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3 Bloggers Share Restaurant Month Highlights

From freshly served uni to meatloaf that’s good enough to justify its own plane ride, find out what these foodies loved to eat

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Only one state can boast having both the most Michelin stars in the country and being the birthplace of the cheeseburger—California’s restaurant scene is one of a kind. Fertile farmland and a winding coastline mean access to exceptionally fresh produce, meat, and seafood. Couple that with a rich culinary tradition and an international population, and you’ve got an epicurean paradise.

Each January, California Restaurant Month provides the perfect excuse to enjoy the flavors of the Golden State. Restaurants across California offer exclusive deals, specialty menus, once-a-year events, pre fixe meals, and more. Get a taste of what you might have missed from these three foodie bloggers who were on the ground and at the table—as well as some excellent tips on where to eat in California all year long.

Kylie Mazon-Chambers of Cooking with Cocktail Rings

The Santa Monica transplant spent four days exploring the Central Coast, eating and sipping her way through the Conejo Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Maria Valley.

Favorite meal

I loved how unique the food was at Industrial Eats in Buellton. From the shrimp toast to the oysters with local Santa Barbara uni and sliced avocado—the dishes were all delicious. Next time I visit I want to try the beef tongue Reuben.

Biggest surprise

The terrain of Santa Maria Valley reminded me of the East Coast where I grew up. I can’t believe it’s just a few hours from Los Angeles, but feels like you have completely left Southern California.

Pro tips

I would recommend working through the different valleys since they all have such unique offerings. Make sure you schedule any wine tastings ahead of time since most are appointment-based. Try a few different dishes at a bunch of restaurants to really get a feel for an area.

Melissa Male of Melissa Male

Male is based in New York City, but the food-and-travel blogger fled winter weather to enjoy California Restaurant Month, focusing on Berkeley, Calistoga, and Sonoma Valley.

Trip highlight

Dinner at Evangeline in Calistoga was definitely a meal I won't soon forget. The attention to detail in terms of thoughtfully crafting the menu really stood out to me. This overall dining experience checked off everything I could possibly want in a meal.

Favorite dish

The venison meatloaf at Veraison (also in Calistoga) took me out of my comfort zone. I'd fly back to California to eat that venison meatloaf again any time!

Best advice

Keep an open mind when it comes to trying new and different cuisines. California offers such a great variety! Also, don't be afraid to start up a conversation with your server. Everyone I met was so incredibly friendly and had a wealth of information to share.

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#ad Have you ever had a meal where every aspect was great? What were the contributing factors? 🍋 I have been fortunate to experience some incredibly tasty and enjoyable meals and my brunch at @argonautcafe in Coloma yesterday was no exception. But it got me thinking, why is this so preferable to fast food or something else? 🥑 Here is what I decided. Besides the fact that the food was delicious, which you can see from the photos, fresh, visually appealing, great combinations of flavors, artisan breads, etc. the cafe took time to connect with the area and the customer. ❤️The meals were served in gold panning pans to tie back to the gold rush history and remind you of the roots of the area. 🗻The ingredients were local and sustainably farmed. And they support other local business, like @bakerandcakemaker by using their breads. And when given the choice, they were opting for the healthier choice, rather than the cheaper or easier. For example: The breakfast sandwich had veganaisse on it. And I asked why since it also had bacon, eggs, and cheese. And @bee.love.farms owner Brigette said, “because it is better for you than mayo!” 🐝 For me, it wasn’t just a delicious bite or great sip of chai tea, but a beautiful and cozy atmosphere, a caring owner who is deeply tied to the area, a network and collaborative effort to bring amazing and sustainable food to the customer. It boils down to caring! And I loved it. @visiteldorado is loaded with gems like this, people who are passionate about food, sustainability, and the customer experience. This is a lovely area for any foodie. @visitcalifornia #visitcalifornia #DreamEats

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Rachael Yerkes of Eazy Peazy Mealz

Food blogger, mother of four, and recipe developer, Yerkes love to travel the world with her family in search of exceptional eats. Her California Restaurant Month trip took her through the state’s agricultural heartland of Sacramento, El Dorado County, and Placer County.

Trip highlight

The artisan coffee makers, the growers at the farmer's market, or the chefs who spoiled me with their amazing creations: Everyone loves their food, their farms, and the locally-grown goods. Their love for what they do made it easy for me to love it too.

Welcome surprise

I forget that California has small farming communities [and not just big cities], and there is a lot of agriculture. The thing that really surprised me, especially in El Dorado County, was just the homey feel with friendly people who wanted to chat, family-run businesses, and a real community feel.

Pro tips

Wear stretchy pants! Don't just eat at the restaurants, take full advantage of the amazing offerings at the farmers market. And let the chef pick food for you; they never steered me wrong. I appreciated that the food was amazing, local, thoughtfully prepared without too much pretense or pomp.

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