Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Sep 30, 2008 04:34 PM

Driving from LA to San Diego

I'm visiting California from New York and will be driving from LA to San Diego for a friend's wedding. Looking for any interesting and delicious places along the way and in the San Diego area. The wedding is at the Grand Del Mar.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you enjoy traditional sushi then you are very likely to have some of the best sushi you've ever had at Kaito Sushi in Encinitas, CA. Encinitas is in Coastal North San Diego County, two towns above Del Mar and a town below La Costa. This is easily the best traditional sushi bar that San Diego County has to offer.

    Much has been written about Kaito on these boards, as well as on Yelp! If you do go my recommendation is to go omakase, which is how most of their customers order.

    If you will be passing by South Orange County at around brunch hour on the weekend, a very nice place to "get away from it all" would be Ramos House Cafe. Situated in the oldest residential street in California, most seating for the restaurant takes place in the backyard patio of the chef's own house, with the prized tables being one of two tables on his front porch. Everything is done from scratch, including their hand-churned ice cream and herbs from the garden. You'll feel like you've been transported to a small town in the American South where you can't help but slow down and take in the relaxed atmosphere of this historic district.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cgfan

      strongly 2nd Kaito.

      If you want some old-fashioned style baked goods, Elizabethan Desserts in Encinitas is a few minutes east of the 5 freeway. Her buckles, mini-pies and "everything" cookies are the best!

      Grand Del Mar has an excellent restaurant, Addison. Just north of there is Market, off Via de la Valle.

      If you want good cheese, Aniata Cheese Shop in the Flower Hill Mall off Via de la Valle has a great selection.

      For good local, artisian style chocolate, Chuao Chocolatiers have a store in the Carlsbad Forum Mall (off Leucadia Blvd) and in the Del Mar Heights Plaza.

      Just east by 10-15 minutes in Santaluz is Cavaillon. Excellent, cheap for what you get Sunday brunch and very good dinners.

      1. re: daantaat

        Just had a mini strawberry rhubarb pie from Elizabethan Desserts and it was soooo good. The crust was to die for.

      2. re: cgfan

        2nd. the Ramos house in San Juan Cap. not to be missed

      3. Really good Mexican can be had at Tony's Jacal on Valley Avenue in Solana Beach or next door at Fidel's Little Mexico.
        Great pizza with unusual toppings in a casual setting at Pizza Port on Highway 101 in Solana Beach.
        Fine italian is done at Trattoria i Trulli on South Coast Highway in downtown Encinitas.
        Great sandwiches at Board and Brew on Camino del Mar in Del Mar.

        1. Sweeny,
          Depends on what you're in the mood for?
          I would highly suggest travelling through the beautiful views and culinary oasis of the beach town, Laguna Beach. This is a little more than one hour from both Los Angeles and then again to San Diego. You may want to even linger on the coast for many hours. Anyway, pass through Laguna Beach and return to southbound freeway in Dana Point/San Clemente area onramp. Simple. (about 9 miles of PCH)

          (1) In Laguna Beach, take in a beautiful 180 degree ocean view at the Cliff restaurant. Ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway at Legion St. Very good breakfast, lunch or dinner, full bar. If it happens to be raining that day, there is also seating indoors in the bar area.

          There are several high quality restaurants in Laguna Beach (though many only open for dinner- so check website). And, menus to fit urges;

          (2) A bakery/cheese shop in the Laguna Canyon
          Laguna Culinary Arts Gourmet Cheese & Wine Shop & Cafe
          845 Laguna Canyon Rd. ( 949) 494-4006
          Excellent cuisine with a French bakery. Full liquor license

          (3) Very Good, quick and inexpensive Mexican to-go counter wth seating at La Sirena Grill (A La Sirena across the street from the fabulous Montage Resort and Spas in South Laguna, too!

          (4) Tummy warming at Brussels Bistro (dinner only except on weekends w / lunch)

          (5) Expensive, but grand, Montage Resort and Spa in South Laguna has some fussy luncheons in their Loft restaurant, but I'd go there for a walk and eat lunch across the street at their golf course restaurant for a great standard hamburger at Canyon Lodge American Grill (old place, still waiting for renovation), nothing mindlbowing, solid high quality old boy lodge menu in a beautiful green canyon overlooking the gold course.

          (6) Still there for dinner? Splurge at Studio at Montage, a separate building overlooking the panoramic Pacific from the cliff outside of the main hotel.

          Newport Beach is also an option for sightseeing ocean and harbor docks. Many good restaurants near the 55 freeway/PCH area and south on PCH through Corona del Mar to Laguna Beach.

          Dana Point, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano have a few nice options also. Besides the stellar hotels St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton, there is the MIssion at San Juan Capistrano (an very quaint old town) and

          (7) the Tea House on Los Rios in historic SJC (manley and big portion menu items, too!) (walk past the one stall, outdoor jail built in 1896.

          Initially, drive the I-405 freeway (or north LA County, go I-5 to 605 to the 405 south).
          From 405, travel the 133 toward Laguna Beach. This takes you through Laguna Canyon Road. Left on Pacific Coast Highway and continue all the way to the freeway onramp south I-5 (about 9 miles) toward San Diego.
          or travel I-405 to the 55 to Newport Beach beach cities and then south on PCH.

          No on TV star chef places though (well, except James Boyce at the Montage was featured on TV once)

          1. Cgfan, yes! All he/she says is true. Absolutely Ramos House for a casual breakfast or lunch. One of the most authentic SoCal restaurants I know. My husband-chef and I love and frequent it as often as we can, even though it means a long trek north from San Diego. You dine outdoors, on a shady terrace, beside an ancient bungalow alongside the railroad tracks. (Seeing any building older than 1970's is a thrill in SoCal). The menu is inventive and delicious (chilaquiles, vegetable bread pudding, sassy grits, great egg dishes, beignets, killer desserts). It's fine dining without pretension, and as a NYer you will enjoy all of what matters most in Southern California: dining al fresco, pretty waitresses in tight jeans, fresh food well-prepared, strolling down a shady street with almost no cars. It's worth the wait, and the people watching is pretty fun, too.