To get a taste of California cuisine these days, you can’t go wrong by taking a tasting tour around Oakland, which recently celebrated its Oakland Restaurant Week. “Oakland’s cuisine is one of the hottest in the country right now and it’s only growing,” says Kanitha Matoury, chef at participating restaurant Spice Monkey. At another Oakland participant, alaMar, the menus during and beyond California Restaurant Month “aren’t constrained to one cuisine,” says chef Nelson German. “They draw from different influences and cultures including Asian, Afro Latino, Mediterranean and California cuisines.”
That fusion of flavors is a trend in a lot of towns in and around the Bay Area, including a few with California Restaurant Month celebrations that are just beginning.
Take the island-town home of Alameda Restaurant Week (Jan. 16–26), which features spots such as all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ Ohgane Alameda, and the authentic comfort food of Mama Papa Lithuania. Vacaville Restaurant Week (Jan. 17–26) has its own array of international cuisine—with participants such as Roline’s Uniquely Filipino and Peace Love & Boba. Or, make the most of Cali-cuisine-focused Berkeley Restaurant Week (Jan. 21–31), where the long list of participants includes The Berkeley Boathouse and Gather.
Choose By Themes: Craft Beer, Seafood, and More
Other towns offer their own culinary themes. In Butte County, the “Perfect Pairings” Restaurant Week (Jan. 17–26) is a good excuse to sample the world-class local beer scene. Oroville’s Miners Alley Brewing Company, for instance, is serving its house brews with a German-inspired special of Rindergulasch (aka beef stew) and German chocolate cake.
On the Central Coast, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers its “Art of the Plate” Culinary Week (Jan. 19–26), during which participants offer special dishes like the Oyster Trio at steakhouse Seventh & Dolores. Nearby, Get Hooked Monterey (Jan. 20–27) puts its “best fish forward” as local restaurants spotlight the local fresh catches.
Just south of Sacramento, Elk Grove Restaurant Week (Jan. 20–26) utilizes local crops for its bevy of international restaurants—like the soup-filled dumplings at Journey to the Dumpling or the Mexican-meets-Italian cuisine (including a Jalisco pizza) at Todo Un Poco.
Follow the Deals
Other towns offer serious value-pricing at their don’t-miss restaurants. In Silicon Valley, San Jose Restaurant Week (Jan. 16–26) invites you to choose your lunch or dinner adventures by prix fixe levels—$10, $20, $30, $40 or $50 (up to 25 percent off regular prices), and includes spots such as LB Steak, helmed by a James Beard nominee. In the Central Valley, Stockton Restaurant Week (Jan. 17-26) asks you to post your meals on Instagram to be entered to win a gift card. And it’s easy to get perks during Tuolumne County Restaurant Week (Jan. 19–25)—like, just ordering dessert at Sonora’s Independent Wine Co. to get a free glass of local port.
In Southern California, Newport Beach Restaurant Week (Jan. 13–26) offers its own range of priced-right deals (lunches for $10–$25, brunches for $15–$20, and dinner from $20–$50), including the waterfront Bluewater Grill. A little bit south, San Diego Restaurant Week (Jan. 19–26) offers lunch-and-dinner deals ($10–$20 for lunch, $20–$50 for dinner), including craft-beer-lovers’ spots such as Union Kitchen & Tap.