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Encinitas - One Year Later

So, it has been a year (almost) since we moved to Encinitas and began our search for Chow-worthy (in my humble opinion) eats. Felt like it was time to start another thread about the area, revisiting our likes and loves, seeing what still makes us say "Yum" and what has fallen by the wayside. I intend on posting a hodge podge of dining experiences in the Encinitas area, trying to categorize as well as I can, in no particular order.

I will start with Mexican Food, always a favorite topic here in the SD area.

Again these are not in any particular order.

La Especial Norte - This is the restaurant we eat at the most often overall (not just talking Mexican). We love everything about it from the delicious soups to the mole to the camerones rancheros, to the reasonable prices, to the comfy booths. The lunch deal (Mon - Fri until 4pm) here is killer. For something like $7 one may consume a soft drink of choice, a cup of their awesome chicken soup, an entree (chicken mole, bisteck racheros, camerones racheros, etc, etc), rice, beans, and chips and salsa. Dinner is excellent as well. We have learned that they have had the same head chef there for the 30 some odd years they have been in existence.

Bety's - Wonderful, down home, and affordable as well. A family operation - Mom and Dad in the kitchen, kids out front. Love the mole, fish tacos, everything. Actually, we have not been there in a few months and need to get back.

Karina's - for the ceviche and shrimp cocktail.

El Torrito Market - for the carnitas (to go) and the guacamole and salsa fresca. They offer much more as well, just have not tried any of it.

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  1. Awesome idea for a post Enorah.

    All I can say is hear hear and thank you for posting on our confident Mexican Bastions to our NW!

    Got to get back to Especial!!!

    9 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      ...and speaking of Especial, to my gringo palatte I must say that I enjoy their menudo better than the one I just had at Menuderia Don Vicente. I found the menudo at DV to be underseasoned, though the tripas was cooked to perfection. (I most definitely need to give them another try; perhaps I went on an off day [last Saturday])?

      Perhaps I maybe too used to Especial's version. Would be interesting to hear from others on this, particularly from those who are more informed than I on the cuisine. KR?

      ...and I can't agree with you more Enorah on Karina's, Bety's, and El Torito Market. These more "right sized" Mom and Pop shops are something special indeed. I especially like the story of Bety's, and how she saved up her money working multiple jobs to open up her shop. I'm sure the other shops have similar life stories waiting to be told.

      As many others have said before, it takes more than just ingredients and skill to make good food, but also love and commitment.

      1. re: cgfan

        If you found the Menudo to be underseasoned at Don Vicente, I think you would enjoy the Super Cocina Menudo a lot more too.

        Super Cocina's menudo is heavy on the epazote and chile base whereas DV is quite gentle. There is more tomato and less chile in the red broth.

        I've been ordering the white lately - and bringing fresh mint - I think its more aggresively seasoned because the white broth is cooked with the patas.

        In my first DV post I wrote:
        "My favorite taqueria up in Fallbrook - Las Brisas serves up a 180 degree different tripe soup. Theirs is everything a masculine taqueria menudo should be - in its aggresive, hearty. ersatz-caffeine eye opening style.

        In contrast, the menuderia's soup is delicate, nuanced, and gentle. There is not a hint of poorly cleaned tripe aroma - which I call out to be the reason for the gauchupine adversity."

        I guess you can call it "Menudo, refined." The owner told me they tested 13 different recipes before they perfected it. Also all three ingredients (tripe, broth, hominy) are cooked separately - which may not be the case at Especial. I think this accounts for a less agressive flavor.

        What did you think of the costillita amuse-bouche?

        I need to get to Especial real bad now!
        PS Thanks for taking the time to mention you went there.

        1. re: cgfan

          PS Do they have Menudo everyday at Especial? Is there honeycomb? Its been ages since my last visit - and I cant remember whether or not their tortillas are handmade - are they?

          Let me know if you'd ever be interested in chowing down there, cgfan/

          1. re: kare_raisu

            KR: Thanks so much for your analysis on the DV menudo. I was thinking along the same lines while I was eating it, that I might actually be mistaking a more refined recipe for a lack of seasoning. Certainly I've grown accustomed to Especial's menudo - if I ever get up to the Fallbrook area I'll have to check out the Las Brisas version!

            Re. Especial's menudo they use a "towel tripe", which I personally enjoy the most for the purpose. I didn't even realize it myself, thinking that I randomly drop in on the weekends for the menudo, but they only make it on Sundays. I must have looked like a deer caught in headlights when I dropped in there one Saturday and was suprised to hear that they only made it on Sundays. (I generally don't find anything else to be of much interest other than their soups, though in an ealier life I ate more broadly off of their menu...)

            As to their tortillas I'm pretty sure they are not handmade - at least they certainly do not seem to be... But then again this gringo always asks for tortillas de harina, for certain a crime amongst the traditionalists!

