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San Diego restaurant list - please review and comment

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I will be in San Diego in a few weeks with my wife and two kids - ages 3 and 4. We are staying in Carlsbad.

I've tried to put together a list of places that have good food and will be appropriate for young kids eating early. We're looking mostly for seafood, mexican and/or other places that are unique to San Diego. Comments are appreciated.

King’s Fish House

Fidel’s Little Mexico

Las Olas Cardiff

Jake’s Del Mar

Betty's Tacos

The Fish Market

Filippi's Pizza Grotto

Pelly’s Fish Market

My wife and i will be going out ourselves one night. I'm planning on Market Restaurant and Bar.

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  1. Filippi's would certainly fit the bill for a family friendly atmosphere but as far as good food goes I would say its pretty mediocre. Pretty much only for tourists.

    1. Yes to Bety's (it is spelled with one t, but google says 2 t's)

      Yes to Pelly's (very kid friendly and delicious and affordable, same for Bety's)

      Fish House Vera Cruz in Carlsbad is a good option for you, that is not on your list. Very fresh & delicious

      1. Ah, you appear to hail from Chicago, and heading to San Diego with small kids -- staying near LegoLand by any chance?!

        Enorah knows the North County area as well as anyone -- you can trust her recommendations. She loves Bety's for casual Mexican -- my favorite is Juanitas, which is on the beach side of the Coast Highway down in Leucadia (south of Carlsbad, just before Encinitas) with a small parking lot in the back and street parking in front -- I think the address is 290. I like the al pastor, their carnitas comes with a glob of guac, and surprisingly both you and the kids should enjoy the crunchy tacos -- crisp and filled with fresh lettuce and cheese and either shredded beef or chicken. Order at a counter, grab a table -- very inexpensive, popular with local surfers. There is also a donut place on the inland side of the train tracks near there -- I forget the name -- in a minimall selling all kinds of fritters and danish and decorated cupcakes, very popular with families and kids.

        Just to the ocean side of the 5 Freeway at Palomar Airport Road (the exit for LegoLand) there is a strip mall with a lot of kid and family-friendly eateries, including a Claim Jumper. Give the In-n-Out Burger a try -- a double-double for you, a burger or cheeseburger for the kids, and be sure to order the fries welldone, extracrispy. It is our famous local chain, everything is fresh, and it is worth sampling so you'll know what the fuss is about.

        Enjoy Market -- it is my favorite fine-dining experience in the area. Figure about 20 minutes from Carlsbad -- a straight shot south on the 5, exit and turn left (inland) on Via de la Valle, and it will be about a mile up on the left. Their four-course price fixe menu permits several choices to choose from and share per course, and is definitely the way to go. Reservations essential. Enjoy and report back.

        7 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Fidel's is tacky and the food is just ok.

          Bety's is the way to go.

          Market isn't worth the money to pay to have to eat that fake "haute cuisine food" and sit in that "ambience". Restaurants with idenity crisis aren't a real turn on for me. And if you are going to have kids with you I doubt you'll want to get gouged in a place like that.

          1. re: hairycover

            The OP said they're going to Market WITHOUT kids in tow. And quite frankly, I disagree w/ your take on Market, as I do many people on this board. What they do, they do well and is worth the $$ and time. I don't know what your definition of "identity crisis" is, b/c Market bases their menus on what is seasonal and fresh. So how that can be an "identity crisis" is beyond me.

            1. re: daantaat

              First of all Market is not as "fresh" or "seasonal" as they claim. And I will leave it at that. Second, their strip mall sushi bar hits you in the face as soon as you walk in. Look at their menu is it an Asian fusion or California Modern or Fresh and Local fine dining? The weiner schnitzel is next to the Asian Pear & Persimmon salad.

              1. re: hairycover

                Market is not the place to go for sushi and neither would I, or others tout it as a "sushi" place. if you have problems with good, creative cooking that pulls from all kinds of inspirations, then maybe you shouldn't be dining there. If you want to c/o about "identity crisis," then explain the popularity of Momofuko in NYC.

                1. re: daantaat

                  I have been to Momofuko and it isn't half as pretentious or blown up like Market. Let me know when Market gets a James Beard Nomination as a best new restaurant. I guess their "identity crisis" worked as a concept while other places are just trying too hard.

                  http://www.jbfawards.com/nominees.htm...

            2. re: hairycover

              sorry you don't like Market but I couldn't disagree with you more.

            3. re: nosh

              Search Enorah's posts. She's the go-to on that area. Because of her we found Bety's and loved it.

            4. I wouldn't even say Filippi's is mediocre. I find it actually unpleasant. What do people think about Pizza Port for kids? Seems like fun to me, but I don't have kids, so I don't know. Still, it's a local San Diego place, with good food and great local beers and they even have homemade ice cream!

              5 Replies
              1. re: pkt63

                Pizza Port in Carlsbad and Solana are fine for kids (sometimes too fine for me...) and are definitely a must stop if you are in North County and want to experience the local craft beer scene. The pizza isn't earthshattering, but if Filippi's is your alternative...

                1. re: menuinprogress

                  Daantaat and Ibstatguy got it right. Went to Market last Sunday and it was outstanding. Even right down to their Amuse-Bouche(s). Bring the kids! There were several families with their children and it was all fine. Here are my picks just for fun:
                  1) Via Italia/Encinitas: Yummy sausage pizza
                  2) El Callejon/Encinitas: Mexican food, margaritas, chips and salsa...colorful...and loud.
                  3) Elizabethan Desserts/Encinitas: Odd location (East of 5) in a nursery (plants) but, if you have a sweet tooth, lots of cupcakes, cookies and sugary treats for everyone
                  4) Vivace/Carlsbad: Not bad...expensive
                  3) The Canyons/Carlsbad: Whoa, what a view! Unlimited champagne Sunday brunch
                  Have fun!

                  1. re: Sampaguita

                    mmm, aahh, Elizabethan Desserts--a great place for your sugary pick me up! I think her mini pies, cookies and Hot Diggity Dangs are the best thing going there!

                    1. re: daantaat

                      I was just there today for the first time in a while. Nice to see she has expanded. :)

                      1. re: Enorah

                        Yeah, I've noticed that since she expanded, there's more items in the cases and more consistency to what she has to offer each day. I LOVE her "everything cookie" and before, it was hit or miss if she had it. Now, it seems like it's there every time.