The Food of Carlsbad, California

Located on the coast of southern California, Carlsbad has a combination of food styles that makes it a great food destination. First of all, being on the coast, seafood is a staple at many of the restaurants and there are even some that have their own boats that provide fresh fish for the restaurant. Being in California, healthy food is certainly on most menus and there is definitely an emphasis on farm-to-table as well as ocean-to-table. Finally, with its close proximity to Mexico, there are definitely options for authentic Mexican fare as well. That doesn’t mean that you are limited to those choices as there are sushi restaurants, Italian choices, and certainly good old steak and potato places.

Lobster and Corn Chowder
Open Fire Cooking at the Campfire
We Always Love Oysters
Fresh Seafood

Since we live in Colorado, seafood was high on our list of things to eat while we were there and we certainly had our fill. With plenty of places to choose from, one of our favorites was the Bluewater Grill, which sourced their fish from their own boat and also offered fresh fish to be purchased to take home. They claimed to have an award winning clam chowder, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it and truly was delicious. Clearly that wasn’t the only seafood that we had as we enjoyed mussels at Jay’s Gourmet Seafood and Pizza, shrimp tacos and lobster and corn chowder at the Coyote Bar and Grill, and calamari at 264 Fresco.

Seafood Skewers – Incredibly Delicious
Lemon Pepper Mahi Mahi at the Bluewater Grill
Clam Chowder
Shrimp Taco

If you want Mexican food, Senior Chubby’s is certainly a favorite of the locals and features a salsa bar where you can get some really spicy salsa if you want. We also enjoyed the atmosphere and friendly staff at Las Olas where we enjoyed a couple of margaritas and a spicy cheese and bean dip. You don’t have to go to a Mexican restaurant to find Mexican choices as we even enjoyed delicious Huevos Rancheros at Dini’s Bistro, a place we went to a couple of times at sunset as they had great views of the ocean.

Huevos Rancheros
Spicy Cheese and Bean Dip with a Margarita
Salsa Bar at Senior Chubby’s

Clearly there are too many choices for the time that we had, but we did our best to visit as many places as possible. Sometimes it was for a quick snack and a drink, other times it was for a full meal (shared of course). There were other times when we just stopped in for a glass of wine or beer at places like the Village Pub, a fun little outdoor place called Crackhead Crafty’s, and a unique place called Campfire. Since Carlsbad Village is so walkable, it easy to wonder around and just explore and find places that sound interesting to you. In addition to food and drinks, there were several places that offered live entertainment, even on weeknights, providing a great atmosphere for people to gather and relax.

Craft Cocktails
Firepits at the Coyote Bar and Grill
Jumbo Mussels
More Music

We certainly enjoyed the food that we ate while we were in Carlsbad and there didn’t seem to be any bad choices. Being on the ocean, most places provided casual dining, even if the food was upscale. Obviously you can find a formal restaurant if that is what you are looking for, but we enjoy casual, especially when visiting the beach. We will likely return to Carlsbad someday in the future and look forward to trying some new places as well as revisiting some of our favorites.

Garlic Bread and Marinara
Sign for the Village Pub
264 Fresco Italian Styling
Some Street Art in Carlsbad


Wine Tasting in Temecula, California

During our recent trip to Carlsbad, we took the opportunity to spend a day in Temecula touring four different vineyards and wineries. Making the trip from Carlsbad to Temecula provides evidence as to why this area has become an important region for growing successful wine varieties. As you leave the foggy coast, you pass through one of the only passes that allows the moisture to get from the ocean and takes it straight towards Temecula. There, the sun heats up and the temperatures rise about twenty degrees higher than on the coast allowing the air to remain low in humidity despite having received the moisture. The grapes are very happy there.

Although After Harvest, We Saw a Few Grapes Next to a Winery
Casks of Wine
Fountain at Robert Renzoni Vineyard and Winery
Grape Vines Across the Valley

The first of the wineries that we visited was that Robert Renzoni Vineyards. There we went on a walking tour of vineyard and learned more about the process of wine making while sipping on wine straight from the barrel. With a family that immigrated from Italy in 1914, the vineyard maintains strong ties to their Italian heritage. After the walking tour, we continued to a wine tasting with the option of tasting up to six wines per person and of course we tried as many as we could. We enjoyed the wine so much that we decided to join their wine club, picking one white and one red to be delivered the following week. Since we travel light, taking wine home on the plane was not an option since we just had carry-on bags.

Tuscan Style Architecture at the Renzoni Vineyard
Wine from the Barrel
High Tech Wine Making
Walking Through the Renzoni Vineyard

From there we continued on to the Cougar Vineyard and Winery where we enjoyed a light lunch that was of course accompanied with your choice of white or red wine. Lunch was served in the barrel room, which was comfortable, although slightly cool. Afterwards, we went to the tasting room where we again had the opportunity to enjoy several samples of wine that vineyard offered. It was a beautiful day and we stepped outside to enjoy the beautiful views of the area. In addition to selling wines, all of the vineyards also specialized in hosting weddings, so that should be taken into account if you decide to visit on a Saturday. It wasn’t an issue for us as we did our tour on a weekday.

