California Restaurant Month
The Picture Pantry/Offset

California Restaurant Month

Go ahead and stuff yourself this holiday season, foodies, but make sure to leave a little room for California Restaurant Month, which runs throughout the month of January. For 31 flavor-filled days, dining establishments across the state will feature gourmet prix-fixe menus, wine-pairing specials, chef-led events, and all of the seasonal ingredients you'd expect from the state that produces nearly half of all American-grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

This annual event—celebrating its sixth anniversary in 2016—is the perfect time to treat yourself to that urban hot spot you’ve always wanted to try. Or perhaps it will tempt you to take a culinary road trip to California’s incomparable wine country, coastal towns and villages, or alpine resorts. Here are special programs and deals, listed north to south, that prove that January is the best month to come get a taste of California.

 

Taste at Humboldt Bay Tourism Center
Drew Hyland

Taste at Humboldt Bay Tourism Center

Taste at Humboldt Bay Tourism Center
Go social and get a free oyster and beer in Eureka

Any time of year, Taste, the all-local tasting room at the Humboldt Bay Tourism Center in Old Town Eureka, delivers a sensory explosion. You’ll find local chocolates and cheeses, handcrafted breads and pastries, North Coast wines and ciders, and even locally made kombucha. And in January, visit Taste and check in on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media, and you’ll get a complimentary oyster and a pint of delicious craft beer. Taste’s oyster bar, managed by oyster farmer Captain Sebastian, serves raw and broiled oysters with a variety of gourmet sauces. (The captain stops by on Tuesdays after 5 p.m., so time your visit accordingly if you want to chat and learn about specially guided tours of the region’s oyster beds.) While you’re slurping and sipping, also check out the tourism center’s easy-to-navigate iPads, with details on local lodging, dining, guided tours, and more. On Sunday evenings, special “Meet the Maker” events let you connect with local artists, chefs, farmers, adventurers, winemakers, and brewers. It’s a wonderful way to hang out with the creative people who call this dynamic and beautiful area home. 

Note: This Humboldt Tourism offer runs January 1-31, 2016.

The M.V. Madaket wooden ferryboat has been plying the waters of Humboldt Bay since 1910. It’s now used for guided scenic tours along the Eureka waterfront and beyond.
Tahoe South Restaurant Week
Courtesy of Tahoe South

Tahoe South Restaurant Week

Tahoe South Restaurant Week
Enjoy specially priced menus “made with altitude”

Gourmet burgers, handmade pastas, juicy steaks, fresh seafood, inventive small plates, decadent desserts—take a bite of the good life along the south side of beautiful Lake Tahoe this January. For one flavorful week, more than 20 top restaurants and cafes are creating specially priced and prix-fixe menus highlighting the theme “Made with Altitude.” Choose from local favorites like Naked Fish for outstanding and ultra-fresh sushi, or relax with lakefront views and Greek cuisine at Jimmy’s Restaurant at the Landing Resort and Spa. It’s all South Shore’s way of letting you enjoy alpine beauty along with some of the region’s best wine and food at prices you can’t get any other time of the year.

There are no passes, tickets, or coupons, but please check with individual restaurants to see if reservations are recommended. There’s no limit to the number of places you can try, so get ready to feast. Need a workout in between? Snowpack is looking great for 2016, so burn off calories on the slopes at Heavenly, Kirkwood, or Sierra at Tahoe, then enjoy a great meal and a great deal in South Shore.

Note: Tahoe South Restaurant Week runs January 8-15, 2016.

El Dorado Epicurean Collection of Culinary Adventures
Courtesy of Cool Beerwerks

El Dorado Epicurean Collection of Culinary Adventures

El Dorado Epicurean Collection of Culinary Adventures
Tour farms and vineyards during a month-long celebration

Here’s a great reason to bundle up and explore the Gold Country this January. Throughout the month, join special guided tours of working farms and boutique vineyards dotting beautiful El Dorado County, in the Sierra foothills. These tours and a full crop of other special events are part of the “El Dorado Epicurean Collection of Culinary Adventures” celebration, a unique program that’s part of California Restaurant Month. 

In addition to guided walks and tours, you can take off on your own culinary-centric experience. Follow the county’s winding country roads to discover wine-pairing specials, gourmet prix fixe dinners, cooking demonstrations, and special discounts on food, wine, and accommodations. It’s a great way—and a great time—to explore this Gold Country gem.

