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Dinner N. County San Diego

Looking for a place to take my wife for a birthday dinner near Encinitas but will travel if needed.
I considered Market, Blanca, Savory but I really can't afford those places and the food sounds too over the top. Looking for something more down to earth and value priced. Fish House Veracruz would be a good example but we go there a lot and would like to try something new.

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  1. walk the gardens on the cliffs at the Self Realization Temple in Encinitas and then head out to Hacienda de Vega in Escondido and sit outside by the waterfall..have some marg's and great Mex food.
    sitting outside at the Four Seasons Aviara for drinks with the outside fireplace and cozy chairs is a nice way to end the evening too.

    www.haciendadevega.com

    7 Replies
    1. re: Beach Chick

      That may be further than I want to go, but I looked at their web site and its definitely a place I would go. I am surprised I never knew of it before.

      1. re: pantani

        totally understand on that..it really is a great place.
        When in Rome..is that still around?
        I've had some good times for happy hour at King's Fish House in Carlsbad..love the oysters.
        Jakes Del Mar is another option..

        www.kingsfishhouse.com

        1. re: pantani

          forgot about Cavaillon..in Santa Luz/Fairbanks/Ranch

          www.cavaillonrestaurant.com

        2. re: Beach Chick

          Hacienda de Vega: beautiful location, fun margaritas, passible Mexican food.

          1. re: The Old Man

            food is WAY more than passable...you probably order the mean old man dish.. ; )

            1. re: Beach Chick

              I guess I'll have to go again. The site is so beautiful. I just didn't find anything special in the food. Favorites?

              1. re: The Old Man

                mole chicken enchiladas are a fav of the group along with cheese and mushroom app with the flour and corn tortillas..been many times with friends and everyone has enjoyed the meals..it is a beautiful place and I hope you give it another try and report back!

        3. Have you been to Kaito in Encinitas for sushi?

          It is not fancy, but it is the best sushi I have eaten in this lifetime and a very good value for the quality and preparation.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Enorah

            Indeed! I have not found any potential contender to Kaito's top spot in my personal sushi rankings. For quality Kaito sets the standard for all of San Diego.

            What are you looking at price-wise per person? At Kaito it should be rather easy for one to stay at or below $60 pp. And to get the broadest taste experience possible, if they're not too busy see if they can serve your sushi 1 piece per order. It'll perhaps take more time to prepare, but you'll double the number of unique items you'll be able to eat.

            At Kaito there are no gimmicks. What they do is simple and honest. No need to understand why it matters that head chef Morita-san has been traditionally trained since youth in Tokyo under the watchful eyes of two masters. All one needs to enjoy themselves at Kaito is to bring an honest palate and an eagerness to try something new.

            To further improve the experience leave your sushi choices to Morita-san and go for an omakase course, as most of their loyal customers do. In return you'll be rewarded many times over - this will be the very best sushi experience that you can have in all of S.D.

            http://www.SushiKaito.com

            1. re: cgfan

              I would like to try Kaito sometime. I do appreciate good sushi but we are not big sushi fans. I was thinking something with more variety for her birthday.

              1. re: pantani

                Then Yumeya might be a wise choice for you. It's a Japanese pub on 101 in Leucadia. The style of eating is small plates, where you would compose a meal out of several separate orders.

                The hosts are the best in the business, it's family run, and they have the largest sake selection around. Yuka or Katsu will generously help you with free tastings in order to find just the right tipple for your meal.

                If you've never been to an izakaya before, then for sure it'll be a memorable experience for the two of you. You'll quickly forget that you're in Encinitas and you'll swear that you've landed in a small family-run place hidden in one of Tokyo's many narrow alleyways...

                1. re: cgfan

                  Yumeya is really, really good....

                  1. re: cgfan

                    Yumeya would probably fit into your budget, small plates under $10 and very good prices on sake. I like Q'ero but it will be $50pp easy. And when cgfan says $60pp at Kaito, that's a feast!

                    1. re: Pablo

                      Yeah, $60pp at Kaito would be a serious feast.

                      Our tab there has run us anywhere from $50 - $75 for the two of us. That is without alcohol, though, since we do not drink.

                    2. re: cgfan

                      Yep. Yumeya was the other one I was going to recommend. Very warm and cozy and yummy inside.

                  2. re: cgfan

                    I have never heard a more encouraging assessment of any place than this. I sure hope you are in the promo biz. Damn, you're good.

                2. Crepes and Corks in Del Mar is a nice, intimate cafe. My husband and I went for Valentines' Day, and it was incredible. The chef/owner cooked all the food. We were the only ones in the place at the time of our reservation. The service is awesome, too.

                  1. How about one of the Solana Beach Mexican restaurants? Personally I'm partial to Don Chuy, but there's Fidels and Tony's Jacal as well.

                    Another possibility - Q'ero in Encinitas has been highly recommended to me - might be fun for something different!

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: Alice Q

                      Q'ero's garlic chicken with walnuts is really, really good.

