Tip Top Meats: A Local Favorite Steakhouse in Carlsbad

Tip Top Meats: The Best San Diego County Steakhouse You've Never Heard of

Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad, California
Gina Tarnacki

One of the best steakhouses in San Diego County is a little-known, locally-owned meat shop located in Carlsbad. There are even many Carlsbad residents who aren’t aware of this little gem in their midst. The steakhouse? Tip Top Meats.

Tip Top Meats Overview

Started in 1967 by owner John Haedrich, who grew up in Germany, Tip Top Meats is a butcher that also imports cheese, alcohol and sweets from Eastern Europe. Its real claim to fame, however, is its selection of excellent cuts of meat. The filet mignon is as tender as what you’ll find at the most expensive steakhouses in the country. If you’re worried about cooking up a prime piece of meat yourself, you’re in luck -- Tip Top Meats also has a restaurant dining area.

Tip Top Meats Restaurant

The restaurant has an extensive menu of Eastern European favorites, such as schnitzel, Rouladen and Sauerbraten. My personal favorite menu item is the meatloaf; the dish is made from the restaurant's own meat and the mix of herbs and spices in it makes it very flavorful. You can also purchase any cut of steak from the butcher counter and Tip Top Meats will cook it up for you for just a few dollars more. Meals also come with a huge salad and a couple sides such as mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.

Most meals -- even the prime steak cuts -- are under $20 (and most are around $10). You can also order a glass of wine or imported beer to go with your dinner. As one of the last butcher shops to buy its meat hanging and not in boxes, Tip Top Meats is able to keep its prices down.

Tip Top Meats also has an impressive breakfast menu. Try the Big John Breakfast special which is an all-you-can-eat meat breakfast with three eggs for under $8.

Pros and Cons of Eating at Tip Top Meats


  • Cheap eats that are high quality
  • An atmosphere with European charm
  • Huge portions -- you'll most likely have leftovers
  • Friendly staff
  • Easy to find parking
  • Indoor and outdoor seating


  • You have to order at the counter and there is often a line.
  • The seating can get a bit cramped on a crowded day.
  • You may leave spending much more than planned when you buy all the imported goodies in the shop. (Ok, that last one may really be a pro if you like Eastern European delicacies.)

Tip Top Meats Hours and Location

If you haven't been, check out Tip Top Meats and have one of the best and cheapest steak (or chicken, sausage or pork) meals you can find in San Diego County. Tip Top Meats is open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at 6118 Paseo del Norte in Carlsbad. Exit Palomar Airport from the 5 Freeway and head south on Paseo del Norte for a quarter of a mile and you'll see the white walls and blue trim of the building.
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. -- 8 p.m.
Address: 6118 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad CA, 92011
Phone: 760-438-2620
Website: www.TipTopMeats.com

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