A Resident’s Guide To Favorites


Carlsbad is one in every of San Diego’s hottest coastal cities due to the colourful Carlsbad Village middle, improbable seashores, and the truth that it’s dwelling to LEGOLAND California. It’s 35 miles north of Downtown San Diego however an awesome place for vacationers and locals alike who’re on the lookout for a relaxed vibe in a lovely setting. Not surprisingly, it’s additionally an awesome place to eat! From stylish eateries with roof decks to upscale steakhouses to trendy French bistros, the culinary range of Carlsbad eating places means there’s one thing for everybody.

Carlsbad Village is the principle hub of this seaside city, and lately, an increasing number of nice eating places have opened up, drawing in younger folks and households along with vacationers. Whereas the Village used to have a barely kitsch vibe round 5-10 years in the past, the plethora of contemporary and upscale eating places with modern exteriors and exquisite interiors make it a busy culinary vacation spot. State Street, particularly, is the middle of the gastronomic motion.

1. Campfire

Campfire restaurant in Carlsbad, California
Photo courtesy of Campfire

Campfire is likely one of the hottest eating places in Carlsbad with locals of all ages, and, in step with its title, options many camping-inspired touches all through. From the distinctive Quonset hut-style exterior with its arched corrugated metallic roof, the gorgeous outside patio full with firepits and a 12-foot teepee, to the gourmand wood-fired menu. Menu favorites embody oysters warmed over coals, complete grilled Maine lobster, and Koji-Aged Ribeye.

It’s an awesome choice for lunch if in case you have children, given its outdoors vibe and decor, however come night, it’s positively higher for adults as the within can get very noisy as a result of tables being shut collectively. The outdoors patio is adorned with fairy lights and can also be a enjoyable place for teams or a date night time on heat evenings. Mind you, a pal and I have been lately eating on the patio when the marine layer got here in and frivolously drizzled us with rain droplets. Inside was absolutely booked, so the waiter gave us heat blankets and turned on the heater. We ended up having a stunning night with a barely adventurous really feel.

Worth noting is that Campfire was acknowledged by the Michelin Guide California in 2019 when it was bestowed with Bib Gourmand standing. This culinary honor highlights ‘hidden gems’ that serve high-quality meals, together with two programs and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or much less. Another motive it’s so standard!

2. Jeune et Jolie

Plateau de Fruits de Mer (photograph courtesy of Visit Carlsbad)

This award-winning trendy French eatery opened in 2018 and shortly turned Carlsbad’s first Michelin-star-rated restaurant. It’s owned by John Resnick, who additionally owns Campfire (listed above) simply alongside the highway, and each eating places have firmly put town’s State Street on the culinary map.

Jeune et Jolie means ‘young and beautiful’ in French, and the restaurant has an upscale French bistro vibe. There are two menu sorts: a four-course tasting menu with numerous choices for the programs (that is typically booked out weeks forward) or an a la carte choice referred to as ‘Le Menu du Bar’ for walk-in company, which is served within the bar and lounge.

The restaurant’s inside has an intimate really feel, with round bistro tables dotted across the edges and excessive stools organized across the stunning bar within the center. It additionally has a fairly outside patio.

3. 264 Fresco

This standard restaurant is a should when visiting Carlsbad. Specializing in trendy Italian delicacies, it has a heat and alluring really feel in its stunning predominant restaurant, whereas its outside deck upstairs boasts picturesque ocean views. It may be laborious to select a favourite place to sit down, with an alternative choice being the outside decks on the entrance of the restaurant, a few of which embody a firepit.

And the restaurant appears to maintain on increasing. During Covid-restricted occasions, the homeowners arrange a big outdoors tented space to the left of the restaurant with tables on synthetic turf surrounded by pot crops. It proved so standard that the realm remains to be there immediately.

Alongside favourite Italian dishes are menu choices together with Halibut, Salmon, Chicken Marsala, or Braised Short Rib. They even have an awesome cocktail listing.

4 & 5. Vigilucci’s

There are literally two Carlsbad areas of this vastly standard Italian eatery chain.

Vigilucci’s Seafood & Steakhouse: The first and doubtless most spectacular location sits alongside the coastal route main into Carlsbad Village. Not surprisingly, you could guide upfront to safe one of many outdoors tables that line the entrance of the restaurant and have nice ocean views. The inside eating room is elegantly embellished, and there’s additionally a tented space outdoors to the best, which is standard however doesn’t have ocean views.

