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Struggling for a good family meal in Carlsbad

Boy - Carlsbad/North Cty area is a tough area to find good food that pleases the kids and the adults at the same time! We've been to Bety's Tacos a few times (I loved it - mother in-law hated it - too blue collar - food was too "weird"). Been to Kaito in Encinitas (really great - but not a family place). Eaten at some truly god-awful places near the water in Carlsbad (can't remember the names - but it was the typical touristy pretty view, pretty awful mexican food type places charging $18 for a plate of fajitas). Where can we get a nicely grilled piece of fish without paying $22.95 that can also provide some grub for our 6 yr old daughter? Where can we get really GOOD mexican food (tried Tony's Jacal in Del Mar - I hated it - worst chili relleno ever, terrible salsa, bad cheese enchiladas, awful flan etc. . . . though the ambience was neat.). Tried Especial Norte on Hwy 101 - the much-lauded soups were good - but nothing great and everything else (enchiladas etc were dreadful). We're new to the area - from Dallas - where we've been spoiled on local tex-mex spots like Mia's - and even the Mi Cocina family chain. We know the mexican food in CA is different than Tex-Mex, but we're struggling to find good mexican food - and a good seafood restaurant that won't break the bank in SD. We also tried Trattoria I trulli - it was OK . . . but given today's economy, we're looking for outstanding the few times we get to go out to eat. We don't mind driving for good food - even 30 miles south into the city . . . but it's be great to have a few places in North Cty for quality grub for a family meal. Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  1. Tip Top Meats. A German owned meat and other (more foreign items) grocery store with small, cafeteria-like restaurant (You order, pay and pick up when they call your number) . Breakfast, lunch and dinners. Huge sandwiches. From scratch soups and daily stew.

    www.tiptopmeats.com

    1. It appears that you have some differences of opinion and style that may be insurmountable -- some think that Bety's in Encinitas is as good as they come for inexpensive Mexican, but m.i.l. thought it was too ghetto. Hearing that, I hesitate to send you to my favorite, Juanita's, on the Coast Highway down near the Leucadia/Encinitas border for tasty al pastor, good carnitas served with a big dollop of guacamole, and some really good crunchy beef or chicken crispy tacos loaded with crisp lettuce and cheese for the youngsters -- order at the counter, tacos run about $2+, the green salsa is nicely spicy, but the fish tacos are like elementary school fish sticks and the quesadillas are boring. Popular among surfers and other locals.

      If you haven't discovered it yet, check out V & G on the other side of the train tracks for donuts -- very popular, lots of families and kids and dogs in line. Good, crisp fried apple fritters and cinnamon rolls, and I like the lighter glazed raised donuts and twists even better. Lots of choices, including iced cupcakes decorated to attract the kiddles. There are lots of good, pretty wholesome beachy breakfast spots like the Naked Cafe that this would be a great dessert after.

      Search this board and when you get to a post by Enorah, click on her name. She has a couple of very long threads, titled Encinitas Eats and ...a Year Later which chronicle her favorites over the couple of years she has lived and dined extensively in the North County.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nosh

        2nd reading Enorah's posts. They were quite comprehensive. In the meantime, Kim's Vietnamese in Encinitas, on Hwy 101 might be an option. I had a pretty good bun bo xa for lunch the other day and it was good enough to plan a trip back. I posted a very brief report about a week or two ago.

      2. I recommend, Fish House Vera Cruz in Carlsbad Village. Very good grilled fish entree's and they can accommodate the kid.

        3 Replies
        1. re: cstr

          Fish House Vera Cruz is good, but it is pricey.

          Pelly's Fish Market & Cafe is awesome and affordable - great chowder (red & white), fish sandwiches and fish plates. It is an order at the counter they bring it to you kind of joint.

          I had a snapper sandwich there the other night that was so yummy. If you do opt for the sandwich, ask for the bread grilled.

          Place is always full of families

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

          1. re: Enorah

            Maybe I am the only one but I always thought the chowder at Pellys was just so-so. The red the couple of times I had it, it seemed really salty, and the white was just plain gummy. I would much rather have the soups at FHVC.

          2. re: cstr

            Love Fish House Vera Cruz..only been to the San Marcos location.
            I've had great meals at King's Fish House and that is across from the Outlet center in Carlsbad.
            Love Hacienda de Vega in Escondido behind the North County Fair imo, has great Mex.
            I love chile rellenos and I found that the best chile relleno ever is at Norte/Fidel's but besides that everything else is pretty pedesterian.

            www.haciendadevega.com

            1. For quite reasonable Mexican in Solana Beach I would recommend Don Chuy. Together with Bety's Tacos they are our place in North County for good Mexican food.
              For Italian food I would recommend Piatti in LJ and Barolo (Northern Italian) in UTC, Il Formaio (even though it is a chain) in Del Mar (quality can differ quite a lot from location to location) is also one of the better Italian restaurants in San Diego.

              1. Order Light Eater Special at Fish House Vera Cruz. You will be stuff for around $10.00. This meal can feed two and is delicious.

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

                  1. re: mmjgam

                    or there cardiff location if you want a better view..