When you consider the abundance of fresh and artisan foodstuffs available in California (produce, seafood, cheese, chocolate, wine, etc.) coupled with the melting pot of cooking techniques that have found a home here, it’s easy to understand why many travelers to the state choose to focus at least part of their time enjoying California culinary vacation ideas. Our purpose here is to whet your appetite a bit!
For a romantic dinner with a spectacular view, consider the Marine Room or Top o’ the Cove in La Jolla, the historic Yamashiro restaurant in Los Angeles, Eladio’s at Santa Barbara’s Harbor View Inn or, in San Francisco, Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel or Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.
Of course, that IN NO WAY is a complete list of all the California romantic restaurants with a view!
No discussion of California restaurants would be complete without mentioning some of its world-famous chefs. A few of the better known ones are Thomas Keller (The French Laundry and Per Se in Napa Valley’s Yountville), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse in Berkeley), Gary Danko (Gary Danko in San Francisco), Wolfgang Puck (Spago in Los Angeles) and Trey Foshee (Georges at the Cove in La Jolla). If your trip won’t be complete unless you dine at one of these restaurants, please be advised that reservations should be made several weeks in advance (and consider months in advance during high season). If you’re staying in San Francisco, you can even check out up-and-coming chefs at the California Culinary Academy, where lunch and dinner are served Tuesday through Friday.
Some favorite California restaurants geared toward pleasing the whole family are chains with locations throughout the state. In southern California, Original Tommy’s has been serving its signature chili-topped burgers for over 60 years. The restaurant presently has about 30 locations, and the original restaurant on the corner of Beverly and Rampart Boulevards in Los Angeles still serves over 15,000 customers each and every week. They must be doing something right! In northern California, both Hobee’s and California Pizza Kitchen’s have multiple locations that consistently please both parents and kids.
While many California restaurants offer entertainment along with your meal, the most unusual “entertainment” offering may be at Opaque (in Santa Monica and coming soon to San Francisco), where you’ll dine in a pitch-black room serviced by blind waiters. (Opaque, when offerred at the Hyatt on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, was the first American restaurant to offer “dining in the dark.”) Service is limited to weekend dinners, and you’ll not only enjoy a lovely meal but you’ll quite likely leave with a better understanding of your senses, their limits and how they help you perceive the world around you. OPAQUE IS NOW CLOSED.
Note: Information in this article was accurate
when it was published, but hours, prices, etc.
change constantly. Please confirm details
with local contacts before traveling.