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DC chowhounders looking for current recs CARLSBAD

I did a search, adn found some older threads but am looking for current ideas.

We will be staying in carlsbad for a few nights. We will have a car, but unless we're going to be blown away by the food after a 30-40 min drive, we'd prefer something in the immediate area- as far as ambiance, we prefer holes in the wall to neighborhood joints - nothing dressy. a nice view is a bonus, but not necessary.

We are specifically looking for mexican and fresh seafood. Good tortillas and salsas are appreciated.


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  1. Norte in Carlsbad has one of the best chile rellenos and chicken burritos but don't know much about anything else.
    It' sits on the PCH in the village.
    Pelly's for seafood is a casual place.
    Kings Fish House has some decent fish.

    If you go down the coast on PCH, there are some great dives like El Norte Especial, Juanitas and Bety's.
    Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar or Oyster Bar at the Fish Market Del Mar.

    1. If you like craft beer, Pizza Port Carlsbad is a must stop. Must.

      1. Do you like ahi? Go to Yoshino Japanese deli on State Street...delicious and cash only. Perfect for lunch.

        3 Replies
        1. re: gator28

          Great ideas
          Are there any more mexican places? It's something I really miss here.

          1. re: MoCoMe

            There are tons of Mex places..
            Vamos a texcoco in Vista is very popular...I get the potato taquitos but their known for the lamb..
            Hacienda de Vega in Escondido is one of my fave's.
            Bull Taco in Cardiff on the beach
            Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad
            Kaito for sushi in Encinitas..

            Love for you to find an awesome Mariscos place (Seafood Mex) in North County like Marsicos German in SD.


            1. re: MoCoMe

              Norte - http://nortemexicanrestaurant.menutoe... Las Olas - http://www.lasolasmex.com/ Casa de Bandini - http://casadebandini.com/ El Callejon - http://www.el-callejon.com/ La Especial Norte - http://www.laespecial101.com/ Bety's - http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=... Bull taco - http://bulltaco.com/ Rudy's in Encinitas - no web page that I could find Tony's Jacal - http://tonysjacal.com/ Hacienda de Vega (in Escondido) - http://www.haciendadevega.com/

              Most taco shops will end in 'berto

              Burritos here do not contain rice or beans, unless requested, and the California burrito contains french fries. The most ubitquitous local taco shop dishes in the San Diego area north of downtown are the CAB otherwise known as a carne asada burrito and the 5 rolled tacos with guacu lunch special.

              Should you choose to venture out and south of downtown your Mexican options amp up considerably in number of choices, autheticity (term used loosely here) and quality of product.
              And, of course, should you choose to cross the border you'll have hit the mother load of good food and hole in the wall Mexican places. The North County location in which you'll be is not exactly a hot bed of Mexican dining.

          2. These are all more holes in the wall and a little further south, but should still be within 10 mins or so
            Sushi - Kaito Sushi in encinitas
            Fish Sandwiches for Lunch - Fish 101
            Japanese Tapas - Yu Me Ya
            Peruvian - Qero

            If you're really into beer, the craft beer really sets San Diego apart and you could drive yourself on a "craft beer tour" (make sure you have a DD). The route could be something like Iron Fist, Aztec, Lost Abbey, Stone

            1 Reply
            1. re: karaethon

              I will definitely be bringing this list! Thanks so much.

              Alas, I had to choose between prescription meds and booze, :-( Rx won. my friend might try some, but that won't be a major factor.

            2. Yu Me Ya in Encinitas for izakaya
              Kaito for sushi
              Blue Ribbon Artisanal Pizzeria in Encinitas
              Solace at the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas--casual but not too dressy
              have heard Savory in Encinitas is good but I've not been there

              1. Fish House Vera Cruz for great simple grilled fish.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steve Green

                  good call Steve on Fish House Vera Cruz..

                2. if Sushi is your idea of seafood, I can vouch for Kaito - certainly worth the trip given your vicinity.

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: Rodzilla

                    is this place any good:

                    Jake's Del Mar?

