Dining in this suburban North County neighborhood has become increasingly diverse; area residents, who once had to trek to other areas of the county to seek out a good meal, are now able to find tasty options closer to home. Addison, which now boasts two Michelin stars, has been operating there since 2006 but in recent years more restaurants have chosen to follow suit, raising the standard of cuisine offered in this burgeoning community.Read More
17 Standout Restaurants to Try in Carmel Valley
Trek to the neighborhood with Michelin-recognized restaurants, Korean fried chicken, exquisite sushi, and boozy brunches.
A gem in the Carmel Valley hillside, San Diego’s first two-star Michelin restaurant focuses on California cuisine while highlighting local ingredients. Chef William Bradley’s nine-course tasting menu includes gorgeous takes on sashimi, seasonal produce, and delicate desserts.
Ken Sushi Workshop
An alum of Sushi Ota, Ken himself is behind the sushi bar, chatting to regulars about what they should try. Check out the daily specials on the board for recommendations on what to order. On the regular menu, try the chirashi bowl, A5 Wagyu Roll, or Workshop Roll with salmon, jalapeno, and puffed rice.
Bonchon Village Way
This outpost of the Korean-style fried chicken chain has the same menu as its Convoy Street location. The poultry is double-fried to crisp the skin while keeping the tender meat juicy. Opt for the soy and garlic sweet glaze for the spice-averse or the full-on tongue-numbing, spicy sauce that’s no joke and oh, so addictive. Customers can also go half and half, mixing it up in the popular wings and drums combo.
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Brought to Carmel Valley by the Cohn Restaurant group (Coasterra, Prado), the family-friendly restaurant features American cuisine, like the double smash burger and BO-beau’s famous brussels sprouts, made with pancetta and balsamic reduction. With over 30 beers on tap and the popular Frose 4 Days (frozen cocktail made with vodka and rose wine), adults can indulge while kids are entertained by arcade games and 20 televisions. Finish with their mini-sized pies, made in-house every day.
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Death By Tequila
The modern Mexican restaurant boasts a wrap-around patio and a menu of gluten-free seasonal favorites and tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails. Try the chile en nogada, a poblano filled with picadillo, almonds, and pomegranates, or the ahi tuna aquachile with avocado and passion fruit tostada. Pair with a Death by Margarita and/or Ultima Salmiana, a hibiscus-infused mezcal cocktail.
This Carmel Valley outpost from Rise and Shine Hospitality Group serves up sunniness with its eggs and French toast. The breakfast blend coffee, fondly called Cocky Coffee, comes from a gargantuan coffee contraption tethered to a column in the room. The DOC prosecco that fuels the fizzy drinks comes directly from an Italian vineyard partnered with the restaurant group. Customer favorites include Mr. Presley, a peanut-butter-stuffed French toast with bananas foster and bacon.
This Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, concocted by fishermen who needed a quick meal to keep their energy up, is based on a nourishing protein-rich broth, which gives the soup a milky hue. Here, the ultra-thin-cut noodles are dipped in broth for 28 seconds for optimal toothsome texture. With locations in Irvine, San Francisco, and New York, Marufuku is planning to open a few more locations in San Diego.
The One Paseo location is Butchery’s first branch with a full kitchen to accompany the meat and fish counter, delicatessen, and grocery. Along with the wide array of raw protein and cheeses, the establishment offers sashimi-grade tuna and salmon to prepare at home, including a secret stash of salmon belly in the back you can ask for. Popular menu items include an outstanding burger, a house sandwich made with house-marinated Angus steak from Montana, and the salmon burger made with Faroe Island salmon. Local beer is on tap too.
Ambrogio15 Del Mar
The Milanese-style pizzeria with culinary contributions from Michelin-starred chef Silvio Salmoiraghi features playful takes on Italian dishes. The “Once Upon a Time a Lasagna Became a Truffled Pizza” is a favorite with no explanation needed. Not only is there pizza, but customers can also order fried calamari, filet mignon risotto, or the Ambrogio omakase, a five-course tasting menu.
Kiin Extraordinary Thai
“Kiin” means “eat” in Thai, so the subliminal messaging is “eat extraordinary Thai.” The restaurant in Sky Deck doesn’t use fish sauce, oyster sauce, or dairy in their dishes; try the popular braised beef Panang curry or pad Thai noodles. Their sister restaurant, Plumeria Vegetarian, has locations in University Heights and Encinitas.
Nick's Del Mar
This crow-pleasing restaurant hailing from Orange County focuses on New American cuisine. Start with the spinach and artichoke dip and try the bistro plate, which includes a petite filet mignon, a small salad, and a cup of their daily soup. Pair with a red or white from their extensive wine selection. South of Nick’s, its sister restaurant focusing on Mexican dishes, will be opening next door in January 2023.
One of several locations in San Diego, the focus here is on health-conscious foods for all types of eaters—vegan, keto, paleo, gluten-free, and non-dieters. Popular items include the avocado toast with crunchy mung beans and beet spirals and the acai bowl, made with gluten-free granola and an array of berries surrounding a dollop of almond butter. Pair with the honey cinnamon latte or the turmeric latte.
The One Paseo pizzeria specializes in a thin-crusted New Haven-style oblong pies cooked with coal fire. Even its roving black food truck has its own coal-fired oven. Popular red pies include the [B]URBN BBQ chicken pizza with scallions and peppered salami pie while its white pie highlights include the mashed potato pie and fresh clam pizza, rarely found in this neck of the woods. You can do a half-and-half pizza as long as it features the same sauce.
Cross Street Chicken and Beer
The 2022 expansion of this Convoy Street favorite brought the addictive chicken wings and tenders to North County with its 2,600-square-foot restaurant with a resplendent cocktail menu with Asian elements like an expresso martini with boba pearls. Recent additions include traditional Korean dishes like bibimbap and soondubu, a tofu stew with vegetables and gochujang.
Panini Kabob Grill - Del Mar
Located across from Cinepolis, the open-air restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes. The restaurant knows how to please families with its budget-friendly kabob combo, which comes with a choice of salad, rice or bulgur wheat pilaf, and skewers of chicken, or koobideh, an Iranian meat kabob made with ground beef.
Xin Chào Eatery
One of the latest newcomers to Carmel Valley is Xin Chao, bringing Vietnamese food to the shopping plaza that will soon welcome Omomo Tea. Owners Joyce and Justin Nguyen are committed to making homecooked meals they would feed their families. Try their House Special Pho with tender back rib or shrimp summer rolls.
Tucked away in a Carmel Valley office building, this mom-and-pop café is the first restaurant concept from Toast Catering in Point Loma. Behind the dining area is a hidden garden with citrus trees, artichokes, and herbs used for the dishes. Open for breakfast and lunch, the avocado toast and grilled chicken sandwich are regular hits. Be on the lookout for seasonal specials like bulgogi and vegan poutine.