18 Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA [2023 Updated]

Carlsbad, California, is a city situated along the Pacific Coast and considered a part of the greater San Diego metro area.

Carlsbad, colloquially known as the Village by the Sea, has a reputation for amazingly scenic beaches that offer fun attractions and a delicious assortment of great dining establishments.

The options include eateries that specialize in fresh seafood, prime rib steaks, or cuisines from around the globe.


$$ | (760) 637-5121 | WEBSITE

Campfire Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA

Campfire has been offering New American cuisine since 2016 that celebrates the spirit of sharing at a campfire.

The beautifully decorated and inviting setting provides indoor and outdoor seating and some of the area’s most creative cocktails. For starters, give the blackened avocado served with plantains and whey country bread.

Grilled specialties include octopus, brisket, chicken, fresh fish, and a tomahawk steak. The best way to top off an excellent Campfire meal is to order everyone’s favorite campfire dessert – s’mores.


Viglucci’s Seafood and Steakhouse

$$$$ | (760) 434-2580 | WEBSITE


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Vigilucci’s Seafood & Steakhouse offers breathtaking scenic views of the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean. Vigilucci’s, serving the Carlsbad community for two decades, is an award-winning steak house with a casually elegant vibe.

The restaurant offers a bar, wine, kids, happy hour, lunch, and dinner menus. With mouthwatering fish appetizers, it is a tough choice – from oysters to prawns, scallops or raw filet mignon, etc.

Unique pasta dishes include scallops and mushrooms with homemade wide ribbon pasta. Cioppino lovers, check out Vigilucci’s version, which even includes options for pasta.


Bluewater Grill Carlsbad

$$ | (760) 730-3474 | WEBSITE


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Bluewater Grill Carlsbad offers some of the most delicious dishes, with menus that change to highlight seasonal highlights. Bluewater Grill even has its own variety of beer – blonde, amber ale, or pale ale.

Try to catch Bluewater Grill’s dishes honoring Cajun and creole flavors – New Orleans Bouillabaisse or Gumbo.

Bluewater Grill favorites include the panko calamari steak, prawn linguine, pasta with shrimp & sea scallops, or the surf and turf, among others. Lunch specials include crab BLT with avocado or fish tacos.


Paon Restaurant

$$$$ | (760) 729-7377 | WEBSITE

Paon Restaurant Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA

The Paon Restaurant & Bar is a Zagat-rated Travelers’ Choice award-winning eatery that specializes in scrumptious French cuisine inspired by California. Paon offers an art deco, sophisticated vibe that matches its elegant high-end cuisine.

Paon offers a valentine’s, dinner, lunch, and cocktail menu to suit every palette. Escargot is served traditionally with herb garlic butter, or try the Black Pearl Paddle Fish Caviar served with crème Fraiche.

The pan-roasted king salmon, roasted New Zealand venison, braised short rib, or pan-seared Maine diver scallops are among the best around.

It is a tough choice between the brioche bread pudding and the hazelnut cannoli, so you may want to share both with the table.


Ruby’s Diner

$$ | (760) 931-7829 | WEBSITE


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Ruby’s Diner was established in Newport Beach in the early 1980s and now has multiple locations across many states.

Ruby’s offers a friendly atmosphere and an all-American menu from salads to burgers, sandwiches, and deluxe malts and milkshakes.

Ruby’s cinnamon rolls French toast combo, or its corned beef hash is some of the best breakfast items in Carlsbad. Salad options are plentiful from a chicken Caesar, apple, pecan, and blue cheese or Cobb salad, among others.


Gregorio’s Restaurant

$$ | (760) 720-1132 | WEBSITE


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From its North San Diego County Location, Gregorio’s Italian Kitchen, which was formerly called Spirito’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, has been serving the San Diego County area for nearly three decades.

Gregorio’s offers a variety of menus – the house, happy hour, children’s, dessert, buffet, or banquet menus. Grab some of Gregorio’s house-made potato chips, or fried Tiger Shrimp served with a red sauce.