            As far as a daily menudo in Encinitas that'll be left to Karina's, though when ordering there I'm almost always pulled towards ordering their seafood items.

            La Especial Norte
            664 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

            1. re: cgfan

              As DiningDiva or Eat Nopal would tell you [i think she or he told me this] that there is always a salt shaker tableside at a Mexican establishment worth its weight.

              I kind of like this approach because everyone has a different level of salt tolerance. When we went to Texcoco for the CD, I noticed all the other table diners' hands in salt shaking motion. Though, I thought it was fine seasoned.

              I like all tripe - but I think I like towel the best too. I am very fond of book tripe too - which I think is all I have had in Pho (I wish they put more in it!)

              Hey - flour tortillas and Menudo is not a crime cgfan! Especially for Menudo a la frontera [border style menudo]. I love going over to my friends house when his mom makes menudo for breakfast because she serves both toasted boillo rolls and corn tortillas in her Guadalajara styled menudo. I think I prefer the bread the best of all as an accompniment - perfect for soaking up the broth!

              Las Brisas is a trip! Go there on a Sunday morning [though they have it both sat and sun] and you will be amongst all of the hearty agricultual workers. I never fail to elicit a grin from a few of them when they see me slurping up some fine menudo with them on a chilly Sunday morning. :)

              1. re: cgfan

                Other restaurant info

                Betty's Tacos Restaurant
                1464 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas, CA 92024

                Karina's Taco Shop
                916 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                El Torito Meat Market
                948 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

                1. re: Enorah

                  We ate at Betty's tonight. It was so good. I had a carne asada huarache and a carnitas sope, my sweetie had the camarones a la (grilled - can't remember the Spanish word).


                  Delicious, better than we remembered it to be.

                  1. re: Enorah

                    Funny. Since posting about Bety's we have eaten there three times again now. Every time has tasted better than before. Got an extra special treat today and met Bety, who is warm and generous. Lovely to feel her heart.

                    My sweetie had a carne asada burrito

                    We shared the cheese and epazote quesadilla

                    I had the carne taco & grilled fish taco combo


            2. re: cgfan

              Yep, The Love is unmistakable cgfan. It is that ingredient that is most important to us when dining.

          2. I love Especial, but I think of it as a winter place. One because of all the soups, but the other reason is that it gets so gosh darn stuffy in the back room on a warm sunny day. I keep thinking they are going to do something with that little patio in the corner of the parking lot, I would really like a little alfresco dining even if it looking at a parking lot. I guess that is why we head over to Fidel's or Tony's in the summer. Their food is not close to being as good, but you can sit outside.

            2 Replies
            1. re: littlestevie

              I was at La Especial on a hot day in the back and it was nice and cool. Maybe they turned up the ac? I love spicy food on a hot day.

              It would be nice to eat outside there, and you are right - Fidel's/Tony's - no comparison.

              1. re: Enorah

                When I worked for Koreans - they always insisted I had some of their spicy tofu soup for lunch with them in the middle of July!

            2. So



              Of course

              The best and freshest with an amazingly relaxed vibe. I wish them well in their new locale.

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

              3 Replies
              1. re: Enorah

                While I am talking about Japanese, I will also mention Yu Me Ya.

                Yu Me Ya is a traditional izakaya style restaurant, small portions and plates of delicious Japanese delicacies.

                It is a small and once again family owned and operated restaurant with absolutely wonderful food.

                Udon, Oden (in the winter months), fresh seaweed salad, takoyaki, the bay scallops with mushrooms, and on and on and on.

                1246 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                1. re: Enorah

                  Kaito and Yumeya, no doubt some of the best food in San Diego!

                  1. re: Pablo

                    ...and according to Kaito's "Sushi Blog", it looks like they're going to be bringing in some more Kamasu (Japanese barracuda) tomorrow! http://sushikaito.com/SushiBlog.aspx What a lineup!

                    I had my first Kamasu just a few days ago, and it was truly a memorable taste (and olfactory) experience. I've always thought that Tai (Japanese sea bream) had all the other tane (ingredients) beat on the taste of its skin, but the Kamasu is certainly in the running! http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                    Though on texture Tai has Kamasu solidly beat, the salt-water-like aroma when its skin is roasted is incredible, and the flesh is just as elegantly flavored as any Tai I've had.

                    Sensitively topped with just a touch of raw Kamasu, yuzu koshou and sea salt, it was ready to eat as is. What followed an initial explosion of flavors was the most pleasant, lingering aftertaste, not unlike a beautifully sustained note on a lone violin.

              2. Restaurant Info

                Oh, darn it. I meant to link the restaurant info here and screwed up. Hopefully, a helpful chowhound mod will delete.

                1. The Encinitas Cafe

                  Who doesn't love a good diner?

                  This has become one of our regular haunts as well. It is as old school (can we still use that expression or is it over, I never really liked it anyways) as it gets.

