If you don't try this oxtail soup, you will be missing out on joyful life moment. 🍲
We ate so much delicious food during our 10-day coastal road trip in California, that I had to make a separate post just to share the eats in detail.
If you live in California or have plans to visit, put some of these spots on your list. Thank me later. ❤️
Snooze AM Eatery — This eatery isn’t just located in San Diego; they have locations nationwide. I’ve eaten at the Charlotte location a few times. But a great AM breakfast/brunch spot that always hits the spot. They have wonderful cocktails and rather good coffee. You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.
Meze Greek Fusion* — Super cute open restaurant in the popular Gaslamp area. Also not far from Petco Park, so check out this spot if you are catching a Padres game while in town. If you like octopus, order the appetizer! Great cocktail selection. Try to grab a table in the open bar area or outside on the patio for great people watching.
Rockin Baja — If you like a seafood Mexican combination, this spot is a must. They have 4 different locations in the area. As a heads up, the Gaslamp location does not take reservations, but the one in Old Town does. I had the seafood enchiladas, mouthwatering. They also do huge seafood pots with lobster, shrimp, corn and you can even get steak and chicken added. Super casual restaurant, so don’t expect nothing fancy here, but the food is A1!
Driftwood Kitchen* — If you are driving from San Diego to LA, this is a great stop along the way. It’s right off the PCH and sits on the beach. We stopped for breakfast, I had the crab and goat cheese omelet, and Ju had oysters and a burger. The reviews recommend the oysters, so I ensured he got them since raw oysters aren’t allowed while I’m preggo. When you are done eating, walk down to the beach or the depending on the time you visit, there is a big outdoor bar one floor below. Or take a stroll on the beach—a great spot to get some good pictures of the curvy coast.
La Boheme* — We stumbled here while waiting to meet some friends for brunch at my next recommendation. I feel like this place, located in WeHo, would def be used for a scene in Insecure. There is an enormous outdoor patio, and the inside is just gorgeous. They have this cocktail lounge with nice plush chairs and couches. So if you come here with a party of 4 or less for drinks, you can grab a seat here without reservations. We were here on a Sunday around 2p, and the majority of the tables, minus the cocktail area, were full. So make a reservation if you want to sit down for brunch.
WeHo Bistro — Walking distance from La Boheme is this quaint resteraunt. They have limited outdoor seating, but they were able to accomodate our large party of 6 adults, 3 kids, 1 toddler, and a baby. So it’s family friend. They also have Sunday Happy Hour from 4-6pm for food, drinks and dessert. Make a reservation!
Cantina Frida — What’s a trip to LA without shopping and lunch on Rodeo Drive. Well, this Mexican dining isn’t located directly on Rodeo, it’s just a block over. Grab a spot by the huge open windows or patio for people watching. We walked in here on a Monday afternoon and didn’t need a reservation. But if you are in the area during a prime-time or weekend, I suggest making one.
Holy Roly Ice Cream — They have 2 locations in LA, one in Arcadia and another in Anaheim in 2022. Since I was on this trip preggo and couldn’t drink, my guilty pleasure was desserts. I’ve fallen in love with rolled ice cream, and if you haven’t tried it before, try it. Most major cities have rolled ice cream, so google one in your area. It takes time to “roll” the ice cream, so be patient for your work of food art. They also sell coffee.
Jitlada — Baaaabbbbbeeyyyyy, listen. While we had some fucking fabulous eats during our entire trip, this might be my favorite stop. This restaurant is in a strip mall in Thai town off Sunset Blvd. It’s actually right off the #2 bus line, so if you want to take public transpo there, feel free. We did, and the city bus was FREE while we were visiting. This restaurant has been decorated with several restaurant and food awards, which are displayed throughout the location. I discovered this place from a US Weekly interview with Jeannie Mai, and she mentioned this is one of her favorite spots to eat in LA.
We ordered the oxtail soup, curried prawns, and curried lamb fried rice. That oxtail broth, so damn delicious! The medium spice here is SPICY spicy, so if you are not a spice person, ask for your spice on the side or say mild. Pretty much everything here comes medium spiced, so proceed with caution. This spot also gets crazy busy, so I recommend visiting on a weekday for lunch. If you are in town on the weekend, don’t skip out on this place; be prepared to wait. No reservations are taken here.
Olivetta* — If you want a beautiful fine-dining experience, go here. This Mediterranean restaurant located off Melrose was devine. Ju chose this spot for our anniversary dinner and it was perfect. The inside is so cute and perfect to snap pictures. A few of the tables here are nestled closer together, so if you are trying to practice 6ft social distancing, this place may not be comfortable for you. They are also available for late night dining with the kitchen open until 11p, and the bar open until 2a on weekends.
