Along the sun-kissed coast of California, Carlsbad is more than just a destination; it’s an experience that proudly proclaims, “It’s All Good.” Life here is a perpetual beachside vacation, a place where locals and tourists coexist in near-perfect harmony, sharing the secret of this coastal gem.
In this culinary exploration, we’ll uncover our favorite dining destinations visited during a recent press trip in Carlsbad, California from seaside seafood shacks to farm-to-table delights, a true food lover’s paradise waiting to be explored. The founders of this charming town surely had a crystal ball, foreseeing the allure it would exude in the years to come.
Carlsbad’s origin story is a tale of wanderlust that began with the partnership of two visionary men, Gerhard Schutte, who purchased nearly 400 acres at $40 per acre from John Frazier, and Samuel Church Smith, who were inspired by the pristine beauty of the California coast.
In the late 19th century, they recognized the untapped potential of the area and saw the opportunity to create a thriving community in this idyllic location. Today, Carlsbad remains a testament to their vision, a place where the surf and the sand blend seamlessly into a tapestry of relaxation, adventure, and gastronomic delight.
Schutte and Smith, along with their partners, purchased the land along the coast, laying the foundation for the town’s development. Their vision was to create a coastal paradise that could rival any other in terms of natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
They named their budding town “Carlsbad” after the famous spa town of Karlsbad in Bohemia (now Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic), known for its therapeutic mineral springs.
One of the most significant industries they established in Carlsbad was centered around artesian well water. They were among the first to harness the area’s natural alkaline artesian water, which was believed to have healing properties.
This water became a valuable asset, drawing visitors seeking its reputed health benefits. Carlsbad’s alkaline water was bottled and shipped far and wide, contributing to the town’s early prosperity.
Schutte and Smith, with their entrepreneurial spirit, also built two charming and similar homes in Carlsbad. One of these homes (Schutte’s), known as the Twin Inns, still stands today as a historical landmark.
The Twin Inns, built in 1887, has been beautifully preserved and serves as a tangible link to Carlsbad’s rich history, a testament to the town’s founders and their enduring legacy.
Today, Carlsbad thrives as a vibrant coastal community that has evolved from its early days as a quaint spa town. The founders’ vision for a picturesque haven on the California coast has come to life, and the town continues to attract visitors and residents alike, drawn by its stunning beaches, cultural heritage, and a thriving economy that extends far beyond the waters of its renowned artesian wells.
Taking a three-hour guided food tour, especially the Carlsbad Food Tour with a guide as wonderful as Kellie, is an invaluable experience when visiting this foodie haven. It’s the ultimate culinary journey that not only introduces you to the best dining gems in town but also provides a delightful snapshot of Carlsbad’s vibrant food scene.
This adventure allows you to savor a diverse range of flavors, all in a short distance of about a mile. While the scenic walk may offer a taste of exercise, it’s no match for the indulgent array of calories you’ll consume along the way.
So, for those with limited time but insatiable appetites, the Carlsbad Food Tour is your ticket to a flavorful exploration you won’t soon forget.
Then, later in the day when your appetite may have returned, get back to town for a great steak at Nick’s on State or finish the night telling stories around The Campfire.
- Carlsbad Food Tour https://www.carlsbadfoodtours.com/tours/taste-of-carlsbad/
The 15 Best Restaurants In Carlsbad CA
2965 State St. // (760) 994-0458
“The Goods” is a bustling and aromatic haven for doughnut enthusiasts, where every delectable delight is crafted in-house. As you step through the door, you’re greeted by the intoxicating scent of freshly fried dough and the symphony of laughter and animated chatter.
The lively atmosphere is palpable, with the heart of the operation visible through a glass window at the back, where skilled hands craft these sweet masterpieces.
The back wall of the seating area proudly proclaims “GLAZE AND GRIND” in bold black letters on a crisp white brick wall canvas, hinting at the magical transformation happening in the kitchen. It’s not just a doughnut shop; it’s a destination for those who appreciate the artistry of a perfectly crafted treat.
One of the joys of visiting “The Goods” with a group is the ability to sample an array of doughnuts. With 5 or 6 friends in tow, you can make it a delightful adventure of flavors, each bite a different experience, without a 6,000-calorie meal. The choices are diverse, including gluten-free options and an awe-inspiring cinnamon roll that’s as big as your hand.
During our visit, we couldn’t resist indulging in the likes of a cinnamon roll, maple bacon donuts, a raspberry-filled delight, a classic glazed donut with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, and a masterpiece featuring a glazed donut adorned with a chocolate shard, more frosting, and a drizzle of honey. The taste explosion is sure to leave your taste buds dancing with joy.
Pricing is straightforward, with each doughnut priced at $4, and the cinnamon roll coming in at a slightly higher cost, but trust me, it’s worth every penny.
As for beverages, “The Goods” has your cravings covered, offering a variety of options from bottled water, orange juice, and milk, to hot chocolate, chai latte, and the intriguing “chagaccino” – a delightful concoction I’d describe as a mix of chai and cappuccino, offering a rich and aromatic experience.