Note: El Dorado Culinary Adventures are offered January 1-31, 2016.

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown
Sarah Maren

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown
Sample farm-to-fork cuisine in this new culinary hot spot

California pretty much has a lock on the country’s farm-to-table movement, and though chefs focus on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients statewide, the style of cooking has a rich home in the state capital. Nicknamed “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” and recently dubbed “the Next Great American Food City” by Southwest magazine, Sacramento now ranks as a true food destination—and January is the perfect time to sample it for yourself.

Dine Downtown 2016 returns to the state capital for the 11th year, with 10 days of celebrating innovative restaurant concepts and culinary experiences citywide. Nearly 30 restaurants let you sample specially prepared three-course meals—for just $35—at local favorites including Ella Dining Room & Bar and The Firehouse. Another plus: $1 from each Dine Downtown meal will go to Sacramento’s Food Literacy Center. Great food, great cause.

Note: Sacramento’s Dine Downtown runs January 7-16, 2016.

Sacramento was recently crowned “the Next Great American Food City” by Southwest magazine.
Farm-to-Table Dining in Sonoma County
Courtesy of Zazu

Farm-to-Table Dining in Sonoma County

Farm-to-Table Dining in Sonoma County
Find out where to sample ultra-fresh ingredients at a great price

California is known for farm-to-table dining, with chefs connecting with local farmers and food purveyors to get the freshest ingredients for their restaurants. Menus are crafted daily, reflecting what’s fresh and in season. Many chefs also develop their own gardens, growing specific types of produce they want to showcase on their menus.

One place where you can experience this kind of intimate relationship between chef and food source is Zazu Kitchen, in the pretty Sonoma County town of Sebastopol. Zazu has its own farmer, Milo Mitchel, who works closely with the chefs, hunting through the restaurant’s private gardens to see what is ripe and ready. Zazu likes to get the best ingredients and then not mess them up, instead letting them shine for what they are. This January, you can sample Zazu’s intimate style of farm-driven cooking and its award-winning meat preparations for a remarkably low price: just $39 for three courses. Take a bite, and taste what California farm-to-table is all about.

Note: Zazu Kitchen + Farm will be offering this special pricing January 1-31, 2016.

“Sonoma County is Eden. Everything grows here, and we can get our cheese, our mushrooms, all of our meat from within a half-hour radius.”
Chef Duskie Estes, Zazu Kitchen + Farm
Sebastopol’s fresh-from-the-garden dining
Elena Danileiko/Getty Images

Sebastopol’s fresh-from-the-garden dining

Sebastopol’s fresh-from-the-garden dining
Taste the difference—and save—in Sonoma County

Sipping a glass of wine from a nearby vineyard while you dine on locally sourced cheeses, breads, meats, and produce—sounds perfect, right? That kind of dining experience is practically the norm at restaurants in California’s premier wine country destinations, such as Napa Valley and nearby Sonoma County. One such appealing retreat in the relaxed and friendly town of Sebastopol is the French Garden Restaurant & Bistro. Daily harvested produce from the restaurant’s 30-acre organic farm means that your crunchy broccoli rabe side dish or the emerald green lettuce in your salad might have been harvested that very morning. And this January, as part of California Restaurant Month, you can taste the French Garden’s ultra-fresh cuisine for a terrific price. A special three-course prix-fixe menu is priced at just $32—a tempting reason to plan a quick getaway to Sonoma wine country.

Note: This special French Garden Restaurant prix-fixe menu is offered Wednesdays and Thursdays, January 6-28, 2016.

Sonoma County wine country is booming, with more than 400 wineries spread across the valley and surrounding hillsides.
Napa Valley Restaurant Week
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Solbar

Napa Valley Restaurant Week

Napa Valley Restaurant Week
Get a big break on world-class dining

Touting restaurants with enough Michelin stars to fill a galaxy, all nestled in ultra-picturesque wine-country towns and surrounded by best-of-the-best vineyards, the Napa Valley justifiably ranks as one of the world’s essential must-sees. But here’s a secret: Visit one special week this January, when crowds drop away and the valley relaxes with a wintry sigh, to experience not just the quieter side of this legendary wine region, but also amazing multi-course prix fixe menus at deeply discounted prices.

