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carlsbad area restaurants for 5 nights

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  • jgail Apr 20, 2008 07:24 AM
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We are 3 couples going to US Open - staying at La Costa for 5 nights - we are looking for a variety of restaurants - we don't want to travel too terribly far - northern County to La Jolla I think - we are not big drinkers - thinking main courses primarily in the $20-30 range (of course less is ok if it fabulous). We would like to try different things - I don't know if hotel has decent restaurants. Some great views would be good as well. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. The resort has Blue Fire restaurant. OK hotel food in a fairly newly remodeled space. We always like King's Fish House--though there are some naysayer's here, we've never had a bad meal and there are few places to get Sand Dabs. Siamese Basil, downtown Encinitas--dishes Thai Lotus Artichoke, Param and curries. Vigaulucci's first restaurant three doors down. Meritage--three blocks south (I haven't been). Coyote Cafe--downtown Carlsbad

    Step into the 1940's in a room and menu that never change at Red Tracton's by the racetrack in Del Mar. Where else are you going to get Green Godess dressing?

    2 Replies
    1. re: The Old Man

      Love Red Tracton's and yes, the green goddess dressing..this is such a must when going to the track..hell, even if your not going to the track!

      Forgot to add Pamplemousse..Jeffrey does an outstanding job but it will be busy.

      1. re: The Old Man

        Meriage closed the Encinitas location. Just Sbicca in Del Mar

      2. Perhaps the best restaurant in the San Diego area is in the Del Mar area: Market. Prices are on the high side, but they have a four-course prix fixe menu with choices for each course that includes a starter and dessert, so the total bill won't be outrageous. Market is on Via de la Valle a mile or two inland from the 5 freeway.

        Agree with the rec above for Red Tracton's. Great steaks, their specialty is prime rib, and it is a real throwback with servers who are pros who have been there forever. Very popular and busy during racing season. Also off Via de la Valle, just to the ocean side of the 5. About a block away is Pamplemousse, another high-end, top notch place. Most entrees in the low $30s.

        Near the La Costa resort, a couple miles south on El Camino Real, is a French bistro called Savory that we used to like a lot. On the inland side of the boulevard in a minimall, it is nicely decorated and used to be a tremendous value when it opened a half-dozen years ago or so, but prices have inched up. The same owners have opened a more casual burger and sandwich place very close to La Costa.

        To balance the costly dinners, have a dirt-cheap lunch at Juanita's, a taco shop on the ocean side of PCH/101 just north of Del Mar. Be sure to order the carnitas, the al pastor, even the shredded beef hardshell taco -- avoid the fish taco, it is like a school cafeteria fried fish stick.

        Start calling Market and some of the others now to find when they will accept reservations -- between the Open and Del Mar racing they fill up fast. And perhaps the concierge at La Costa might get you in when your own phone calls can't. Have fun and report back.

        1. Hi..
          Live in SD and just stayed at La Costa and the food is pretty good..
          I'll be at the US Open as well and I personally think if you are going to go into the La Jolla area, you need to book...now..like George's, Marine Room, La Valencia..there are so many great restaurants in your price range up in the North County..
          Some great suggestions have been given..
          I would hang out in the Encinitas/Carlsbad/Solana Beach and Del Mar area..
          La Jolla will be a zoo to get in and out of and crazy busy..personally, I would avoid it.
          Del Mar on the beach is Jake's Del Mar which the food is average to above but the view is great..Brigantine in Del Mar has great happy hour everyday with some of the best fish tacos.
          Beach Grass in Solana Beach...Fidel's or Tony Jacal's in Solana/Del Mar..
          Chart House and Charlie's are oceanfront in Cardiff by the Sea..
          When in Rome for Italian in Encinitas..
          Hope this helps..
          Have a great time at the US Open..Torrey Pines is an incredible course.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Beach Chick

            Beach Grass just opened up in Encinitas in the old Kaito location on Encinitas Blvd. That building seems to be the kiss o' death location however, I hope that they are still open by the U.S. Open! I might also suggest Firenze on Rancho Santa Fe Rd. on the east end of Encinitas. it is Italian and the patio is very nice.

          2. Beach Chick makes a good point -- San Diego traffic along the 5 is horrible on most normal days, especially around commute hours, and the extra traffic for the horse races or the golf tournament with only a couple of exits in play can make things a nightmare. The OP may be thinking of some dinners in La Jolla or even downtown SD but in a rental car, on the wrong evening, you will be very happy and grateful if you make the majority of your plans in the coastal North County area, Del Mar thru Encinitas to Carlsbad. Obviously you must like golf -- in addition to La Costa you will be very close to the Four Seasons Aviara -- just a bit north on El Camino Real and then a left west towards the ocean on Aviara Parkway to get to the resort. A formal high-end restaurant and a more casual one there, and you may want to check out the gorgeous course for a future visit. At the N/W corner of El Camino Real and Aviara Parkway there is a freestanding restaurant called Tuscany in the corner of a supermarket complex with movie theatres on the far side. It can be very good, and draws guests from both Aviara and La Costa.