For coffee enthusiasts, the choices are equally impressive, ranging from americano to drip, espresso, latte, mocha, flat white, cappuccino, and cold brew. And don’t worry if you’re dairy-free – they’ve got oat, almond, and soy milk options to cater to your preferences.
“The Goods” takes their beverage game up a notch with a bottomless iced tea offering for just $5. You can choose from both black and hibiscus flavors, and they often feature daily specials.
During our visit, these included lavender, blackberry, and lemonade, adding a delightful twist to your sipping experience.
And if you’re feeling extra indulgent, don’t miss their Almond Joy latte – it’s a sip of pure joy. With all the sugar, I enjoyed fresh water straight from the water tureen.
The cozy space may be narrow, but the outdoor seating area expands the charm, allowing you to savor your treats in the open air.
The front of the shop serves as a multifaceted space, complete with window bar stool seating, a water tureen for the thirsty, and even a little gift area that tempts you with fun tote bags bearing “Doughnuts & Goods Vibe”, coffee mugs, and greeting cards.
Of course, with the mouthwatering choices at “The Goods,” a post-indulgence workout might be on the cards, but every calorie is well worth it.
So, if you find yourself choosing between the restaurants In Carlsbad CA, be sure to swing by and experience the delectable magic of “The Goods.” Your taste buds will thank you.
595 Grand Ave // (760) 994-0553
Cicciotti’s Trattoria Italiana & Seafood is a culinary gem that invites you to explore the delectable world of Italian cuisine while providing a unique glimpse into the heart of its passionate chef, Gaetano Cicciotti.
Born in Naples, Italy, Gaetano’s love for cooking and family traditions began at an early age. He spent countless hours in the kitchen alongside his mother and grandmother, absorbing the secrets of traditional Italian recipes that have been passed down through generations.
As a young man, Gaetano’s enthusiasm for food was so profound that he would occasionally sneak out of high school to prepare feasts for his friends at the family beach house. His deep-seated love for family, food, and the culinary arts is evident in every dish he creates.
Gaetano fondly recalls the excitement of his childhood kitchen, where his mother would conjure up daily suppers with the freshest ingredients, be it produce, meats, fish, or cheese. Weekends, in particular, were filled with memorable family gatherings and hearty meals.
Gaetano’s journey to culinary stardom took an unconventional path. After serving in the Italian Air Force and deciding to forego a career in his family’s pharmaceutical business, he embarked on an adventure that led him to the United States.
What sets his story apart is that he arrived on American soil without speaking a word of English, armed only with his dreams of owning his own nightclub or trattoria.
Recognizing that he needed to learn the ropes from the ground up, Gaetano started as a busboy and gradually worked his way through the intricacies of the restaurant industry, both front of house and back. Along the way, he not only mastered English but also added Spanish to his linguistic repertoire.
Gaetano’s dedication and hard work paid off when, in 2002, he realized his dream and opened Cicciotti’s Trattoria Italiana & Seafood.
The restaurant stands as a testament to his commitment to authentic Italian cuisine, where every dish is prepared with the same love and passion that he inherited from his family’s traditions.
During our visit to Cicciotti’s, only two stops into our food tour, we were already awed by the culinary experience. We were treated to luscious bruschetta, a seemingly “simple” yet perfectly executed penne pasta with red sauce and grated parmesan, and the delight of freshly made limoncello.
The menu held the promise of more house-made treats, leaving us with no doubt that we would return on our next visit to Carlsbad.
In the heart of Cicciotti’s Trattoria Italiana & Seafood, we discovered not only an exceptional dining experience amongst the restaurants In Carlsbad CA but also the inspiring story of a chef whose journey from Naples, Italy, to the bustling culinary scene of California is a testament to the power of passion and determination.
Gaetano Cicciotti’s dedication to his craft shines through in every dish, making it a must-visit for food enthusiasts and a celebration of authentic Italian flavors in Carlsbad. And for home cooks, his cookbook shares many of his secrets and is for sale at the restaurant.
2906 Carlsbad Blvd // (760) 458-0734
At the Carlsbad Strawberry Shack, we found ourselves in a sweet haven of strawberry goodness that transported our taste buds to pure strawberry paradise. This delightful stop offered a tantalizing array of strawberry concoctions that ranged from classic to creatively divine.
From the moment you step up to this charming “stall” along a traditional storefront, you’re greeted by the scent of fresh strawberries and the anticipation of a berry-infused treat. While you order the shortcake for here, strongly consider a box of chocolate covered strawberries to go.
But what makes the strawberries here truly exceptional is their origin. Carlsbad, a coastal gem in California, sits within view of the mighty Pacific Ocean, and its vast strawberry fields are legendary along the Pacific Coast.
These fields, bathed in California’s warm, sunny days and cool, foggy nights, produce the juiciest, sweetest, and most mouthwatering strawberries you can imagine. In fact, California is responsible for nearly 75% of the country’s strawberry production, and it’s this unique environment that allows them to grow the most delicious and beautiful strawberries in the world.
“The Strawberry Shack” is an extension of Carlsbad Gourmet, a Specialty Gourmet Food Company with a passion for strawberries. You might remember their famous strawberry shakes and sundaes served at the Armstrong Garden Center during Flower Fields season.
