Where to eat in Oceanside California

Forget fast food chains or cookie cutter restaurants. Oceanside is brimming with inventive cuisine from earnest, hardworking chefs and restaurant owners, all with a story to tell. You won’t go hungry, whether you’re in town with your family for some beach time or on a grown-up getaway or solo adventure. Here’s where to eat in Oceanside:


Elena’s Cafe French Crepes: this hole in the wall on Pier View Way is run by a husband and wife team and serves delicious French-style crepes and local art.

Banana Dang: Smoothies and coffee like no other! Stop in for bananas in blended form in a dozen or more ways!

Petite Madeline: This celebrated local hot spot for breakfast and lunch is not to be missed! 

Lunch with kids:

Ruby’s: Yes, it’s a chain, but the best Ruby’s Diners are on California’s piers. This one at the end of Oceanside Pier is fun for kids and has views for days.

Bagby Beer: Plenty of outdoor space for kids and pets to run around and play while adults enjoy the brews right on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Dinner for everyone:

Exhale: casual yet sleek and minimalist, this simple take on wood-fired cuisine takes tortillas, guac, empanadas, and Mexican corn to whole other levels. 

Flying Pig: Off the main drag, Flying Pig is actually the food joint that started it all…in terms of a foodie revolution in Oceanside. Stop in to enjoy the eclectic decor and fun menus (spoiler: they repurpose old record covers) and stay for the authentic BBQ. 

Master’s Kitchen and Cocktail: Located across the PCH from the newly revamped boutique hotel The Fin, Master’s repurposed a car dealership garage to create an inviting space with inventive salads and sliders, small plates and burgers. The cocktails steal the show, however. Try the Go West if you’re a bourbon fan.

Tip: Thursday is farmer’s market day in Oceanside, right on Pier View Way. It’s a traditional market from 9 am until 1 pm, but then in the evening from 5 pm until 9 pm, it becomes the ‘sunset market’, with street food galore (with an entire row of desserts alone). If you’re in town on Thursday, plan on the farmer’s market being your dinner choice! Stalls not to miss: Flamin Salmon plank-roasted salmon, Viva Paella, Thai rice burgers from Thai Burger, and Wicked Maine lobster.

Date night:

Orfila Wine Tasting Room: this hip and modern wine tasting room has a fantastic chef to pair the wines with tapas, flatbreads, and other shared plates. Start your date night here!

Dija Mara: This fresh take on cuisine from Indonesia is surprising, inventive, and fresh. Try the ceviche with coconut and radishes and the fried rice.

How did I know about all these places? Carla and Linda’s Walking Food Tours! A must for anyone who’s going to be eating their way through Oceanside, Linda and Carla are a wealth of knowledge on the Oceanside food scene. They know the restaurants and their stories, the chefs and the wait staff, and are beloved everywhere they go. Head to http://shoesandchews.com/ to book a your tour; no matter which one you do, you’ll be treated to four stops of sit-down shared plates.

You’ll meet the chefs and serving teams and enjoy the warm company of Linda and Carla. For the $59 tour fee, I sampled four restaurants I would not have likely discovered on my own, and learned about countless more. And I easily came home with to-go boxes to feed two people lunch the next day. The value is incredible. Alcohol and other drinks (aside from water) are not included, but can be purchased at each restaurant. I highly recommend getting the lay of the land with this tour on your first day in Oceanside. Young kids are half price, and as long as they’re old enough to behave in restaurants and are willing to try to be adventurous eaters, they’ll have a great time going from restaurant to restaurant.