Carlsbad has several attractions to enjoy, whether you want to explore a local park with family members, visit museums or attend concerts with friends, or check out the local restaurant scene. Whether you’re craving authentic Mexican food, enjoy comfort food, prefer Italian fare, or want to visit an eatery with one-of-a-kind entrees, here are fourteen of the best Carlsbad restaurants to visit during your trip.
2725 State Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008
With a hip and fun environment, good service, and delicious food, you’re in for a treat when you dine at Campfire. This spot was created around the spirit of a campfire, meaning sitting around drinking and eating and enjoying some great company. Start off with one of their cocktails like the “almost home” with tequila, grilled green apple, bay laurel, honey and meyer lemon. For appetizers, go for the wagyu skewers or the oysters. For dinner, they have veggie and meat options to keep any diner happy. And last but not least, it’s a no-brainer that you have to get s’mores for dessert, you are at Campfire after all!
430 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
If a friendly, casual environment is your vibe, this spot is gonna be right up your alley. Super cute indoor/outdoor concept, just walk right up, order and pay and then grab a seat and hang for a while. Stop in for coffee, cocktails or some bites like their breakfast sandwiches, the crack burger, wings, breakfast burritos and more tasty options. This is a great spot for happy hour after work or hanging out on a Saturday afternoon with some of your buddies. You’re going to love everything Crackheads has to offer!
594 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Craving something cold and refreshing after a day in the sun? Beach City Smoothies will fix you right up. Order anything from bowls, smoothies, juices and more. This place has fantastic acai bowls and you definitely should try the classic Beach City Bowl. With organic acai sorbet topped with pumpkin flax granola, bananas, mango, strawberries, and blackberries in it, it’s the definition of refreshing. Their menu is fairly priced and everything tastes so fresh! Aside from all the healthy fruit juices, they also have some super tasty pretzels like the spinach and feta pretzel, if you need something with a little more substance.
2820 Roosevelt Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008
This is about to be your new go-to spot for delicious Chinese food. Whether you’re eating in or picking up an order for takeout, you are sure to enjoy every meal here. Start your meal off with some of their comforting wonton soup or an order of pot stickers. They have plenty of lunch combos to choose from and even more dinner options. Enjoy a beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or veggie plate with some rice or noodles. From the service to the fresh, hot, homemade meals they’re serving up you are going to love this Chinese spot.
2906 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008
An easy walk from the beach, Strawberry Shack is the perfect spot to check out for all things dessert, and of course all things strawberry. There’s not much that compares to enjoying a fresh strawberry shake after a day spent in the heat. But it doesn’t stop there. They have strawberry cannolis, custard, fudge, dole whip, and of course strawberry shortcake and chocolate covered strawberries. This cute little shop is serving up all the strawberry desserts you could dream of, this is definitely a must try if you’re in Carlsbad.
1901 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad, CA 92009
Casa de Bandini is home to some of the best Mexican food in Carlsbad, especially if you’re in the mood for a healthy serving of enchiladas filled chicken and cheese. The restaurant is also known for its delicious ceviche topped with avocado and black olives, and the award-winning San German with creamy shrimp stffed in a pineapple is popular as well. The fish tacos served with black beans and yellow rice are a favorite with Carlsbad diners as well, and the “wet” bean and cheese burrito drenched in savory red sauce will make this Mexican eatery one of your favorites.
3003 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92107
Nore offers fresh Mexican food and a modern atmosphere that makes it the perfect spot for a dinner with friends or a casual date night. The restaurant serves a variety of delicious appetizers like jalapeno poppers stuffed with cream cheese, or the La Pachanga, a platter made for sharing that includes flautas, quesadillas, and mini tacos. The Carne Asada burrito is one of the best in the city, and is served with yellow rice, refried beans, and fresh salsa. You’ll also love the huevos rancheros with green chiles whether you’re dining for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
8. Pizza Port
571 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Pizza Port is one of the best Carlsbad restaurants when you’re in the mood for casual Italian food. Start your meal with flavorful garlic knots with marinara sauce for dipping or enjoy a delicious Port Salad with filled with corn, okra, fresh greens, and blue cheese crumbles. The giant pretzel dusted with corn meal and served with a side of mustard is pretty impressive as well. The eatery offers tasty pizzas like the classic pepperoni topped with Italian herbs and Pizza Roma with black olives and bell peppers. You can also opt for the seafood pizza topped with fresh cheese and flavored with herbaceous green pesto.
