Many people use big chains to grab their favorite brew each day, but I have always been a fan of small, local coffee houses – and it makes me feel good too to support local businesses. Here in North San Diego we are lucky to have some fantastic places to grab your tea or coffee, sit and do some work, have a business meeting or visit with a friend or spouse. Here are my favorites from Carlsbad to La Jolla:
La Costa Coffee Roasting: This place has been a staple in the Aviara community of Southwest Carlsbad for as long as I can remember (at least over 20 years). The coffees and teas are great, they feature daily specials, and there are a variety of pastries. They sell coffee in bulk, which is roasted on the premises, and whole leaf teas as well (no boxed tea bags here!). On Friday nights there is live music, and once a month they host open mic nights. The outdoor seating area is wonderful, with comfortable sofas and big umbrellas. 6965 El Camino Real, Ste 208 Carlsbad, CA 92009 (off El Camino between Aviara Pkwy and Dove Lane). 760-438-8160.
Vinaka Cafe, Carlsbad Village: This quaint coffee house serves wonderful coffee and tea drinks, and sits in the heart of the Village. There are many local regulars and the food is fresh and delicious and not overpriced. There is a very relaxed feel here and you will always be welcomed. 300 Carlsbad Village Dr, Ste 211, Carlsbad, CA 92008. 760-720-7890.
Better Buzz, Encinitas: The newest coffee house in the ‘hood of downtown Encinitas is creating a buzz. The atmosphere is wonderful, with high ceilings and a funky, hip vibe. Coffee and tea drinks are tasty, and they also offer yummy smoothies and a selection of eats, including the famed avocado toast and fresh acai bowls. Located in the heart of downtown Encinitas, this is a new favorite hang out, whether relaxing or on the way to and from shopping, dining or a trip to Whole Foods. 578 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024. 760-487-5562.
Pannikin, Encinitas: Pannikin is a landmark on Coast Highway in Encinitas, and the big yellow Victorian house has been a favorite among locals and visitors since 1968. The atmosphere and coffee/tea drinks are fantastic (serving whole leaf teas, with loose tea for sale), and the food can’t be beat. Enjoy a full breakfast and lunch menu, from healthy breakfasts to scrumptious sandwiches and soups, and a delicious selection of baked goods. If you’ve never visited you are missing out on a iconic Encinitas spot that is great for people watching. Sit inside or out. 510 N. Highway 101, Encinitas CA 92024. 760-436-5824.
Swell Cafe, Del Mar: Located in the redesigned Flower Hill Promenade, this former Pannikin is a great place to relax, meet or work/study. The coffee and food is good, and the outdoor seating is plentiful – plus it a great shopping center and there is a Whole Foods downstairs. 2670 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014.
The Living Room, La Jolla Village: I love stopping in here when I am in the Village, and have been visiting for many years. It is a comfy and eclectic coffee house with a vibe that truly lives up to its name, complete with antique furniture and a velvet cushioned love seat. Sit in the back and enjoy ocean peeks. Great coffee drinks and smoothies, delicious desserts and and a full lunch and breakfast menu. A great place to stop when out walking the beach, shopping the Village or after visiting the seals/sea lions at the Children’s Pool. 1010 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037. 858-459-1187.
Next time you are in the mood for coffee or tea, support local small businesses and try one of our local coffee houses – you’ll be happy you did. If you have a North County favorite coffee/tea spot that I did not mention, or make a new discovery, please comment with name and location…I love trying new places!