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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.