The Best of San Diego's North County

Where to eat, shop, and play


Published:

north county san diego

Inland

Hacienda de Vega

This Mexico City familia serves up tasty fare from generation-passed recipes overseen by matriarch chef Patricia Vega herself. It’s also about the al fresco setting with its 120-foot flowing river, outdoor candlelit cabanas, fire pits, and lush gardens. 2608 South Escondido Boulevard, Escondido, haciendadevega.com

Peterson’s Donut Corner

Get your French crullers, fritters, butterlogs, and cream puffs at this donut haunt that’s open until the wee hours (think 3 a.m. cravings). 903 South Escondido Boulevard, Escondido, petersonsdonutcorner.menutoeat.com

The Yellow Deli

Taste great organic food in a lovely homey setting, owned by a communal group of farmers and woodworkers who’ve created their version of a Utopian society in Vista. 315 East Broadway, yellowdeli.com/vista

Urbn Coal-Fired Pizza

Their New Haven-style pizza, including original pies like mashed potato and bacon, are so popular they opened a second location in North Park. Hey Vista, way to show the hipsters how it’s done. 203 Main Street, Vista, urbnpizza.com

The Bar at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Esteban Interiors transformed the once forgettable room, giving it a European brasserie feel where we now love to nosh on executive chef Nicolas Bour’s short rib chili and sloppy joe sliders, and sip the Broken Heart cocktail with blood orange, passion fruit, and pomegranate purees mixed with Herradura Reposado and Cointreau. 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, ranchobernardoinn.com

Poway Midland Railroad & Antique Trains

In Old Poway Park, kids both big and small want to choo-choo on a 1907 Baldwin 0-4-0 Steam Locomotive and Tender or 1894 Los Angeles Yellow Line Trolley Car. All aboard! 14134 Midland Road, powaymidlandrr.org


Solana Beach

Solo

A study in good taste. Find haute hostess gifts like letterpress stationery, Laguiole knives, and chic coffee table books. 309 South Cedros, solocedros.com

Suite 102

The latest project of Amy Noel (formerly of AIRR Supper Club downtown), this collaboration with Gerhard in Del Mar Plaza is an unmarked-for-now storefront. Opened in December, the stark boutique carries mens- and womenswear. Find Viktor & Rolf, Narciso Rodriguez, Salt, Margiela, and other labels rarely found in San Diego. 143 South Cedros, Suite J, suite102.us

Orange Blossom Café

The coffee queen of Cedros, Anna Gomez, infuses Gaviña espresso with natural ingredients like orange essential oil for her Orange Blossom Mocha, topped with homemade whipped cream and fresh orange zest. 224 South Cedros, orangeblossomcafe.com

The Good Food Factory

The energetic Amanda Curry gets kids stoked on veggies via her hands-on afterschool cooking classes and TV show at The Center for Healthy Living, a bungalow with a thriving organic garden behind the Boys & Girls Club. 722 Genevieve Street, thegoodfoodfactory.com

Crush

Sit fireside in the swanky lounge for cheese and charcuterie paired with a nice Orin Swift “Saldo” Zin. Major design points for the Gustaf Rooth wine barrel plank furniture. 437 South Highway 101, solanabeachcrush.com

Temecula Olive Oil Company

The local, sustainably grown California olive takes many forms here: extra pressed virgin oil, body butters, sugar scrubs, and soaps redolent of gardenia. Foodies dig their salts, spices, and balsamics infused with ingredients like vanilla and fig. 342 South Cedros, temeculaoliveoil.com

 

Del Mar

Sip

Finally, the house-made charcuterie, prepared on site in new executive chef Brian Redzikowski’s curing room, has hit the menu. Enjoy duck prosciutto with a nice Pinot Grigio from the Friuli region of northeastern Italy. 1555 Camino Del Mar, sipatflavordelmar.com

Dallmann Fine Chocolates

Isabella Valencia, a third-generation Austrian chocolatier, employs her grandfather’s recipes. Don’t miss her weekly tastings with other local artisans, where you’ll learn about pairing chocolate with craft beer, Champagne, cheese, wine, olive oil, and salt. 2760 Via de la Valle, dallmannconfections.com

