Terri and Paul's Pick of Restaurants

These are some of our favorites - all of these have been visited often by us and they are great. The categories are in random order and we will try to limit each category to our three favorites... if there are four... it is on purpose.   The restaurants are in random order within the categories as well.  We like out of the way places, great food, excellent service, value... and most of all .. having fun :-)

Fine Dining - Special Event

Vintana  What I would call the Flag Ship of the Cohn Restaurant Group... is simply spectacular.  Located at the top of Lexus Center in Escondido... at 1205 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA 92025 is this stunning contemporary masterpiece... with panoramic views... and what Terri and I currently feel is the finest dining experience in North San Diego County.  The setting... the service... and the food... is guaranteed to put a smile on your face :-)

333 Pacific  Great ambiance... Great Food... Great Service... what's not to like?  Beach Front watering hole for Happy Hour... or Fine Dining with Ocean Sunsets... this is a great choice.  The Cohn Restaurant Group offers many great choices (that's why two top picks are theirs)... and they are all good.... But... In North San Diego County Coastal... this is a good as it gets.  333 Pacific, Oceanside, CA 92054 drinking?... just show up and if dining... call for reservations:  (760) 433-3333

The Marine Room   Wedding Anniversary.. Birthday.. want to really spoil yourself.. This is the place.  This is sophisticated elegance.. with San Diego's best dining view.. on the beach at the "La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club" this has been a family favorite for years.. and as spectacular as the setting is.. the food is the best part!  Ask about "High Tide Events".. and Sunday Brunch is a hoot.  2000 Spindrift Dr., La Jolla CA (858) 459-7222.  (Must have reservations)

Lawry's The Prime Rib  Dedicated to Excellence.. our favorite is in Beverly Hills.  Could a restaurant make it on their "Cream Corn".. this one could.  Do yourself a favor.. book a show at  The Pantages Theatre .. make a reservation at Lawry's... and have the weekend of your life.  Arguably the best Prime Rib in the world... certainly one of the finest dining experiences.  (Must have reservations) .. unless you're at the door at opening :-)  100 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA (310) 652-2827.

Vigilucci's Seafood and Steakhouse... Years ago I gave them a terrible review for the attitude of one employee... on multiple visits... but guess why we kept going back?  The food is wonderful.  The View isn't bad either.... Went back recently... and honestly had one of the best meals we've ever had.  And... maybe they've replaced the Maitre D that ruined a prior visit.  Service and Food was excellent... pricey... and worth it.  3878 Carlsbad Blvd., (Old Highway 101)  Carlsbad, CA 92008.  (760) 434-2580.

Fine Dining - Anytime (Means you don't need a house re-fi) :-)

Humphrey's La Jolla  at the Sheraton Hotel (Used to be the Radisson)... is always good.  Usually a restaurant attached to hotel is overpriced and mediocre... but not here.  Try their "All inclusive Meal for Two"... Outstanding values... and the Macadamia encrusted Halibut is to die for! 3299 Holiday Ct, La Jolla, CA 92037.  (866) 544-0139

Rainbow Oaks Restaurant This wins for off the beaten track... it's at the Intersection of 5th Street and Old Highway 395 at 4815 5th Street, Rainbow, California 92028.  And... it wins in several categories too... The Prime Rib is spectacular... the Fried Chicken is spectacular... and while I placed them in this category... they are my Number One pick for Breakfast.. The Frisbee sized Chicken Fried Steak... with Biscuits and Gravy... Eggs over easy... and crunchy Hash Browns... will necessitate a nap before Lunch.  We love this place!  Only problem is lots of other people do too... so especially on weekends... be prepared to wait. 

The Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen  Absolutely fantastic sounds too good to be true... but it's not.  Love the Menu.. .Love the Service... Love everything about it ... except... it is NOISY!  It's popular... crowded... hard surfaces... and when busy like on a weekend night... almost impossible to carry on a conversation.  But you want great food in downtown Oceanside... this is the spot.  From their Menu: chicken & “dumplings” "jidori airline chicken, chicken confit, polenta fritters, green beans, roasted carrot & turnip, sage brown butter" a $16 treat that you will not forget :-)  Get there early (open from 5:00pm daily) at...  626 Tremont Street, Oceanside, CA 92054.  If a party of six or more call for reservations at 760-453-2940


That Boy Good Well... I'd go for just the Collard Greens... Cold Beer and Music.... but the fact that it's the Best BBQ in Coastal North San Diego County doesn't hurt either.  Very casual... Very fun... and Very Good Food.  The Catfish is great... Chicken and Waffles... must be in New Orleans :-) We keep trying new items... and so far haven't found one we didn't like.  They are on Hill Street...oops... I mean Old Highway 101.... oops... I mean the Coast Highway... at 207 North Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA 92054 no reservations needed... but you can call for take out at 760-433-4BBQ.

Mike's BBQ Escondido  Sports Bar... Watering hole... and a great place for a noisy group that wants to Chow Down...   Doesn't hurt either that the Ribs... are great.   This is not the same Southern BBQ like "That Boy Good"... this is Western BBQ and Mesquite Grilled. 40 Beers on tap... Huge Wide Screen TV's.... and great MEAT BBQ... that's why it's so popular.  Come on by... you might find us there too... at 1356 W. Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029.  Take out... Catering... Casual fun dining... call them at 760-746-4444.

Mexican (Without Beer) ?

Juanita's Taco Shop  This is a taco stand.. not a restaurant.. but it is one of the best :-)  "This is great mexican food - Why doesn't it cost more?" Because it doesn't have to. Get in line - if you spend over $5.00 you better be very hungry. "I think there is a tourist in line -- right there behind the banker - in front of the surfer"  Everybody likes this place. :-)  My personal Favorite is the "Flying Saucer"... and Terri loves the "Chicken Tacos"  Corner of Marcheta and Old Hwy 101, Leucadia .. 290 N. Coast Highway, Encinitas, CA 92024 (760) 753-9625.

Cortez Mexican Food  Next to "Ringer's" in Bonsall... and a really great family operation with Good Mexican Food... and very good prices.  Our Gardener thinks their Carne Asada Burrito is the best.  I like their "Flying Saucer" but order it 1/2 Beef and 1/2 Chicken... it's great! Having dined here now for 17 years... I've never tried anything that wasn't good!   5517 Mission Road, Bonsall, CA 92003  (760) 631-3909

Mexican (With Beer) :-)

Lourdes Mexican Food  Motto... "The Best Chicken Soup in Town"... well now they are in two towns... and it is still true.  Amazing Chicken Soup... ask for it loaded.. Squeeze the Limes into it... and hurt yourself eating.  I like mine with Corn Tortillas.  Escondido... the original... 650 S. Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92025...(760) 746-1141.  The outpost at the Car Wash...  615 W. El Norte Parkway, Escondido CA 92027... (760) 746-1389...  and the new restaurant... 2113 San Elijo Ave., Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007  (760) 230-2610.  This is an absolute must if you are a tourist.

Garcia's Mexican Restaurant  "Not of Scottsdale"  This is a Carlsbad original, not a chain and it is great. Wonderful food and atmosphere in the heart of Olde Carlsbad Village. Close your eyes, point at the menu, and enjoy. 2968 State Street, Carlsbad (760) 729-8565.

Estrella's Family Restaurant & Cantina  This is really authentic... and this is our Absolute Favorite Go To for... home style Mexican food.  Was the center of Bonsall for years... now in Fallbrook... wish they had more tables :-) Truly great food.. try "Ramiro's Carnitas" or Imelda's "Mama's Tamales"... you're in for a treat.  Wonderful service.. good bar.. truly great food.. so of course it's busy!  They should add... the occasional "Chili Colorado" to the regular menu... if it is available.... honestly... to die for! :-)  129 E. Mission Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028.  (760) 728-1200.

