Where To Eat In Carlsbad, From Coffee To Fine Dining

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Escaping to Carlsbad for a weekend or week-long escape is a fantastic idea. You are close to beaches, surfing, amazing resorts and a nice selection of restaurants that answer the where to eat in Carlsbad query. From a cup of coffee to take on your morning beach stroll to an Italian restaurant that is steps away from the same beach you have some choices in Carlsbad. There are casual eateries for your days exploring the shops, or you can just enjoy room service at your four-star resort. The choices are there for you to make, stay in or go out. You’re on vacation so do whatever you feel like, which is exactly what I did.

Caprese and Tomato salad from Vigilucci's Carlsbad

Vigilucci’s3878 Carlsbad Blvd If you are feeling like Italian or just want to enjoy the best sunset in Carlsbad while you eat then you are dining at Vigilucci’s Seafood & Steakhouse. It is one of only two restaurants in all of Carlsbad that is located on Carlsbad Blvd across from the beach. You have an unobstructed view of the ocean while you sip on Italian wines and nosh on fresh Insalata alla Caprese with Proscuitto. I had my first and best meal in Carlsbad here at Vigilucci’s. I started in the lounge for Happy Hour with a glass of wine and some Meatballs and then moved out to the patio for the special of the day, Smoked Duck with Penne Pasta. My photos are a bit dim due to the lighting, but trust me when I tell you how fresh all the food is. It’s magnifico!

Vigillucc's on Carlsbad Blvd

Meatballs at Vigilucci's Happy Hour

Heated patio at Vigilucci's

Smoked Duck Penne Pasta at Vigilucci's

Vigilucci’s Market2943 State Street I discovered why the food at Vigilucci’s is so fresh, they have a market store on State Street that brings in fresh meats, cheeses, and specialty items every week from Italy. Drop in here for a light lunch or pack up some goodies for a romantic night in your hotel room, either way, this place is a must visit.

Vigilucci's Market

Inside Vigilucci's Market

Fresh meats & cheeses imported from Italy

Vinaka Cafe 300 Carlsbad Village Drive Located on the second floor of the Village Faire shopping complex you will find Vinaka Cafe. This coffee shop is a hubbub of activity, you can get everything from coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and ice cream here. This is where I came for my daily Americano fix. A good cup of java to start the day right sets you on a path for awesome and that is exactly what I got. Awesome coffee and friendly service with a smile.

Vinaka Cafe at Village Faire Carlsbad

Inside Vinaka Cafe

Coffee from Vinaka Cafe to go

Cafe Panini505 Oak Ave Another fun and tasty casual place to grab a bite or drink is Cafe Panini on Oak Ave. What I loved about this place is the huge outdoor patio area. They serve beer and wine and Friday through Sunday they offer live music performances. I checked out their lunch scene with a friend and enjoyed a very tasty Rueben sandwich with a non-alcoholic beer. The non-alcoholic part was my mistake, but the sandwich was great. Even though it was a bit grey and overcast sitting on the patio in mid-January enjoying my lunch was still pretty special. Cafe Panini is just a short block or so from the boutique shops on State Street so walk a few extra steps and try it out for lunch or dinner.

Cafe Panini in Carlsbad

Great patio seating at Cafe Panini

Rueben and a non alcoholic beer at Cafe Panini

Paon Restaurant & Wine Bar – 2975 Roosevelt Street Any restaurant that has “wine bar” in its name catches my eye immediately. Styled as a serving French cuisine with California influences Paon is where you come when you want to switch your flip flops for dress shoes. I started my night off with a fantastic glass of Syrah from Stolpman Vineyard, San Ynez Valley. I think I drove by this vineyard when I was in Santa Barbara. For my dinner, I started with the Veal Sweet Breads & finished off with a Duo of Lamb, Shank and Osso Bocco. Perhaps a little meat heavy, but it’s what I want, and they were both cooked perfectly. The Veal was fantastic. If you just want to pop in for a glass of wine, they have a separate section for their wine bar with a lovely tasting menu. Perfect if you just want a light dinner to accompany your wine.

Outdoor patio at Paon Restaurant Carlsbad

A glass of wine for dinner

Veal Sweetbreads appetizer at Paon Restaurant

Duo of Lamb at Paon Restaurant

Twenty 20 Grill  – 5480 Grand Pacific Drive Twenty 20 Grill may be attached to the Sheraton Carlsbad, but it is worth checking it out even if you aren’t staying at the resort. I stayed in one night as I had some work to do and ordered room service. A delicious Chicken Clubhouse I should have taken a picture of, but I was so hungry I had eaten it before I knew what I was doing. As for breakfast, I ate here every day and loved it. Good portions, eggs cooked perfectly and the choice fo a Sunday buffet if you are into those. I stuck to my favourites, the Corned Beef Hash and Scrambled Eggs with Bacon. Yummy.

Twenty 20 Grill at the Sheraton Carlsbad

Corned Beef Hash from Twenty 20 Sheraton Carlsbad

Scrambled Eggs with Bacon at Twenty 20 Grill

There you have it. From coffee to fine dining you are well set for your first few days vacationing in Carlsbad. Where to eat in Carlsbad won’t be such a daunting task now, but I’m sure I’ve missed a few places. After all, I was only here for a couple of days. Where do you think I should visit on my next adventures in Carlsbad? Don’t be shy, sing the praises of your favourite places to eat.

Late night treats from the Sheraton Carlsbad

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Disclosure: General

Some of my meals covered in this post where hosted, however, my views and opinions are 100% my own. This post was not seen or reviewed prior to posting

About Author

Marc Smith is a single, 45-year-old, gay urbanite, living in high-rise heaven in Vancouver’s chic Yaletown neighbourhood. After a ten-year career as one of Vancouver’s pre-eminent event planners, he decided it was time for a change and posted on his Facebook page “I am ready for a change. What shall I do with my life?” 30 Day Adventures was born from that status update.

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