                  Comfy booths, cash only, homemade soups, house roasted turkey, yummy burgers, etc, etc

                  My sweetie loves the cobb salad with their house roasted turkey and extra crispy bacon (mmmmmmnnnnnnn bacon!).

                  Breakfast is served all day (one of my favorite comfort food dinners to have). The hash browns are awesome.

                  And, it is pretty easy to eat dinner there for around $20 for the 2 of us.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Enorah

                    Restaurant Info

                    Encinitas Cafe
                    531 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                  2. I am going to shift gears a bit and mention Brett's bbq. This really is the best bbq up in the area. Yes I know that is faint praise. It seems the closest to Texas hill country bbq that I have tasted in SD. I do think it is kinda pricey for the food, but when it is right around the corner from me, I guess I can save in gas money. It is so much better than the, not sad that you are gone, Big Jim's or the other local competition Joey's. A coworker likes Phil's better cuz he feels that Brett's is too smokey, Me I like the smoke. It is nice to have another dining option in Encinitas.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: littlestevie

                      We liked Brett's, thought the smoke flavor was good. But I did not like the bbq sauce they use. When we eat there again, we might smuggle our own sauce in with us. ha

                      1. re: littlestevie

                        Brett's BBQ is a great place for those nights when you don't feel like cooking. We've even picked up some of the beed brisket and buns and served it when friends come over unexpectedly. Everyone thinks it's awesome.

                      2. For Italian in Encinitas I love Rosanna's Pasta (which used to be Russo's).

                        Same fresh and homemade pasta, wonderful sauces, pizzas, salads, and delicious paninis.

                        The bread there is better than when it was Russo's. I know you all loved Russo's (I did too), but Rosanna's delivers the same great food at the same reasonable prices. In a town full of Italian restaurants, Rosanna's is my favorite.

                        Rosanna's Pasta Shop
                        270 N. El Camino Real, #I
                        Encinitas, CA 92024

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Enorah

                          Rosanna's has some wonderful housemade sfogliatelle pastries. I am hoping to spot some cannelloni there, no luck so far. I also like to get olives here: green, dry-cured, and kalmata by the pound with the pits! Great selection of paninis, better than Pizzicato's or any of the other near by establishments. If they went a little lighter on the pizza toppings it would be perfect!

                          1. re: Pablo

                            We ate at Rosanna's again last night and I had a panini. It's the focaccia. It's so good and they make it there. The prosciutto was excellent as well.

                            Also Rosanna and her husband Jean (sp?) seem to love what they are doing. That love ingredient is so obviously present there.

                          2. re: Enorah

                            Yes! Great news on Rosanna's!

                            I really missed the old Rosanna's on 101, when they turned it into a full-service restaurant. The Encinitas Ranch location after the change just didn't have enough of the good things that they used to have. And I really do miss the rustic nature of the 101 location, and the deli-oriented space that casually sold sandwiches through a split door. Upon hearing the news about Russo's -> Rosanna's, (never really went to Russo's...), I paid a lunch-time visit Saturday just to check things out.

                            Was I glad to see Rosanna (I assume that's her name), and it was nice since she had remembered me too! And the same baker that I remember from the Hwy-101 store, who I assume is her husband.

                            Though the selection seemed to be a tad smaller than the Hwy-101 deli, she says that it has increased. Since I wasn't ready for a full-up sandwich nor wasn't looking for deli items, (it was just a recon trip), I picked up some olive bruchetta instead. It made for a good snack with a pronounced, assertive olive flavor, although a bit on the too salty and oily side.

                            The breads looked nice, and I was also happy to see the fresh mozarella. Right now I go to Venissimo for my mozarella, but perhaps when I throw my next pizza at home I'll sample Rosanna's version for a change.

                            1. re: cgfan

                              I chatted with Jean Louis, Rosanna's husband, the other day when I visited. He's French, she's Italian, and their daughters have at various times worked in the deli's. Their businesses over the years have always had a comortable feeling about them, and he said he remembered me too from way back. He said that Russo's had been there for 23 (or 25) years, and has a loyal clientele, so he wanted to keep the staples of that business, while gradually adding his own specialties (like the sfogliatelli). He counts himself as a chef rather than a baker, and started baking out of necessity when his supplier went out of business. Let me tell you, despite his disclaimer, he makes some great breads. He said he will be introducing some more pastas soon, so we'll wait and see. He also sells his pizza dough. On my visit I left with a pastry, some hard (Molinari?) sausage, and some spicy green olives. All were excellent.

                              Nice place, nice people, good food. Glad they're back.

                              1. re: Leucadian

                                They are great.

                                Jean is a classically trained French chef who started when he was 14 years old in Paris. He is a total perfectionist when it comes to what he serves yet completely down to Earth at the same time. They are very warm and welcoming. I am enjoying the evolution that they are bringing to that space.

