Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Nov 22, 2008 07:43 PM

Balboa Park and Oceanside/Vista restaurants?

My husband, son and I are visiting my mom, who lives in Vista (near Oceanside) for the holiday this week. We'll be spending the day in Balboa Park tomorrow. Are there any restaurants there that have good food and aren't touristy? We especially love Asian food which we don't get enough of back hom in North Carolina! Are there any good Asian restaurants, particularly Chinese and Thai, in the Vista/Oceanside area?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The main restaurant in Balboa park is The Prado. The setting is great, service is usually pretty good, the food ranges from very good to no so great. Drinks are usually consistently very good. The Prado is centrally located in the park in the House of Hospitality building and is the flagship of a local, family-owned, restaurant dynasty. Water's Catering runs a small cafe/espresso space kitty-corner from the Prado that is good, though far too expensive for what you get. There is also a Japanese teahouse between The Prado and the Organ Pavillion that gets generally good comments.

    To ask for a non-touristy restaurant in the midst of one of the primary tourist destinations in the city is something of an oxymoron ;-), anything in the park is going to cater primarily to tourists. If you're there on a weekend, check out the International Houses, many of them are open during the holidays and provide samples of their traditional foods. It's usually not enough for a meal, more like an appetizer to take the edge off.

    If you go north on Park Blvd. from Balboa Park, you'll come to University Ave. Turn left and you're in Hillcrest where there are 120 restaurants in a 9 block radius. Turn right and go down a 2 or 3 miles and you'll eventually get to 30th St. in North Park where you can find some decent mid-priced places for a good meal. Keep going down University to 37th and you'll find Super Cocina which serves up excellent Mexican food. Though if you're coming in from North Carolina you're probably getting some pretty good Mexican already.

    For Asian food try Convoy St. which is a short drive up the 163 from Balboa Park. There are quite a few threads on this board related to the Asian offerings on Convoy. There are also quite a few threads about the choices in Hillcrest and the 30th St. corridor.

    Good luck, travel safely and enjoy your trip.

    1. I enjoy eating Thai @ Ocean Thai...on Vista Way in Oside
      For Chinese I like Overseas resto in Carlsbad

      1. El Ranchero on N. Santa Fe in Vista, very good Mex, Also Thai Pasta near Costco in Vista.

        1. I agree with what DiningDiva says about the park. The Prado is OK, but could be a bit pricey also.

          Depending on where in Vista your mom lives, you might want to try Peking Wok in Bonsall. It's probably about 20-30 minutes drive north from South Vista, but it's well worth the drive. I live in San Marcos and go up as often as I can convince the wife. If you go on a weekend, call ahead for a reservation as it gets pretty crowded on a Friday or Saturday night.

          1 Reply
          1. re: araknd

            May I offer you a nice hot bowl of pho on a brisk cool evening in San Marcos?'s right next door to vista:


            1. re: Carolina Girl

              So where did you end up going? Did you like any of the places?