There are some truly remarkable pizza offerings, from traditional to gorgonzola and fresh tomato to the eggplant parmigiana pizza.

Scallop lovers, check out the linguini and scallops or a creamy mushroom risotto highlighted by grilled sea scallops.


2051 Cucina Italian

$$ | (760) 814-2120 | WEBSITE


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2051 Cucina is family-owned Italian food restaurant with dishes from the northern Italian province of Modena. 2051 Cucina offers indoor and outdoor seating and reception areas that can serve upwards of 375 people.

2051 offers an impressive wine selection and dinner and lunch mouthwatering classics. Paninis are available with sausage and onion, catch of the day, or prosciutto di parma and burrata cheese, among others.

2051 Cucina Italian also offers a variety of pizzas and trays to go that serves six.


Clara Restaurant and Bar

$$ | (760)  994-0699 | WEBSITE


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Clara Restaurant is a Carlsbad dining oasis. Located in the heart of town, Clara offers a variety of unforgettable signature cocktails like the Jungle Bull.

Clara is open for lunch and dinner and a great place to meet up with friends for the Salt and Pepper Chicken, a signature flatbread, or Cauliflower Tacos.

There is something for everyone at Clara’s, from delicious wagyu beef burgers to a sear ahi salad delivered in a tasty mustard vinaigrette and potatoes.

Dessert offerings are simple and elegant – New York Cheesecake, Bread Pudding, or chocolate lava cake – both served with Vanilla Ice Cream.


Le Papgayo Carlsbad

$$$ | (442) 333-9090 | WEBSITE


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Le Papagayo, which is decorated in a casually elegant art gallery vibe, is open every day and offers live music each of those evenings. The menus offer a unique selection of Mediterranean Cuisine with New American flair.

The tapas selection is plentiful, from shrimp ceviche, baked brie, or smoked trout dip. Dinner offerings include lump crab cakes, prime rib dip, braised short rib, and the house special prime rib.

A great gluten-free option is the king salmon or the Barcelona traditional paella, to name a few.


Las Olas Mexican Restaurant

$$ | (760) 434-5850 | WEBSITE

Las Olas Mexican Restaurant Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA

Las Olas has been offering fresh Mexican food by the beach for the past four decades. With dine-in or take-out options, Los Olas has been serving great food to hungry beach goers.

Las Olas offers homemade Mexican cuisine from scratch each day. The margarita offerings include the signature margarita or the Cadillac or chile n’ pina version.

They offer a build-your-own plate from an assortment of tacos, taquitos, and flautas, to name a few. Burrito, Quesadilla, tostada, and enchilada lovers can choose from carnitas, chile Verde, chile Relleno, chick, shrimp, and fish, among others.


Jeune et Jolie

$$$$ | (760) 637-5266 | WEBSITE

Jeune et Jolie Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA

Jeune et Jolie is a French restaurant only a minute or so from the Pacific coastline. The French-inspired cuisine is available in the indoor dining area or the under the stars outdoors.

For amazing seafood, try Jeune et Jolie’s sea bass served with Nardelli peppers and squid. Other options include Saint Jacques scallops, served with clams and spinach or veal sweetbreads, or A5 ribeye with bordelaise.

Desserts options include Meyer lemon, or kiwi yogurt served with cashew and cucumber, among others.


The Naked Cafe

$$ | (760) 720-7866 | WEBSITE


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Established in 2007, the Naked Cafe is among the leading restaurants in Carlsbad that specializes in delicious, healthful options.

The Naked Cafe offers the Green and Red Pagoda, a fantastic breakfast highlighted by vegan sausages, eggs, and toast slathered in artichoke spread.

The Naked Café’s Yin & Yang Meditation Bowl offers spice lovers a jalapeno kick of potatoes, black beans, salsa, and jack cheese, on a tortilla.

The banana blackberry or peanut butter banana smoothie options are simply divine. The pancakes are served in a variety of delicious ways, with salads and soups to please everyone.


Don’s Country Kitchen

$ | (760) 729-2274 | WEBSITE

Don’s Country Kitchen Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA

Established back in the 1980s, Don’s Country Kitchen is a family-owned and run business popular with the locals for four decades.