            1. As said before, traffic up and down the 5 can be brutal. I would keep your dinners anywhere between Del Mar and Carlsbad to avoid pulling your hair out in traffic, unless you are in La Jolla around dinner time.

              In La Jolla--AR Valentien at the Torrey Pines Lodge is very good.
              Piatti's for moderately priced Italian
              Roppongi's for the best happy hour deal from 4-6 pm every night. All their tapas are 50% off and 2-3 of them make a full meal.
              Nine-Ten
              George's California Modern

              Del Mar--Market and Arterra are both good. I think Market is better but if you need an alternative, Arterra will do.
              En Fuego for Mexican--your usual tacos, burritos, enchiladas but they're decent enough.

              Solana Beach--Blanca

              Encinitas--do a search for a thread started by Enorah. There are tons of suggestions. Yu Me Ya for izakaya style dining and Kaito for sushi are consistently given thumbs up on the board.

              Be careful w/ Siamese Basil. I went once and felt it was too Americanized. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing, but it was unsatisfying enough that I haven't wanted to go back.

              Skip The Beach House in Cardiff. They may have oceanfront view but the food is average, if even that.

              2 Replies
              1. re: daantaat

                All great suggestions but I respectfully offer that during the US Open it may take an act of the almighty to get a reservation at AR Valentien. Wonderful restaurant, but maybe a destination that should be saved for a return trip to the area. However, if you do want to take your chances, trying calling for that reservation...right this minute ;)

                1. re: foodiechick

                  Pardon my ignorance -- I have heard great things about the restaurant at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, but I don't know the exact name. I'll bet it is all reserved for the players and Open personnel during that week, but if you can possibly get in it would probably be a memorable experience.

              2. Some good suggestions, but as a resident of Solana Beach here are my selections of don't miss".
                1. El Qero, a Peruvian restaurant on Coast Highway 101 between D and E Street. This is one of the best restaurants in the area. The food is not exotic, but simply delicious there's a wide variety, including chicken, steak, lamb and fish dishes. A wide variety. It's a small family owned restaurant that's just wonderful.
                2. Market in Del Mar. Agree with all that's been said.

                Other excellent choices:
                1. Arterra in the Marriott in the Del Mar Hilton
                2. Pampelmousse in Solana Beach. Excellent but pricey
                3. Red Tracton's if you like roast beef. But I think the steak at Ruths' Chris in nearby Del Mar is better.

                Bargains/Low cost
                1. Fidel's - Solana Beach - very good Mexican food, particularly the Fajitas
                2. Pacific Coast Grill - 101 in Solana Beach. Half price and 40% off entrees and apetizers before 7pm

                3 Replies
                1. re: PGB

                  El Q'ero is great, be sure to make reservations. Best sea bass ceviche I have had in the area. Peruvian Chicha Morada and Inca Kola are available here too. Unfortunately they have run out of Cusquena beer when we were there last week. Great selection of Argentinian and Chilean wines, no Peruvian wine or Pisco (liquor). Wonderful house-made deserts - alfajores and tres leches cake are not too sweet. A definite North County stand out.

                  http://www.qerorestaurant.com/

                  1. re: Pablo

                    how does their ceviche compare to Latin Chef in PB?

                    1. re: daantaat

                      Haven't been to Latin Chef yet. This one is pretty simple, some red onion and roasted corn adorn a healthy serving of uniformly sliced white sea bass pieces, almost sashimi style, in a bright yellow citrus marinade. They do offer a special ceviche sometimes made with tuna and avocado, it has a soy/citrus marinade. It has a great flavor but the original one is my favorite. Be sure to ask for some of their "hot sauce", an aji pepper sauce that goes really well with the ceviche. They also sell it by the jar, but you have to ask. I will be working on reproducing that sauce myself it's too tasty!

                2. Vivace at the Four Seasons is great...drinks at the bar offer spectacular views of the lagoon.

                  I agree with the rest of the gang...any high end restaurant should be contacted NOW for reservations. AR Valentin is nice for lunch too but i bet it will be crazy.

                  1. Yu Me Ya in Encinitas.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jessicah

                      I 2nd Yu Me Ya. Its a sake bar that serves Japanese food in a tapas style. The tapas are great for sharing but you might not want to =). One of my favorite places to eat in San Diego. Get there early because it gets packed.