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Apr 1, 2010 10:25 PM

Carlsbad this weekend with young kids

We're heading to La Costa this weekend from LA with our 7 year old twins and our 4 year old.

I'm hoping someone can help me out with some breakfast suggestions and possibly a fun, casual dinner near the hotel.

We're going to Legoland on Sunday.

Something chowish but American would be good. We can always go to Ruby's diner if all else fails.


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  1. Buca DiBeppo is on El Camino Real in La Costa Forum Shopping center. It's noisy,lots of cool pics and stuff for the kids to look at. We take the grandkids there for some decent family style plates of Italian and pizza.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kitchenhag

      If I would have to vote for the worst "italian" food anywhere in San Diego Buca di Beppo would be very high up on the list. And I don't complain that it is americanized italian food which can be also good but the quality of the food at BdB was just horrible.

      1. re: honkman

        I would agree with Honkman about BdB. In that mall as BdB is an outpost of the Counter. I have never been, but it is one of the new upscale burger places. Out by Legoland, there is an outpost of Kings Fish House, while a chain it is decent fish. In downtown Carlsbad, there is Fish House Vera Cruz. It has simple grilled fish and fairly casual.

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

        1. re: honkman

          Buca di Beppo serves slop that they claim is family style Italian. They are about quantity not quality.

          You would be better off at your hotel. I have not been, but Legends Bistro's menu at the resort does not look too bad. Empanadas, duck eggrolls, french onion soup, and maybe the risotto look to have potential. They have pizza for the kids. I have had the food at other La Costa restaurants in the past and at least it did not suck like BdB.

      2. go to Diane Power's Casa De Bandini in the forum shops - same shopping center as bucca... for a truly san diego mexican experience and foody worthy food.

        11 Replies
        1. re: mjsp1

          I think many on the board would question the "foody worthy food" about Casa de Bandini.

          1. re: daantaat

            Thanks for all your help. This wasn't a chowish weekend at all. After an overpriced and barely marginal breakfast at Legends at La Costa, we gave up eating at our hotel. When the wait at Casa de Bandini was an hour for dinner, we dined at Ruby's diner. The price was right, the shakes were tasty and the kids were happy. I learned that there is not much to seek out food wise in Carlsbad but we had fun. Also, the food at Legoland was surprisingly good. They had nice "healthy" options for kids-- string cheese, organic yogurts, cereal, fresh fruit. And the meals/snacks were better than I expected.

            1. re: roxhills

              I knew when I offered my rec that I'd get slammed ..but as a grammy I knew that chow worthy food isn't the priority when you have little ones in tow . Fun& feeding in a timely manner is the key. I agree Legoland has decent healthy food for the kids..we like the salad bar .

              1. re: kitchenhag

                How can you go wrong with both Lego And food? :)

              2. re: roxhills

                I live in SD and stay at La Costa resort quite a bit for long spa weekends and the Legends bistro at the resort and had many a great breakfast/lunch and Blue Fire for dinner.
                There is plenty of great food options in Carlsbad..I don't think its fair for you to slam the city of Carlsbad..especially since you went to Ruby's and Legoland!

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  I didn't slam Carlsbad. maybe you want to re-read the entire thread. i asked for help finding places to eat that were "chowish" and American. the only timely suggestion (before we were home from carlsbad) was for Bucca De Beppo which other locals slammed. I thanked the people who made suggestions.

                  Our meal at Legends wasn't very good and they were very understaffed so we chose not to go back. We spoke to the hotel staff about it and they were very responsive but we made the choice not to have a second $75 breakfast that consisted of 2 orders of eggs, an shared order of silver dollar pancakes and a box of cereal. it took 15 minutes to get 2 cups of coffee. it wasn't worth a second try on a holiday weekend.

                  1. re: roxhills

                    ' I learned that there is not much to seek out food wise in Carlsbad '
                    I consider that a slam..especially since you can dine at Ruby's and Legoland..
                    Just my two cents..