Now, you can find “The Strawberry Shack” in the heart of the Village, right next to The Witch Creek Winery. Their commitment to using fresh California strawberries shines through in every delectable creation they offer.
From the World-Famous Strawberry Shakes that are as refreshing as a sea breeze to the Strawberry Shortcake that might just be the best you’ve ever tasted, there’s something for every strawberry lover. Chocolate Covered Strawberries, adorned with chocolate imported from Belgium, are an exquisite indulgence.
The Strawberry Lavender Sundae presents a unique twist on a classic, and Homemade Chocolate Covered Strawberry Marshmallows are an absolute treat. Other offerings include Homemade Strawberry Pudding, Strawberry Cannoli’s, Strawberry Pina Colada Dole Soft Serve, and a range of other strawberry delights.
The best part? They’re not content with the status quo. “The Strawberry Shack” is a hub of creativity, continually adding new and exciting strawberry inventions to their menu. It’s a testament to their dedication to the art of strawberry crafting.
Carlsbad Gourmet and “The Strawberry Shack” are not just about serving up delightful treats; they’re excited to be an integral part of the community, sharing their crafty strawberry creations with the world.
So, when you find yourself choosing between the plethora of restaurants In Carlsbad CA, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the sweetest, juiciest, and most irresistible strawberries you’ll ever taste. It’s a berrylicious adventure that’ll make you fall in love with strawberries all over again.
2992 State Street // (442) 500-2003
Froglanders Crepes & Frozen Yogurt was a delightful surprise on our culinary adventure through Carlsbad. At first glance, the combination of crepes and frozen yogurt may seem unconventional, but it’s a match made in foodie heaven.
As we entered the store, a row of yogurt dispensers beckoned with a tantalizing array of fragrant and flavorful concoctions. The choices were abundant, with plenty of tempting toppings to customize your yogurt just the way you like it.
However, it was the crepes that truly stole the show. We savored a crepe that was a perfect blend of savory and refreshing.
It featured prosciutto, cheese, and heirloom tomatoes, with a rich balsamic drizzle that elevated the flavors to new heights. Each bite was a delightful dance of tastes and textures, making it an ideal choice even after a day of hearty eating.
Froglanders Crepes & Frozen Yogurt offers a unique experience that combines the best of both worlds. Whether you’re a local looking for a quick and satisfying bite or a tourist in search of a culinary adventure, this charming spot is a must-visit.
The relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, along with their delectable offerings, ensures that you’ll leave with a satisfied smile and a desire to return for more.
So, if you’re in Carlsbad, don’t miss the chance to indulge in their delectable crepes and explore the world of frozen yogurt delights. It’s a culinary journey that will leave you craving for more.
3088 State St #100 // (760) 330-0542
Napatini Bistro & Wine Bar is a hidden gem in Carlsbad that promises a unique and enchanting experience for wine enthusiasts and those in search of a memorable evening out.
Lynn McLean and her husband had a vision, born out of their own experiences and pet peeves when it came to enjoying a relaxing drink with friends.
Their brainchild, Napatini, with its self-pour wine wall has now become the go-to place for those seeking something extraordinary.
What sets Napatini apart is its exclusive selection of boutique California wines. This isn’t your typical wine bar; it’s a haven for connoisseurs and casual sippers alike. The wine menu boasts award-winning vintages that are carefully curated to delight the discerning palate.
Whether you’re a seasoned wine lover or just dipping your toes into the world of wine, Napatini is one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA that offers something for everyone.
One of the highlights of Napatini is the innovative approach to wine enjoyment. They offer wine flights and varietal comparisons that allow you to explore different flavors and discover new favorites. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are wine tastings that promise an immersive journey into the world of wine.
But what truly impressed me about Napatini is its self-pour wine wall. It’s an experience like no other. You can choose from a small pour, a half glass, or a full glass of any of the wines available along the walls or from their specialty list of the day.
The self-pour concept allows you to take control of your wine tasting adventure, savoring each sip at your own pace.
While the wine offerings are undoubtedly the star of the show, the Napatini experience doesn’t stop there. Lynn and her team understand that pairing food with wine enhances the overall experience.
At Napatini, you’ll find a menu of delicious dishes that perfectly complement your wine selection. It’s not just about serving food; it’s about creating a culinary journey that harmonizes with your wine choices.
Napatini Bistro & Wine Bar keeps the excitement flowing by featuring a new winery each month. During our visit, our group had the pleasure of savoring the offerings of Stag’s Leap Winery, a renowned California winery with a history dating back to 1893.
Situated within the acclaimed Leaps District, this winery is one of the oldest wine estates in the region, producing wines that beautifully express its unique terroir. Stag’s Leap Winery adheres to an enduring winemaking philosophy, which combines traditional techniques with modern capabilities.
They source the finest grapes from their own 80-acre vineyard and quality-focused growers. The result is Stag’s Leap wines that boast a natural balance, exhibiting both intensity and finesse, and revealing the inherent qualities of each grape variety.
The opportunity to enjoy a red or white wine flight featuring Stag’s Leap wines adds an extra layer of delight to your Napatini experience.
