Carlsbad Food Tour

I've lived in San Diego for about 10 years now but still love discoving new things about this beautiful city of ours. I was invited to spend a Saturday afternoon touring downtown Carlsbad along with a few local food blogger friends, both old and new, through the Carlsbad Food Tour.

Our gracious guide and the founder of the Carlsbad Food Tour is Cherimarie Poulos. She leads this easygoing journey through downtown Carlsbad and filled us with bites and fun little history bits throughout. I'll preview the places we visited but will leave the historic details for visitors to experience themselves!

Carlsbad Food Tour starts at Caldo Pomodoro

The first stop of our tour was at Caldo Pomodoro, which means hot tomato. Their buttery garlic bread has won awards from SD magazine and can be dipped into a chunky flavorful marinara. I heard very good things about their sauces too. After sampling the famous garlic bread as well as their baked artichoke hearts, we settled inside to hear more history of the restaurant as well as some of the famous visitors who have stopped in for a bite!

Viggiluci's Gourmet Market in Carlsbad

A few doors down is the year old Viggiluci's Gourmet Market, which not only supplies the four Viggiluci's restaurants in San Diego but also allows patrons to buy the same ingredients that make a deliciuos homecooked meal like the restaurants. The store was filled with all kinds of food goodies, including these breads and gourmet pastas.

Humble Olive Oils in Carlsbad

We strolled across the street to check out Humble Olive Oils. It's a nice open sampling space with a multitude of olive oil and balsamic vinegar flavors available. The best items for me were the fruity infused balsamic vinegars like the gravenstein apple and cara cara orange & vanilla. I couldn't resist buying a few products before heading home.

Witch Creek Winery in Carlsbad

The Carlsbad Food tour has one wine tasting spot, the Witch Creek Winery. We started out with a crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc wine. Next, I correctly detected the cherry influence in the Primitivo 2012 Clarksburg, though I think cherry is unique enough to do this. I favored the Kathy's Cuvee though it had a more earthier but aromatic tone. The El Dorado Reserve Merlot had the most tannens of that lot. We finished with a sweet wine that reminded me of pomegranate. I was right on because it turned out to be a Honeywood Pomegranate White. My wine senses are tingling!

Gregorio's Italian Restaurant in Carlsbad

Gregorio's Italian Restaurant is upstairs in the outdoor mall behind the old Twin Inns and has been around for 25 years. We sampled an eggplant marinara tucked into a hawaiian roll.

Cafe Topes in Carlsbad

Next on our tour list was Cafe Topes, a cute coffee tea breakfast/brunch restaurant. Slow down and enjoy the moment my friends. A few of us ordered something to drink while waiting for our next sample.

Cafe Topes in Carlsbad

Hello cinnamon roll! It was precut so we wouldn't have to wait for a bite, other than the usual food blogger photos! The glaze resembled more of a cream so wasn't overly sweet . The other breakfast items being ordered by the regular diners looked mouthwatering too!

Carlsbad Food Tour tour guide Cherimarie Poulos

Cherimarie also showed us quite a few beautiful murals along this tour that you must see for yourself! This one is near the restaurant we visited next.

Lola's Mexican Deli in Carlsbad

One of the oldest restaurants in town is Lola's Mexican Deli, which opened in 1943. The daughters still run the restaurants even though they are in their 70's and 80's. Across is the original location which is now a museum open by invitation only. I had my first bean and cheese burrito (that I can remember) and it was tasty! Apparently these beans come from heaven cuz they are so smooth (overheard while in the restaurant).

Cafe Panini in Carlsbad

It was a gorgeous day to be on a tour. We walked to Cafe Panini which was rocking some palm trees outside their patio. It almost looks like they are holding up the restaurant's sign!

Cafe Panini in Carlsbad

Their Turkey Panini has a little bit of red onion, tomato and lettuce on top of turkey in a toasty bun. The bread is more crunchy than oily or buttery like other paninis seem to be. There was also a vegetarian sandwich option.

Carlsbad Chocolate Bar

The Carlsbad Chocolate Bar was an eyeful of candy, snacks, wines and other goodies. I sort of wish this place were in my neighborhood! Uhh, but that could be both a blessing and a curse!

Carlsbad Chocolate Bar

Nobody likes waiting! Hands were reaching for these Sea Salt Chocolate Caramels even as I tried to snap a picture of the serving plate. I escaped with a piece and photographed it near the chocolate displays. This flavor did not float my boat but it could be a winner for those who do like caramels. And that was our final stop.

Carlsbad sign over the streets

The Carlsbad Food Tour isn't like the "Taste of..." events I often attend. It's *just* enough to fill your tummy comfortably. The tour is a leisurely paced, educating nibble into the Carlsbad history/food scene and Cherimarie is a wonderful enthusiastic guide. I happen to enjoy learning as well as eating so recommend to those who feel the same. Even though it's over 2 miles of walking, there are plenty of breaks that it doesn't actually FEEL that way. Pricewise, it's a little more expensive than some other tours though the addition of a wine tasting may attribute to this. There are also two other tours: the Village Food Tour, and the Sweet and Savory Tour. More details are on the website:

Fellow blogger attendees: Kate from LateKateFoodie, Becky from Beckycharms, Lisa from Saltwater & Sunshine, Liz from Liz the Chef, Ani from Confessions of a Foodie, Kim from Live Live Too and Melissa from My PB + J. So lovely to see you ladies! :)

Disclaimer: I was hosted for this tour but the opinions are strictly my own.

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caninecologne's picture
Submitted by caninecologne (not verified) on Mon, 10/26/2015 - 6:44pm

This looked like a lot of fun! I'd like to try that Cafe Topes one of these days (Stumptown Coffee!) and the chocolate place. I love the look of that cool mural by Lola's.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 10/26/2015 - 8:29pm

i really love seeing murals around town. i've seen quite a couple in north park but not sure what other areas have them. mira mesa has the utility boxes painted though! i may try to throw in a few more non-food pictures in my posts =P

caninecologne's picture
Submitted by caninecologne (not verified) on Tue, 10/27/2015 - 3:24pm

Actually, there are painted utility boxes in every neighborhood.

Murals can also be seen in parts of South Park, Normal Heights, downtown SD (East Village), and Barrio Logan to name a few.

It's fun finding cool artwork...whether it's on a painted utility box or on a wall.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 10/28/2015 - 5:24pm

obviously i need to go explore san diego and pay attention a little more! i am used to seeing the art from my boring daily commute! and maybe i'll take one of those painting/wine classes!

Soo @ hungryones's picture
Submitted by Soo @ hungryones (not verified) on Tue, 10/27/2015 - 8:46am

Lucky! That was a nice variety of food you sampled. Cinnamon rolls and chocolate = a good day.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 10/27/2015 - 12:47pm

And garlic bread... it's been so long since I've had it!

Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness's picture
Submitted by Nicole @ Foodie... (not verified) on Thu, 10/29/2015 - 1:30pm

I did this exact tour! The day we did it happened to be like the ONE day that it was torrentially down pouring in Carlsbad, but it was still a fun tour full of yummy food. I need that cinnamon roll ASAP! I've been meaning to visit that cafe for brunch one day.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:04pm

Yes, the rain has surprised us often in this city. I got rained on for another event (lemon zest garlic fest) but luckily that's the only one so far. And I've been to plenty. Hope you get your cinnamon roll fix and eat paninis to your heart's content!

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