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May 27, 2008 02:58 AM

North County SD reasonable and fancy Restaurants

We live near the corner of Via De La Valle and El Cmaino real- by the Market restaurant and the Del Mar Polo club. We have for the most part stoped going out becasue we are invariably dissapointed with the food. Can you make suggestions for fabulous places to eat that are not far away? Solana Beach, Del Mar, Encintas, Cardiff- those areas are all accesible to us. I'm intrested in places for date nights that will cost about $100-130 for two adults (having a glass of wine each) or places to go any given night that are $30-$50 for the two of us.

I tried doing a search and sifted thru several posts but they don't seem to be organized to North County and it was difficult to look up every spot in hopes that it would be nearby. Looks like I ought to try Market so we'll give that a try soon.

So many places seem to be serving sub par produce in uninsipired dishes- we usually spend upwards of $100 and in the end wish we had just grabbed some organic steaks and made them ourselves. Lately I have been craving some biscuits and gravy- I tried a place that was raved about on Yelp and coudln't belive how bad it was- all clearly frozen food- even the hashbrowns and fruit, I couldn't beleive it was touted as the best breakfast i Solana Beach. Whenever we decide to go out we can't come up with a place to go unless we shell out the cash for Via Italia Trattoria in Encinitas or Samurai in Solana Beach. I grew up in Orange county and I actually think I had more favorite spots there. Thank you for your help.

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  1. I don't know if this is biscuit and gravy country. Why don't you give a few examples of places you've been disappointed in? Also right on today's page there is a discussion of north countr places with the suggestion to search for "Encinitas" to get more ideas.

    1. I really like Vivace at the Four Seasons Aviara.

      1. do a search for Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Santaluz and Carmel Valley and you'll pull up the high end spots. Enorah started a thread last year specifically for Encinitas, although most of them tend toward cheaper eats.

        Since you are by Market, why don't you shell out the $100 and go? If you do your search on the board, you will find that it is pretty consistently given good reviews.

        North County is not really biscuits and gravy country. You may have to travel further south and east into SD proper for that.

        5 Replies
        1. re: daantaat

          You calling me cheap? LOL

          Affordable! Not cheap!

            1. re: littlestevie


              easy dining in these economically challenging times (hahahahahahaha)

            2. re: Enorah

              no, not calling you cheap in a stingy way! just cheap(er) than the usual suspects like Blanca. :-)

            3. re: daantaat

              Mama Kat's in San Marcos has verrrrry good biscuits and gravy to go along with their excellent hash browns.

            4. If you enjoy Samurai, then you'll absolutely flip for Kaito Sushi. Honestly I can't say much good for Samurai - very poor quality shari (sushi rice) and tane (sushi ingredients). And the sushi chef I sat in front of when I last visited, when Kaito Sushi was in the midst of their move, was absolutely clueless.

              Kaito Sushi is in a completely different category. Every sushi bar may say they only buy the best, but Kaito Sushi is the only one in the area that actually puts it into practice. They literally will pass up on sub-par ingredients, many times for a whole season at a time, if the conditions are not right.

              (Last year they practically didn't bring in any uni due to the poor conditions of the kelp beds, and this year they're passing up on the saba for the subpar quality being brought in but being bought up by the other sushi bars.)

              Their customers quickly discover by eating at Kaito that ingredients that brings a "so what?" kind of attitude at other sushi bars tastes completely different due to the freshness and the careful sourcing of their tane. A short list of these items that one just has to experience Kaito's version would include Ebi (shrimp), Tako (octopus - both the regular version and the Hokkaido one), Ama Ebi (sweet shrimp - actually most other bars don't bring in the Hon [real] Ama Ebi, so Kaito's Ama Ebi would look much smaller than what most are accustomed to), and Anago (salt water eel).

              The anago is particularly note-worthy in that they fillet the eel in-house. Most other bars will get it in already filleted, pre-seasoned, and shrink-wrapped! (A good test is to ask for the roasted Anago bone; only a quality-minded shop that fillets their own eel would have it. Most of the bones are left behind in Japan during filleting before being shipped overseas...) The anago is made all the more special by the use of their traditionally made Kabayaki sauce, a syrup made by a careful reduction of actual eel that takes days to prepare. (Most sushi bars use a simple pre-made syrup from a bottle...)

              In additon are their tane that is seldom found elsewhere, including Hoya (sea squirt or pineapple), Shirako (cod milt), Kegani (hairy crab), Sazae (turban shell), Mategai (razor clam), Na no Hana (rapeseed flower), and Kamasu (barracuda).

              I can go on and on - perhaps I already have! - it's by far my favorite sushi bar! Much has been written about them on the boards in several threads. Here's the latest thread on the boards:

              And quite an amazing thing is happening there at Kaito Sushi, a story which is perhaps unique in the American sushi scene. In spite of having no advertising, serving to a predominantly non-Japanese demographic, and having no policy against the ordering of Americanized rolls (sushi Nazi's they are not! Feel free to order any roll you wish), almost all of their sushi bar customers order Omakase (chef's choice), and most evenings end with having not served even one Americanized roll!