Sbicca

We are huge fans of their affordable farmers market menu on Wednesdays ($40 with wine pairings). Props for their ongoing charity bartending events. 215 15th Street, sbiccabistro.com

Market Restaurant + Bar

We love Carl Schroeder’s bad-boy cool, his smile that lights up the room, and his darn good progressive American fare. The Maytag blue cheese soufflé and local strawberry salad rock—and so does the service! Ask for our favorite server, Bryan McCall. 3702 Via de la Valle, marketdelmar.com


Carmel Valley

Urban Plates

This casual eatery serves up organic pizzettes and real mac ‘n’ cheese for your spawn, plus lovely braised meats, mountainous salads, and adult beverages for the big kids. 12857 El Camino Real, urbanplates.com

Beauty Bundles

Tucked in the corner of a typical shopping plaza (Piazza Carmel, next to Beasley Cleaners) is an atypical spa/salon, the best in CV for all-natural organic botanical facials and chic cuts. 3840 Valley Centre Drive, beautybundlesspatique.com

Addison

At the Grand Del Mar, wine director Jesse Rodriguez’s impressive cellar has jumped from 12 private labels to 19 (wine and Champagne). He will pair those or any of the 38,000 bottles on site with executive chef William Bradley’s new spring menu, which includes seasonal savories like coddled farm egg with fava beans and smoked ham hock. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, addisondelmar.com

Burlap

If you like design and a scene, this hotspot is for you. Not a scenester? Enjoy the Thomas Schoos design on mellower Monday nights (no corkage fee!) or at the new Sunday brunch, featuring rock music and create-your-own Bloody Marys. 12995 El Camino Real, burlapeats.com


Rancho Santa Fe

Delicias

Paul McCabe, one of our favorite NoCo chefs, is breathing new life into this RSF institution and expressing his culinary talent through dishes like pork belly on barbecue consommé with spring vegetable salad. Thank goodness for the much-needed redesign, too. 6106 Paseo Delicias, deliciasrestaurant.com

Poppy Boutique

In a quiet Fairbanks plaza, Poppy is the place to find your next
brightly colored party dress (we found several). Owner Heather Hunter stocks DVF, Nanette Lepore, Alice + Olivia, Vince, Halston Heritage, and more. 16087 San Dieguito Road, pinkicing.com

North County Milkman

Got milk? Lucky residents of RSF and Fairbanks Ranch can get hand-delivered fresh milk, butter, eggs, and other Alta Dena goodies like jalapeño cheese and Eskimo pies from the affable Tony Garcia and his sons, who carry on the lost art of personal service, circa 1950. northcountymilkman.com

Coming soon!
After a $20 million reno, Rancho Valencia debuts a new cantina, menu by executive chef Eric Bauer, and wine list by new Master Sommelier Jayson Knack. 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe

Cardiff

Babies by the Sea

This eco-friendly store is eye candy for moms and small fries, with its colorful array of cool brands like Rock n Roll Babies, Tiny Revolutionary, and new local finds like Urban Octopus, Chicaboo, and Nest clothing. 2007 San Elijo Avenue, babiesbytheseaboutique.com

Sambazon Açai Café

Cardiff hosts the flagship of this expanding company that honors the super antioxidant berry in the form of healthy smoothies and snack bowls. Try the bowl with chocolate hemp milk, açai, peanut butter, banana, and a granola garnish. 2031 San Elijo Avenue, sambazon.com/cafe

Seaside Market

Our longstanding favorite local market and deli offers Saturday tri-tip barbecues and amazing takeout (try the crab cake sandwiches and butterscotch bomb desserts). Not to mention their latest community freebie—store tours with holistic nutritionist Christa Orecchio. 2087 San Elijo Avenue, seasidemarket.com

 