5625 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
King’s Fish House is the place to go when you’re looking for delicious seafood in Carlsbad. The oyster platter featuring savory and spicy flavors is great for sharing, and the New England clam chowder is some of the best in town. You’ll also love the fried calamari if you want a tasty appetizer that will make you look forward to the main course. The eatery also offers a variety of sushi, such as the Rainbow Roll made with all types of succulent seafood, and the Albacore tataki topped with fresh scallions. Standout dishes include the macadamia-crusted halibut with steamed carrots and a baked potato.
10. 264 Fresco
264 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Whether you’re looking for seafood, pasta dishes, or delicious beef and chicken dishes, you’ll find what you’re looking for at 264 Fresco. The fettuccine Alfredo is especially delicious, and you can enjoy this tasty dish vegetarian-style or with sautéed chicken. If you’re a fan of seafood, try the blackened seafood with risotto, corn, fresh tomatoes, and white wine sauce. The Pollo Tres Colores is one of the most impressive dishes on the menu and includes peppers, sausage, onion, and white wine. 264 Fresco also offers a pasta of the day, so you can choose from options like raviolie or farfalle any time you visit the eatery.
11. Daily News Cafe
3001 Carlsbad Blvd, Suite A, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Daily News Cafe offers tasty meals that you can enjoy any time of day. If you’re in the mood for breakfast, try the Swiss Alps with mushrooms and Swiss cheese or the Vegetarian omelet with zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, and a combination of jack and cheddar cheese. Daily News Cafe also offers several salads that are filling enough to serve as an entree like the Rooster Cogburn with chicken, avocado and walnuts, or the Chef’s Out to Lunch with chicken, ham, bacon, eggs, and olives. The diner is also home to some of the most delicious chicken sandwiches in the city, including the Chicken Santa Fe with green chiles and the Bonsai Chicken with pineapple and teriyaki sauce.
5801 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Karl Strauss Brewing Company offers tasty pub-style food with an updated twist. The Poblano Chile Sole is the perfect dish to satisfy your seafood cravings. Or you can try the Piggy Bank macaroni and cheese if you’re looking for classic comfort food. If you’re in the mood for something light, try the Bavarian pretzel or the New Squids on the Block if you want to share a seafood appetizer with friends. The eatery is also known for its beeramisu, which is tiramisu flavored with beer.
13. Miguel’s Cocina
5980 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Miguel’s Cocina is the perfect place to enjoy tasty Mexican food with friends. The surf and turf burrito is one of the most popular items, and it’s served with a side of yellow rice, sour cream, and guacamole. If you love enchiladas, the Enchiladas Suiza with green chile sauce and melted Swiss cheese. The chile rellenos with refried beans is a wonderful choice as well, and you’ll love the grilled shrimp tacos if you’re a fan of seafood. You can also visit the eatery for brunch and enjoy dishes like steak and eggs, coconut French toast, or the breakfast skillet with chorizo and Carne Asada.
14. Harbor Fish Cafe
3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Harbor Fish Cafe is the perfect place to get a fast food-style seafood meal that is full of flavor. The fried shrimp platter with a side salad is a tasty lunch option, and you’ll love the fish taco with spicy salsa and fresh lime. Try the fish and chips plate served with ketchup and tartar sauce, and the Ahi tuna served with fries and grilled toast is especially flavorful as well. Harbor Fish Cafe is a great place to take your family, too; kids’ meal options include a corn dog, fish, or shrimp served with fries or a serving of mac and cheese.
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Editors Note: This article was originally published on April 24, 2021 and last updated on July 14, 2023. Please refer to restaurant websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information.