The menu options a big choice of fish-inspired antipasti, oysters, and a shared Chilled Seafood Platter, and so they have an entire seafood entree part alongside steak and pasta choices. There’s additionally a pretty big children menu.

Cucina Italiana: The Vigilucci Group’s different Carlsbad restaurant sits on State Street within the coronary heart of Carlsbad Village. Again, it has a sublime vibe inside and it additionally has a big outside seating space on the entrance of the restaurant. The menu is heavy on pasta selections but in addition encompasses a complete listing of hen, veal, and steak entree choices with some fish and vegetarian selections.

The Vigilucci Group’s different Carlsbad location sits on State Street within the coronary heart of Carlsbad Village. Again, it has a sublime vibe inside, and there’s a massive outside seating space on the entrance of the restaurant. The menu is heavy on pasta selections but in addition encompasses a complete listing of hen, veal, and steak entree choices with some fish and vegetarian selections.

6. Barrel Republic

State Street can also be the situation for this rousing and alluring eatery famed for its superb burgers (that are supplied at a steep low cost on Monday nights). The restaurant’s distressed wooden exterior leads right into a entrance bar space with excessive tops or there are greater tables within the again room near a roaring fireplace. The restaurant has a enjoyable open-air vibe due to the 2 enormous entrance home windows being completely open onto the road.

Another large draw for the restaurant is their Self Pour Tap system, which means alcohol is served by quantity. When you enter an attendant will register your bank card and provide you with a particular wrist sensor (worn like a wristband) linked to your account. You then select from their enormous choice of craft beers and wines. Simply scan your wristband to the sensor subsequent to your alternative, and pour as a lot — or as little — as you need. So if you happen to’ve had one glass of wine and simply need half a glass extra fairly than an entire one, you possibly can!

They even have rotating beer faucets, which means there’ll doubtless be an awesome new beer to strive each time you come back. Just notice there’s a restrict on how a lot a person can drink per go to for security causes.

7. Nick’s On State

You guessed it, this subsequent choose can also be on State Street! Nick’s upscale chain of eating places additionally has areas in San Diego’s Del Mar, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente in Orange County, and a number of other branches in LA. And whereas the Carlsbad location solely opened in 2021, it’s already an area favourite.

The menu is billed as ‘classic American comfort food’ however the restaurant’s inside is unquestionably on the subtle aspect — assume upscale however informal. Inside the cavernous house is a surprising bar space flanked by largely darkish industrial decor, enormous home windows, and picket arches. Outside there’s an awesome patio space for heat evenings.

Menu highlights embody Asparagus Fries and Shrimp Taquitos to begin, adopted by gourmand consolation meals choices of San Francisco Cioppino (a scrumptious mixture of seafood served in a sourdough loaf), Buttermilk Fried Chicken, or Maple Glazed Meatloaf. There’s additionally a extra normal burger and salad menu and an awesome cocktail menu to clean all of it down with.

8. Pure Taco

Right subsequent door to Nick’s is a superb new family-friendly Mexican eatery marketed as a ‘Global Taco Bar.’ Alongside its extra complete menu, it serves a $1.99 Baha Fish Taco all day, every single day, and so they’re nice! They have nice Taco Flights if you need variation, or you possibly can select from extra inventive choices of Green Curry Shrimp or Korean Pork Bo SSam tacos. I positively advocate the Chicken Tikka Masala Bowl for an anticipated Indian twist.

Only the principle a part of the Carlsbad restaurant is roofed, however the outside seating is sheltered with heaters, and it’s definitely worth the wait to get a desk. The bar can also be a lovely place to hang around for each dinner and margaritas, and the entire place has a soothing, informal, and enjoyable environment.

9. Karl Strauss Brewing Company

This is unquestionably the most effective Carlsbad eating places for households, and it’s not on State Street! It’s really proper throughout the road from LEGOLAND California, and I extremely advocate it.

Karl Strauss is a vastly standard native brewery, and its founders are among the many pioneers of the craft beer motion in San Diego. Today, they’ve three eating places in San Diego, together with this North County favourite.

The Carlsbad location is spacious, has a lovely wooden inside, and a very pleasant environment. After transitioning to counter ordering throughout Covid restrictions, the restaurant continued this course of, and you continue to go straight to the counter/bar as quickly as you enter to order and pay earlier than discovering a desk.