                                I stopped in last night for a couple loaves of focaccia. YUM!

                                1. re: Enorah

                                  All so good!

                                  You know, Enorah, in this 1 year retrospective of the Encinitas dining scene, perhaps the most wonderful story of where things are are the number of Mom & Pop shops that serves delicious food from the heart. So to a list which includes Rosanna & Jean's Rossana's, we also have Katsu and Yuka's (& family's) Yumeya, Ryan & Hiromi's (w/Kaz & Joe-san) Kaito Sushi, Elizabeth's Elizabethan Desserts, and Bety's Bety's Tacos..

                                  Add to this the shops run by families unknown, such as Karina's, La Especial Norte, & El Torito Market, and I'm sure untold more.

                                  And we also have Sam & Eriko's Sushi Bar Blue Fin, though I've long ago switched to Kaito, and Monica's Q'ero which I haven't yet tried, but is getting consistently good reviews by local CH'ers.

                                  It's great one can easily dine in Encinitas and not only have a great meal, but also to get to know the owner/operators, as they busily run their shops day in, day out.

                                  1. re: cgfan

                                    So true cgfan

                                    I love to dine at smaller "mom and pop", "haha and chichi", "mama and papa", "maman and papa", etc, etc, etc restaurants.

                                    What fun to know the people who are preparing the food. It does seem to be a unique distinction here in the Encinitas area.

                          3. Pizza

                            When it comes to pizza we enjoy 2 places

                            Most frequently we order pizza from Manhattan Giant on D Street. What can I say? It is good and affordable and the owners are really nice. Oh, and we can walk to it. Chewy crust - spicy tomato sauce - traditional toppings. Yummy. You can get a slice there and choose any toppings as well, and they cook it up for you to order.

                            Pizzicato is our other favorite choice for pizza. Totally different from Manhattan Giant - crispy crust/gourmet toppings/yummy salads. Delicious.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Enorah

                              Well Enorah, I'm glad you've found good places--I still haven't found any places (after 16 years) that I really look forward to. Certainly there is no good pizza up here (I know, I know, go to Lefty's, well that's not north county). I don't like any of the Mexican--certainly not all those awful places on that street in Solana Beach-- (I know, I know, go to the places with cheap plastic forks and styrofoam plates).

                              For Italian I'll go to Vigalucci's places, but I can't say I look forward to it. I can't think of any middle upscale that excites me--tried Savory--OK, nice room, but eh. Of course there's no (Jewish) deli here. I don't eat Japanese so I can't comment--my wife likes the place on Carlsbad Village Drive and the I-5. Chinese--please--might as well go to Pickup Stix.

                              The only consistant winner for us is King's Fish House, and Siamese Basil (top notch for over 16 years).

                              "Who doesn't love a good diner?" Me, who cares? Do I need to go out to get meatloaf? My least favorite food expression is "comfort food." (along with "tucked into" and of course "yummo").

                              So keep searching and reporting back. As for me I just spent a great weekend eating in LA. I'm going to Las Vegas & Chicago next month--now that will be some great eating.

                              I wish it were different, but hey we've got great weather.

                              Go ahead kare_raisu, through the tomatos, but hey as they've said elsewhere--it's just my opinion.

                              1. re: The Old Man

                                Actually I've changed my mind. You are right. You are definitely different old man but I think I can at least appreciate that.

                                I am not sure what would make you happy - but if I can help you find it let me know.

                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  I think that you have helped. You have convinced me of the quality of the Mexican food here--you just have to put some effort into it. I promise to be trying some of those plastic fork places you talk about. I definitely am in for Super Cocina--it's just a bit of a schlep.

                                  1. re: The Old Man

                                    I'm sensing a Kumbaya / Kleenex moment here...

                                    TOM, potentially off-topic, but by chance are you willing to give Japanese cuisine a try? It didn't always used to be like this in S.D., but some of the better meals now are in the area of Japanese cuisine. The mundane teishoku (set meal) places are still there, but also recent arrivals of some vibrant specialty venues, which is the dining norm in Japan.

                                    1. re: cgfan

                                      Well I didn't want KR to think I was taking in his posts. I am a Rick Bayless fan and he is all about regional Mexican food. And certainly KR appears to be expert in this area. But I still will say that most of the Mexican sit downs in this county suck.

                                      My wife loves Japanese food and I recently found out, while up in LA's Japanese food street--Sawtelle, that my favorite Japanese food is Korean. I know it makes no sense but there it is. Sushi just doesn't really interest me--it's too underdone for my taste--that's a joke son. My wife loves Udon, I can take it or leave it.

                                      I guess I'm going to have to read more carefully reviews up here for Japanese and Korean food. It has been said that it's the cutting edge since we "border" Asia.

                                      1. re: The Old Man

                                        Wow! Seem like we have a lot more in common than you first let on man.

