All the tenets of California cuisine—local, fresh, farm-to-table—are on full display in Temecula Valley, which has easy access to local olives (and the resulting olive oil), dairy, produce, and, of course, wine grapes.
Any dining exploration should begin in the atmospheric Old Town. Taste rustic and real food with a bit of rural whimsy at The Goat & Vine, where pizza is a specialty. Fresh ingredients come together in a delicious variety of pies, like the jalapeño-lime-carnitas or the steak-gorgonzola, baked in a stone-hearth oven.
At nearby E.A.T. Marketplace, you can start your day with a pour-over coffee and a pumpkin-pie smoothie, then return for each thoughtfully prepared meal, finishing the day with a vegan casserole and paleo brownie. The Old Town standout prides itself on using pesticide-free and antibiotic-free ingredients from local farms and suppliers. It also showcases deli meats from California’s acclaimed Diestel Family Ranch and Niman Ranch.
Mexican food in Temecula comes with a dash of history at The Bank. The building, which began construction in 1913, indeed started out as a bank that was the site of the county’s first holdup, in 1930, and remained in operation until WWII. Today you can drop by for your favorite Mexican dishes, from burritos to quesadillas or a copa de elote.
Hidden on a side street is Le Coffee Shop, an authentic French dining experience. This café/bakery serves a traditional French breakfast and lunch as well as handmade pastries. Their traditional French Toast or Pain Perdu is a favorite.
For upscale pub food paired with artisanal cocktails and craft beer, head to 1909. Formerly a trading post, livery, auto shop, and 1970s rough-and-tumble bar, the gastropub offers options like crab-and-shrimp empanadas and bison burgers, plus signature cocktails like the Cedar-Smoked Old Fashioned.
To dine al fresco among the vines, head out a few miles from Old Town and deeper into wine region. At The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars, offerings such as sea bass buerre rouge feature French techniques and pair nicely with the onsite winery’s own bottles, like the oak-aged Mélange or a White Merlot.
Or maximize the vineyard scenery at The Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery. Set on a hilltop, the restaurant features panoramic views along with dishes like pesto salmon and Mediterranean chicken—and, of course, delicious accompaniments from the winery.