North County and Around Restaurants

Dining in the North County tends to reflect the land where the restaurant is located. Along the coast, for example, there is one luxury fine-dining spot after another. Most have dramatic water views and offer platters of exquisite fare created by graduates of the best culinary schools. Right next door you can wander into a typical beach shack or diner for the juiciest hamburger you’ve ever tasted. Locally sourced food can be found at restaurants throughout the area, although a few chefs have adopted molecular gastronomic techniques. Backcountry cuisine is generally served in huge portions and tends toward home-style cooking, steak and potatoes, burgers, and anything fried.

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  • 1. Campfire

    $$ | American

    Paying tribute to community around the campfire, it’s all about connecting here, both with the cool crowd and with the distinctive cocktail...Read More

  • 2. Claire’s on Cedros

    $ | Bakery

    Breakfast foodies religiously line up for a table at this cheerful A-frame restaurant for the chance to dig in to wholesome food made from scratch...Read More

  • 3. Fish 101

    $ | Seafood

    The line out the door—especially during happy hour—is a clear sign you’re at the best place in North County to find locally sourced, sustainably...Read More

  • 4. The Wooden Spoon

    $$ | American

    Former fine-dining chef Jesse Paul—who oversaw kitchens at Four Seasons Aviara, L'Auberge Del Mar, and Via Italia Trattoria—left it all behind...Read More

  • 5. 101 Cafe

    $ | American

    A diner dating back to 1928 is both a local hangout and the headquarters of the historic Highway 101 movement. Find all kinds of Highway 101...Read More

  • 6. Apple Alley Bakery

    $ | Bakery

    This bakery tucked down a narrow alley proves there’s no such thing as too many pie shops in Julian. After mastering the apple-to-crust ratio...Read More

  • 7. Bistro West

    $$ | American

    This busy spot, part of the West Inn complex, might be called the boisterous bistro, especially if you get there during happy hour, when it...Read More

  • 8. D'Carlos

    $$ | American

    The parking lot in front of D'Carlos is always full, a sure sign that Ramonans like this casual family-style dinner house. The menu offers something...Read More

  • 9. Flower Child

    $ | American

    Fast-casual takes a healthy spin at this cheery spot—think Technicolor peace sign, floral wallpaper in the bathroom, and yoga mat “parking”...Read More

  • 10. Harbor Fish & Chips

    $ | Seafood

    Pick up a basket of fresh-cooked fish-and-chips at this dive and you're in for a treat. The shop has been serving clam chowder, shrimp cocktail...Read More

  • 11. Hello Betty Fish House

    $ | Seafood

    Overlooking the water in Oceanside, this beachside restaurant serves oysters, clam chowder, fish tacos, and several fresh catch options, which...Read More

  • 12. Julian Pie Company

    $ | Café

    The apple pies that made Julian famous come from the Smothers family bakery in a one-story house on Main Street. In pleasant weather you can...Read More

  • 13. Ki's Restaurant

    $$ | Vegetarian

    Veggies with a view could be the subtitle for this venerable Cardiff-by-the-Sea restaurant that grew from a simple juice shack. Ki's is well...Read More

  • 14. Mother's Kitchen

    $ | Vegetarian

    This popular stop for motorcyclists (the road up to the restaurant is the most popular biker route in Southern California) serves huge portions...Read More

  • 15. Pacific Coast Grill

    $$$$ | Seafood

    This casual beachy-style eatery offers sweeping ocean views and seasonal Pacific Coast fare that reflects California's Mexican and Asian influences...Read More

  • 16. Pizza Port

    $ | Pizza

    Local families flock here for great pizza and handcrafted brews. Pick a spot at one of the long picnic-type tables, choose traditional or whole...Read More

  • 17. Prepkitchen Del Mar

    $$ | American

    This snug Del Mar restaurant is like stepping into the home of your most fashionable friend who has an industrial-meets-vintage dining room...Read More

  • 18. Romano's Restaurant

    $$ | Italian

    This is a casual, red-checked-tablecloth kind of place, where you can dine outside in good weather. Huge portions of antipasto, pizza, pasta...Read More

  • 19. The Barrel Room

    $$ | European

    A refined wine bar ambience and a European-inspired menu set the tone for the unpretentious creations of chef Trevor Chappell. Shareable plates...Read More

  • 20. The Fish Market

    $$ | Seafood

    In 1976, a fisherman and captain teamed up to deliver fresh, quality seafood at a decent price. Today, they run six restaurants across California...Read More

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