From its downtown location, Don’s offers homemade biscuits and gravy or homemade Hollandaise Sauce drenching their famous Eggs Benedict.

Homey breakfast choices and lunch options are served all day so check out some of the Don’s Marisa Scramble, stuffed hash browns, buttermilk pancakes, and waffles.

Lunch specials include hearty soups or deluxe sandwiches and hamburgers. There is even a senior menu for breakfast and lunch dishes.


King’s Fish House

$$ | (760) 431-3474 | WEBSITE


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King’s Fish House, located across from the Flower Fields, is open for lunch and dinner and fantastic specialty cocktails like the Beauregard or Dark & Stormy. Hand-cut and signature sushi rolls are also available as platters.

King’s Fish House has purchased more than 4 million oysters – from points across the globe since its opening.

House favorites include Miso Glazed Wild Chilean Sea Bass, Clams Linguine, Trout Almandine, or king’s combo platter with fried scallops, shrimp, and beer-battered fish.


264 Fresco

$$ | (760) 720-3737 | WEBSITE


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264 Fresco offers scrumptious cuisine focusing on fresh ingredients with an Italian twist. The pizza is quite tasty and available in both white and red versions.

The minestrone and lobster bisque are wonderfully satisfying. Seafood lovers will find 264 Fresco’s Cioppino among the best, although it rivals both the Chilean Sea Bass and Scallops Gamberoni.

The dessert options at 264 Fresco include a tiramisu, broken cannoli, or almond bread pudding, to name a few.


Shorehouse Kitchen Carlsbad

$$ | (760) 720-3300 | WEBSITE

Shorehouse Kitchen Carlsbad

Shorehouse Kitchen offers an innovative perspective of varying cuisines highlighted by local fresh ingredients.

The grilled pineapple cilantro shrimp salad or salmon–shaved fennel and burrata salad offer a wonderfully fresh approach to local influence.

Lunch options offer vegetarian options like the cucumber and avocado sandwich with sprouts and sunflower seeds on whole bread.

Burger lovers try the Shorehouse Angus ground beef burger, or the LJ burger topped with bacon, fig spread, caramelized onions, and creamy goat cheese for something truly tasty.


Miguel’s Cocina

$$ | (760) 759-1843 | WEBSITE

Miguel’s Cocina Best Restaurants in Carlsbad, CA

Since 1982, when Miguel’s first appeared on the Carlsbad dining scene, locals and visitors have been enjoying Miguel’s authentic Mexican dishes.

Fresh salsa and handmade tortillas (warm out of the oven) are standard fare at Miguel’s Cocina. Miguel’s signature fajitas are available with steak, chicken, mushroom, shrimp or pork, etc.

Miguel’s hose plates include Caldo 7 Mares, Carnitas, or Camarones Jalisco or Chicken Zacatecas. The desserts offered by Miguel’s include coconut flan, chocolate empanadas, and fried ice cream.


The Compass

$$ | (760)  434-1900 | WEBSITE


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Established more than a decade ago, the Compass is a bar and grill in the heart of downtown Carlsbad that prides itself on its food and cocktail specialties.

The friendly and inviting restaurant offers these locally sourced dishes that are available from breakfast to late-night options. The fantastic burgers are offered with wagyu beef, lamb, or a combo beast burger (elk, boar, Kobe, and bison).

For a special treat, the mandarin, white chocolate mousse is a great ending to a meal at the Compass. Join them for happy hour for drink specials and great finger foods, and other eats.


At Last

Carlsbad is a thriving area with some of the finest all-year-round weather. Carlsbad is quite a popular tourist location which is why the best restaurants in Carlsbad are abundant and diverse.

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About Restaurant Observer

Restaurant Observer is the ultimate go-to destination on the web when looking for nothing but fantastic places to genuinely enjoy food across the United States. Inspired by the saying when there’s good food, there’s a good life, Birch Restaurant starts the food blog to scout the best food places across the country.