                    1. re: MoCoMe

                      Can't beat the oceanfront location and I prefer it with drinks and app's or brunch...if you want fab food, go to Kitchen 1540 a block up from Jake's at L'Auberge Del Mar resort...maybe Flavor Del Mar for happy hour.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        BC, have you been to 1540 after the chef change?

                        I'm wondering cause I don't know anyone who has been there after McCabe left and don't know if anyone can vouch for their food. I heard they were doing large changes to the menu following McCabe's departure

                      2. re: MoCoMe

                        The view - yes, the food - horrible

                        1. re: honkman

                          sounds like Jake's is a no, and 1540 a maybe

                          1. re: MoCoMe

                            If I have the choice between starving to death and Jake's I happily will choose death

                            1. re: honkman

                              and you were complaining of death threats on your food blog...

                            2. re: MoCoMe

                              I would steer away from 1540 just because of the unknown aspect of it these days

                              1. re: karaethon

                                I know people who went once the kitchen worked under Chef Bautista and were very happy with their experience. Not sure what will change under Chef Dolbee

                          2. re: MoCoMe

                            I would steer away from Jake's. Went there many years ago, before my palate got better and didn't think it was that great then.

                            1. re: daantaat

                              K got it on jakes :)
                              Will avoid 1540
                              How about super cocina as we exit the city n head north?

                              1. re: MoCoMe

                                That's your best bet for Mexican in San Diego. Homestyle cooking, do not be put off by the steam table service. Ask for a taste of whatever you're interested in before you commit.

                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                  For the first 3 meals we've gone to Norte, dumpling inn and artesia for indian.
                                  I would say norte can be skipped. We got alacarte chile relleno, carne asada and grilled shrimp tacos. I thought it was oversalted and relleno had so much batter on it you could hardly find the chile. The chips n salsa werent realky that good either.
                                  Dumpling inn was a huge hit. We ordered way too much bc we wanted to try it all. Got the xiao long bao, pork n chive dumplings, glazed shrimp, salt n pepper seabass and sauteed greens. They were all so good. While we were there we weretrying to figure out when we could come back.
                                  In artesia we just got a box of mithais from standard sweets. My family got take fromsomewhere. Sorry they didnt tell me thenamebut we had nihari, kabobs andbiryanis. Also delicious!I'm sure i can get the name if anyone wants

                                  Super cocina and sushi still to go for today and tomorrow
                                  Thanks all for the recs.

                                  1. re: MoCoMe

                                    Thanks for reporting back!
                                    Sounds like the chile relleno that is known for their egg white fluffy coating is no more after 40 years..
                                    There are so many great Mex restaurants on the drive down the coast on the 101..
                                    Maybe hit up George's in LJ on the ocean terrace for lunch..great food and views.
                                    Mariscos German seafood truck is worth the 45+ minute drive each way.

                                    1. re: MoCoMe

                                      If distance is a factor, I'd consider sneaking in a visit to Rudy's in Solana Beach (further, in original location) or in Encinitas (closer). Their Carne Asada is simply incredible, especially in the form of their Tortas or as part of a plate (best way).

                                    2. re: DiningDiva

                                      If you want interesting Mex food while still in the city how can you pass up Cesar's Mama Testa? Something for everybody and THE best selection of salsas. And it is the real thing, nothing like it up north. Mama Testa's not on the list anymore Gayla?

                                      1. re: P Macias

                                        Mama Testa's is a good 30-40 min south of Carlsbad....

                                        1. re: daantaat

                                          Thank you everyone. We are home now. The final few meals were at King's Fish after a long day of being out. We just wanted something close, quick and casual. The next day we went to Temecula and had a sandwich at Hart's picnic table. Also bought a bottle to take home. Stopped at South Coast for the glitzy stuff, Baily's and one other. Tried to find Santa Margarita, but our map reading wasn't so good by then...
                                          We shared the tastings at them all. I think that worked out well for us.
                                          That night, we were again feeling lazy and just ended up at Bety's. Had a carne adovada sope, chille relleno and crispy taco between us. The salsa was sooooo good. I couldn't stop shoveling it in, and then all of a sudden the heat hit me and I needed a fire hose of water!

                                          Regret not making it to Super Cocina, but that leaves something for next time. The highlights were definitely Dumpling Inn and Bety's -