                                        I agree - I prefer the assertive flavors of Korean over Japanese food.
                                        and most mexican sit downs do suck

                            2. Enorah, you've certainly hit the high points of Encinitas. I'd add KC's Tandoor for Indian, and El Nopalito for Mexican guisados and tamales. They tell me that the El Nopalito market will be opening very soon, after a long hiatus. I'm looking forward to that. I'm also glad to hear that Rosanna is making the sfogliatelli again. It used to be a specialty at their original deli on 101 in Encinitas, but they stopped making them a long time ago. For anyone who has not experienced this little pastry gem, you owe it to yourself to try one. Crunchy, creamy, aromatic, sweet.

                              KC's Tandoor
                              1070 N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Leucadian

                                I've been meaning to eat at KC. I always note it when my 10 year old daughter makes us go to Encinitas Ice Cream--a place that has really gone down hill with the change of owners about 3 years ago.

                                1. re: Leucadian

                                  Leucadian, thanks for the KC's Tandoor recommendation. We ate there last night and really enjoyed our meal. I had the chicken masala which was yummy. My sweetie had the makhini chicken which he really liked as well.

                                  We had a couple of samosas and a small order of palak paneer too.

                                  Everything was fresh and the flavors layered and complex. Very good value as well.

                                  1. re: Enorah

                                    Glad you liked it. I used to be a regular at the original site in Sorrento Mesa when I worked there. Now I need a report on Rosanna's sfogliatelli. I can't be the only one who craves these things. And BTW, I went to Kaito's for the first time, and really liked it. And very good value. It was quiet so we sat at the bar and met the three principals and some regulars. Great place.

                                    Thanks for your enthusiasm.

                                    1. re: Leucadian

                                      I have tried Rosanna's sfogliatelli. Yum! Although I am typically in need of a chocolate component to my desserts.

                                      Wonderful to hear of your Kaito experience.

                                      1. re: Leucadian

                                        The Rava Dosa is very tasty at KC's. I noticed they have a website, never saw it before: http://www.kcstandoor.com/

                                        Leucadian, the sfogliatelle are really great, not too sweet a little lemon zest and sweet ricotta, I am pretty positive they are housemade.

                                        And you made it to Kaito!! They have been posting the daily fish delivery quite regularly on the blog:
                                        What did you have for dinner?

                                        1. re: Pablo

                                          not being Indian, or even that familiar with the food, I always wonder if this is fairly authentic good food, or did they just make a bunch of stuff to please my gringo palate. I really like KC's and I think it is much better than the place down the street, The food was way too greasy at the other place. So I hope that people that know more about the food do enjoy KC's as well.

                                  2. And Elizabethan Desserts. Don't forget this place. Looks like they're planning a restaurant next door. Anyone know about that?

                                    Elizabethan Desserts
                                    155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Leucadian

                                      Elizabethan was definitely one I was intending on mentioning. Her desserts and sweets are decadent - my favs are her brownies and her pies.

                                      The other sweet spot I love, love, love is VG Donuts in Cardiff. I had not eaten donuts in years and someone mentioned it. So we tried it. OMGoodness! The best donuts to be had in North County! I like a lot of their other treats as well. My favorite is the creme boula which is like and eclair but round in shape and croissant dough is used.

                                      V G Donuts & Bakery
                                      106 Aberdeen Dr
                                      Cardiff By Sea, CA 92007
                                      (760) 753-2400

                                      1. re: Leucadian

                                        I asked Elizabeth about a restaurant next door when I saw her on Sat (sweet treat time). She said there are no plans for a restaurant next to her as far as she knows.

                                      2. Fish

                                        When it comes to a nice fresh fish meal there are 2 places we frequent.

                                        Solana Beach Fish House
                                        Pelly's Fish Market & Cafe

                                        Both are wonderful, fresh and affordable. The fish counter at Pelly's is great. I bought some ahi there and seared it and it was really good. Solana Beach also has a fish counter (smaller than Pelly's) with some really nice product.

                                        Solana Beach has table service.

                                        At Pelly's you order at the counter and it is delivered to your table.

                                        We had one meal at Fish House Vera Cruz in Carlsbad which was really good. It is a bit pricier than Solana Beach Fish House and Pelly's. The smoked tuna at Fish House Vera Cruz is out of this world delicious.

                                        Fish House Vera Cruz
                                        417 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

                                        Solana Beach Fish House
                                        124 Lomas Santa Fe Dr, Solana Beach, CA 92075

                                        Pelly's Fish Market & Cafe
                                        7110 Avenida Encinas # 101, Carlsbad, CA

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Enorah

                                          We had such a yummy meal tonight at Pelly's. Fresh halibut grilled and served on toasted bread. That fish was so good.

                                        2. Breakfast -

                                          There are many choices for breakfast in the Ecinitas area. I will name the ones that we have enjoyed the most.