The Korean BBQ Rice Bowl with salmon is superb and simply sufficient for 2 adults if you happen to ask for an additional bowl. Or strive their Beer Sausages, enormous burger menu, or Carne Asada Tacos. As for sides, their Mac On Tap has really gained awards!

10. Park 101

Park 101 meat combo

If barbecue in an off-the-cuff outside setting is your factor, Park 101 positively suits the invoice. This open-air eatery is pure SoCal – although it’s really owned by an Australian! The sprawling multi-level design makes for a enjoyable choice for excellent meals and a relaxed vibe within the midst of the downtown Carlsbad motion. It’s one block from the seashore, and the upstairs roof deck has stunning ocean views. The deck additionally has a status as an awesome celebration venue.

Menu favorites embody Surf N Turf Fries and Loaded BBQ Mac to share, and the Wagyu Burger or Tri Tip Burger for mains.

Park 101’s web site says it’s child and dog-friendly, however the final time I went, you needed to be 21+ to go as much as the roof deck. Check with a server if wanted.

11. Coyote Bar & Grill

This Carlsbad stalwart has been open since 1989 and is on the perimeter of the principle Carlsbad Village middle, simply toes away from the fountain. It has an awesome outside seating space with loads of firepits and stay leisure 7 days per week. Expect to show as much as a stay band enjoying and a busy outside dancefloor, even within the day time.

The inside can also be engaging, and it’s positively a energetic place to go for excellent meals and drinks. The menu is typical Southern Californian fare, and favorites embody the Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, Flat Iron Steak, or Grilled Salmon with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

The restaurant additionally turns into a nightclub each Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m.–1.30 a.m.

12. Casa De Bandini

This massive and energetic Mexican restaurant is situated within the upscale procuring middle, The Forum, near the place Carlsbad borders Encinitas. It’s gained a number of finest Mexican restaurant awards and was initially situated in San Diego’s Old Town district. The restaurant is thought for its improbable genuine Mexican meals and vibe. The predominant eating room options conventional colourful decor all through, contrasted with darkish wooden tables and chairs, and the bar space is adorned with stunning glass hanging lights.

The dishes are enormous and scrumptious (their Shrimp Tostada and Chicken Mole Poblano dishes are to die for), and the margheritas are famously big. Casa de Bandini can also be recognized for its roaming Mariachi band, who may simply pop up subsequent to your desk to serenade you and your celebration. And the Teresita Paper Flower Maker will hold the children entertained.

The restaurant additionally has an awesome outside seating space however I like to recommend getting an inside desk to get the very best expertise of this enjoyable eatery that’s positively an awesome household choice. And if you happen to fancy a spot of procuring after, The Forum shops embody Anthropologie, Apple, lululemon, and Madewell.

13. Ponto Lago at Park Hyatt Aviara

Interior of Ponto Lago restaurant at Park Hyatt Aviara.
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara

If you’re in North County San Diego, visiting this spectacular resort in Carlsbad is a should. Sipping cocktails whereas watching the sundown over the ocean on the lodge’s Pacific Point terrace is an beautiful expertise, and naturally, the eating choices are improbable. Because the lodge’s award-winning steakhouse Ember and Rye is quickly closed on the time of penning this, I’m going to advocate the lodge’s Ponto Lago for now.

Housed in a sublime eating room, Ponto Lago options Baha-inspired delicacies, with standout menu selections together with the Butter Poached Lobster Taco and Whole Hog Spear in peanut mole sauce. The restaurant exudes a heat ambiance due to the present kitchen the place cooks create in full view of company. Tequila and mezcal dominate the drinks menu, a lot in order that the restaurant bar hosts the Agave Tasting Experience each Tuesday, that includes their 50 plus kinds of the 2 liquors.

The Carlsbad restaurant’s scrumptious Sunday buffet brunch menu contains Oysters, Paella, and and Wood Fire Asado grill combine, all washed down with Mexican scorching chocolate or Margherita flights.

14. Blue Ocean Robata

Best Carlsbad restaurants: Blue Ocean Robata
Photo courtesy of Blue Ocean Robata

If you’re looking for an awesome sushi bar in Carlsbad, try Blue Ocean Robata. It’s away from the principle Carlsbad Village motion, but it surely’s positively value a go to to get your sushi repair. They even have an intensive menu of all types of Asian-inspired dishes alongside the sushi, sashimi, and nigiri choices. Highlights embody the Mizo Glazed Chilean Sea Bass, Korean BBQ Ribs, and the I Love Poke Salad.

