HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Good Eats in Vista, CA! Where are they?

Hi all,
My best friend just moved from the Bay Area to Vista, Ca, which I understand is about 35 miles outside San Diego.
While I mourn her absence, I'd also like to steer her towards some good chow. I plan on visiting lots too, so this is a selfish request as well.
I tried searching the board, but found stuff for Rio Vista, Chulla Vista, not much in Vista. Anyone know the area?
I understand it may be a pretty small community and she may have to travel to neighboring towns, that's no problem. She and her daughter are adventurous eaters and would love some good Mexican, Salvadorean, Japanese, really all and/or any good food. They eat it all.
Thanks so much!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oaxacan food @ Panaderia Ortiz (full menu, not just a bakery):
    1275 S. Sta. Fe, Suite 8
    Vista, CA 92083

    1. I don't really eat up in that part of San Diego a lot so I don't have a lot of good recs, but some of the surrounding cities to Vista are Escondido, Carlsbad, and Encinitas. Encinitas gets talked about quite a bit on the boards (as do the other 2 I guess).

      Since she likes Japanese she should definitely try Kaito in Encinitas. It has fantastic sushi and should not be missed for probably the best sushi experience in San Diego. I'm sure cgfan and the other regulars will add more about it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DougOLis

        DougOlis is right, Kaito is the best sushi in San Diego. Small, family owned, and pristine fish. If I had to choose one last meal on earth, it would be at Kaito!



        1. re: DougOLis

          DougOLis and Pablo are spot on.

          One can spend years looking for a sushi bar and still not reach the levels that this friendly family-run shop delivers every day. Thanks to a no-compromise approach to sourcing and serving the best tane by their head sushi chef, Kazuo Morita, this shop has been doing it now for 3 years running.

          Morita-san is the type of person who strives for perfection, while believing that it can never be reached. It's no consolation that he is already delivering the best sushi in San Diego, as he's clearly not driven by what other sushi bars do.

          Rather he steadily marches monk-like towards the absolute asymptote of perfection, no matter how far ahead he happens to be in front of other so-called practitioners of sushi. His personal road and journey is a culinary version of Zeno's paradox, and one that I'm sure he'll gladly take whether or not his talents are ever rewarded with any level of recognition.

          Lucky indeed to be able to not only witness his journey, but to also experience the true treasures he creates for those fortunate enough to enjoy a meal at his bar.


        2. I've been to El Ranchero, 1566 N. Santa Fe in Vista for Sunday brunch a few times, a family run Mex place with excellent and reasonable fare. I especially liked the pickled spicy carrots on the table, awesome, give them a try.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cstr

            I would imagine Escondido would have some good Mexican food, just given the large Latino population out there, but none I know of to recommend. Sadly, Vista hasn't earned much of a reputation as having great restaurants. Your friend may be better off heading west into Carlsbad or Encinitas, which have a bit more to offer food-wise.

            1. re: encinitaseater

              150 Grand and Vincent's in Escondido, both on Grand, are pretty good restaurants IMO.

              1. re: RB Hound

                150 used to be really good, but has suffered from changing hands a few times. The current owner has changed the menu several times and several chef de cuisines.

              2. re: encinitaseater

                Bistro Le Bouchon in Escondido is a nice little bistro, run by a genuine French chef, Michel Boucher. Great wine at reasonable prices.

            2. Vista is a relatively small "bedroom" community nestled between Oceanside on the west, San Marcos on the east and Carlsbad to the south. There are a few chains that have opened (CPK, Famous Dave's BBQ), but you are looking for a place where the locals go, they should try La Paloma for not run of the mill Mexican. For burgers, they can try Chili Coast Burgers on East Vista Way.

              1. Definitely check out Feliccia's Italian restaurant on S Santa Fe Ave. Fantastic italian food run by the same family for years. The daughter was a local high school drama student who went on to the "big time" in Broadway musicals. Which makes for no surprise that Feliccia's also runs a smaller version of their restaurant at the local Moonlight Amphitheatre for the theater patrons there.

                The best calzone I've ever had is at Feliccia's. Since the calzone takes a good 20+ minutes to cook (it's worth it), you may want to call ahead your order if you don't feel like waiting.

                1. Thank you all so much for these great tips!
                  I am sending them all to my friend and printing out a copy for myself for when I visit next month!
                  Keep em comin'!

                  1. Have her visit Grappa in San Marcos. The chef there has a lot of passion for the dishes he prepares and you can taste it. Ask the servers for their recs - they were spot on in the recs they gave us. All four of us enjoyed every single dish.

