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Jan 11, 2004 11:55 PM

Anything extraordinary in or near Encinitas?

  • c

My wife and I will be near Encinitas for the month of February. We love good ethnic restaurants with a flair - good food and good service! We intend to walk the beaches and try places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chowhounds have never failed us! Give us all you've got.

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  1. m

    Pannikins Coffee is a great breakfast place - sit on the patio of a converted Vicorian-ish train station have some baked goods and a cup of good coffee, and watch the world pass by...

    For lunch, try the paninis at Rosana's on HWY 101 in downtown Encinitas. Its a bakery too and the french and italian couple who own it are really nice people.

    Dinner try Especial Del Norte, its about a half mile north of the actual downtown strip - the Mexican Soups at this place are absolutely perfect.

    If you're into music, Lou's Records is worth a trip.


    1 Reply
    1. re: MattofEncinitas

      Lou's! I've been going there for years..I actually went to the Cardiff store(once..I'm probably one of the few people that remembers it..)then followed it to the downtown Encinitas store and now to their current location.

      Lou's is my go-to place for CD's especially stuff that's kinda obscure(in other words, stuff that the chain stores wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole). And their prices are certainly right.

    2. Savory is a new relatively new restaurant opened by the former Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Aviara. Wonderful food at very reasonable prices. Good service, well priced wine elist but a very noisy dining room. Reservations are a must. I would only go for dinner. The lunch menu is heavy on "tennis lady" salads.

      4 Replies
      1. re: buzznutter

        Thanks for the suggestion. Will definitely be on our list. Do you know of any good chinese restaurants in the area?

        1. re: canuck

          The best Chinese is in Carlsbad, off of Marron Rd. and Monroe, next to the Greek Corner Cafe and Souplantation. The Golden Taipei has fresh food, fixed to order, clean, quiet and pleasant. Order a dish the way you want it; I get two-taste shrimp with onions and bell pepper, rather than the ingredients they offer on the menu. Everything is made to order, the service is gracious, the food outstanding. Nothing prepared in advance! Highly recommended. Not so it Chin's, where I found a Marlboro cigarette butt in my food...and when I complained I got a shrug and a "So what?" attitude! No more for me!! Golden Taipei is the place!

        2. re: buzznutter

          I echo your sentiments about Savory. The former restaurant, La Affaire, was excellent; we went there for more than 14 years. Big menu, daily specials, good service and wonderful food.Sorry it's gone, but Savory is an excellent substitute. Also I can recommend Gusto on Encinitas Blvd. near I-5, and in the same area, Le Bonne Bouffe, and excellent country French restaurant with excellent dining choices, only open for dinner.

          1. re: buzznutter

            I've been for lunch on many occassions--their fish specials and quiches are great!

          2. I heard that Tip Top Meats is very good - has breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu. Dinner selections look pretty ethnic. See curent link. It is very near Encinitas in Carlsbad.

            We used to shop there when it was in Glendale, California. He taught my mom to make German Rouladen "Meat rolls (flank steak?) filled with bacon, onions and pickles. Delicious, easy recipe learned while visiting Germany." and if she could do that - well, he must be a very good cook!


            3 Replies
            1. re: kc girl

              Tip Top?? No-No NO!!
              BAD, and I mean bad with a capital BAD! Dinners are laughable, they're so bad. Breakfast? okay, crowded which means something; large portions at breakfast, but dinner? A complete disaster. Avoid it at all costs. The imported foods market adjacent has a cornucopia of good things, however. Their reputation was "built" on their butcher shop, but the meat we had on two occasions (the only two would we went) resembled burnt Bazooka Bubblegum. Chewy wasn't the word!

              1. re: kc girl
                Randall D. in Carlsbad

                TIP-TOP meats is the pits! Stay away if you are looking for good food! Meat is tough, chewy and without flavor. Meals are sparsely populated with flavor and elan. Salad is pre-made, comes with dressing in a plastic pouch. Bad, bad-en-badder! Not worth the time to visit this joint. It's reputation as a decent place to eat is not true! Avoid this place, though the imported market has a lot of hard-to-find, though expensive, condiments and other Euro stuff. Restaurant is not good. Many good places to eat, this isn't one of them!!

                1. re: Randall D. in Carlsbad

                  I gave up on it years ago when they grilled the corned beef for the sandwich and then defended the practice. Yuck!