They even have a inventive listing of craft cocktails and numerous sorts of Sake. Try the Pom Sake Bomb if you happen to dare — a novel concoction of chilly sake, pomegranate syrup, Sapporo, and a splash of cranberry juice. The restaurant is a well-liked Happy Hour venue on Mondays by Thursdays from 3 – 6 p.m. Their enjoyable themes embody Whiskey Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays, and you may count on nice offers on drinks, small plates, and sushi.

15. Pizza Port

Best Carlsbad restaurants: Pizza Port
Photo courtesy of Pizza Port

This SoCal establishment is a pizza and beer lover’s dream and has fairly the native historical past. The authentic Pizza Port was based in Solana Beach by siblings Gina and Vince Marsaglia again within the late 80s. It began life as only a pizzeria, with Vince utilizing the storage room to construct his interest in beer brewing. The restaurant rapidly developed right into a brewpub although, combining the right pairing of pizza and beer.

Pizza Port’s Carlsbad venue opened in 1997 and was the chain’s second location. Four extra SoCal areas have since been added. An important addition to the Carlsbad restaurant is the premium bottle store subsequent door, which additionally presents a whole lot of craft beers from different native breweries.

The restaurant’s enjoyable pizza menu contains a number of custom-made creations named after numerous Californian cities and cities, to the Meet Extreme Meat, which says all of it. Salads and different munchies spherical out the menu, whereas rotating brews on faucet will quench your thirst. Try the Bressi Ranch (a Carlsbad neighborhood) pizza paired with a Swami’s IPA, named after the native seashore.

16. Tip Top Meats & European Deli

Best restaurants Carlsbad: Tip Top Meats
Photo credit score: Darlene Horn

For one thing completely different and a spot recognized for its legendary breakfasts, head to Tip Top’s informal however high quality eatery. Part European-style meals market/deli, half restaurant, Tip Top is vastly standard with expats dwelling in San Diego who head there for its wonderful meat choices.

Their eating space positively isn’t fancy, but it surely’s a agency favourite with locals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so count on to attend in a fairly lengthy line for a desk. The menu is loaded with superb meats and cheeses, and worldwide favorites like Sauerkraut. Popular scorching sandwich choices embody the German Weiner and Chicken Cutlet, and naturally, Strudel for dessert. Just notice there are solely ‘house’ choices for wine and beer.

17. Cicciotti’s Trattoria & Seafood

One of the very best Carlsbad eating places for Italian is Cicciotti’s Trattoria & Seafood. Situated in the midst of Carlsbad Village, this trattoria is an offshoot of the favored beach-front Cardiff location. Both eating places have the identical menu, together with excellent Appetizer selections like Bruschetta Mamma Mia with salmon and gorgonzola cheese. There’s virtually each pasta dish you possibly can consider to observe and a big choice of ravioli and gnocchi. Pizza, steak, hen, and veal dishes spherical out the menu, plus a fish choice that features the divine-looking Cioppino dish – a mix of shellfish and contemporary fish of the day over linguine.

The restaurant has stay music on Friday nights from 6 – 9 p.m. and you may test their calendar forward.

18. The Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

Best Carlsbad restaurants: Green Dragon
Photo credit score: Darlene Horn

For dinner with an historic twist, Carlsbad’s iconic Green Dragon Tavern & Museum will present a novel expertise. A restaurant and museum in a single, Green Dragon, could also be situated within the sunny climes of SoCal, but it surely was really modeled on the 18th-century famed tavern of the identical title in Boston.

Guests can take in some historical past within the Revolutionary War museum, which is free to enter, earlier than heading to eat. The restaurant continues the colonial American theme with its décor and New England fare, together with Main and Connecticut Lobster Rolls. However, there are many different selections, together with consolation meals classics Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Bourguignon, and Turkey Pot Pie.

The inventive dessert menu features a Churro Sundae and Cappuccino Mud Pie. They even have an awesome cocktail menu that includes the gin-based ‘Flower Fields’ in a nod to the well-known Carlsbad Flower Fields situated simply throughout the road from the museum.

Darlene Horn additionally contributed to this text.


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