When it comes to the culinary offerings at Napatini, you’re in for a treat. Their menu is a tantalizing journey of flavors that perfectly complements their wine selection. Begin your experience with a cheese and charcuterie board, a delightful parmesan & garlic cheese melt, or a meatball marinara skewer.
For those who relish the pairing of olive oil and balsamic, the balsamic & olive oil duo is a savory delight. Explore refreshing options like the tomato-cucumber salad with feta, sprinkled with herbs de Provence and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
The olive tapenade flight trio, served with bread, is a taste sensation not to be missed, and the hummus flight trio, accompanied by raw vegetables and bread, is a delightful medley of flavors.
For a heartier appetite, indulge in a choice of bisques, whether it’s the sumptuous lobster or earthy mushroom, both served with a side of warm, fresh bread.
The prosciutto-wrapped melon offers a sweet and savory balance, while rotisserie chicken skewers, blackened mahi mahi skewers, and boneless beef short rib skewers provide a range of mouthwatering options.
The menu also features delectable flatbreads, including burrata-fig, Italiano, pesto chicken, and prosciutto-gruyere, each bursting with distinct flavors.
And for those who like to end their meal on a sweet note, dessert options are equally inviting. You can choose from Chau chocolates or shortbread cookies, the perfect ending to a memorable dining experience at Napatini.
Whether you’re indulging in wine, savoring delectable dishes, enjoying dessert, or all three, Napatini offers an unforgettable fusion of flavors that will keep you coming back for more. It’s a place where the joy of wine meets the delight of culinary artistry, creating an experience that’s as unique as the wines they serve.
And the experience goes beyond wine and food. Napatini often features live music, adding a delightful layer of entertainment to your visit. A talented guitarist, often accompanied by another young musician, graces the venue with soulful melodies.
It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon or evening, sipping on fine wines, savoring delectable dishes, and enjoying the rhythm of live music.
If you enjoy wine, you’ll want to check out their loyalty club offerings. You may be surprised how much you save.
So, even if you’re not a wine connoisseur (I don’t drink alcohol, and still loved my visit), Napatini Bistro & Wine Bar is one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA where you can unwind, enjoy the ambiance, and discover the joys of a well-crafted wine selection.
It’s a spot where the love for wine, delicious food, and live music come together to create a truly memorable experience.
Whether you’re a local looking for a new hangout or a visitor in search of a unique evening, Napatini awaits with open arms and a glass of something special just for you.
5480 Grand Pacific Drive // (760) 827-2800
Our journey in Carlsbad was a delicious odyssey filled with culinary wonders, and a delightful part of our press trip. We found ourselves in the lap of luxury at 20|Twenty Grill within The Westin Carlsbad, our lodging host, where our taste buds were in for a treat.
Spend Saturday night dinner overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the distance, a backdrop painted with the sun’s mesmerizing colors, cotton ball clouds drifting through the sky, and palm trees adorned with twinkling fairy lights. This was the stage for our epic gastronomic adventure.
The story kicked off with the creation of two unique cocktails, the “Hemingway Daiquiri” and the “Writer’s Block.” The former was a nod to the literary legend, while the latter was a whirlwind of flavors, featuring whiskey, Yuzu Liqueur, and a hint of matcha green tea. These concoctions set the tone for a memorable evening.
The dinner menu was a masterpiece, offering a diverse array of delectable options. From tender diver scallops to a succulent New Zealand rack of lamb, our culinary journey spanned the globe.
Classic dishes like the Cardini Caesar salad and a juicy 12 oz hand cut SRF New York Steak made the experience even more exceptional. And the grand finale was the three-layer chocolate mousse cake, a symphony of flavors in every bite.
Our culinary adventure continued with the tantalizing 12 oz hand cut SRF New York Steak, accompanied by roasted baby bell peppers, sweet potato puree, and a luxurious bone marrow brown butter.
Sides like lemon risotto and home-style mashed potatoes added their own charm, while the Humboldt Fog Mac, featuring black truffle, white cheddar, gruyère, and Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese, elevated the meal to extraordinary heights.
To complement our dishes, we enjoyed a refreshing cucumber mule and the signature Carlsbad cocktail. Favorite daughter shared she liked the mule with alcohol better than the virgin or mocktail option. The cherry on top was the three-layer chocolate mousse cake, a dessert that turned each bite into a delightful experience.
But wait… there’s more. On Sundays, you can start your day with a mouthwatering breakfast menu if you arrive before 10 am.
We indulged in dishes like eggs Benedict, banana bread toast, and comforting cups of tea. It was the perfect encore to our culinary journey.
After 10 am, participate in their classic brunch menu. It was too much for us before our Food Tour so I’m glad our party was up early for the classic breakfast menu that day.
In essence, 20|Twenty Grill at The Westin is one of the restaurants In Carlsbad CA where Southern California classics meet global flair with a touch of modernity.
And on Sundays, live music takes the stage for an enticing brunch menu. So, bring your appetite and a sense of adventure and get ready for a feast that’ll leave you with unforgettable memories of Carlsbad.
5420 Grand Pacific Drive // (760) 827-2514
Named for the 7 miles of pristine Carlsbad beach, journey to the family-friendly and wallet-conscious haven that is 7 Mile Kitchen.