                                          The Beach Grass Cafe - I like the Solana beach location better than the Encinictas location. This is my favorite breakfast/brunch place in the area. I love the turkey hash and the salmon omelette. The breakfast potatoes here are my favorite of all the breakfast places.

                                          Swami's - I love the outdoor dining here. Fresh, healthy, good food. Good vegetarian options and smoothies.

                                          St Germain's - I like the vegetable omelette here and the tuna sandwich. My only complaint is the coffee. I like the outdoor seating here as well and love the smoothies.

                                          Honey's - Great spot. Yummy food, dining right on the sidewalk in olde Encinitas is fine. Good coffee.

                                          Beachgrass Cafe
                                          159 S Highway 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075

                                          Swami's Cafe
                                          1163 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

                                          St Germains Cafe
                                          1010 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

                                          Honeys Bistro & Bakery
                                          632 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                                          1. Coffee

                                            Pannikin and E Street Cafe

                                            Pannikin is where I typically buy my beans (since they roast their own). I love the old building, the outside seating, and the yummy treats. We had to live at the Econo Lodge on 101 for 3 weeks last fall and walking to Pannikin every morning for a fresh brewed coffee and a scone helped me not to lose my mind (ummmmmm, we were living at the Econo Lodge in case you missed that part. Not that the Econo Lodge was bad, in fact, it was surprisingly good and affordable, but I discovered that living somewhere other than my own place for any length of time, was not an experience I would like to repeat).

                                            E Street Cafe -
                                            I want to love E Street and sometimes I do. But some of our experiences there have been not so great as far as service - amount of time between ordering and receiving. Although the coffee there is delicious and the vibe is cool.

                                            E Street Cafe
                                            128 W E St, Encinitas, CA 92024

                                            Pannikin Coffee & Tea
                                            510 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Enorah

                                              I only wish that E Street could hold on to their better baristas. I've only come across 2 that have been any good, but they've both "passed on" to other cafes.

                                              Haven't been there in a while, though my last experience 2 months ago was dreadful. Any updates and intel on the barista scene there, plus names if you have?

                                              I thought that E Street got off on the right foot when they first opened, doing a passable job at pulling shots, but since then its been up and down, mostly down. Too bad they had to get rid of their upholstered furniture too. I guess too many customers were just milking their drinks and using it as their main internet hookup.

                                            2. On Saturday nite, there was a wine and food reception for the local Rotary club at Quail gardens. My s.o. and I were really impressed with two restaurants offerings, suprise we have never been to either place. The first was Firefly, which is on N. El Camino. It has been several things over the years, the last was 66 cafe, which wasn't that good. They offered a gazpacho with lump crab meat. very tasty. The other place was Q'ero restaurant down on coast highway. They had a chicken and walnut dish. That was great. my computer won't get on to their website, but we will try both places. the other restaurants that I would rate as worth trying, if we had not been there before, were Savory and Pino's, they offered a pot pie and some nice ravoli's. The one offering that disappointed me was El Callejon. They had some carnitasthat was this greasy grey glop. We had not been there for a while, and now have no desire to go back.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: littlestevie

                                                We ate at Q'ero once. The food was delicious, but the overall experience there was................. hard to put my finger on it. Too pricey. Too much attitude.


                                                I am sad to write this because the food was yummy, but we did not love our time there.

                                                I much prefer Latin Chef in Pacific Beach.

                                                1. re: littlestevie

                                                  I just checked out Firefly's menu on line. It looks good, but I did not see prices posted.

                                                  What is with that? Savory too. No prices on their on-line menu.

                                                  1. re: Enorah

                                                    I've never been back to Savory after seeing an appetizer-size salad priced at $11. Prices are too high to publish :)

                                                    BTW one of the best places for hamburgers, including a house-made turkey burger is at Sage Grill.

                                                2. Better late than never. I meant to post this in my opening post. Here is a link to my thread from last year.


                                                  1. Another place I wanted to mention Is Raul's Taco Shack.

                                                    Really yummy and fresh Mexican food right on D street. Great place to grab a taco after the beach.

                                                    Another mom and pop

                                                    Raul's Shack
                                                    490 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Enorah

                                                      A little tidbit from Alex at Raul's - their space is so small that they buy everything fresh everyday. No freezer!

                                                      If only freezers and microwaves could be banned from restaurants, we'd all be eating a lot better! (...but I'd sure miss the ice cream!)

                                                    2. Produce

                                                      Three places I regularly go beside s Trader Joe's, Henry's and Jimbo's

                                                      The Farmer's Market - on Sundays at Union and Vulcan on the school grounds - great assortment of Organic Produce

                                                      Just Peachy - on 101- very reasonably priced, fresh, and yummy produce. He also carries dairy, lunchmeat, dry goods, salad dressings, ships, etc, etc, etc

                                                      La Costa Produce Stand - on La Costa - also really yummy produce.

