It might be best known for surf culture, its historic pier, and a former Spanish mission, but when it comes to drinking and dining the quintessential Southern California beach town of O’side is quickly establishing itself as a destination for exciting food discoveries. Find everything from Michelin-starred modern Mexican to Asian cuisine, breweries, and distilleries in this laid-back beach town that’s worth exploring.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Oceanside
From modern Mexican to sashimi and barbecue, this beachside town has an eclectic mix of restaurants.
Mission Ave Bar and Grill
The neighborhood cocktail bar and restaurant offers pub fare like green chili pork fries and burgers. The chocolate wipeout cake is worth the caloric crash. There’s also a kids’ menu and weekday happy hour with $2 off cocktails and $3 off small bites.
Q&A Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Located on the ground floor of the charming Brick Hotel, this cozy, casual bar is open in the evenings for seasonal cocktails, New Orleans classics like po boys or chicken man, and of course, oysters. Showcasing regional shellfish from the Gulf, West, and East coasts, oysters can be ordered raw or cooked Rockefeller-style or charbroiled. You can also order from Q&A Oyster Bar when you’re having drinks at Frankie’s next door.
Petite Madeline Bakery
Just blocks from Oceanside Pier, the standout old-timey bakery does a superb line of all-day buns and buttery Madeleine cookies to accompany a full expresso bar. On the savory side, there’s scratch breakfast and lunch fare, spanning Benedicts and crepes to salads and specialty sandwiches.
Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen
The friendly neighborhood pub welcomes diners with complimentary crackling pork belly. In addition to the full beer list, they’ve got “pigtails,” cocktails with a two-ounce pour. Owners Roddy and Aaron Browning inflect Southern-style influences and hospitality in their longtime Oceanside staple. Popular dishes include the sweet tea “develed” eggs, fried chicken thighs, and duroc pork chop.
The first Oceanside restaurant to be crowned with a Michelin star, Valle is helmed by Chef Roberto Alcocer, who also heads Malva in Valle de Guadalupe. He transports his cuisine stateside, showcasing his approach to Baja and Californian ingredients in a meat or vegetarian tasting menus, with optional wine pairings that spotlight Baja’s wine region. Grab a seat at the chef’s table for an insider look at the well-oiled kitchen.
The restaurant’s name pays homage to the Blade Tribune newspaper that operated in the space in 1936. Executive chef Angelo Traversa serves up everything from Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas to freshly made pasta. Try the popular pizza margherita and penne arrabiata. Customers love the vibrant Happy Hour menu and the Wednesday date night menu that includes an appetizer, two entrees, dessert, and a bottle of house wine for $85 per couple.
KNVS Bar at Haetae
The restaurant/artist gallery gives diners the space to savor meals while surrounded by works from local artists. The rotating art pieces inspire plates on the menu. Try the bacon-wrapped New York strip steak or cornmeal fried rabbit, along with cocktails like “Ignorance is Bliss,” made with Batch 22 aquavit.
Decorated with vintage switchboard switches used by communication operators during World War Two, the boutique Fin Hotel restaurant pays homage to its history. Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., the eclectic menu features Hawaiian and Korean dishes such as poke and bulgogi, as well as toast sticks and burgers.
In this edgy, industrial-looking Balinese restaurant along Highway 101, the Michelin-recognized dishes are no joke. Come for the sambal tuna crudo, nasi goreng, and cardamom and black tea ice cream during dinner. For brunch, try the Dija hangover roti wrap or kaya jam toast. Their all-natural wine program is stellar with rotating selections, including a Gentle Folk Rainbow Juice and or Escondido-based J. Brix Chardonnay.
At the end of the iconic Oceanside pier, restauranteur power couple Jessica and Davin Waite opened the long-awaited fish-and-chip shop this past summer after extensive renovations. Chef Rachel Hurley works wonders in the compact kitchen, slinging battered fish and sea animal fries. Look out for the daily specials, showcasing daily catches in plates like sashimi aqua chile.
Also featured in:
Pacific Coast Spirits
Founder and head distiller Nicholas Hammond operates the small-batch, “grain-to-glass” distillery adjacent to a bustling restaurant, featuring his award-winning whiskeys, gins, and a slew of other craft cocktails. For the famished, there’s a broad menu at the adjacent farm-to-table restaurant with popular dishes like maple-brined, bone-in pork chops. Happy hours run from 3 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m., along with Taco Tuesdays and Wing Wednesdays.
Bagby Beer Co.
This multi-level brewpub boasts bars, dining areas, and patios, including a central dog-friendly courtyard. Co-owner and head brewer Jeff Bagby brings his wealth of experience from Pizza Port and Stone Brewing to concoct a range of brews, including American, German, English, and Baltic styles. Dishes are full-scratch with a pop-up tiki bar on Thursday nights and a breakfast burrito bar on Sunday mornings.
Chef William Eick commands an omakase tasting menu with options for six or ten courses, showcasing seasonal ingredients. The range of dishes can include tuna, wagyu, and miso. Walk-ins can find a seat at the bar for a la carte items like cuttlefish and duck.
Also featured in:
The award-winning vegan restaurant, helmed by restauranteurs Jessica and Davin Waite, uses many of their ingredients from their backyard chef’s garden. Try their beet Reuben sando or carrotfish tacos (literally made with carrots, not fish). Their extensive drinks menu includes expressos, kombucha and beer on tap.
Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub
The seafood-focused gastropub isn’t your standard sushi establishment. Chef Davin Waite’s unconventional nigiri, sashimi, and house roll creations are as eclectic as the steam-punk atmosphere. His two omakase options showcase daily ocean catches or vegan alternatives. Order from the full sake menu along with cocktails, beers, and wines.
Little Fox Cups + Cones
A pop-up turned permanent, Little Fox has gained a following for its super-premium, 16 percent butterfat ice cream that takes creative inspiration from local farm produce and culinary combinations not usually found in traditional desserts. Its rotating flavors include Club Med, a citrus and olive oil ice cream infused with sea salt and Cyclops Farms tomato marmalade and Roasty Toasty, featuring toasted brioche cream, mascarpone swirl. and crispy parmesan, as well as gourmet renditions of ice cream tacos.
This LA sensation fits right into Oceanside with its breezy vibes and tasty menu of Texas-style breakfast tacos built on fresh flour tortillas like the best-selling Trinity, a mix of eggs, bacon, potato, and cheddar. Other crowd-pleasers include homemade queso and a delightful frozen spicy Paloma.
Also featured in:
Heritage Barbecue & Beer Co
The Central Texas-style barbeque joint doesn’t kid around with their multiple smokers to capture the distinctive notes of a down-home cookout. Expanding from their San Juan Capistrano location, the Oceanside establishment opened in January 2023. Be sure to order their smoked beef brisket burger, tri-tip, and scratch-made sausages available Friday through Sunday.