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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Wynola Pizza & Bistro

    $ | Pizza

    Locals and San Diegans come to this quaint and casual indoor-outdoor restaurant for delicious, single-portion pies, such as pesto pizza, Thai...Read More

  • 10. Don Chuy

    $ | Mexican

    Family-run and utterly charming, Don Chuy serves authentic Mexican cuisine to patrons who, before dining here, may have tasted only a pale version...Read More

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