I just wanted to say a huge thank you to my fellow 'Hounds for tipping me off about this awesome place in Encinitas!
I've been driving to and from downtown all week -- I'm not used to getting up at 5:30 in the morning so I've been operating on very little sleep.
Yesterday, I drove up the five, hungry and exhausted, and when I hit that awful stop that always seems to happen at Del Mar, I thought, "Screw this, let's take the coast!"
I'm so glad that I spotted La Especial del Norte on my drive up the 101 and finally got to try it out. A beer and caldo was EXACTLY what I needed after that day.
The bowl of tortilla soup was by far the best I've ever had: crunchy strips of tortilla, buttery avocado, and large pieces of jucy chicken in a great broth, perfect. I got the small bowl but that was more than a meal -- I didn't really need the relleno I ordered with it. Sadly its a little far from my work or I'd go here for lunch at least once a week!
The only down part of the meal was that the sauce on my chile relleno tasted like canned enchilada sauce -- not sure if that is the case or if it's my fault for ordering something random like that off the menu that's not a specialty.
anyway, thanks again to you guys for letting me know, I'm thrilled that I finally have amazing soup not *too* far away from me. I seem to always forget about all those restaurants on the 101 (probably because I live in Vista which is for the most part a culinary wasteland!)