All the tenets of California cuisine (local, fresh and farm-to-table) are on full display in Temecula, which has easy access to local olives (and the resulting olive oil), dairy, and, of course, wine grapes.
Any dining exploration should begin in the atmospheric Old Town. Sit under the pressed-tin ceiling or out on the patio of The Goat & Vine, where pizza is a speciality. Fresh ingredients come together in delicious combinations, such as the jalapeño-lime-carnitas and 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, and return for each thoughtfully prepared meal, finishing the day with a vegan casserole and paleo brownie. This Old Town establishment 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, did indeed start out as a bank and was the site of the county’s first hold-up in 1930, remaining in operation until the Second World War. Today you can drop by for your favourite Mexican dishes, from burritos to quesadillas or a bowl of pozole.
For upmarket pub food paired with artisanal cocktails and craft beer, head to 1909. Formerly a trading post, livery, garage and 1970s rough-and-tumble bar, this gastropub offers options such as crab and prawn empanadas and bison burgers, plus signature cocktails such as the Cedar-Smoked Old Fashioned.
To dine al fresco among the vines, head a few miles out from the Old Town and deeper into wine country. At The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars, offerings such as sea bass buerre rouge feature French techniques and pair nicely with the on-site winery’s own bottles, like the oak-aged Mélange or a white Merlot.
Or maximise the vineyard scenery at The Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery. Set on a hill-top, the restaurant features panoramic views along with dishes such as pesto salmon and Mediterranean chicken and, of course, delicious accompaniments from the winery.