Encinitas

Firenze Trattoria

Locals pack the new lounge for authentic Tuscan dishes and ’tinis, but we keep coming back for their polpette di pollo (melt-in-your-mouth chicken meatballs) and leisurely al fresco lunches on the sunlit patio. 162 South Rancho Santa Fe Road, firenzetrattoria.com

Solace & the Moonlight Lounge

We greatly appreciate the talents of chef Matt Gordon (his fresh yellowtail pepita with pumpkin seeds is perfection in a bite) and the savvy smarts of his partner/wife Young-Mi, whose progressive beverage menu features keg wines and inspired cocktails with fresh ingredients and organic liquor. 25 East E Street, eatatsolace.com

Coming soon!
Culinary hero Wade Hageman of Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria will open Craftsman New American Tavern at the former Savory location this summer. 267 North El Camino Real

Jois Yoga + Boutique

This spacious yoga studio is dedicated to Ashtanga and honors master yogi Guruji, who brought his teachings to Encinitas in 1975. Today, his son, Manju, and grandson, Sharath, carry on the lineage by teaching classes here. 575 South Coast Highway, joisyoga.com

St. Germain’s Bistro & Café

Kudos to this casual eatery for its pop-up dinners throughout the year, spotlighting San Diego’s finest female chefs, like Isabel Cruz, Kari Rich of Food Farm Truck, and Dawn Parks of The Wild Thyme Company. 1010 South Coast Highway 101, stgermainscafe.com

Union

It’s more about the party scene and craft beer than the food, but it’s just what Encinitas needed—and that’s why it’s always packed. 1108 South Coast Highway 101, localunion101.com


Leucadia

Haggo’s Organic Taco

If Wes Anderson had a taco stand, this would be it. Set in a quirky garden setting, enjoy James Haggard’s organic tacos, like the Cousteau with local halibut, red cabbage, mango salsa, and heirloom tomatoes from Coral Tree Farm & Nursery in Encinitas. 1114 North Coast Highway 101

Fish 101

This understated but super cool neighborhood fish joint is helmed by San Fran culinary grads—watermen by day, seafood proprietors by night. Taste wicked white clam chowder with Manila clams and smoked bacon, halibut po’ boys, and shrimp tacos at cheap and cheerful prices. 1468 North Coast Highway 101, fish101restaurant.com


Carlsbad

Re:form Yoga

Vinyasa flow classes with long holds, deep breaths, and live acoustic guitar music on Tuesdays, taught by the otherworldly Shane Robson. 2653 Gateway Road, reformyoga.com

The Landings at Carlsbad

Watch the G-IVs land at McClellan-Palomar Airport while nibbling on their famous peanut butter burger. Families love the live kids’ music and pancake party every Saturday. 2198 Palomar Airport Road, carlsbadlandings.com

West Steak & Seafood

West doubled their wine list and built a new cellar to house their 1,500 bottles. Pair with Chef Martignago's fine steaks and freshly plucked vegetables. 4980 Avenida Encinas, weststeakandseafood.com

Aviara Spa

Spend 80 minutes in bliss with the new “Gift of Enrich” treatment, which includes a full-body scrub infused with frankincense, coffee, and vanilla, plus a massage with ylang ylang and coconut oils. Say that five times fast. 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, parkaviara.hyatt.com

Coming soon!
Formerly of Savory, chef Pascal Vignau will open Chandler’s Restaurant at the all-new Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa in July. 1 Ponto Road

The Compass

This progressive, raising-the-bar spot features craft on draft, chef Adam Griffin’s spin on American cuisine (try the pork cheek and wild mushroom risotto), and semi-organic cocktails. 300 Carlsbad Village Drive

Elevation Burger

Shed the guilt—this beef is 100 percent organic, grass-fed, and free-range, served with hand-cut fries cooked in olive oil. Fast food elevated, indeed. 2641 Gateway Road, elevationburger.com

La Costa Resort and Spa

The hotel is working on a $50 million renovation, bringing sexy back to the couple’s getaway with its infinity-edge Jacuzzis, adults-only pool overlooking
the golf course, refreshed rooms, and an updated spa. 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, lacosta.com

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