                    1. re: roxhills

                      We just returned from Carlsbad/S.D. with our 2 kids, ages 3 and 5. Here were our experiences. Day 1: Fillipi's Pizza Grotto on India Street in downtown S.D. Kids love the place b/c there's a lot of people watching, with an interesting Italian grocery store in the front. Pizza doesn't skimp on toppings, slightly thicker crust. We like one of their specialty meat pizzas. I think it's delicious but I'm sure it's not the best pizza in S.D. We also like the antipasti salad. Got garlic bread for the kids, which they didn't eat. Dinner: Seafood buffet at Four Seasons Aviara. This was amazing. Maine lobster with claws separated, perfectly cooked. Crab claws, sawed in half lengthwise, so very easy to eat. Shrimp, stone crab claws, prime rib, poached salmon, sushi and sashimi (the latter just tuna and salmon), and excellent desserts. This is only held on Fridays, $55/person, kids didn't really eat and were free. Make a reservation early in the week. Would definitely go back.
                      Day 2: Lunch at the Argyle (golf course adjacent restaurant at 4 Seasons.) They have special cartoon plates and silverware for the kids and give them crayons with their kids menu. We had the Chef's special which was tomato basil soup, half of a flatiron steak wrap, a tossed salad and chocolate cake for dessert, $18. Kids menu grilled cheese was delicious (hard to mess that up.) Fun for kids to watch the golfers down below, and there is a trail next to the restaurant which is adjacent to the lagoon. Dinner: Nozomi Sushi in Carlsbad. I was pleased with this place. The uni was delicious and fresh, as well as the albacore, salmon, toro, and ama ebi. We are not roll people so didn't try any. Tuna on crispy rice dish was meh--crispy rice was more chewy than crispy. Generous cuts. Kids ate miso soup and rice and their chocolate lava cake dessert. They have a huge fountain and turtle pond in the bottom floor of the restaurant which the kids loved.
                      Day 3: Tip Top German deli in Carlsbad for subs. They also have an extensive breakfast menu until 12. This place is crowded on Sunday mornings, but we didn't have to wait for a table, just to place an order. Should have tried a German sausage sandwich, but we got the cold cut subs with red cabbage side dish (delicious) and fries. Kids liked people watching and their fries. Dinner: Senor Grumpy's Tacos in Carlsbad. Cannot beat 5 tacos for $5.50. We had the al pastor and carnitas. Carnitas were better, crispy exterior and tender, juicy interior. Slightly bland. The fish and shrimp tacos were fine. Glass of red wine (generous pour) is $3. Kids ate fries and grilled cheese, both very good. They liked the people watching and the big TV screen at the bar.

                      These places were great for the kids, although I will say that my kids don't eat hardly anything. But at least they were occupied. Mom and Dad were happy with the food. Hope this helps for a future trip.

                      1. re: sibaik

                        We will be there in August (yes, we are desert dwellers!), thank you very much for the review it is helpful. My 6 year old is already a CHer and loves sushi, so Nozomi is a good rec.

                    2. re: Beach Chick

                      If you think the wickedly overpriced food at La COsta is good you don't get out much. I play golf there and cringe when my buddy wants to eat at Legends. $18 regular old burger give me a break. I don't have anything against expensive burgers but for 18 bucks it better be fresh ground prime and at La COsta it most certainly is not.

                      1. re: SeanT

                        I play golf a couple times a month there and have split the burger with a beer..
                        It's a 4.5 * resort..what do you expect?
                        When I play Kapalua or Torrey, the prices are reflective of pricey real estate.
                        The only time I can eat cheap at the 19th hole is at Balboa.

              3. Well, after a long day with kids, a drink may be in order, so I'd go with Pizza Port Carlsbad. The pizza is good enough for kids, and the beer is very, very good.

                1. Older thread but I just got back from a trip to San Diego. Legoland had decent food, at least compared to SeaWorld. The food lines do move too slowly at Legoland, and the prices are theme park prices but there was a kids meal for around $5.99. The kids and I loved the apple fries.

                  Rather than deal with the long lines and high prices for dinner, we left the park around closing time and headed up to Oceanside to Bull Taco which is about 5 miles and a 7 minute trip away (they are 5-6 blocks from and I-5 exit). The kids loved the Bull Taco atmosphere and I loved their food. After eating there I wish I lived in Oceanside. My favorite: the curry shrimp taco. I wish I could go back there right now.

                  1. Ok, back from a wonderful trip to Carlsbad. We had a super time at the beaches and the weather was perfect- 70 and sunny every day, loved it. I want to report back from both the theme parks and the Carlsbad restos.

                    1. Theme parks - I am reviewing this with a lower standard. Worst theme park food =SeaWorld hands down. Poor choices, poor execution, and overall, just lackluster food. SeaWorld in general was not our favorite, it was like a Las Vegas attraction trying to suck your money away without a lot of heart or soul. We had yucky nachos, limp fries, and overcooked chicken tenders. Not very many healthy options either. Good thing we packed a lot of snacks and lunch.