Fun and Cheap

Sal and Ceci's Pantry & Pie Shoppe  dependable great food... and lots of it... inexpensively.  Comfort Food... family diner... Pie Shoppe... every time we go in here... we are amazed that they are not packed.  It's great!  Conveniently located at 945 S. Santa Fe Ave., Vista, CA 92083.. (760) 414-9803.  Breakfast is supposed to be their specialty... but we haven't tried it.  We keep going back for Lunch.  You know they are good when you look at the Yelp reviews... they don't even have a web page.  They rely on great value... great food... great service and word of mouth.


The Centre City Cafe  Part of the San Diego Home Cooking Network... they are all good.  Five locations all over the County... they will pop up as a local favorite on Yelp at all five.  Chicken Fired Steak.... Chicken and Dumplings... Live and Onions... just pretend it's 1952-1963 and you are out to dinner with your parents.  You get the idea?  This one Center City is in Escondido at 2680 S. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, CA 92029.  The live link to this one will give all their locations.  I really like the Patio dining at their "Lake Murray Cafe" location.



Marco's Italian Restaurant - Concrete block building with no windows... dark... right out of a Midwest Small Town road trip (built for a hard Winter no doubt) and decorated... well you'll think you are in Northern Italy.  But this is about food... and this food is always great.  Inexpensive... nice wines... and home made dishes that are always good... and always fun.  Just ask the waitress what you should have... she'll always be right. 1825 East Vista Way, Vista CA 92084 (760) 758-1870

Joe's Italian Dinner - This truly is a favorite.  Same location for 25+ years.. and wonderful food.  You will think you are in a little "Midwest" Italian Restaurant.  Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling.. cozy.. not noisy... wonderful service...  & home made... incredibly well prepared excellent food.  I've tried eating my way through the menu.. not disappointed yet :-)  Excellent Wine prices!  See you at 403 West Grand Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025.  (760)489-6835.  It is easy to miss.. small storefront on South Side of Grand Ave. in the first block East of Center City Parkway.


Pelly's Fish market and Cafe "Buy the freshest Seafood in North County and cook it yourself - or just relax and enjoy" The best fish taco's in San Diego County in Paul's opinion. Shrimp tacos, crab cakes, shrimp sandwiches, oh well - you decide. Owners Mike and Mike always anxious to help. Ralph's shopping center Poinsettia and Hwy 5. Bicycle distance to South Carlsbad State Beach if you are camping. 7110 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92009 (760)431-8454

The Fisherman's Restaurant and Bar As strange as it may seem... anytime we are asked about a restaurant with a view... this is the one.. even though it's North of us in San Clemente.  But... it is worth the drive... they do not take reservations.. don't go on Valentines.. the wait was three hours.  Any other time.. great place :-)  Food is good...experience is great... try the family meals.. and it is right on the Pier.  We don't know of a restaurant that says "Southern California" better than this one.  Still makes the list due to food though!  San Clemente Pier, 611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672. (949) 498-6390.


Don's Country Kitchen   Always a great choice for Breakfast! They are only open for breakfast and lunch and both are great. Plan on waiting on weekends. Inside or Outside on the sidewalk tables, the food is spectacular. Home Made and huge portions. In the heart of the Village of Carlsbad. 2885 Roosevelt, Carlsbad (760) 729-2274.  The prior owners that got us starter here... have now opened a new restaurant by the same name in Oceanside.  Same Menu... and I found that out updating this web page.  Haven't tried the new one... but will... and the last time we were in this one in Carlsbad... it was still great.

The Potato Shack Cafe "If you like potato cakes you are going to love this" Any way you can fix potatoes for breakfast or lunch, they have mastered it. Great sidewalk cafe and wonderful food. Downtown old Encinitas, but off the noisy main street. 120 West I Street, Encinitas (760) 436-1282.

