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Best in North SD county?

We live in Orange County but often attend the theater is LaJolla or San Diego. We usually go to a matinee, and like to have dinner on the way home. We've been to the Chart House in Cardiff a few times...it's ok but not terrific. We've heard about Sea and Smoke in Encinitas and Fish 101 in Del Mar. Are they any good? Are there others you'd recommend? We like nice ambiance, good cocktails, great food, and not too noisy. Prefer American, Italian, French or seafood cuisines. Cost not important, quality is! Any ideas??

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  1. Try Veladora (Italian) or The Pony Room (casual American fare with great cocktails in nice bar setting, but you can also order off the adjoining Veladora menu) at the plush Rancho Valencia Hotel in Rancho Santa Fe...great Sunday brunch as well.

    Eddie V's on Prospect Street in La Jolla has awesome ambiance (killer view from their outdoor deck) and pretty good food (even though it is a chain). Good seafood and steak.

    2 Replies
    1. re: El Chevere

      Great recs. I would normally agree with you on the outdoor seating at Eddie V's, but the cove stench has gotten much worse the past few weeks. I would still suggest the restaurant, but call ahead to make a reservation at one of the INSIDE window tables. Nothing like having an expensive dinner ruined by the odor of animal excrement.

      1. re: El Chevere

        Haven't been back to Kitchen 1540 lately, have they stepped their level back up? We felt it took a big hit after McCabe left.

      2. Kitchen 1540 (Del Mar) and Georges (La Jolla)

        1. Market Restaurant Del Mar
          AR Valentein Torrey Pines
          Addison Carmel Valley
          Mille Fleurs Rancho Santa Fe
          Blue Ribbon Pizza Encinitas

          1. Are you looking only at North County options along the 5? There are some great choices in La Jolla if you're already there.

            Don't know if they've worked out the service issues at Sea and Smoke, but it was still not good as of a few months ago. The potential is there, but I have a hard time recommending it.

            Market in Del Mar is fantastic and would be my pick.

            The Del Mar Heights branch of Searsucker is worth a try.

            I haven't been to the Del Mar location of Prepkitchen, but if it's like the others, it should be decent.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ponder99

              We've already been to many of the better places in LaJ (George's, Tapenade, Eddie V's, Whisk 'n Ladle, Herringbone, etc), so we're now thinking of exploring places further north, not too far off the 5.

            2. How is the WineSellar & Brasserie? It's been years since we've been there, and haven't heard anything about it recently.

              1 Reply
              1. re: josephnl

                If I remember correctly, The chef and maitre d left for Paon, which is up in Carlsbad. It is right off of Carlsbad Village Drive, west of the 5. My S.O. has eaten there for lunch a couple of times and she really enjoyed it. I have never been, but walked by numerous times, nice looking place.

              2. Solace and Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas (same owner as Sea and Smoke), Union Kitchen and Tap in Encinitas (great shrimp and grits, charred okra). Blue Ribbon Pizza or Craftsman Tavern in encinitas.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ela0427

                  The last two visits at Solace were quite mixed - the food is still not on the same level as Urban Solace and have even been worse than several months ago.

                  1. re: honkman

                    Q'ero (Peruvian cuisine) in Encinitas not bad.

                2. Has anyone had dinner at Paon in Carlsbad?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: josephnl

                    I've been. It's a very friendly and accommodating kind of place with food that is good for the area. One of the better options in Carlsbad, IMO.

                    I don't recommend the sweetbreads however. (I made the mistake of ordering them because I was just so stoked to find a place in the area that served them, but they seemed almost freezerburned. Like it might have been a long time before I ordered sweetbreads that the last person ordered them. 'Course in hindsight, I should have known better. I don't think Carlsbad is exactly the market for offal. :P)

                    You asked about Fish 101. I like that place quite a lot. Simple, delicious preparations of fish and other seafood. Great oyster happy hour. Good list of reasonably priced beers and wines. It gets busy quick, though, so I'd suggest going either early or late.

                    Oh, and if you're the rare So Californian who actually dresses up for the theater, just a warning that Fish 101 is VERY casual. Paon not as much, but still comfortable.

                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                      I really want to like Fish 101, so much so that I've been there 4 or 5 times. I love the concept of the casual, local fish place. However, I've always been underwhelmed by the food. I haven't had a memorable meal there yet. Maybe I'm ordering the wrong things?

                      1. re: srk

                        Might be it is just me but I am always surprised when somebody mentions "...maybe I am ordering the wrong things" - If a restaurant puts something on their menu I expect that they know how to cook/prepare it in a way that it acceptable to the public (there might be different opinions what are the best spices or sides) but the simple execution of a main ingredient should never out of reach for a restaurant otherwise they shouldn't put it on their menu or run a restaurant

                        1. re: srk

                          Hmm. I find sometimes that a chef's palate just doesn't align with mine even if lots of other reasonably discriminating people like their food. So even while the execution might be good (and I'm not saying that it is by your standards), you just might not find their concepts and flavor profiles to your liking. (?)

                    2. I haven't made it there myself, but I continue to hear good things about the Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen in Oceanside.


                      4 Replies
                        1. re: srk

                          I think they're doing something great for the city. It's a higher level of execution and slightly more sophisticated concepts than you'll find in most of Oceanside and a good bet when you're in the general area.

                          Good selection of reasonably priced beer and wine, too.

                          Gives me hope for a good evolution of the dining scene in Oceanside.

                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                            We tried it finally and LOVED it. It is a serious bacon loving establishment and the pork belly was divine!!!

                            1. re: Ela0427

                              Glad to hear it! We're due back. Haven't been in a while. :)

                        2. The Poseidon Restaurant in Del Mar sits right on the sand with both indoor and outdoor seating. Parking lot with valet parking.

                          1. We went to Paon in Carlsbad and were very pleasantly surprised. The ambiance is very pleasant, the welcome by management was cordial and the service was professional and competent . Most importantly, the food was very good. I had the house smoked salmon appetizer and the pork osso buco, both of which were excellent. My partner had a salad, and the salmon and was very pleased with both. The house made ice creams are a very good dessert option. The drinks were excellent, the bread was very good, the wine list was priced well…indeed, everything was top notch. This is definitely a very good restaurant, and we will definitely return.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: josephnl

                              Great, we are going there next. For a more casual environment but fantastic food, try the Flying Pig a few min N. in Oceanside. In a very random location but worth a trip just for the roasted pork belly. I know everyone is doing brussel sprouts but theirs were excellent..lightly coated with molasses and topped with some bacon. I had the spatzel (?) with a mascarpone sauce, ham bits and a raw yolk on top..very creamy, decadent and ultra comforting
                              We went there a week ago instead of Paon.