                                                      14 Replies
                                                      1. re: Enorah

                                                        Do Just Peachy or the La Costa Produce stand carry stone fruits in the summer? Peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, etc.

                                                        1. re: Enorah

                                                          Do Just Peachy or the La Costa Produce stand carry fresh stone fruits in the summer? Cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, etc.

                                                          1. re: daantaat

                                                            I know La Costa Farms does carry stone fruits in season. They bought my one-tree plum crop a few years ago! I had a bumper crop, and couldn't eat that much jam. Not everything is local, but they certainly are sensitive to seasonal produce. Just Peachy I would assume should carry peaches at least.Oddly enough, I haven't seen much stone fruit at the Vista farmer's market, at least the cherries I was looking for.

                                                            1. re: daantaat

                                                              Hey daantaat

                                                              I just bought some peaches (yellow and white) and cherries at Just Peachy that were yummy.

                                                              Lots of other stone fruits there

                                                              1. re: Enorah

                                                                Leucadian--if you have another bumper crop, please let me know and I'll be happy to unload some fruit off you!

                                                                Enorah--thanks for the tip on peaches and cherries! I will have to go there.

                                                                What are the hours and more specific locations for La Costa Farms and Just Peachy? Cash, check, ATM, Visa/MC?

                                                                1. re: daantaat

                                                                  La Costa is on La Costa and Saxony (east of the 5)

                                                                  I am not sure of the hours. I do know that Just Peachy accepts plastic but they have a $15 minimum to charge

                                                                  La Costa is cash only

                                                                  Just Peachy
                                                                  1354 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA

                                                                  1. re: daantaat

                                                                    I'll let you know about the plum crop.

                                                                    1. re: Leucadian

                                                                      Leucadian--thank you! :-D

                                                                      Enorah--thank you for the addtl info! I'm excited about La Costa b/c that is nearby!

                                                                      1. re: daantaat


                                                                        Plums are in. email address is in my bio.

                                                                        1. re: Leucadian

                                                                          Leucadian--I will be in touch! Thank you!!! :-)

                                                                  2. re: cgfan

                                                                    What I also like about Just Peachy is that I can buy milk and eggs there for what I would pay at Trader Joe's (or just about). No big mark up on the groceries to compensate for the good prices on the produce.

                                                                2. re: Enorah

                                                                  Enorah - thanks for the post on Just Peachy... I've passed by it on a number of occasions but never thought to drop in until reading your post. My first impressions were very favorable, and in particular since I'm very fond of stone fruits I was pleased to see a broad selection displayed outside, most all at a uniform "mix and match" price of $0.99/lb. I liked their selection of green and root veg. as well.

                                                                  I had totally given up on going to grocery stores due to a lack of quality and seasonality, and mainly do my grocery purchases at Nijiya Market in Kearny Mesa supplemented by the occasional stop at a farmer's market. It certainly is nice to now have a place that I can visit that's both nearby and open 7 days a week, not to mention independently run!

                                                                  I grabbed a bunch of regular and white peaches, apricots and plums. The quality was, while not mindblowing, more than enough to beat the supermarkets at their game, (think Russian roullette with 5 bullets), though it's difficult to say with any certainty on just a single inaugural visit.

                                                                  I'll definitely be returning regularly, eager to see if subsequent visits yields similar, or perhaps even better, results!

                                                                  Thanks Enorah from this 20 year long NCSD resident for introducing this local gem!

                                                                  1. re: cgfan

                                                                    I bought some yellow and white peaches at Just Peachy on Thursday

                                                                    deeeeeeeelicious and juicy

                                                                    especially the yellow ones (although the white ones were nothing to sneeze at)

                                                                    1. re: Enorah

                                                                      Thanks to you I've been going there every weekend!

                                                                      Overall it's been great, but once in a while there have been some items that didn't make the grade. Such is the case with agricultural products, I guess!

                                                                      I thought the apricots last week were especially good, so much so that I went back the following day for more! However since the peaches were not very good 2 weeks ago I ignored them on my last visit. (But 1 week in the naughty chair is a bit long for a fruit, isn't it?) So b/c of that and your report, I'll have to pick some up on my next visit this weekend...

                                                                      It's a great little store! We're lucky to still have an independently-run produce store in our area.

                                                                3. So here is what we are still missing after a year

                                                                  really good ice cream

                                                                  so much so we bought an ice cream maker

                                                                  It boggles my mind that a BEACH TOWN like Encinitas does not have a killer ice cream joint

                                                                  Why? Why? Why?


                                                                  And don't even say gelato to me. I already know all about the gelato offerings and they are just fine.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Enorah

                                                                    Jean Louis at Rosanna's used to make wonderful gelato. Maybe with encouragement he'd make it again. Roxy's used to have very good ice cream from Niederfranks, but that was back in my youth, and I don't know much about it now. Coldstone in the Forum?