Hob Nob Hill - One of San Diego's best choices for Breakfast or Lunch since 1944. This deserves the category of fine dining for quality of food, service, and overall experience... You will swear you are in a East Coast Diner. Just above downtown at 2271 First Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 239-8176.


The Firehouse Broiler  Fallbrook is probably the last place in the world you'd actually drive to... for "Blackened Tuna Salad"... but try it.  The house vinaigrette with feta cheese is to die for.  Their beer batter onion rings (no longer on our diet) are the best.  Across the street from Mac Donald's in downtown Fallbrook on Main.  The kids will love the "Saddle Stools"... and  The Building built in 1947 is a Fallbrook landmark.  1019 S. Main Avenue, (760) 728-8008.

The Red Sails Inn This was one of my Mom's favorites... and it has been great food... and fun...  for years.  Great outside dining .. overlooking the marina.. The last time we were there.. we sat next to a couple that have breakfast there every time they come to San Diego.. and have been for over 30 years.  Try the SOS... if you don't know what that is :-)  ask them about their home made chip beef.... still fun... still good food... but don't order the SOS... after all this time... they changed the recipe... yuk.   2614 Shelter Island Dr., San Diego, Ca (Point Loma)  (619) 223-3030.


Nessy Burger This is the best hamburger you will find in Southern California.  Quite a claim.. let me know if you disagree.  The proof is they are always lined up.. and the place is a portable kitchen in a gas station parking lot at the intersection of Highway 76 and Interstate 15.  Named after the Loch Nes Monster... the owners are Scottish.. it is the least likely success in the food business you can imagine.  The only reason they make it.. is the food is incredible.  No pre shaped patties here.. this is an "old time hamburger" right out of the 1950's.  Be prepared to wait.. there are almost always a half dozen 18 wheeler's stopped across the street in the dirt parking area... this place is a hoot.  If breakfast time try the "Hamburger and egg Sandwich"... it is to die for.  They don't have a phone :-)  For you GPS... use 3235 Old Highway 395, Fallbrook CA 92028

Coffee Shops

Pannikin "The old train depot building in Leucadia" Great food, try the steamed eggs, in fact, should have listed this under breakfast maybe? Anyway the coffee is great, they have a cafe and coffee store as well. Have a leisurely breakfast while the birds walk around your table begging for scraps. Locations in La Jolla and Del Mar as well... but according to  The City Beat This is the best!  510 North Highway 101, Leucadia (760) 436-0033.

Thai Dining

Spices Thai "Good enough to cause the creation of this category" If you haven't tried Thai food that made you a convert - try this. Might be the best Thai food in San Diego.  But... since discovering Thai Food several years ago... have found some others that are spectacular as well. . Just East of Old Del Mar in Carmel Valley, give it a try. Gracious service.. great food! 3810 Valley Centre Drive, San Diego (619) 259-0891 or 16441 Bernardo Center Dr., Rancho Bernardo, CA  (858) 674-4665.

Ocean Thai Cuisine  Clients and Friends found this one for us.. told us it was great.. and it is!  Spotless Cheerful atmosphere... and delicious food priced very well.  Can't beat that :-)  Their soups are wonderful.  Bright... yet warm setting with nice background music.. can't believe we had not found it sooner.. but obviously.. there are many great restaurants to choose from :-)  Shopping Center on NE corner of El Camino Real and Mission Ave.  3846 Mission Ave., Suite A-3, Oceanside CA (760) 967-9901. (this has become one of our all time favorites) We have dined in the Mission Ave. location more than any other restaurant in our lives... and it never lets us  down.  Started with heat level 2.5 :-)  Now like our food at 6-7... it is addictive.