It’s all part of Napa Valley Restaurant Week, when you can sample the region’s good life for less. Think gourmet lunches for just $20, and exquisite dinners prepared by top chefs for $36 to $46. Plan a getaway to visit hot spots you’ve always wanted to try, or make a reservation at an old favorite. Be sure to add visits to tempting wineries—tasting rooms are relaxed and unhurried this time of year. Oh, and luxury lodgings? Napa has some of the finest in the state. So really—what are you waiting for?

Note: Napa Valley Restaurant Week runs January 24-31, 2016.

Napa Valley has been awarded more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world.
Suisun Waterfront Restaurant Week
Brett Stevens/Getty Images

Suisun Waterfront Restaurant Week

Suisun Waterfront Restaurant Week
Visit the Sacramento Delta for great dining deals

It’s always nice to find tucked-away treasure, like this appealing waterfront along the Sacramento Delta. For 10 days in January, it’s especially worth the quick drive east of San Francisco to visit Suisun (pronounced “sue-soon”) City’s historic waterfront—you’ll find special prix-fixe three-course dinners and two-course lunches at participating restaurants. Starting December 30, visit the program’s website to peruse menus and see what sounds tastiest to you. After you dine, take a stroll along the waterfront, which dates back to the mid-1800s and is now dotted with charming shops and eateries. The Harbor Plaza area makes a lovely place to relax, and bustles with special events throughout the year.

Note: Suisun City Historic Waterfront Restaurant Week runs January 15-24, 2016. Special pricing excludes tax, beverages, and gratuity. Reservations advised.

Stockton Restaurant Week
Courtesy of Visit Stockton

Stockton Restaurant Week

Stockton Restaurant Week
Visit this ag-centric city for amazing deals in January

Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table dining with ultra-fresh local ingredients or crave exciting ethnic cuisine, you’ll find terrific options in Stockton. And during Stockton Restaurant Week—actually 10 special days coinciding with California Restaurant Month—some of Stockton’s most noteworthy restaurants, such as Centrale Kitchen & Bar, Delta Bistro and Lounge, and Lincoln Cellar, are offering special prix-fixe, three-course dinner menus for $15, $20, and $25 per person. Get even bigger savings at lunch at participating restaurants, where two-course menus are offered for just $10. With Stockton’s premier location in the middle of California’s agricultural heartland, local chefs have ready access to top produce, and you’ll taste the difference at these restaurants. How can you resist when the prices are this good?

Note: Stockton Restaurant Week runs January 15-24, 2016. Special pricing is exclusive of beverages, tax, and gratuity unless otherwise noted.

Stockton is home to the Haggin Museum, which houses spectacular, room-size paintings of Yosemite Valley and other High Sierra sites.
Berkeley Restaurant Week
Nader Khouri

Berkeley Restaurant Week

Berkeley Restaurant Week
Find multi-course deals an easy hop east of San Francisco

In a city as eclectic and multicultural as Berkeley, home to Alice Waters’ groundbreaking Chez Panisse restaurant, it’s not surprising that the city has a global cornucopia of food outlets and eateries. People in this diverse city, just a bridge away from San Francisco, know good food and expect top ingredients from local sources. And it better be organic! So when there’s an entire week of special restaurant offerings here, visitors should sit up and take notice—even better, plan a trip to take advantage of all the deals and special events. Some of the Bay Area’s most innovative chefs are opening new restaurants here, or new branches of San Francisco favorites, and many of them will be showcasing amazing menus and special offerings all week long.

So plan a perfect day here: Stroll through redwood-shaded Tilden Park (and take a spin on an antique carousel), go to the top of the Campanile at University of California, Berkeley, for amazing views of the sparkling San Francisco skyline across the bay, and then settle in at your table, order a delicious California wine, and get ready for greatness.

Note: Berkeley Restaurant Week runs January 21-31, 2016.

Alice Waters, creative force behind Berkeley’s iconic Chez Panisse restaurant, was the first woman to receive the coveted James Beard Award.
SF Restaurant Week
Courtesy of 1300 on Fillmore

SF Restaurant Week

SF Restaurant Week
Big savings on some of the world’s best food

Any trip to San Francisco will likely put you back a belt notch or two, and that’s especially true in January, with special deals at more than 100 restaurants citywide. For 12 deliciously tempting days in January, SF Restaurant Week lets you snag a seat at some of the city’s most coveted tables—without the sticker shock. Multi-course prix fixe lunches go for just $15 to $25, while dinner menus range from $40 to $65. Amazing, right?