                    Best food = Disneyland! Go figure. We had good burgers, especially my wife's veggie burger and they had really good healthy kids options, like a lunch pack with cheese, yogurt, gold fish, and apples. I like the fact that they take the different themes of the park and try to make it work, like gumbo in New Orleans, etc. It might not be great, but at least they are trying and ok, its not fancy, but it worked. Also, the single best thing in any theme park was the delicious, freshly made corn dog near main street at Disney. It was so good. My boys killed that with some soft pretzels and the sweets shop/ice cream parlor was excellent with tables that provided a perfect view of the Disney marching band and parade.

                    Legoland was already covered in this string and it was weak. Overpriced and not very good, but it is what it is. We picnic'd at the SD Zoo, so no reviews for that except to say that the zoo is amazing and I wish we had more time there. Actually, we brought sandwiches from Tip Top Meats. The sandos were good, but they have no clue how to take an order or run a restaurant. Also, they botched some of the order, but not to disastrous effects and left out pickles for all but one sandwich. Strange place with some charm and good looking breakfast, but it was like bizzaro food world in there- totally clueless. One note: excellent potato salad, which I guess I expected from a German establishment. It was really good as they scallopped the potatoes perfectly without overcooking them prior to adding the salad ingredients.

                    2. Carlsbad - First night, we carried out from Jay's as we were pooped. The pizza was ok, not great, but good enough. The antipasto salad was good with lots of meats and fit the definition. The caeser was not very good and lacked the nice garlicky anchovy zip that you want in a Caeser. It was really bland like they forgot to add garlic and anchovies. Worst part, we asked for extra caesar dressing, $2! No thanks. The baked seafood manicotti was just ok, the seafood was fine but it was more like lasagna than manicotti.

                    Next, we hit Nozomi. It was excellent and the service was fabulous. The boys chowed down on sashimi (hamachi, maguro, salmon, aji), mizo, edamame, teriyaki chicken bowl (made special for the little one), and the tomato cups (spicy scallop wrapped in tuna. We had an awesome hamachi kama with a ton of meat, perfectly cooked. Awesome uni with quail egg for me, nice and fresh (man I could eat that all day everyday). My only knock is that this is a very expensive japanese restaurant and more of a special occasion place. It was our only sushi night, so it worked for us.

                    As all out of towners do, we hit Pizza Port and we loved it. It was a nice crazy change of pace. We had no problem getting a good table, ordering with no line, and the beer line wasn't an issue. We had a pitcher of the 'Chronic' and it rocked. The bartender was super nice and took a few dollars off the pitcher because we were in a good mood and didn't give her grief about lines, etc. The food was surprisingly good. Chicken wings were really tender and perfectly cooked. The caesar and garden salads hit the spot and were fresh, so no issues there and we loved the pizza. It is simply good pizza. It won't win any awards and make any best of lists, but after a long day of boogie boarding, playing sports, drinking beers, and kicking it SoCal style, it totally worked with a pitcher of delicious beer. We had a cheese and pepperoni for the boys, which the adults ended up fighting over it because it just tasted good, and a sausage, spinach, mushroom, olive pizza that was really good, but could use a little more toppings. Fun time.

                    We cooked or ate leftovers the other nights while chilling on the patio listening to the waves....

                    Last meal in town before hitting the I-8 - Don's Country Kitchen. Just awesome. The service was good and the food even better. The menu is classic breakfast brunch food and there was absolutely nothing that wasn't excellent. Great pancakes, bacon, sausage, and perfectly cooked eggs. I had the special chilequiles with over easy eggs and nice soft flour tortillas. It was perfect breakfast, nice red sauce and killer sausage (although not sure if it was a type of chorizo or portuguese sausage- I'm leaning towards portuguese) with almost a whole avocado perfectly ripened and sliced. Also, you have to love a place that gives you the option of home fries (which are terrible at most places) and hash browns (the good kind, shredded and smashed to perfection on the flat top the way breakfast hash browns were intended). And, the option of corn or flour tortillas, biscuits, english muffin, different types of sliced bread, etc. My whole family helped with the chilequiles and loved it even if it had a good spicy kick to it. A fresh cinammon bun topped the whole breakfast.

                    Overall, it was a perfect getaway trip and we can't wait to come back. We passed Bull Taco and had it on our list, but alas, couldn't make it. Next time.

                    Don's Country Kitchen
                    2885 Roosevelt St, Carlsbad, CA 92008

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: danieli10

                      Thanks for the nice report. The "best" thing to eat in Sea World is the BBQ, but the lines/wait can be horrible at times. Some people here can get snooty about Pizza Port pizza 'cause it's not NY or CHI or ITA style or whatever, but I like it, too. It's comfort food pizza.