Cafe de Thai You just have to get by the name... it's the French History of the Thai Region I guess... we drove by it for years... even after we started really getting into Thai Food.  This is really a winner.  Son of a lifetime friend told us about it... then his Dad confirmed... and we went with Friends.  Very very good.  Very gracious service... excellent food... and they serve Sushi as well... unusual combination... but it is great.  4196 Oceanside Blvd., Oceanside CA 92056.  (760) 945-5533 (Beware... closed between 3:00 and 5:00pm)


Surf Brother's Teriyaki   (Used to be Tokyo's Teriyaki... then it was Island Brothers)  is the best deal on good food in North County. (not counting a Costco Hot-dog and Coke)  Only three items on the menu, Chicken - Sirloin Steak - or Combination, teriyaki grilled - delicious, served with rice and salad. $5.75 - $6.25. Great meal for almost less than you can buy the ingredients. Camino Village Plaza at 274 N. El Camino Real in Encinitas (Corner of Via Montoro). (760) 633-1717.  Our most convenient now is the Escondido Location

Ogata Japanese Cuisine on old Highway 101 in Encinitas is excellent food, excellent prices, and the most gracious service we have enjoyed anywhere. Their lunch specials are a tremendous value. Enjoy them at 615 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas CA 92024 (760) 753-6451.

Teri Cafe....  We were told about this place by clients... have driven by it for years... never tried it.  OMG you have to try their Banzai Ramen.  They have daily lunch specials that are excellent values and full meals.  Service is really fast and friendly.  We love this place and it has become a lunch regular.  Two locations in Oceanside... 2216 S. El Camino Real #123, Oceanside, CA 92054  and 3809 Plaza Dr. #101, Oceanside CA, 92056


Peking Wok After living in San Francisco... we took years to find a Chinese Restaurant we really liked.  Found it in Vista... then it burned.  Took a couple of years for them to re-open in Bonsall... we really got lucky on that one :-)  Some bumps on the reopening... but it's fine tuned now... and excellent.  Live Piano Music is a nice touch... but go for the food.  5256 South Mission Road in the back of River Village Center, Bonsall, CA 92003  (760) 724-8078

The Great Wok of China .... Absolutely the best Won Ton Soup in North San Diego County!  This is not fine dining like the Peking Wok... this is great for takeout... not much atmosphere.  But the food is great... and fast.  And... the service is excellent.  Don't look too close.. the place needs a good scrubbing... but the food is wonderful.  4635 Frazee Rd, Oceanside, CA 92057   (760) 439-8939 

German... and am I glad to add this category...

Irina's Bar and Grill ... there hasn't been good German food in North County is several years... at least that I had found.  Then somebody told me about this obscure sports bar in Oceanside... and we've been back many times... sent several friends that really know German food... and taken friends and family back for a German Treat.  Everything on the German menu is authentic home cooking German food... and everything we've tried was great.  They have typical sports bar food as well... and a great selection of Ice Cold Beer.  Friendly excellent service... If you're in there and see an old fart in a cowboy hat... say hello... it will be me scarfing up. :-)  Hidden just of Highway 76 at 3375 Mission Ave., Suite J, Oceanside, CA 92058  (760) 433-5086

Click here for a Map and Driving Instructions to all of these Favorites

Tell them you saw them on the Internet.. In fact.. please tell them you saw them here... at Terri and Paul Guess' Restaurant Picks :-)
We've Recently Joined Menuism.com and started doing Reviews... it is a fun site... and an easy way to reward Excellence... and warn us and others of restaurants to avoid.

If you are one this page... you probably like to eat... in that case... be sure to visit Chowhound... join up and make a contribution.  Please feel free to contact us with suggestions as well.  Thanks in advance.. Have Fun... we do!

Another fun one that has a San Diego Chapter is Foodieview.  Check them out as well ... as many people only review on one site.

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More to come as I am building our home page - Please call any time, (760) NEW-HOME (639-4663) or E-Mail for specific types of picks and/or suggestions for additions. Hope you're having fun!  By the way... the list of restaurants we won't go back to.. is a much bigger list... and some of them highly recommended by others :-)