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North County’s Hidden Foodie Paradise: Downtown Vista

Your insider’s guide to the variety of cuisines offered in the North County town



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From award-winning restaurants to popular breweries, charming cafes, pizzerias, and decadent bakeries, downtown Vista’s dining experience is sure to satisfy the palate. Come sample a taste of downtown, whether its Southern classics like chicken fried steak or Compart Duroc Chop, fish n’ chips, an impossible burger, coal fired pizza, sushi, tasty tacos, shish kabobs, beer-infused cupcakes and more.

For longtime local business and restaurant owner Clay McCarthy, a stroll along Vista’s vibrant downtown corridor on any given day or night is sure to uncover some hidden dining gems. One of them is Mom’s Kitchen. “When you walk into this place it’s like walking back in time; it’s one of the last old style classic diners and has award-winning biscuits and gravy,” he says.

Lamppost Pizza

McCarthy, co-owner of downtown’s WildWood Crossing Cantina, suggests pizza lovers check out Lamppost Pizza, Vista’s ‘Cheers,’ and the home of team sports and birthday celebrations with cool fire pits and a great sports bar. His other Italian and pizza picks - Lupillozz Pizza or URBN Coal Fired Pizza.

URBN Coal Fired Pizza

Meanwhile, over at 508 Tavern, Vista’s hidden clubhouse, most of the customers are regulars and it feels like a secret club. McCarthy says, adding that the restaurant even has a secret menu.

508 Tavern

When he wants really good food combined with a choice from the largest craft beer selection, McCarthy heads over The Belching Beaver Tavern & Grill at the heart of Downtown Vista, which he says also has the best wine list, best outside garden and fire pits.

McCarthy describes the inside of another favorite, the Yellow Deli, as a work of art. “Everything is hand made out of repurposed material; you have to go there because words don’t do it justice.”

Yellow Deli

When he’s in the mood for BBQ, McCarthy heads over to When Pigs Fly Barbecue, which he describes as a rustic style restaurant whose meats are addicting.

His other top downtown dining picks include Mikko Sushi, Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen, Dog Haus Biergarten, and Shaks Mediterranean Bistro.

Clay McCarthy with 508 Tavern Owner Shelly Kentner

In the mood for brunch? Besides Mom’s Kitchen, McCarthy’s other favorite morning haunts are Curbside Cafe and Swami’s Cafe. He added that The Yellow Deli is always packed and is open 24/7, while Vista Village Pub has been a long time option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well.

“There are more dining options now in downtown Vista,” said McCarthy, also the owner of Vista-based Quality Lock & Security. “You can grab a bite to eat before heading to a movie at Cinépolis or enjoy live music .

Downtown’s restaurant scene is really happening . There’s something for everyone.”

Visit DowntownVista.org/Dining to see all restaurants.

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North County’s Hidden Foodie Paradise: Downtown Vista

Your insider’s guide to the variety of cuisines offered in the North County town
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