To top it off, you’ll not only get a memorable meal for a great price, but you’ll also be supporting important community grants in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2016, SF Restaurant Week partners with the 50 Fund—the Super Bowl Host Committee’s Legacy Fund, designed to support low-income children, youth, and young adults. So dig in, and do a good deed, too.

Note: SF Restaurant Week runs January 20-31, 2016.

More than 100 eateries are taking part in San Francisco’s 2016 SF Restaurant Week.
Oakland Restaurant Week
Rachel Renee

Oakland Restaurant Week

Oakland Restaurant Week
Sample special prix-fixe menus at 100 top restaurants

Head for one of the state’s hottest restaurant scenes in January for great deals at 100 restaurants participating in Oakland Restaurant Week. It’s a heady list of buzz-worthy eateries—places like Bocanova (tapas trailblazer), Desco (modern Italian), and Plum Bar + Restaurant (hipster favorite). Graze your way through the region’s best ethnic, chef-driven, and innovative menus, featuring prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus priced at $20, $30, $40, and $50. And since the offer spans two weekends, it’s a great time to check out new restaurants or sample longtime local favorites. To start planning, go to the Oakland Restaurant Week website, then search by cuisine type, neighborhood, and lunch or dinner. Reservations are recommended.

Note: Oakland Restaurant Week runs January 14-24, 2016.

Tri-Valley Secret Somm
Courtesy of Visit Tri-Valley

Tri-Valley Secret Somm

Tri-Valley Secret Somm
Be the lucky one to get treated to dinner

This January just might be the tastiest time ever to visit the Tri-Valley, the sunny stretch of rolling hills, lush vineyards, and friendly communities less than an hour’s drive east of the Golden Gate Bridge. For three tempting weeks in January, you could get a New Year’s surprise, when a roving Secret Sommelier could pick up your tab at participating restaurants that serve local Livermore Valley wines.

The Tri-Valley region, cradling Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, and Danville, may be booming, but it’s still easy to tap into the region’s American-classic charm and rich wine heritage. Lively farmers’ markets pop up year-round, a great way to mingle with locals. Relaxed tasting rooms invite you to sip award-winning vintages along Tesla Road and other uncrowded routes lacing Livermore Valley. Pretty downtown areas are dotted with inviting restaurants and cafes—made all the more inviting when you know a Secret Somm could be inside.

Note: The Tri-Valley Secret Somm event runs January 9-31, 2016.

San Jose Celebrates California Restaurant Month
Courtesy of The Farmers Union

San Jose Celebrates California Restaurant Month

San Jose Celebrates California Restaurant Month
Sample ethnic cuisines and farm-fresh produce—and save!

The largest city in the Silicon Valley may be best known these days for tech, but San Jose also has a rich heritage of farms and orchards, as well as a vibrant mix of cultures. Put these together and you get an array of appealing ethnic restaurants—serving Ethiopian, Afghani, Burmese, Vietnamese, Oaxacan, and other cuisines—many showcasing premium, locally sourced produce. And on select dates in January, you can sample these amazing foods at participating restaurants just by saying “California Restaurant Month.” You’ll instantly get 15% off your bill, making it a great time to explore San Jose’s dynamic dining scene. While you’re in town, you can also learn about the region’s agricultural history at the fascinating History San Jose compound in Kelley Park, where, inside a 19th-century fruit barn, you can see historic photos and learn about the lush apricot, plum, and cherry orchards that used to blanket the valley.

Note: San Jose’s California Restaurant Month program runs January 5-8 and January 12-15, 2016. Discount does not apply to tax and gratuity, and may not be used in conjunction with other promotions or discounts.

