It is so hard to choose just a few places for my version of the "Carlsbad Crawl." I suppose that is a good thing. Honestly, some of the other places not mentioned in this post are just as fabulous, but these are my favorite places to go. I wish I could list all of the amazing places to go in Carlsbad like Dini's, El Norte (previously Fidel's), 83 Degrees, Hennessey's, The Golden Tee and much, much more, but that would be quite a long post. For now, this is my list of "all time faves," which hopefully is taken very, very seriously. Lol. This took a lot of consideration, I must say.
On that note, my favorite place to go in Carlsbad is Campfire. The pictures say a thousand words really, so I could leave it at that. It is a very special place. I love the staff above all else. Every time I visit there, I receive amazing service and the cocktails are superb to top it off. I usually order off of the "from the fire" menu, which is quite unique. It has a selection of cocktails featuring ingredients that are fire roasted, and each beverage is totally different. The Blue Azul, pictured below is probably (tough decision) my favorite cocktail at Campfire. It is a tequila based drink with a refreshing twist. It's my fave because it isn't overly sweet like many other tequila cocktails out there.
I have been to Campfire many, many times, but the photo below with a featured plate (the seasonal butternut squash hummus) was from when I stopped in one afternoon between their lunch and dinner menu and had an appetizer. You'll see the Blue Azul featured as well. They have a variety of delicious food to choose from and I recommend visiting soon, if you haven't already. The menu is full of dishes with a farm-to-table approach and I guarantee you will be impressed with the quality of the meat, seafood and produce used for each entree item. I have sampled and eaten a wide variety of their menu items and I have truly enjoyed every single selection.
***You can visit the bar for cocktails which lots of people do, so no reservations needed. I would recommend getting there a bit early for drinks at the bar on a weekend, however, because it gets very busy! Great food and drinks and great service will generally create that outcome...so plan ahead.
These photos are from a variety of different visits, but they offer a general idea of the ambiance and cozy vibe at Campfire. It is located on State Street, west of the 101. Exit Carlsbad Village Drive from the 5, if you are traveling via the freeway, and you'll simply turn right onto State Street from there. It is located on the left side if you are coming from State Street and Grand Avenue.
Did someone say IPA? Yummy. Yes, please. Grubby's changes their beer selection regularly and they feature local brands like Green Flash... Pictured above is the delicious West Coast IPA. This is my guilty pleasure. Lol.
Next stop...Grubby's on Carlsbad Village Drive!
Grubby's! A true local destination spot.
I don't always do Campfire and Grubby's back to back, but occasionally I will do both and call it a night afterward. The places I am listing for this "crawl" could be done all at once or in sets of two or three (which is generally how I do it). I love going out, but I also like spending time at these spots and I don't usually rush off to the next place. I try to take my time and then I get a chance to try new menu items and I can catch up with my favorite peeps in the Carlsbad restaurant industry.
Grubby's is pretty amazing for this reason alone. As I mentioned above, it is the true "locals" spot of Carlsbad. I have been going there for a very long time. I believe it's a local spot because the staff is full of longtime locals like Justin, the owner, and Carey, my favorite bartender there and long time friend. Plus, if you go to this restaurant regularly, you will meet and get to know some of the best neighborhood locals. "The Village" is a beach town and people cruise around on their beach cruisers or just mosey around for local food, drinks and company. This is the spot to go if you want a casual, family style atmosphere with delicious Mexican food to add to the experience.
I happen to indulge in the Shrimp Diablo Tacos when I venture there, but a lot of people love them for their El Pastor. It's their specialty! Oh...and they have late night hours Friday and Saturday until 2:30a. It doesn't get any better than that.
Did I mention that they deliver as well? Yep. Local delivery to as far as South O...the number (which you might want to have on speed dial): 760.729.6040.
Next, we are off to my favorite local Italian spot in the Village- Cicciotti's. It is all about their wine selection and their famous Gnocchi. Oh my goodness. It is the best I have ever had. Take it from me. Ask for Sal. He is the General Manager and he is absolutely wonderful!
At this point, I think it's worth mentioning that I would recommend food from one of these three places previously mentioned while enjoying drinks at the other spots either before or afterward. I have done this crawl in a variety of ways choosing food at one and then drinks at the others.
The wine alone is worth a visit to Cicciotti's. Paon is another great spot in Carlsbad for tasty vino, but I must say I prefer this spot over Paon for one reason alone and that is the local vibe. Cicciotti's seems to harness the authenticity with their food and wine selection, while also embracing the "family style" local warmth with their service that is such a genuine aspect of Italian dining.
They also have a fresh and full flavored seafood selection. I didn't post any entree photos, but maybe next time. My favorite seafood dish is the shrimp with their house white wine sauce. It is heaven! They usually offer a house seafood special for the day, so this basic dish can be served in a variety of different ways. The last time I visited, I enjoyed this shrimp dish with linguine, white wine sauce, artichoke hearts, portobello mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. They are happy to accommodate requests as well. I added spinach to my dish and it came to the table exactly as I requested.
I threw this photo in because I love this pub. It is also on State Street between CBV Drive and Grand Avenue. It has been there forever. They have a fun crowd. I think this is great place to go if you want to relax and just have a mellow night. The people there are super friendly and down to earth. That's the best part of this little dive bar on the State Street strand.
How could I forget Cantina? Seriously...you can't call yourself a Carlsbad local if you don't know about this spot. So, in all honesty, the reason why I love this place is because of the fun factor with their live music, open mic night and karaoke. I have had so many enjoyable evenings at this place in my lifetime, I am embarrassed to admit that I can't even count them. They have delicious beer and food as well. I recommend the nachos if you're hungry. It is a portion so huge that you will be sharing it with your friends, which is always a great thing. I usually go there last because it is such a tradition to end the night this way. I don't even know why, actually. It is just a Carlsbad thing. You either end up here or at the Tee. Oops. I am sharing local secrets.
Have fun whatever you do in Carlsbad and drink responsibly! Share your favorite places with me in the comments option below and thanks for reading. Support your local places peeps! It just takes a little extra effort. #losocal #localsandiego #localsdblogger
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Owner, Lead Blogger
Hello, my name is Karen Vazquez. I have lived in Southern California for over thirty years. I realized about four years ago that it was time for me to give back to this wonderful community by supporting local SoCal businesses, performers, restaurants, spas, boutiques, fitness studios, farmers markets and more. My support shines through here by highlighting these fabulous local SoCal spots. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, PInterest and LinkedIn. I will be featuring many local destinations in the area that have been my personal favorites for years and am currently recruiting guest bloggers to expand the voice of LoSoCal. I have had guest bloggers in the past, but aim to incorporate local SoCal bloggers on a regular basis as a fun, creative and collaborative way to connect with the community here. Essentially, LoSoCal is a community blog, and it is meant to be resource to locals in this area and visitors from around the world. Please like or follow LoSoCal on the social media business pages and tell your contacts about the blog. Thanks for stopping by...
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