              2. My favorites are:

                Chuao Chocolatier - gourmet chocolate, truffles, bon bons. At the Lumberyard in downtown Encinitas along Hwy 101.
                Potato Shack - great breakfasts. On I Street just went of Hwy 101 in downtown Encinitas
                Firenze - good pasta (Italian), nice atmosphere. On Encinitas Blvd just east of Manchester.
                Tuscan Sun Deli - take-out deli for panini sandwiches. On El Camino Real at Leucadia Blvd.
                Beach Grass Cafe - creative menu for breakfasts. Located in Solana Beach (just south of Encinitas) on Hwy 101, about 1/10 mile south of Lomas Santa Fe Dr.

                I haven't found any good Chinese restaurants in Encinitas. A passable one is Mandarin City, located just east of I5 at Birmingham. The waiter speaks Mandarin and might be able to recommend authentic. A restaurant in Carlsbad called Overseas Chinese restaurant serves a decent mix of Chinese/Malaysian/Singaporean food. The owner says they frequently have seasonal Chinese vegetables which are usually available only at Chinese restaurants down on Convoy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Tina
                  Stanley Stephan

                  I second Chuao Chocolatier which I just found. The signature chocolate is the caramel passionfruit ... amazing. Bite into the dark chocolate shell and liquid carmel burts onto your tounge. Wait a beat ... there is the perfect tart passionfruit complementing the subtle caramel ... and I don't even LIKE caramel.

                  Wonderful Mexican hot choclate.

                  My favorite chocolates at Chuao are (in order of preference:
                  PARCHITA: Passionfruit hearts.

                  CHEVERE: who would have thought that goat cheese, pear Williams butter cream and crushed black pepper corns would be this good. Like tangy chocolate cheesecake,

                  CAMBUR: Banana and brown sugar caramel … mmmm …. You would think more chocolate makers would combine banana and chocolate.

                  PICANTE: I never imagined raisin, cabernet caramel, spiced up with pasilla chili and cayenne pepper could be such a winning combination

                  ZEN: I contemplated the lovely white chopped ginger. Missed the tea flavor, but it didn’t matter.

                  MELAO: A salt butter caramel with the salt enhancing the soft caramel interior. .

                  MARACA: macadamia nuts,dark caramelt, rum these flavors really worked well together and complemeted the dark chocolate coating.

                  GRAN CACAO: Wpmdered what 73% cocoa chocolate meant. It’s almost like chocolate liquer it is so rich. Really, it takes alcoholic, but it’s not.

                  HONEY TRUFFLE: Cream orange blossom honey ganache thin dark choclate shell, coated with powdered sugar … lovely. ,

                  MULATO: almond marzipan and fine pieces of roasted macadamia nuts just was tasty. The bronze glitter would make a nice presentation at a dinner party. Very elegant.

                  Really, don't miss this place. This year Saveur voted La Especial Norte's soups one of their 100 favorite things. I think they should consider Chaou's chocolates next year.

                  1. re: Tina
                    Carlsburg Local

                    CHINESE FOOD:

                    Under-appreciated, quiet, friendly and serving freshly prepared food is Golden Taipei, sandwiched between Souplantation and a tanning parlor off Marron Rd., down the hill from Monroe. Olive Garden (yeechh) on the corner, Golden Taipei behind. They'll prepare anything on the menu the way you want, excellent and extensive menu. Lots of take-out customers, never crowded, but these wonderful, friendly people are undaunted. The lumpen majority slog past on their way to Souplantation (yawn) without giving Golden Taipei a second glance. Their loss, that's for sure.

                    1. re: Tina

                      The Potato Shack has "extraordinary" pancakes...."man hole cover size pancakes".
                      Potato Shack is great.

                    2. Thanks all. Especial del Norte is mentioned many times so we'll definitely be there for soup! We'll hit as many of the others that we can and I'll report via Chowhound when we get back home to good ol' Canada.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: canuck
                        Stanley Stephan

                        The soups are good especially the Chicken tortilla, pork pozole and eggplant.

                        However today I had the Chicken Mole Poblano, two whole chicken legs covered with at beautiful and tasty mole sauce. You could split this one.

                        For tacos, just down the street is Juanitas tacos. The beef taco that has a deep fried shell is the best. Juanita is famous for her carnitas, so I recommend that as well. Do a takeout and then continue on PCK to Encinitas BLVD. Take a right and eat your tacos on the lovely beach. Lots of times the fire pits are burning. Very pretty.