                      1. re: Alice Q

                        Did you ever have the pleasure of eating at the Blue Bird? Or at the Market, which was what Don Chuy used to be called. The Market was basically a grocery/convenience store where you could get a taco and a pitcher of margartias. I grew up on the hill over Eden Gardens and man, those places were good. I still do love Tony's Jacal though.

                        1. re: encinitaseater

                          loved eating at the blue bird..it's not there anymore.. :(
                          Love Tony Jacal's and yes, I love Fidel's but its for the chile relleno and the all white meat chicken burrito and those cheese covered veggies and chips that are served with the entree..happy hour at Fidel's is really a great deal.

                        2. re: Alice Q

                          Fidel's is very mediocre (at best) "Mexican" food. I find that my foodie friends with discerning tastes for Mexican food are disappointed with Fidel's. I'd skip that place for sure.

                          1. re: ginael

                            How is that a place can get by in San Diego, in a not very good location mind you, for going on 50 years now, selling "mediocre at best Mexican food?" Fidel's is packed any time you go in there. I'm not saying it's my favorite Mex place, but really? Mediiocre at best, disappointing, and Mexican in quotes marks? Wow. I guess they're laughing all the way to the bank.

                            1. re: encinitaseater

                              I'm with ginael on this one, mediocre is too kind. The food is horribly institutional, sounds like people like to go here to drink more than anything. Unfortunately time does not make a restaurant good, if that were the case then Taco Bell who started in 1952 should be serving world class Mexican cuisine by now. I know they are laughing all the way to the bank! Try Bety's in Encinitas for something different, it's a hole in the wall, but the food is amazing, especially the hongos and epazote quesadilla.

                              1. re: Pablo

                                Bety's is awesome, awesome, awesome.

                                We are on a serious Bety's kick right now. The chile rellenos there are so freakin' good. Everything there is great. You know how you have restaurants where there are certain things on the menu you love to order and you look forward to going back every once in a while for those dishes? Well at Bety's I love everything on the menu (and we very quickly now seem to be eating our way through it).

                                Darn it

                                Now I am wanting to go there.

                                Oh and I have said this before, and you know I love you, Pablo, but Bety's is not a hole in the wall, in my opinion. They have table service inside and outside, a wonderful little patio with brightly colored umbrellas, and the interior of the restaurant is bright and clean as well.

                                1. re: Enorah

                                  You are right Enorah, it's the strip mall thing that makes me say that. Kaito is my other hole in the wall!

                                  1. re: Enorah

                                    I'm sure Bety's is great but would you really want your husband to take you there for your birthday dinner?
                                    Now if its a divey taco shop on the island of Santorini or Moorea, I would forgive him.. ; )

                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                      No need to go so far away. All you do is go down to Moonlight Beach to watch the sunset, and then head straight up Encinitas blvd to Bety's and grab a candle lit table outside!

                                      1. re: Pablo

                                        ...and to complete the "hole in the wall" theme...

                                        ...close it up with a short visit to Kaito and have a sake while Kaz makes up a Japanese-style ceviche!

                                      2. re: Beach Chick

                                        Yes, actually, I would love for my sweetie to take me to Bety's for my birthday. But that is my style. I will take down-home, laid back delicious over high end, over priced delicious any day of the week (especially on my birthday).

                                        1. re: Enorah

                                          I think I have been to Bety's Taco Shop..is it in the Encinitas Marketplace where the Wendy's is?
                                          Food is very good but it would still be a definite no for my birthday dinner..
                                          ; )

                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                            It's on Encinitas Blvd. in the same center as Fillipi's Pizza Grotto, 7-11, and the (new) Beach Grass Cafe...

                                            1. re: cgfan

                                              Well we ended up going to CPK for my wifes birthday because she wanted the chopped salad, go figure. Regarding Fidel's and Bety's we go to both on a regular. In fact tonight we went to Bety's and I was ravished after riding my bike 112 miles today. Its a Saturday night and we were the only customers, it never seems crowded and thats one thing I like about it. We ordered the Chile Relleno Taco plate and the Caldo de Pollo. Both were excellent and it was plenty between the two of us. We go to Fidel's for a different reason. It has a "fun" atmosphere although sometimes it is too crazy. I like the margaritas but they are way too expensive. 95% of the time we both get the Tostada Suprema which I think may be there best entree. We also like the Albondigas there. In general the food is competent, nothing special but not bad. I have been to enough Mexican places that I would say the food is bad. I would have to Bety's is probably my favorite right now because the food is good and special and it is close by. I would like to try Hacienda de Vega in Escondido after seeing it recommended here.

                                              1. re: pantani

                                                "...I was ravished after riding my bike 112 miles today..."

                                                It must have been some interesting ride. ; > )

                                                1. re: The Old Man

                                                  Yes it was, Encinitas to the top of Mt. Palomar and back. I stopped at Mother's Kitchen on the top and had one of their outrageously good oatmeal raisin cookies. Would have had lunch there but I was short on time. Its a great place if you ever find yourself looking for eats on Palomar.

                            2. The original comment has been removed