Tucked away at the Sheraton, just a stone’s throw from its upscale neighbor, the Westin, it’s where you’ll find the heartwarming laughter of kids coming down the pool slide and the sizzle of mouthwatering burgers.
We kicked off our 7 Mile adventure straight from the gangplank of our cruise ship, and girl, was that a great choice. The menu here is a carnival of flavors, with burgers and fries that will make your taste buds dance. But what really stole the show were the gelato options, a symphony of seasonal delights.
My personal favorite was the pumpkin gelato, but my companions couldn’t resist the siren call of double chocolate or the whimsical “Graveyard” – a spooky concoction that featured a graveyard of chocolate and Oreo cookie crumbles. It’s not just dessert; it’s entrée to your next Carlsbad adventure.
For lunch, 7 Mile Kitchen offers a delightful lineup of handhelds. There’s the “grinder,” a mouthful of salami, mortadella, pepperoni, lettuce, tomato, provolone, peppers, and olives. If you’re feeling a bit more Italian, the “Pollo Italia” is a breaded chicken delight with arugula, peppers, and buffalo mozzarella.
Of course, there’s the classic bacon cheeseburger because who can resist a juicy burger? Salads are on the menu too, with options like the 7 Mile Caesar salad, an antipasto salad, and a coastal cobb. And don’t miss the tiramisu for dessert, a sweet ending to your meal.
But that’s not all, choose your drinks and gelato at the café. From hot tea to drip coffee, and from café lattes to flavored lattes, it’s a coffee lover’s paradise.
We sipped our drinks while basking in the sun by the pool, where the sounds of children’s laughter blended with the gentle breeze. It was a perfect October afternoon, setting the stage for our next adventure in Carlsbad.
7 Mile Kitchen is more than just one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA; it’s a destination where family fun and affordability reign supreme. So, whether you’re dining with little ones who want to rocket down the pool slide, or you’re simply seeking a satisfying meal without breaking the bank, 7 Mile Kitchen is your ticket to a culinary journey that’s as accessible as it is delicious.
Come for the food, stay for the gelato, and soak in the joy of family-friendly dining.
377 Carlsbad Village Dr // (760) 729-6040
Our food tour in Carlsbad took an exciting turn as we made our way to the vibrant and philanthropic haven known as Señor Grubby’s. From the moment you set foot near the restaurant, the festive signs and urban art that adorn the buildings beckon you to stop and capture the moment.
They’ve even marked the perfect spots for those Instagram-worthy snapshots – because who can resist a backdrop that’s as lively as the food itself?
As you enter, you’ll quickly notice the easygoing, community-oriented vibe of the place. The friendly staff will guide you to the shaded seating area out back as someone takes your order. Señor Grubby’s is known for its welcoming atmosphere, making it a hotspot for locals and visitors alike.
Now, let’s talk about the star of the show – the street tacos. You name it, they’ve got it: tender chicken, savory beef, and a selection of other mouthwatering options and several salsas to match your heat palate.
The best part? Señor Grubby’s doesn’t limit the taco love to a single meal; they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast is a delight, featuring hearty options like tortas, fajita rice bowls, scrambles, omelettes, and classic meat and egg dishes.
Many raved about the breakfast burrito, a flavorful creation that might just find its way onto your lunch and dinner menu too.
But Señor Grubby’s culinary adventures don’t stop there. Their love for Mexican cuisine shines through with dishes like chorizo and eggs, huevos rancheros, carne and eggs, chilaquitos, machaca plate, and the irresistible breakfast torta.
And fear not, they’ve got options for vegans and little foodies too, ensuring everyone can savor the tastes of Mexican life.
So, if you’re in Carlsbad and in the mood for delicious Mexican-inspired fare with a side of community spirit, Señor Grubby’s is one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA to be.
It’s a culinary journey filled with flavor, fun, and a whole lot of heart, and it’s an experience that leaves you craving not just the food, but the vibrant atmosphere and the knowledge that every bite you take supports a restaurant with a philanthropic soul.
Kellie, from Carlsbad Food Tours, shared with us that the owners support “just about every local cause.” We love to support businesses that continue to support the community.
2906 Carlsbad Blvd // (760) 720-7499
Sleeping Tiger Coffees, Roasted Coffee and Wine Bar is a delightful surprise that blends the warmth of a coffee shop with the charm of a wine bar.
Stepping inside, we were greeted by a whimsical atmosphere that left no doubt about the venue’s unique character.
Multi-use wine barrels added to the place adorned with captivating Halloween decorations. Cobwebs dangled from the chandeliers, casting a playful yet eerie vibe.
The real star of the show, however, was the extensive wine selection that beckoned to wine enthusiasts and curious connoisseurs alike.
As if that wasn’t captivating enough, the outside of the building featured a mesmerizing display of sleeping tigers – a sight to behold.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the little cub, the icing on the cake of this visual spectacle. This mural seemed to come alive as we watched from different vantage points.
It was as if all the primary colors had been set free from their paint cans, creating a majestic piece of art that wrapped around the building.
The vibrant colors seemed to dance and play, inviting passersby to stop and admire this beautiful creation.