Tech-centric San Jose, California’s third largest city, has deep agricultural roots, and once housed the world’s largest canning plant.
Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee
Ian Dagnall/Alamy

Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee

Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee
Escape to Yosemite to learn top culinary techniques from master chefs

This January, The Ahwahnee, a National Historic Landmark hotel located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, is hosting the 31st Annual Chefs' Holidays event series. Yosemite National Park's Chefs’ Holidays event, a series of eight sessions, will begin January 10. Since its inception in 1985, the Chefs’ Holidays event series has allowed park visitors to enjoy a winter getaway at Yosemite National Park, combined with a gourmet food and wine event. Each Chefs’ Holidays session includes a “Meet the Chefs” reception, three cooking demonstrations and tastings moderated by culinary experts in the hotel’s Great Lounge, a behind-the-scenes tour of The Ahwahnee’s 8,000-square-foot kitchen, and a gala dinner prepared by the session’s headliner chefs in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. This year, award-winning chefs include Ken Frank of Napa’s La Toque, Tanya Holland from Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen, and Suzanne Goin, chef at Lucques, in downtown Los Angeles. Special Chefs’ Holiday packages for lodging at The Ahwahnee or the nearby Yosemite Lodge are still available.

Note: Chefs’ Holidays run from January 10 to February 4, 2016.

The site for The Ahwahnee, once a village of the native Miwoks, was chosen because of its exposure to the sun and stunning views of Yosemite’s icons—Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point.
Madera County Restaurant Month
Courtesy of Ducey’s on the Lake

Madera County Restaurant Month

Madera County Restaurant Month
Enjoy a month of offerings in the gateway to Yosemite

California’s rolling Sierra foothills first made their mark with gold. Now they stand out as a food and wine hot spot, with family-owned restaurants and wineries dotting the region. Madera County, stretching from the sunny San Joaquin Valley east into the High Sierra, is a great place to discover the region’s diverse offerings, especially during California Restaurant Month.

Throughout January, participating restaurants will present special offerings that showcase the region. Whether you’re traveling through on your way to explore wintry Yosemite or want to take a relaxed road trip through the peaceful foothills, you’ll find delicious meals in appealingly low-key settings. Relax in a window seat at Ducey’s on the Lake with pretty views of Bass Lake. Sample fresh, locally sourced foods and wines at award-winning The Vineyard, a casually elegant restaurant in Madera. Or, in Oakhurst, sit at the comfortable wood bar to sip craft brews and enjoy handcrafted American pub fare—perhaps a mountaineer pizza with fennel sausage and mushrooms—at South Gate Brewing Co. It’s a month of foods as diverse as the winter beauty outside the windows.

Note: Specials will be offered January 1-31, 2016.

 

San Luis Obispo County Restaurant Month
Courtesy of Visit San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo County Restaurant Month

San Luis Obispo County Restaurant Month
Sample wine pairings and special menus at more than 50 restaurants

A relaxing getaway to the rolling coastal hills and vineyards of San Luis Obispo County gets extra tempting this January. More than 50 restaurants—from wine-country favorites to chef-driven in-town bistros—are offering three-course meals for $30 to $40. And what could you be having for dinner? At Windows on the Water in Morro Bay, relax with a food-and-wine pairing that celebrates local ingredients—think local swordfish with lemon, garlic, and caper butter, paired with a 2013 Carol Shelton Coquille Blanc, plus two more courses—all for a wallet-friendly $35. At acclaimed Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles, enjoy a Little Gem salad with fromage blanc vinaigrette, pan-roasted Mary’s Chicken, harissa-glazed Bautista Farms carrots, Ansil Mills polenta, and grilled new onions. Finish with vanilla malt panna cotta. Price? Just $40. The program, part of California Restaurant Month, also presents special “Go Local Wine Deals,” so you can pair amazing Central Coast wines with your meal at great savings. Check out all the participating Paso Robles Wineries and San Luis Obispo Wineries. January never tasted so delicious in the Central Coast.

 

Note: This San Luis Obispo County program runs January 4-29, 2016. Prices may not reflect tax and gratuity.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week
Tenley Fohl

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week
Enjoy great deals on tasting menus in celebrated wine country

Exploring the picture-perfect back roads and charming towns of the Santa Ynez Valley, stopping here and there to sip an award-winning Pinot Noir, is pretty fantastic. Add special three-course tasting menus for just $20.16 (tax, tip, and drinks extra), and a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley becomes a downright must-do.

Back for its sixth year, Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week stands out as the picturesque wine region’s annual homage to all things food and wine. Top chefs from more than 20 restaurants—from up-and-coming eateries to longtime favorites—create culinary magic for one ultra-low price. It’s a perfect reason to visit the valley’s richly historic communities: Solvang (settled by Danish-Americans in 1911), wine-infused Los Olivos, vintage Western Los Alamos, low-key Ballard, bustling Santa Ynez, and under-the-radar Buellton.

