Highway I5 from San Diego to Newport
My family will be vacationing in Southern California for 7 days in late August . We are staying in Newport Coast and plan on visiting a few of the theme parks in San Diego. I need to find a few Chow worthy restaurants for dinner inbetween the two cities, just of I5. I am looking for places that are family freindly but also have great food. Any help is appreciated.
San Diego is a very spread out city. Which parks are you going to? Legoland is in Carlsbad, Wild Animal Park in Escondido, zoo in Balboa Park (near Hillcrest, North Park and downtown) and Sea World in Mission Bay. If you do a search for these areas and/or parks, you'll turn up lots of threads on the subject.
1549 El Prado Ste 8, San Diego, CA 92101
Hi Daantaat. We will visit Legoland, Seaworld and Wild Animal Park. I've found a bunch of posts about dining options near each venue. However I am also interested to find a few dining options inbetween Newport and SD. Given how much driving we will do, my goal is to break up each trip with a good meal, either breakfast or dinner. Thx.
between Newport and SD, there's a long stretch of the Marines' base up to the southern end of the OC border, so no food after you pass Oceanside, which is just north of Carlsbad. Once you hit OC, you'll be in San Clemente, then Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and the rest of southern OC. For the OC tips, post on the LA board.
I recently returned from a theme park Death March of Southern California so I will pass along my experiences. Despite running around theme parks almost every day I was there, with two small kids in tow, I gained 5 pounds feasting on SoCal's great food.
We did little fast food outside the theme parks: Carl Jr. for breakfast, which was no worse than our local Hardees, and a BBQ place (Brett's), which was not very good--I can get much better BBQ at home in Maryland. Their kid's meal (hot dog) looked pretty good, but the grown-up brisket wasn't. I had better BBQ on the way home at the Houston Airport. Chowhound let me down on that place, I could have driven less and eaten at one of the better places listed below.
We had a big breakfast before a day at the Zoo at a chain called "CoCos". The meal was really good, better than I would expect from a chain, and they had nice kid's meals.
We were staying in the North County area and mostly at meals at restaurants there (all these places are within a mile or so of I-15):
A. Original Pancake House in Poway. Fantastic breakfast food. I had the best biscuits and gravy and the best potato pancakes there I have ever eaten (and my mother is German). Great kid's meals, excellent service, and it was a bit expensive by Maryland standards, but worth it. Good thing I live 3,000 miles away!
B. Chicken Pie Diner in Poway. Good, fresh, diner-style food. Again, excellent kid's meals and service. The prices were cheap compared to other places we ate in the San Diego area.
C. Veranda Restaurant at Rancho Bernardo Inn. Had a dinner here (scallops) that was excellent. They had good kid's meals and the service was to-notch despite the presence of kids. My youngest was sucking the tapenade off the bread as quickly as I could apply the stuff. The prices are a bit expensive, but the restaurant is really pretty and has a nice view of the golf course and mountains, so along with the high quality of the food and service it's worth it.
D. Bull Taco in Oceanside. This place is a minute off the I-5 freeway and an amazing place. It looks like a hole-in-the-wall but the food is really high quality. The chefs there are craftsmen who seem to really enjoy making great Mexican food. This place is only a few minutes from Legoland and I found out about it via this board--thank you Chowhound.
We also spent a lot of time at the Zoo and theme parks. Some things we should have done better for the theme parks: eat a big breakfast outside the park before it opens. We failed this many mornings because we were not on the road early enough. Second, bring in food if you can or stash a picnic lunch in a cooler in your car. Theme park dogs, burgers, fries and pizza get old really quickly. Getting out of the park and away from the crowds is also a nice break. We also didn't do this since we didn't have a cooler along and didn't buy much in the way of groceries to keep in our hotel. But we should have.
Here is a run down of Theme Park eating:
1. SeaWorld: the food was pretty awful, and we ate a lot of it. We got the "all you can eat pass" and ate two breakfasts, two lunches, and a dinner, plus a few desserts. The desserts were okay. We had meals at every restaurant in the park that honored the all you can eat pass. I actually threw away a burger because something in it smelled rotten. Otherwise the food at SeaWorld is really expensive, and the service slow so food is cold by the time you sit down.
2. San Diego Zoo: we had one lunch at the Sabertooth Cafe. We thought it was expensive, but the service was quick (even on a very crowded day at the zoo) and the view was nice. The pizza was unremarkable, the turkey chili was pretty good.
We also ate at the Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park. Cheap hot dog meal and excellent views of airplanes landing at San Diego airport. I'd go back to watch the planes.
3. Disneyland: expensive as you would expect but we found some good food here. In the morning we bought fresh fruit at a stand in Toontown and that was breakfast. Mid-day we had a snack by splitting one of their kid's food packs which are around $5.99. Includes milk, fruit, cheese, Goldfish, and a couple of other items. Around 3pm we left the theme parks and had a real lunch at the snack bar at the Grand California hotel. They grilled a very good kid's burger along with a kid's meal that had yogurt, fruit, and milk. We also bought a pre-made turkey sandwich which was very good and came with grapes which we split.
At Disneyland we would have eaten more, it wasn't the prices that kept us away but the long lines everywhere.
4. Legoland. Much better food than SeaWorld but perhaps not as good as Disneyland. They did have inexpensive kids meals: hot dog and chips and drink for around $5.99. Service was slow especially at mealtimes. Definitely get the apple fries. There is a long line there for a good reason.
1549 El Prado Ste 8, San Diego, CA 92101
"We did little fast food outside the theme parks: Carl Jr. for breakfast, which was no worse than our local Hardees, and a BBQ place (Brett's), which was not very good--I can get much better BBQ at home in Maryland. Their kid's meal (hot dog) looked pretty good, but the grown-up brisket wasn't. I had better BBQ on the way home at the Houston Airport. Chowhound let me down on that place, I could have driven less and eaten at one of the better places listed below. "
Outside of a passing recommendation or two, how in the world could you reach the conclusion that it was popular among San Diego Chowhounders? It is impossible to find a thread on this board about BBQ that doesn't devolve into a lot of people screaming "all BBQ in San Diego is inferior" - that should have been a hint. :)