              (So much so that they actually had to adjust making less rice each day to account for the lack of Americanized roll orders, the latter which consumes plentiful amounts of sushi rice. And this last weekend when their sushi case was almost sold out before the Memorial Day Holiday, they were only left with the ingredients used for the Americanized rolls - Sake (salmon), Kani Kama (Krab), and the spicy tuna mix!


              Please check it out if this leaves you the least bit curious. And if you really want the full Kaito experience, ask the chef for Omakase!


              Kaito Sushi
              130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

              11 Replies
              1. re: cgfan

                Oh yes we will defitely go to Market this week- finally soeplace we are likely to be happy with. We'll also try the sushi rave above : ) I think I'm jsut so used to Samurai it's comfy to me at this point- better htan some of the other places I have been around here.

                Let's see places that I have been dissapointed in ... in the $80-120 (for my husband and me) range - Pacific Grill (or as my husband calls it "crappy grill"- used to be good but seems to have taken a dive). Black Horse Grille was a let down...
                less pricey-- The Wild Note (except the lobster dumplings those are good)- not awful but not as good as the hype I heard. Beach Grass cafe seems average- we keep thinking if we order the right thing maybe it will be good. On the cheap eats side- T's cafe- everything struck me as frozen. I'm drawing a blank for more names-- I've taken up cooking as a refuge LOL. I just miss haning a place I am excited to go have dinner at you know?
                I will try your sggestions for finding old links-- thank you for the help. My husband is looking up Kaito on the other computer right now- he LOVES sushi and likes to go i and let the sushi chef choose for him.

                We like Bangkok Bay, Flemings, Ruth Chris, (I like going to Flemmings and RC but as they are a chain it isn't quite as exciting- at least I know what I will get) Via Italia Trattoria (bechamel lasanga is fabulous), I have always enjoyed Swami's but have noticed some of the produce is not too fresh and if you get a look in the kitchen it will spoil your appetetite.

                1. re: LittleTricky

                  Is Pacific Grill the Pacific Coast Grill in Solana Beach? It used to be very good but the owners sold it and the chef moved on.

                  1. re: LittleTricky

                    BTW if you're in a meat-eating mood and want to avoid even the small high-end chains, Red Tracton's is an independent steakhouse in the old vein that moved here from L.A. You now the type - dark rooms, red carpets and big leather upholstery - and all of the sides are mammoth in size. (Can they really grow potatoes that large?)

                    It's been ages since I've been there, but after trying a couple of old L.A. steakhouses I've been thinking of returning to RT's.


                    1. re: cgfan

                      And they have Green Goddess Dressing!

                    2. re: LittleTricky

                      If it was Pacific Coast Grill in Solana Beach that you went to, I think they're ok and overpriced. Beach Grass Cafe is indeed, average and one of those places where maybe I'll order the right thing and be happy. I just had a pizza at Nordstrom Cafe today that was better than Beach Grass' and roughly at the same price point. Unfortunately, Sbicca's in Del Mar falls in the same category as Beach Grass and is overpriced for what it is.

                      Pacifica Breeze Cafe in Del Mar is good for outdoor, very casual breakfast, brunch and lunch.

                      Americana in Del Mar has pretty good breakfasts. They're also open for lunch and casual dinner, although some of the lunch and dinner items are hit and miss. I've had more hits on the breakfast menu. No frozen food that I've seen.

                      1. re: LittleTricky

                        LittleTricky: Not sure if enough time has passed, but I was just wondering if you ever did make it out to Kaito. If so, please let us know what you thought!

                        1. re: Enorah

                          That's what I meant to say - and you did it in 617 less words! :-)

                          1. re: cgfan

                            You really did make me laugh out loud


                          2. re: Enorah

                            Enorah, and picking up on your earlier post ( ) in your 1 year retrospective of the Encinitas dining scene, we must mention Yumeya. I don't have much to add to Enorah's post other than to say that in return for dining there you'll likely fall in love with their absolutely infectious and natural hospitality. To me they are the best and most natural hosts in the business.

                            Mind you the environment is not in the formal way of a stuffy eatery, but in the relaxed after work environment that is unique to the izakaya. These are the places where the overworked salarymen (and women) of Japan go to loosen their ties and be boisterous (in a country where there are few other outlets), share a drink, and eat a lot of seasonal Japanese comfort foods while bonding with their colleagues. It's worth a visit, and I guarantee that in the space of a few hours you'll swear that you've been magically transported to a cozy little pub somewhere in the middle of Japan!

                            ...and Enorah - might you say "Yumeya rocks!"?

                        2. You may want to try Savory, which is located on El Camino Real in Encinitas. The owner was formerly an executive chef for the Four Seasons Aviara resort, located in Carlsbad.