 

Note: Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week will run January 24-30, 2016.

Dine & Discover Oxnard
Courtesy of Moqueca

Dine & Discover Oxnard

Dine & Discover Oxnard
Enjoy a week of dining deals just south of Santa Barbara

The Central Coast stands out as one of California’s great head-turners, with epic vistas and wilderness mixed with ranchland and vineyards, all dotted with friendly cities and towns. At the south end of the region, about a 45-minute drive southeast of Santa Barbara, lies Oxnard with charms aplenty, including a diverse dining scene that embraces restaurants serving an international mix of cuisines—Brazilian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and more. There’s also (no surprise) plenty of fresh seafood as well as local produce showcased all over town. Sample all this fare during Oxnard Restaurant Week: Dine & Discover Oxnard. As part of California Restaurant Month, the weeklong event lets you enjoy special prix-fixe menus at restaurants and downtown bistros. Other deals include meals for $20/person, two-for-$20 deals, and 10% discounts off regular menus. 

Note: Oxnard Restaurant Week runs Jan 22–31, 2016. Specials and discounts are not applicable to Happy Hour menus and do not include tax, gratuity, or alcohol; see participating restaurants for restrictions. 

Legendary Julia Child, host of the long-running The French Chef cooking series, was born in Pasadena.
Pasadena Cheeseburger Week
Courtesy of Pie ’N Burger

Pasadena Cheeseburger Week

Pasadena Cheeseburger Week
Honor (and eat) an American classic all over town

If the idea of a gooey-delicious slab of cheese topping a juicy burger is your idea of foodie heaven, get thee to Pasadena this January. For one week, this well-heeled Southern California city, just 10 miles northeast of Los Angeles, lets you indulge your passion for cheeseburgers at 40 of Pasadena’s favorite restaurants, lounges, burger joints, and roadside stands. Why the focus on this all-American classic? Back in 1924, young Lionel Sternberger, working at his father’s roadside burger stand, got the idea of topping a patty with a slab of cheese. Little did Lionel know he was creating culinary kismet.

Take part in the city’s homage as restaurants create unique twists on the classic cheeseburger, with combos created especially for Cheeseburger Week. Whether you like a classic version, lean toward veggie options, or enjoy other ingredients piled high, you’ll find the cheeseburger of your dreams in Pasadena.

Note: Pasadena’s Cheeseburger Week runs January 10-15, 2016.

In 1924 at Pasadena’s The Rite Spot, Lionel Sternberger was the first to top a burger with cheese—creating an instant American classic.
Santa Monica’s Eat Well Week
Joakim-Lloyd-Raboff

Santa Monica’s Eat Well Week

Santa Monica’s Eat Well Week
L.A.’s beachfront city celebrates a California favorite: the artichoke

Love artichokes? Then get thee to Santa Monica this January. This trendy beachfront city just west of downtown L.A. is asking its best chefs to come up with creative dishes, using California’s signature globe as the centerpiece. Chefs will use their creative flare to cook with artichokes—and then serve their artichoke-y creations at their restaurants. Then as a twist, you can go try the dishes at participating restaurants and vote for your favorite dish. Top three vote-getting restaurants will win special prizes—but the real winners will be the lucky people who get to sample this great food. Look for grilled artichokes with oregano chimichurri and Spanish olive oil at Latin-flavored Border Grill, and tuna and grilled artichoke hearts with wasabi soy truffle at sophisticated Sushi Roku. Many chefs will also celebrate the region’s amazing local produce and artisanal foods, some from the outstanding Santa Monica Farmers Market. One example: risotto con carciofi e burrata, an Italian twist from the chefs at classy Locanda del Lago. The dish features a tantalizing mixture of carnaroli risotto with artichokes from Life’s a Choke Family Farm (Santa Monica), garlic from Weiser Family Farms (Greater Bakersfield area, Tehachapi, and Lucerne Valley), parsley from Maggie’s Farm (Agoura Hills), and fresh burrata from Gioia Cheese Company, a family-owned, L.A.–based Italian cheese purveyor.

Note: Santa Monica’s Eat Well Week runs Jan 11–17, 2016. Check website for contest details, and for participating restaurants.