So, while we may not have indulged in wine there that day, our visit to Sleeping Tiger Coffees was an unexpected and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
It’s a place where the worlds of coffee and wine collide, and where art and ambiance come together to create a memorable and visually stunning escape.
Whether you’re a coffee lover, a wine enthusiast, or an art appreciator, this is one of the restaurants In Carlsbad CA that has something to offer everyone, all wrapped up in a cozy and captivating setting. Don’t forget to snap a photo to capture the magic of Sleeping Tiger Coffees for yourself!
2961 State St // (760) 841-8404
Another gem in Carlsbad that’s sure to surprise and delight you – Barrel Republic. If you think it’s just your average sports bar, think again. Sure, you’ll find the obligatory big screen TVs to catch the game, but the magic of Barrel Republic unfolds as you make your way to the back.
What immediately grabs your attention are the long communal tables and the inviting glow of the big fireplace. It’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere that’s perfect for gathering with friends and family to share good times and great food as you catch up on conversation.
Speaking of food, Barrel Republic knows how to satisfy your taste buds. Even if you’re not a fan of brussels sprouts (like me), their fried brussels sprouts might just change your mind. And if you already enjoy these little green powerhouses, be prepared to fall in love with their delicious version.
But the real crowd-pleaser, whether you’re enjoying a cold, frothy beer on tap, a refreshing soda, or a comforting cup of coffee, is their fried pickles. It’s the kind of snack that brings smiles to everyone’s faces and pairs perfectly with whatever beverage you choose.
Mondays at Barrel Republic are something special for food enthusiasts. You can savor the classic combo of a burger and fries for just $9 all day long. It’s a deal that’s hard to resist and a perfect way to kick off your week with some scrumptious comfort food.
Barrel Republic isn’t just about food; it’s a haven for like-minded craft beer enthusiasts. With an extensive lineup of locally and nationally renowned craft breweries, this Carlsbad location boasts an impressive selection of 52 beer taps and 6 wine taps.
What sets this place apart is its innovative self-pour system. You can skip the lines and bartenders by swiping your personalized wristband over the beer or wine of your choice.
Fill your glass as much and as often as you’d like and pay by the ounce at the end of the night for a seamless and easy transaction. It’s a unique and fun way to explore a wide array of brews and wines.
Now, let’s talk more about the food offerings at Barrel Republic. Whether you’re in the mood for something comforting like fresh tomato and avocado soup or something with a bit more kick like the four chile mac and cheese, you’re in for a treat.
The menu caters to a variety of tastes, with options like the house smoked salmon stack, chicken wings, Mediterranean chopped salad, candied bacon flatbread, and delectable bar tacos.
You can choose from six types of burgers, each served with your choice of fries (house, truffle, or sweet potato) or a side salad. And for those with a sweet tooth, the options are equally enticing, with the choice of s’mores or a classic creme brulee.
So, whether you’re a beer aficionado looking for a unique pouring experience, a foodie in search of delicious bites, or simply someone who enjoys a friendly atmosphere, Barrel Republic is your go-to destination.
It’s a place where good food, great company, and an impressive selection of beverages come together for an unforgettable culinary adventure. Come hungry, thirsty, and ready to create lasting memories in the heart of Carlsbad!
But here’s the best part – our culinary adventure at Barrel Republic was just the beginning. This place has an atmosphere so inviting that you could easily find yourself staying all night.
So whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a foodie, or just someone looking for a cozy spot to relax, Barrel Republic welcomes all with open arms.
It’s a friendly haven where the joy of community, great food, and memorable moments come together, and it’s definitely a must-visit destination in Carlsbad.
So, what are you waiting for? Come on over, grab a seat at one of those communal tables, and get ready to experience the unique charm of Barrel Republic, as it’s one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA. You won’t be disappointed!
2956 Roosevelt St Unit 2, Carlsbad, CA 92008 // (760) 696-3524
Nestled amidst the charming courtyard units around Roosevelt Street, you’ll find a delightful al fresco dining experience where you can savor food from any of the nearby bungalows. I must admit, just taking in the vibrant scene and the tantalizing offerings was a treat in itself.
Our journey began at Shoots Fish & Beer, where the concept is refreshingly simple: fish and beer done to perfection. Sometimes, simplicity is the key to culinary greatness, and Shoots Fish & Beer has mastered it.
Their outdoor setup, complete with chalkboard signs that proudly declare “We’ve got Beer. 4-packs to Go,” caters perfectly to its laid-back demographic.
With cozy four-seat tables shaded by umbrellas, scattered across green space, it’s a picture-perfect spot to unwind. And unwind you will, with the beverage offerings at Shoots Fish & Beer.
Choose from their selection of ten taps, featuring a range of options from Japanese lagers to blondes and IPAs, or opt for canned beverages. They even have organic wines on hand, including Riesling, Electric Ladyland, and Femme Fatale Rose.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, their boozy creations like watermelon agua fresca and Nova Sexy Pineapple will take your taste buds on a journey.
And as you savor your delectable fish, you can experiment with a variety of beer types to find the perfect pairing.
