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Oct 23, 2010 10:22 AM

Need recs near Harrah's Rincon

My boyfriend and I will be staying for two nights at the Harrah's Rincon in November. Being from Florida, we didn't realize how far it was from San Diego when we booked - but the rooms are comped so we're keeping them.

We're not looking for anything high-end, but I'd prefer to find some authentic Mexican or other ethnic food rather than be stuck eating at national chains or at the casino. We love small, local, and dive-y, and extra points for a good bar/beer selection to enjoy with Monday Night Football.

Harrah's Rincon
777 Harrah's Rincon Way, Valley Center, CA

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  1. Fat Ivor's and Smokey's Lake Wholford Cafe are the closest and both are good, kind of where locals eat places. As far as Mexican, there is a lot in Escondido. Search the boards.

    I think you now have a good idea why we on the board ask if people will have a car and where they are staying...San Diego County is very large. The city itself is 7th largest in the Nation.

    The food at Valley View Casino (which you will pass on the way to Smokey's) is the best of all the casinos here. You have to kind of make a reservation if you want to eat at the buffet, the lines can be long. ( I think it is free the first time you sign up for a Club card). I have heard that with all the building and improvements, Rincon was making their food as high end as Valley View, but have not been there yet to find out for myself.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      Unless you are a real lover of buffets, and lines, skip the buffet at Valley View, It is excellent but it's a buffet.

      Eat at Black and Blue, the high end steakhouse. Great food and great wine pricing.

      1. re: vinomon

        Valley View seafood buffet is everyday starting at 4pm. It's free when signing up for a players club card. Maine lobster, oysters, Alaskan king crab legs, shrimp, sushi, great prime rib and finish it off with Blue Bunny ice cream. There is no better buffet in the area and you can't beat the price.

      2. re: Cathy

        I completely understand the need for specifics. This is part of a very long trip for us, otherwise we'd probably stay much closer to the city. We will have a car as we will be driving from Vegas and traveling up the California coast. We're willing to do some driving - we're planning to spend one of our days at the zoo - but I'd prefer to have dinner closer to where we're staying. We're not buffet people, and outside of Vegas, I haven't been very impressed with casino food, so I figured I'd find out what's good locally.

        1. re: swampette

          Know that to get to Rincon, you'll be driving on (mostly) a two lane road which does not have many street lights.

          Going North on the 15 from 4 p.m. until 6:30 ish on a weeknight, traffic will be slow in spots even if no accidents. You may want to eat after a long day at the Zoo before driving back (it will minimally be an hour, in good traffic)(I have a friend who lives on Valley Center Road, 6 miles from Rincon and I live about 6 miles from the 15. It takes me an hour to get to her house and I go when no traffic).

        2. re: Cathy

          I would second Fat Ivor's for their beef ribs. Down in the Pauma Valley, not too far from Harrah's on SR-76 is the Lazy H. It's a place where the locals go, if you know where it is.

          There is also Cenote Grill in Escondido; it's about a 15-20 mile drive from Rincon, but worth it.

          Cenote Grill
          1896 W El Norte Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92026

        3. If you want to watch Monday Night Football while eating Mexican food, your best bet might be to take out food (and beer) and bring it to your hotel room. I would recommend Kennedy's Karne, a Mexican grocery/restaurant in Escondido. They are known for their carne asada, but their other choices are pretty good as well.

          Kennedy's Karne
          1760 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92027

          1 Reply
          1. There is a very good French Resteraunt in Escondido, called Vincents, it is not that far, and if you are going to leave Rincon, you would have to go through Escondido.

            1. Having gone to concerts and gambled at Harrah's its out at the end of the world and I'd stay close at night since its a 2 lane road.
              Hacienda de Vega in Escondio has fab Mex food that has a lovely outside heated patio with a huge waterfall.
              Fat Ivor's in Valley Center for ribs and they have a pretty decent food selection at the casino.
              Valley View, imho, has one hell of a buffet and I am not a buffet sign up for the players card and each of you get a lobster buffet that used to be King Crab but the quality of the food is quite good and it'll save you around $100 for 2..go when it opens around 4pm...20-30 minutes from the casino.
              Go up Palomar Mtn and see the famous telescope and have a slice of pie and hot chocolate at the general store.
              Harrah's is a nice resort and you'll have a good time.


              1. Last August I judged the BBQ contest at Harrah's Rincon and stayed for the concert. I had two buffet comps, so we gave it a try after the concert. Here's my first pass at the buffet table. I've never been bitten into octopus that tough before. Guacamole en molcajete was fine, likewise the noodle salad and Greek salad. Salt & pepper shrimp could have been ok but too sweet. Unagi sushi had been sitting around too long. Best item this round was the curried green lipped mussel . . . I went back for another.

                Then in the next pass and plate, Mussels in red sauce from the Italian section was good. Coconut shrimp and fried chicken were not. Liked the flavors of the truffle oil, lobster mac n cheese even if it was mushy. Brazilian steak, the giant hunk was super salty and tough cut this way. Green beans from the italian section were great with the crinkly skin and texture of dry-wok'ing. The same advice for most casino buffets applies here, go for the prime rib.

                The dessert table featured a huge selection of sugar-free pastries, though I didn't taste any. Also self-serve frozen yogurt and a variety of cookies. The pastry shells on the cannolo and the tarts were soggy. But the raspberries on top were top notch. I liked the mango sorbet and the pistachio gelato. All in all, a better buffet showing than I expected and worth the $17.99 tariff (includes non-alcoholic beverage), if you're hungry.

                Harrah's Rincon
                777 Harrah's Rincon Way, Valley Center, CA