An estimated 900,000 people visit the Santa Monica Farmers Markets each year.
Dine L.A. Restaurant Week
Annabelle Breakey/Getty Images

Dine L.A. Restaurant Week

Dine L.A. Restaurant Week
Choose from more than 300 places to feast for less

When you’re California’s biggest metropolitan area, you’re bound to have an inexhaustible number of restaurants. But metro Los Angeles doesn’t just have zillions of places to eat—it has zillions of places to eat really, really well, and more than 300 of them are offering specially priced multicourse lunches and dinners during dineL.A. Restaurant Week. If you’re a foodie—or you just appreciate great restaurants—this is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit the City of Angels. Need more tempting? How about pan-seared polenta and crisp-skinned salmon at trendy Bacaro L.A., blackened albacore filet or Mary’s Organic “Gold Line” chicken at oh-so-chic Crossings in South Pasadena, and ricotta gnocchi with chanterelles, pea shoots, butternut squash, and black truffle butter at sleek and sophisticated Lucques in West Hollywood. This year, the special dinner prices range from $20 to $49, and there’s also a new tier of experiential menus from the city’s top chefs via the Exclusive Series presented by the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.

Note: The winter session of dineL.A. Restaurant Week runs January 18-31, 2016. Make reservations through the discoverlosangeles.com Open Table booking tool and $1 will go to The Midnight Mission, which provides essential support for homeless persons throughout Los Angeles.

L.A.’s dining scene ranges from slinky-sexy places like Patina at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to do-it-yourself tabletop barbecue in Koreatown.
Redondo Beach Restaurant Week
Courtesy of Visit Redondo

Redondo Beach Restaurant Week

Redondo Beach Restaurant Week
Go SoCal in January and get great meals at amazing prices

The sun-and-surf beach towns south of Los Angeles, an area collectively known as the South Bay, capture everyone’s dream of a California getaway. Ring in the New Year here in SoCal style, and enjoy special savings at area restaurants. As part of California Restaurant Month, Visit Redondo Beach showcases participating restaurants serving special prix fixe menus and offering discounts. That means for just $25 per person you enjoy a prix-fixe, three-course meal with choices that include decadent arincini risotto balls filled with gooey mozzarella and provolone cheese, smoky barbecued chicken, and—if you’ve still got rooma chocolate espresso brownie, topped with vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce can relax at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill. Or enjoy a golden-crusted prosciutto and arugula pizza just out of the wood-fired oven, paired with a roasted beet salad (and chocolate hazelnut pudding for dessert) at family-owned Locale 90 Neapolitan Pizza Market ($30). VIP cards can also be downloaded, getting you even more discounts at participating restaurants; check the  Redondo Beach Restaurant Week website for details.  

Note: Redondo Beach Restaurant Week runs Jan 11–17, 2016; tax and gratuity not included.

The South Bay region of Los Angeles is a hot bed for music, and it is where the legendary Beach Boys began back in the early 1960s.
Newport Beach Restaurant Week
Courtesy of Bluefin

Newport Beach Restaurant Week

Newport Beach Restaurant Week
Relax with oceanfront views while dining on specially priced meals

If a waterfront seat in a restaurant overlooking the Pacific, with fresh seafood and creative dishes on the menu, sounds like your idea of perfection, consider heading to Newport Beach this January. Celebrating 10 years of good taste, Newport Beach Restaurant Week is Orange County’s longest-running Restaurant Week event, with more than 50 participating restaurants featuring special prix-fixe menus with lunches available for just $10 to $25, and dinners for $20 to $50. You can choose from filet mignon and lobster tail at swanky 21 Oceanfront restaurant ($50 for a three-course meal), or perhaps pan-seared barramundi with herb-roasted baby red potatoes, sautéed spinach, sweet charred corn, and fire-roasted red pepper coulis at oceanfront Coliseum Pool & Grill ($40 for three courses). It’s not all seafood in Newport Beach, though—there are Thai, sushi, and steak options too—so any craving can find a cure.

Note: The event, sponsored by Dine Newport Beach, runs January 18 to 31, 2016.