                                                                    1. re: Leucadian

                                                                      "Coldstone in the Forum"
                                                                      I thought we were talking about good ice cream. Not second rate that needs to be mixed with stuff using a labor intensive method that causes 2 people in line to create a 20 minute wait.

                                                                      1. re: The Old Man


                                                                        No offense Leucadian :hugs:

                                                                        There is this place up north in Sebastopol called Screamin' Mimi's - the best house made ice cream with house made waffle cones, house made fudge, house made cookie dough in the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, etc, etc, etc, well you get the picture.

                                                                        That's what I'm talking about.

                                                                        1. re: Enorah

                                                                          Easy there. I lack the sensitive-sweet-cold gene, and prefer vanilla anyway. I am a sucker however for odd flavors as found in Mexican paletas.

                                                                          Enorah, give me a local ice cream reference to calibrate what sweet-cold taste buds I have left, would you? No offense taken, I assure you.

                                                                      2. re: Leucadian

                                                                        This last time I was in Roxy's, gee maybe 5+ years ago they still had Niederfranks ice cream. I usually get my Roxy fix at the fair or one of the beach festivals where they set up shop, so I just don't get into their restaurant. There really is not a good ice cream shop that comes to mind in coastal no. county. Just an aside does any long time Encinitian remember the ice cream shop on Westlake back in the 70's? I met the guy that owned that place, he was running a winery on Whidby Island up in Washington.

                                                                    2. Great job, Enorah, sussing out the Encintas scene. Do try Savory. If it's too pricey for you, go for a special lunch or a small meal at the bar with drinks. This is the real (French) deal with a sassy SoCal twist. Sometime SD chowhounds disparage the tried-and-true or more expensive fine dining, but life's celebrations call for a man at the helm like Savory's Chef Pascal, who knows how to wield his butter. . .

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pickypicky

                                                                        A shame about what's happened to Savory's value. We went several times in the first couple of years after it opened and really enjoyed it -- my favorite dish was a pepper-crusted ribeye served with a side crock of tasty potatoes au gratin which was priced around $17 at first and later increased to about $21. I'd start with a nice salad of fresh greens with a round of goat cheese for $6. Oh, well...

                                                                        1. re: nosh

                                                                          After having eaten here for the first time tonight, I have to agree about value. The odd thing is, the best dish we had was a scallop appetizer. The scallops were nicely cooked and huge, and served with a good amount of pesto pepe pasta. This appetizer was $17, which is pricey for an appetizer; however, I have seen entrees of scallops with less food on the plate, and a good $5-10 more expensive, too.

                                                                          However, in every other case, I'd have to say the food was just...nice...and the prices a bit ambitious. The duck confit was served with tasty lentils. The duck was perhaps just the slightest bit overcooked. It was ok, but not as rapturous as I usually find duck confit, one of my favorite dishes. Short ribs were pretty pedestrian. I think they usually are, but the waiter recommended them over the lamb osso buco, so we went for it. What made it extra pedestrian was serving it with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans, er...haricot verts. Very comfort food...and done just ok.

                                                                          Desserts were both nice (brownie a la mode anda pear pie type thing), though the latter wasn't as warm as it should have been. Again, just ok...

                                                                          Here's the crazy thing, though. They offer a "Chef's Note" menu for $49, where you can choose any app, entree and dessert on the menu. It's probably pretty obvious to most that 3 courses for about $50 is probably not a great deal, but we actually had to do the math to realize how bad a deal this was. Even if you ordered THE most expensive appetizer and THE most expensive entree, you would only save a couple of bucks. With the cheapest app and entree (all desserts are $7), you'd actually be paying an extra $10-15 to have them packaged like that, than to order them individually. Isn't that bizarre? I don't know (but do doubt) that the portions are bigger if you get the package (and why would you want bigger anyway, if you were getting three courses??). I just don't understand why anyone would choose the "Chef's Note" option. Also, adding wine is $17 for three half glasses. This could be a deal, depending on what glasses you ordered....but again, I think you'd have to try pretty hard, as EACH glass would have to be more than $11 on the standard menu to make it a deal. That whole scheme of theirs left us with a weird feeling about them. Just seems like they are trying to take advantage of people with poor math skills or something, making them pay more and not giving them any extra value at all...

                                                                          Overall their food is fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, and my doubts are certainly exacerbated by the pricing policy on their package menu.

                                                                          1. re: pkt63

                                                                            Excellent commentary. I was intrigued by their tasting menu, but thank you for doing the math--forget about it!

                                                                      2. An update -- I visited Savory's website when choosing a possible dinner either during or right after Restaurant Week, and I believe that their sample menu now includes prices. Good change. On the other hand, Savory isn't the wonderful value that it was during the first couple of years of its existence.