Here ya go: "I have not eaten at Lefty's, but at this point I just can't try anymore of the "almost as good as Chicago" pizza places. They never are."

                              So lets not try at all just 'cause and make assumptions!

                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                How many bad pizzas do I have to eat? I can't get around everywhere in this town. If I'm ever down that way I'll try it. I learned a long time ago to simply have Lou Malnati's overnight from Chicago. They are not my favorite Chicago pizza and it's not the best way to enjoy it, but it beats anything I've had in this town so far.

                                1. re: The Old Man

                                  Old Man,
                                  If you had checked here first, you would not have had to eat all those bad pies. Lefty's is very good. By the way, Giordano's makes a better pie than Malnati's and they overvight as well.

                                  1. re: Captain Jack

                                    From the top of this thread, "I'd wholeheartedly recommend Knockout Pizza over Pizza Port if you're in a mood for pies"

                                  2. re: The Old Man

                                    "I can't get around everywhere in this town."

                                    You did realize that, by moving to Southern California, you'd be almost entirely dependent on a car and living in the midst of urban sprawl, right?

                                    In all fairness, TOM, you have taken more than enough heat for your comments. Wherever you're living, you're going to have to go out and about for good chow. There are areas of San Diego that are full of bad chow. There are also plenty of areas full of good chow. If you're not willing to explore the city and you haven't seen a lot of it, then your comments are not only inflammatory, but you have little to support your views.

                                    I hope you stick with CH and take some time to check out the recommendations on this board. If not, then you're going to have to live with Karl Strauss and Rubio's.

                                    1. re: geekyfoodie

                                      Thank you for your comments. Just for the record I do not eat at either Rubio's or Strauss. I thought Strauss would be good for touristy with teenagers--which I defintely think is true of King's (though the food is better than Strauss). I thought of Rubios just because they are really the popularizers of fish tacos. They may not be the best but without them I don't think the rest of the country would really have heard of them.

                                    2. re: The Old Man

                                      OM - You don't have to eat everywhere, you just have to refrain from making assumptions based on your non-experience with the places you've never eaten.

                                      And what's the carbon footprint on that pizza from Chicago anyway? I sure hope you don't drive a Prius. ;-)

                        2. re: The Old Man

                          I've had Pizza in Chicago... deep dish.... recently... not something worth posting about... there are plenty of pies in California...I would chose over Giordano's

                        3. re: DougOLis

                          Pizza Port's pizza is good as long as you are not trying to compare it to a different style. For a California type pizza it is very tasty. While i enjoy a Ny Style or Chicago pie, the California pie is still good. Come on!! Nice crust(ask for it thin on the bottom), cheese, sauce, mmmmmm mmmm....