So, if you’re in the mood for a relaxed and satisfying culinary experience, look no further than Shoots Fish & Beer.
It’s the epitome of simple pleasures done right, and it’s the kind of place where you can kick back, enjoy great food, and savor the spirit in one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA.
Come for the fish and stay for the delightful assortment of beverages; it’s an invitation to unwind and enjoy the good life.
2956 Roosevelt St // (760) 795-9169
In the vibrant outdoor setting on Roosevelt Street, Revolution Roaster stands alongside The Plot Express, Shoots, and Stella Jean’s Ice Cream and cookie store, offering a delightful array of coffee and “Not Coffee” options.
This is the place where you can sip, savor, and take in the lively atmosphere that this communal dining space has to offer.
When it comes to beverages, Revolution Roaster has you covered. You can enjoy a selection of teas, iced tea, chai lattes, matcha lattes, hot chocolate, orange juice, and even kombucha.
If you’re a coffee enthusiast, their offerings will delight your taste buds. From classic espresso and milk to creative coffee concoctions, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to try the Alchemist or experience the unique Cold Brew Float or Affogatto.
But Revolution Roaster doesn’t stop at beverages; they also offer a delectable food menu made entirely from scratch. Even their syrups and almond milk are crafted from scratch at their Oceanside location.
Toast lovers are in for a treat, with options like Avo & tomato, Avo & pickled onion, tomato & burrata, smoked salmon toast, almond butter & banana, cream cheese & jam, and seasonal toast.
And for those seeking gluten-free options, they have you covered with “not toast” choices like chia pudding and acai bowls.
All their toast selections are served on Prager Brothers organic country blend, adding a wholesome and hearty touch to your dining experience. Revolution Roaster is the perfect place to start your day with a comforting cup of coffee or to relax with friends while indulging in delicious toast creations.
It’s a testament to the culinary creativity and commitment to quality that makes Carlsbad’s dining scene a true delight for locals and visitors alike.
So, if you find yourself on Roosevelt Street, make sure to take a break at Revolution Roaster, where every sip and bite is a celebration of the art of good food and great company. It’s one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA.
Stella Jean’s Ice Cream shop in Carlsbad in the same Roosevelt open air courtyard is a delightful fusion of cultures and flavors that promises a truly unique ice cream experience.
Founded by Steven Torres and Gan Suebsarakham, this charming little ice cream parlor is a testament to their commitment to creativity and inclusivity.
They’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that there are options for everyone, including those seeking vegan and gluten-friendly treats.
One of the standout flavors that caught our attention during our visit was the Mango Sticky Rice ice cream. It’s a flavor du jour that takes your taste buds on a journey to Southeast Asia.
This sweet and aromatic treat is infused with the essence of pandan, the vanilla leaf of the region, providing a delightful twist to the classic vanilla flavor.
What truly sets Stella Jean’s apart is their dedication to quality. When it comes to crafting their ice creams, they leave no stone unturned.
The founders have poured their hearts into extensive research and development, conducting rigorous taste tests to ensure that every scoop that leaves their shop is nothing short of perfection. The result is a lineup of ice creams that burst with flavor and have a texture that’s pure indulgence.
It’s not just about the flavors; it’s also about the ingredients. Stella Jean’s sources its dairy locally, from Chino, ensuring that it’s not only hormone-free but also boasts a rich 16% butterfat content. This commitment to quality is evident in every bite you take.
So, whether you’re a local looking for a unique dessert experience or a tourist in search of a taste of something special, Stella Jean’s Ice Cream shop is a must-visit.
It’s a place where the world’s flavors come together to create an ice cream experience that’s as diverse as it is delicious.
It’s one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA, and once you’ve had a taste, you’ll be eager to explore the full spectrum of flavors they have to offer.
2956 Roosevelt St #3 // (760) 707-7785
In the heart of Roosevelt Street’s open-air courtyard, a laid-back and easy-breezy atmosphere invites you to unwind and savor the delicious offerings of Plot Express. As you take a seat under the shade of vibrant umbrellas that cover metal tables, most accommodating four, you’ll immediately feel the relaxed charm of this culinary gem.
Plot Express is more than just a place to grab a bite; it’s a culinary venture with a mission. Their menu is a testament to their commitment to plant-based dining, where they focus on the creative use of fresh, boundary-pushing ingredients.
What sets them apart is their dedication to sourcing some of these ingredients from the very land behind their flagship restaurant, truly embodying the farm-to-table philosophy.
But the Plot team’s ambitions go beyond sustainability; they aspire to be a regenerative business. Their vision involves not only minimizing their environmental impact but actively participating in the restoration of green spaces in the surrounding community.
By sequestering carbon in healthy soil, supporting farmers and purveyors with similar principles, and educating communities about the benefits of localizing our food system, Plot Express is pioneering a movement.
The menu at Plot Express offers an array of delightful options. You can indulge in handhelds like the gyro wrap, a chicken caprese sando, or the superior crunchwrap, a creative blend of wild rice and lentil chorizo, nacho cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, a crunchy tostado shell, avocado, and sour cream all wrapped up in a flour tortilla.
For those craving salads, there are choices like the chopped, spring roll, or classic caesar.