Just south of Newport Beach is Crystal Cove State Park, with 3½ miles of flawless beach—one of the prettiest stretches of coastline in the state.
Temecula Valley Restaurant Month
Courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley

Temecula Valley Restaurant Month

Temecula Valley Restaurant Month
Explore Southern California wine country and feast for less

Southern California’s premier wine region knows how to wine and dine you anytime of the year. But come this January, Temecula Valley, roughly an hour northeast of San Diego, makes an even more tempting place to relax and tap into an outstanding culinary scene. Participating restaurants in Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Wine Country, Pechanga Resort & Casino, and the surrounding region will present exclusive prix-fixe menus at exceptional prices. The month of savings, part of California Restaurant Month, will allow you to not only enjoy delicious meals (lunches $10–$20, dinners $15–30) but you can also join special workshops and events all showcasing Temecula Valley’s farm-fresh ingredients, artisanal foods, and local wines. It’s a great opportunity for locals and visitors to experience some of the best wine and food in Temecula Valley.

Note: Temecula Valley Restaurant Month runs Jan 1–31, 2016.

Old Town Temecula was settled in 1882, when the first railroad came through Temecula Valley.
Dine Out Escondido
Courtesy of Burger Bench

Dine Out Escondido

Dine Out Escondido
Head to San Diego’s North County for special dining deals

The San Diego region always gets kudos for its sunny beaches and relaxed vibe. But the region’s dining scene has heads turning too, as chef-driven restaurants open up in the city and beyond. In the relaxed community of Escondido, at the north end of San Diego County, you can savor diverse cuisines—from food and craft-beer pairings, to local farm-to-table dishes, to wine pairings on a patio, and even to high tea. January is the month to be tempted by all these options, when the third annual Dine Out Escondido! event brings special deals and menus to more than 25 restaurants throughout the city. It’s a veritable feast of options—from the kickback fun of the Burger Bench to Mexican fare at Hacienda de Vega and the meat-centric menu of Black Angus Steakhouse. In addition to taking advantage of special offers, you can post pics and comments about your meal on the Dine Out Escondido! Facebook page, and be entered to win a gift card to a participating restaurant.

Note: Dine Out Escondido! runs January 24-30, 2016. Check the website for individual offers.

"Escondido" is the Spanish word for "hidden."
Encinitas Restaurant Week
Courtesy of Lobster West

Encinitas Restaurant Week

Encinitas Restaurant Week
Enjoy a low-key surf scene and great dining deals

Visit this laid-back surf town during January for brisk walks on miles of unspoiled beaches, then pop into friendly restaurants for everything from fresh seafood to classic burgers to smart twists on Mexican fare (lobster tacos, anyone?). Even better, for one week in January, get special prix fixe meals at great prices, like a $19.95 three-course feast at Lobster West. Or, at another participating restaurant, Union Kitchen & Tap, choose among creative dishes, such as Scottish salmon with braised artichokes, cherry tomatoes, fennel, Kalamata olives, and confit leek rings, as the centerpiece for a $30 complete dinner.

Encinitas, roughly 25 miles north of San Diego, has the kickback vibe you’d expect, dotted with coffeehouses, record stores, and surf shops. Around town, discover lush nurseries and gardens—Encinitas is the world’s leading grower of a wintertime favorite, the poinsettia, and is home to the San Diego Botanic Garden. Spend the day exploring these lush oases, then enjoy a special meal at a great price.

Note: Encinitas Restaurant Week runs January 17-23, 2016.

 

San Diego Restaurant Week
Courtesy of Galaxy Taco

San Diego Restaurant Week

San Diego Restaurant Week
Visit a beachfront city for amazing dining at special prices

More than 180 of San Diego’s finest restaurants participate in this annual celebration of local cuisine during San Diego Restaurant Week. We’re talking some serious heavy hitters in the food world too, like Nobu San Diego, George’s California Modern in La Jolla, and stylish Indigo Grill in the Little Italy neighborhood. And chefs here know they can turn to local farmers for fresh, seasonal ingredients, like tomatoes, citrus, and avocados. Getting this kind of quality in stunning settings for seriously amazing prices could make this one of the best times to beeline for California’s sun-splashed city. Three-course special menus range from $20 to $50 per person at dinner. Another option—and a great way to soak up the noonday sun in San Diego: Enjoy specially priced, two-course lunches for $10 to $20 per person. 

Note: San Diego Restaurant Week runs January 17-24, 2016.

 

“What’s in season is constantly changing, so our menus do too.”
Chef Trey Foshee, George’s California Modern