San Diego-North County
I have been vacationing here for over twenty years and living here for six. North County and the San Diego region in my experience are filled with bad restaurants. My benchmark is Philadelphia. This area has also been further injured by the full employment economy. Waiters here are surfers on their way to their next temporary job, which is now readily available. At most of the top-rated restaurants if you are not a regular or a celebrity the only consistent thing you will find is the price. The food and service will be highly variable. I would welcome some rays of hope. I do find the best pizza at Vigilucci's in Cardiff. There is decent pasta at Piatti's in La Jolla Shores. The food and wine at the Cafe Del Mar is good, but the service and ambiance leave a lot to be desired.
L'Affaire in Encinitas is run by a lovely woman named Julia. Her husband is the chef, used to head the Hyatt hotel restaurants. Good duck and schnitzel, among other things! Sunday there is a relatively inexpensive brunch. Also, a cheap and consistently awesome Mexican dive is Juanita's, on the PCH just North of Encitinas Blvd. Try the carnitas there, they're super!