Entrance to the Cougar Winery
Lunch in the Barrel Room
The Cougar Vineyards
Beautiful Scenery

Third on the list to visit was a Lorimar Vineyards and Winery, which was founded by a brother and brother-in-law and the vineyards name is a combination of their first names. It is another Tuscan style winery, which seems to be the theme in Temecula, and it has a gorgeous building that houses its tasting room. Once again we were able to taste up to six wines, all of which were delicious. At most of the wineries, in addition to the tasting room, there is most likely going to be a gift store offering everything wine related, much of it fun and whimsical.

Another Beautiful Property at Lorimar Vineyard and Winery
Walking the Grounds at Lorimar
Grape Vines at Lorimar
A Relaxing Time

Our final stop was at the Callaway Vineyard and Winery. If that name sounds familiar, it is because it was founded by the owner of the company of the same name that is famous for making golf equipment. From what our guide told us, we can probably thank Ely Callaway for bringing vineyards to the Temecula area in the late 1960’s. It was probably the largest and most industrial of the vineyards that we visited, but the views of the valley were amazing. As we continued to taste another half-dozen wines a piece, we decided to purchase a couple of bottles to take back to our resort to enjoy during the rest of our trip.

Fountain and Sign at Callaway’s
Industrial Feel
Vineyards are Beautiful Even in Autumn
Grape Vines at Lorimar

For anyone visiting the Carlsbad or San Diego area, we would highly recommend going on a wine tasting tour. We prefer to let someone else do the driving for us when going on such a tour as visiting several wineries will result in having a few glasses of wine. With so many wineries to choose from, you could probably go back several times and visit different vineyards and wineries on each visit. Also, if you want to stay in Temecula, the town has a growing tourism scene with plenty of places to stay, many restaurants, and even a casino if that suits your interests.

Plenty of Fountains


Carlsbad Village in California

If you are looking for a relaxing stay along the Pacific coast in California, then visiting Carlsbad might just be the perfect choice for you. Located about 30 miles north of San
Diego, Carlsbad is a resort town with many restaurants, public beaches, and a very walkable downtown area which is called Carlsbad Village. We spent close to a week there and enjoyed walking the beach, watching sunsets, and even went on a wine tasting tour. On Wednesday’s, the heart of the village shuts down to allow for a farmer’s market with a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, art work, and other local items for sale. We also happened to be there the weekend before Halloween and the local shops provide candy and a safe environment for families to go trick-or-treating.

Beach Style Architecture
Vineyards in Temecula
Farmer’s Market
One of the Sunsets
European Style Architecture

Carlsbad Village is certainly charming with a variety of architecture from typical beach-style buildings to some old-world type buildings. There are many different shops offering boutique clothing, beach clothes, gift items, as well as unique artwork. There are as many restaurants as there are shops offering a variety of meal choices. Although you can certainly find any type of food that you might want, the majority of restaurants offered seafood, Mexican food, and Italian. We had some wonderful meals during our stay.

Busy Beach on the Weekend
Fresh Vegetables at the Farmer’s Market
Another Sunset on the Beach
Shopping Area
Town Sign

Clearly the beach is the highlight of going to Carlsbad and if you are a surfer, you won’t be disappointed. It was a little too cool while we were there to swim in the ocean as the fog rolled in every morning and didn’t always burn completely off keeping the temperatures low. That didn’t keep us from walking along the beach though, watching the surfers, and making sure to catch some beautiful sunsets. Even in the off-season, the town got quite busy on the weekend as people from the surrounding areas come to take advantage of their beach properties.

Surfers on the Beach
Walking the Beach
Not Too Busy During the Week
Fresh Seafood at the Farmer’s Market
Tropical Flower

We took a wine tour in Temecula where we visited four different wineries and tasted a wonderful variety of wines. Napa Valley certainly has the best known reputation for producing quality wines, but Temecula certainly has a right to be proud of their growing reputation. Not only do they have a lot of vineyards currently, the hillsides are being covered with new ones as the city has approved additional vineyards to be started. Although you can certainly drive yourself on a wine tour, it is best to let someone else do the driving. We tasted up to six types of wine at each vineyard, which even in small amounts is a lot of wine.

Temecula has a Tuscan Feel
Vineyard About a Month After Harvest
Wine Casks
Looking Up the Hillside
New Vineyard in the Distance

Carlsbad Village is definitely an enjoyable destination with a relaxing atmosphere. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and all of the food and shopping make staying their a wonderful experience. There is also a train called the Coaster that will take you into San Diego if you want to spend some time their and go to Sea World, the world famous zoo, and other museums. Legoland is also a highlight of Carlsbad for those with children or just a child at heart.

People Out for Halloween
Kids and Candy
Last Glimpse of the Sun
More Architecture
Just Another Day at the Beach