                    1. I second the Chili coast vote(best French Dip! and cajun fries). Japanese I like JF Japanese Cafe but the one on the border of oceanside vista is better than downtown(and sushi is 50% off) Los cabos is great for a carne burrito or torta. Chin's has good chinese I havn't had anything I don't like. Sunrise cafe is great for breakfast ( italian sausage scramble). Giant New York pizza by Kragen not to be confused with ny giant pizza on same street ( get the huge one u will want more I promise). Taquiza has these great lil tacos but they ONLY have tacos no rice or beans or anything. Caio's has great Italian and a lunch buffet that is good too. I agree too that La paloma is good if u like something different they even serve antelope and ostrich. However I sugest the shrimp and lobster fajitas. The town is small but u just need to know where to go.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Ariannehana

                        Chin's: pedestrian generic Chinese food at best.

                        1. re: The Old Man

                          I became extremely ill from the chili paste that I piled onto the bland at my first and only visit at Chin's. Never again. Even if there's no great Chinese food in north county, I'd rather support a mom-n-pop place when a craving hits than give my money to a sub-par chain.

                          1. re: maestra

                            So true. I got dragged to Chin's by my staff and it was the brown sauce or orange chicken glop that I can't stand. It was so salty that I could taste the sodium on my lips the next day. There is no good chinese in North County.

                            1. re: septocaine_queen

                              I suggest you try Peking Wok in Bonsall. They used to be in Vista, until a fire in the shopping center forced them to find new digs. The food is really excellent and consistent. Try the Ma Po Tofu.

                              PS - I'm of Chinese descent, so I have had good Chinese and bad Chinese. This is good eats.

                              1. re: araknd

                                Thanks for the rec. One of my assistants lives in Bonsall and she told me about this great Chinese resto in Bonsall. It must be Peking Wok, then. I didn't believe her because I didn't think good chinese and Bonsall (or North County) existed. But if they have ma po tofu...

                                1. re: septocaine_queen

                                  It must be one and the same. Bonsall isn't big enough to have more than one Chinese restaurant. :-)
                                  Seriously, they have a lot of things that you don't find on other Chinese restaurant menus.
                                  Not that it really means a lot to me, but they were voted best Chinese on AOL City Search.

                      2. Fish House Veracruz in San Marcos.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: pantani

                          If you are looking for seafood, I'd try the new Sheraton in Carlsbad. They frequently bring live scallops and abalone. If you haven't tried a whole scallop before, you're in for a treat. Much better than the bat-ray that a lot of places pass off as scallops. IIRC, they bring in the scallop for a Friday special; best to call ahead.

                          If you like Fish House Veracruz (San Marcos or Carlsbad) I'd give Kings Fish house a try. Better selection and the fish tastes fresher; on the flip side, service tends to be a bit better at Fish House.

                          If you want something Quick; Pelly's Fish Market does a really good fish sandwich for about $10. Go with the lemon-Dill, trust me.

                          1. re: AbFarmer

                            "...better than the bat-ray that a lot of places pass off as scallops."

                            What does this mean?

                            1. re: The Old Man

                              Getting duped for scallops... pretty pitiful, it's fairly easy to detect the difference and especially the taste. If a rest. does that, it's the last time for me.

                              1. re: cstr

                                I still don't get it--are they not serving scallops even though they say their are? Or are they just substandard?

                                1. re: The Old Man

                                  I think the accusation is protein other than real scallops that is shaped with a cookie cutter or whatever to resemble scallops. Long ago my fisherman dad told me about unscrupulus types that would do this with shark.

                                2. re: cstr

                                  I have always heard this story but never of a restaurant actually doing it. Unless you have never had a real scallop in your life or are unconscious, I seriously doubt any 'real' restaurant would risk their business serving up skate as a scallop. Red Snapper, cod, bass, and a few others however are another story.

                          2. Don't know of fancy in Vista, but Felicias is good. Good soups, salads also.
                            I generally avoid chains, but Hennesy's is comfortable - can sit outside with dogs. There is a Mexican place on the same side of the street that is quite good and across the street is a good place for breakfast - sorry, don't remember the names, I just visit.

                            Also good for breakfast is a place on S Santa Fe Dr. (on left if you are headed toward San Marcos, just past Monte Vista Dr.). The two places to look for fancier food nearby would be San Marcos and Carlsbad. Should be able to find something there.

                            1. A great big THANK YOU to all of you who gave me guidance. I am packing my bags and heading to Vista for a long weekend as we speak, with this thread printed out and riding along with me.
                              It will be so much fun to unearth these treasures, thank you again!
                              And just maybe we'll find some others down that way.
                              Goodness, is it really 88 degrees in September there? What am I doing in Northern California??? ;)