Sur Restaurant & Lounge* — After dinner, we wanted to grab another drink before calling it a night, and we walked a couple of blocks to this restaurant lounge which made us feel like we were in a LA reality TV show. Pop, Techno & EDM blasted through the speakers while patrons dined, and it felt like an overall typical LA scene. We didn’t eat here, but this spot is a fan favorite amongst a few Bravo stars looking at their IG profile. The venue is beautiful, however.
Marmalade — This place was on our list, and we could not make it here, but when I searched the best breakfast restaurants in Calabasas, this one popped up. They also have several other locations throughout California; Malibu, El Segundo, Sherman Oaks, etc. Also, the Calabasas location has been deemed a good spot to spot a Kardashian, if that’s your thing. It’s one of mine. 🙃
Angel Oak @ The Ritz Carlton — On our stop in Santa Barbara, we stayed in The Ritz Carlton Bacara, which technically isn’t directly in SB, more so Goleta, but it’s only 15-20 minutes north of SB and near the airport. First off, the hotel grounds are gorgeous. It sits right off the water with spectacular views from various spots, and the accommodations are top-notch.
To dine here, you have to stay here currently because of Covid restrictions, but it’s worth the splurge. The view from the outdoor heated patio is breathtaking, and if you grab a table right before sundown, you get the most amazing sunset view. I even treated myself to a few sips of red wine during our dinner. 🍷
Dune Coffee Roasters — I visited the Anacapa location in downtown SB. We had a little rental car mishap that I had to take care of, and this coffee spot was right next door. I ordered THEE BEST Vanilla Chai Latte I’ve had to date. This is a great spot if you are looking for a cute coffee shop to grab pastries, coffee and maybe get a little work or reading done. They also have a few other locations in the area.
JJ’s Diner — And because I’m so hungry, I also decided to grab breakfast at this local diner for a super casual experience. This is a typical diner that you can find in any small town across America, with large portions and good food. If your pockets have been screaming during your SB vacation, this place will ease up the pain a little bit. Also in a very cute area that has a ton of other walkable restaurants and a shopping district is a few blocks away too.
Caruso’s — This place wins the award for BEST view, BEST service, and BEST experience, hands down. But it comes at a hefty price. But hey, when in Santa Barbara, well technically this restaurant is in Montecito, you can’t nickel and dime. We did the four-course tasting menu, which was $130pp. Don’t let the word “tasting” make you think portions will be small or unfulfilling.
This dining experience comes with several choices at each course. I had the freshest tomato mozzarella salad, while Ju had octopus for the first course. We both ordered the lobster and mushroom risotto second. Ju had Waygu steak (additional up-charge) for the main course, and I ordered the rabbit. And for dessert, Ju had the chocolate bar while I enjoyed the cheesecake with some hot tea. Apparently, they make a great penicillin cocktail here because Ju ordered three of them.
You will spend money at this restaurant, but the dining experience you get, sitting right on the beach watching the sunset, is unmatched. Just go here. Reservations are required, and they will charge you if you cancel less than 24 hours in advance or a no-show. They do not play here.
Tostadas — Currently only doing outdoor dining, but a good spot for weekend brunch. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you are there in the AM, order a Cafe de Olla. It’s a traditional Mexican coffee that comes black, lightly sweetened with hints of cinnamon in it. Delicious!! Join the Yelp waitlist to cut down on your wait time.
Ramen One — We ended up here because my next recommendation had over an hour wait, an Panda baby and I were hungry so there was no waiting. This was a small, but great alternative to the ever-popular Ramen Nagi. They only had about 6 tables on the inside, so it does fill up quick.
Ramen Nagi — Next time I am in San Jose, this will be #1 on my list. Located inside Santa Clara Mall, which is a great mall btw, is this small super popular Ramen spot. The wait time is typically an hour, and the line wraps around the mall's second floor. By the looks of the customers in line, online reviews, and IG pictures, this is definitely the spot to wait for. Next time I am going to bring a snack for the line.
That’s a wrap on my Cali food recommendations. Leave me a comment if you try any of my recommendations or if you have some additional places to add that are your favorite. Share with your friends if they are in or headed to Cali soon.
Anytime you see an asterisk* next to the restaurant, they had a great mocktail menu or were able to make something delicious up for me. My go-to “cocktail” was tonic and grapefruit juice in a champagne glass.