If you’re more in the mood for bowls, the options are just as enticing. You can savor the harissa chicken shawarma, dive into a taco salad bowl, or experience the seasonal golden harvest.
And don’t forget the delectable sides, including Plot chicken bites, plotato salad with tarragon creme, and the irresistible cheesy truffle fries.
So, if you’re in the mood for a fresh and inventive culinary journey that aligns with eco-conscious values, this Carlsbad treasure is the place to be.
Enjoy the easy vibes, the mouthwatering plant-based fare, and the spirit of a community-focused dining experience that goes above and beyond.
Come and savor the vision that Plot Express is cooking up in California and beyond. It’s a taste of the future, and it’s a delight to experience.
What better way to finish a trip for lasting memories and time to share than at the Campfire?
2725 State St // (760) 637-5121
The Campfire Restaurant, with its Bib Gourmand Honor Designation, is nothing short of an experience to remember, a culinary journey that encapsulates the very essence of warm hospitality, fine dining, and the joy of gathering around a campfire. No wonder it’s one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA.
With so much to savor and share with its eclectic, outdoorsy decorations, and its DIY s’mores, served with a small pile of red-hot coals for toasting fluffy house-made marshmallows, let’s dive into the many facets that make this establishment a “must-do” in Carlsbad.
From the moment you step inside, you’re enveloped in an inviting, darkly lit atmosphere that sets the stage for an exceptional dining experience.
The extensive bar beckons with an array of libations, setting the tone for a memorable evening. Or sit outside and have an even more down to earth experience in the great outdoors.
But it’s not just the ambiance that sets Campfire apart. The service reflects their commitment to making your visit truly special. The attentive and friendly staff are there to guide you through the menu and ensure your evening is nothing short of perfect.
Now, the real star of the show may be the cozy campfire that’s provided as the pièce de resistance with dessert. It’s a unique touch that adds to the charm and intimacy of the dining experience, creating a sense of togetherness and camaraderie.
But before that? The food! Lots and lots of food with twists on your camp favorites from an inventive chef who enjoys surprising guests with special samplings.
The menu at Campfire is a culinary adventure in itself, designed to celebrate the spirit of gathering around the fire with good food and drink.
With a variety of offerings, there’s something for every palate. The “Trailhead” features delightful choices like olives, farmer’s market vegetables, oysters, and porridge, just to name a few. The “Kindling” section offers creative options such as charred carrots, preserved currents, and honeycomb.
For those looking to savor the main course, the “Under the Fire” selection includes delectable dishes like market fish, octopus, fire-roasted chicken, whole grilled Maine lobster, and smoked brisket.
And the “Trail’s End” features mouthwatering options like ribeye, along with the chef’s special creations that are not to be missed.
I could eat several of the farmer’s market vegetables portion as well as the fish and charred carrots and still have room for the s’mores… well, one, anyway.
And, of course, no meal is complete without a sweet ending. Campfire offers delightful desserts like s’mores, vasco cheesecake, and soft-serve vanilla, allowing you to conclude your culinary journey on a sweet note.
It’s worth noting that Campfire includes a 4% service charge on all guest checks, which goes towards ensuring competitive compensation and benefits for their dedicated team. This charge can be removed if you wish, but your support is greatly appreciated.
With an extensive wine menu that features an array of delightful options, including a Gail Cabernet Sauvignon and a Marshall Davis Estate Pinot Noir, Campfire takes wine lovers on a journey of its own.
Their play on words doesn’t stop at the menu; it extends to their three pages of wine lists, offering a variety of choices to pair perfectly with your meal.
Campfire is not “just” a restaurant; it’s a place to bring new friends and old pals for unforgettable gatherings and conversations and it’s one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA.
The “must-try” items on the menu are the broccoli, the campfire, and the farmer’s market vegetables, but don’t be surprised if the chef has a special offering that’s equally enticing. During our visit, we were treated to an amazing-looking fig dish that was almost too beautiful to eat.
In a nutshell, Campfire is one of the best restaurants In Carlsbad CA, where every detail, from the atmosphere to the menu, is carefully crafted to offer a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
So, if you’re looking for a place to create lasting memories, celebrate good times, and savor exceptional cuisine, Campfire is the destination that brings it all together.
It’s a culinary adventure, a sensory delight, and a warm gathering place that’s not to be missed. So go ahead, make your reservation, and get ready to experience the magic of Campfire in Carlsbad.
Please note: Foodies will recognize a gap in this article because Nick’s on State, just across the street from Campfire, isn’t included for their great steaks. It’s only because I haven’t eaten there yet – I hope to return soon to share more favorites with you.
Visiting other destinations in California? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 11 Must-Try Tustin Restaurants
- 8 Best Fort Bragg, CA Restaurants
- The 7 Best Oceanside, CA Restaurants
- The 21 Best Restaurants in Costa Mesa
- 7 Must-Try Cambria, CA Restaurants
- 11 Must-Try Vallejo Restaurants
- 15 Must-Try Sanibel Island Restaurants
- 9 Must-Try Pier 39 Restaurant
- 7 Must-Try Ventura Restaurants
Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially on birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She divides her time between Ireland and the U.S. You can find her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.