Reasons to Love Living in Carlsbad – Dining

Reasons to Love Living in Carlsbad

There are a number of reasons to Love Living in, or visiting, Carlsbad CA. They include our beaches, the arts, shopping, recreation, tourist attractions, housing, sports, parks and greenspace, and of course the weather.

In this article the focus is on dining options in Carlsbad, which are varied and plentiful.


On the one hand our Carlsbad dining scene is not LA, New York, San Francisco, Boston or Chicago. However, the overall quality and diversity is pretty good given the size of our town.

Carlsbad food

I need to offer a quick disclaimer. I have eaten at most of the eateries I mention, but not all. No one requested I mention them, nor do I receive any benefits from having done so, other than enjoying some pretty good food in the past. I simply enjoy sharing what I know with others.

Diverse is a good way to describe dining in Carlsbad. The options range from the most casual of eateries, where you can walk in right off the beach, to upscale restaurants. We even have a Michelin 1 Star restaurant in the Village, Jeune et Jolie, that is terrific. I’d say there’s something for every budget and taste preference.

The range of food will impress you – French, Italian, Indian (there’s a newer place in the Village serving Himalayan Sherpa Cuisine), American, Thai, Mexican, Irish, Japanese including sushi, Chinese, Mediterranean, Hawaiian Shave Ice, and more.

Do you like pizza? There are plenty of specialty pizza shops plus restaurants that serve pizza as part of the menu. And if you are a seafood fan there are plenty of fish and shellfish lover places in Carlsbad, too.

Gelato lovers will appreciate Gelato Love at the Carlsbad Village Faire Shopping Center in the Village. Handel’s Ice Cream on State Street is very popular, as is Coldstone Creamery on Carlsbad Boulevard. I recently read about a new ice cream shop, McConnell’s (from Santa Barbara), that opened at The Forum Carlsbad shopping mall.

Are you fond of having breakfast or brunch out? If so, there are plenty of places to do that. My personal favorite is Café Elysa in the Village with fire pits, outdoor dining, and a peak of the ocean. It’s pretty popular, especially on weekend mornings, so you can expect a crowd. One of Carlsbad’s bakeries may also be of interest; some also have seating. The Carlsbad Danish Bakery and the Carlsbad French Pastry Café are both popular.

Cafe Elysa in Carlsbad

There are lots of different venues. You’ll find stand-alone restaurants as well as places for dining in upscale hotels or on a golf course (e.g., Omni La Costa Resort and Spa). You can eat community-style at Park 101 or in the Windmill Foodhall with 12 different eateries under 1 roof.

Carlsbad Windmill Food Hall

Or you might enjoy a rooftop open-air view (2nd floor) at Crackheads or at The Deck at 264 Fresco.


For many people enjoy dining alfresco is a pleasure. There are plenty of restaurants in Carlsbad that offer outdoor dining. You’ll typically find heat lamps for chilly evenings which happens in our seaside location. A number of restaurants opened new outdoor space for dining during the pandemic and these have remained.

Another popular way to dine alfresco is on the beach or on the bluffs above, whether at lunchtime or to watch the setting sun.

Carlsbad Sunset Views

Would you enjoy watching airplanes and jets take off and land while you eat? You can enjoy dining and live music at The Landings at McClellan-Palomar Airport.

Perhaps you prefer to take out food? A lot of places offer that as well as dining in, and it’s not just fast food places. Also try the State Street Farmers Market on Wednesdays with different hot food vendors to go (they vary by week).

And you’ll find some places will deliver or you can use a service like Door Dash. The restaurant options are more limited with delivery, of course, and you miss the dining out experience. But sometimes laziness kicks in, you don’t feel like cooking, and delivery may be just the thing.

The Taste of Carlsbad is a popular event each October and inevitably sells out. It’s a great opportunity to experience multiple popular eateries as you wander the downtown area. This year’s Taste is October 12th.

Another option is a Carlsbad Food Tour, a 3-hour guided walking tour in the Village focusing on history, culture, architecture and 6 tasting stops (food, wine/beer, desserts).


Are you interested in trying some place new but don’t have a recommendation? You can search by food type among dozens of restaurants, bars, coffee places, and more on the VisitCarlsbad site. However, this list may not include all the places to eat in Carlsbad.

If you have any questions about dining, or other things about Carlsbad, please let me know.

Here are links to the prior articles on Reasons to Love Living in Carlsbad.

Part 1 – The Arts – Theater

The Arts – Film and Outdoor Movies

Part 3 – The Arts – Music

The Arts – Wall Murals and Sculpture

Part 5 – The Arts – Galleries and Art Fairs

The Beaches