A whole world of dining in one state

13 September 2019

Ever since the gold rush of the mid-19th century, California has been a dream destination that has drawn settlers from far and wide to its beautiful golden shores.

With them came recipes from far and wide turning California into a veritable melting pot of delicious and diverse flavours. Now the Golden State is home to a superb selection of cuisines, and we’ve narrowed it down to the best of them for you to try.

Chinese food in San Francisco

Beyond the famous Dragon’s Gate lies one of the most established Chinatowns in the world. Serving as a pedestal for Chinese art, design and food, the town regularly proves to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco.

The crowds flock here to sample authentic Chinese fare, and high on the menu for many is traditionally made dim sum. The bite-sized parcels are often served in steamer baskets and laid out on the table for communal dining. Typical dim sum includes dumplings, steamed buns and rice paper rolls.

California food in Santa Monica

California cuisine is a broad term that embodies the cooking styles that are prevalent throughout the state. Generally, this is light and healthy food made using fresh locally sourced ingredients.

The style of cuisine takes advantage of California’s climate and lengthy coastline in using the excellent ingredients that the state naturally produces. It also draws heavily on the diverse cultural influences that exist there and fuses flavours from diverse geographic backgrounds.

Nowhere better exemplifies this than The Penthouse in Santa Monica. Sat near to the world-famous Santa Monica State Beach, the restaurant serves up delicious, light, healthy lunches that draw inspiration from the Pacific Islands, Italy, Greece, and the wider Mediterranean region.


Cali-Baja food in San Diego

California is the place to go in the USA when it comes to getting Mexican food and many of its cities have superb offerings. However, when it comes to Cali-Baja food, San Diego tops them all.

Baja California is the Mexican state which lies to the South of California and over the years, many of its flavour have filtered into California and in particular to San Diego where they have created a fusion style known as Cali-Baja. This cuisine blends California’s devotion to fresh seasonal ingredients with the flavours from Baja California.

Restaurants such as Puesto in Downtown or La Jolla serve up superb examples of the cuisine using ingredients such as lobster and cotija cheese. The fusion style is so deeply rooted in the city that San Diego-based fast food chain, Rubio’s, launched the fish taco concept across the US

French food in Napa Valley

With more Michelin restaurants per capita than any other wine region anywhere in the world, it should come as no surprise that the Napa Valley is home to some truly delectable dining options.

While there are culinary influences from around the globe found here, it is Mediterranean that is most commonly found, thanks to the similarity in climates meaning that the raw ingredients can be produced and sourced locally.

One such restaurant that we recommend a visit to is the legendary three-Michelin-starred French Laundry. Though delivering French flavours, the restaurant follows the Californian approach in placing great emphasis on sourcing the finest local ingredients to ensure that the meal is the pinnacle of French fine dining.

Italian food in Sonoma County

Sonoma County has a proud Italian heritage which began in the 19th century when Italian immigrants moved to the region for work and soon set up vineyards and restaurants to share their food and wine, from back home, with the rest of Sonoma County. 

Home to crisp stone-baked pizzas, freshly produced mozzarella, expertly handcrafted ravioli and of course, delicious wines, Sonoma County brings a flavour of the old country to California.

Mexican food in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County is another Californian city with a strong Mexican influence and the excellent selection of high-quality Latin American eateries here will have you feeling like you’re south of the border.

Wander along the banks of the San Lorenzo river and it won’t be long before you feel your mouth salivate at the promise of punchy chilli and zingy lime flavours, complemented by fragrant herbs and melt in your mouth fish. While you’re in town visit one of the many taquerias and experience the delightful dark, sweet and spicy flavours of mole sauce.

American Barbecue in Yosemite Mariposa County

As Yosemite Mariposa County is a place that’s all about the great outdoors, it’s the perfect setting for a cookout. With all the talk of food from around the globe, it’s important to remember the delicious food that is native to the area and nothing is more American than barbecue.

There are many classic barbeque dishes like brisket, ribs and pulled pork, but California has it’s own signature style, tri-tip. Tri-tip has been gracing California’s tables since the 1950’s and Yosemite Mariposa County is a great place to try tri-tip. The lower elevation areas of the mountains are dotted with ranches with some of the best cattle in the nation, so you’ll be getting nothing but fresh tri-tip!


To book your foodie trip to California, contact your Travel Counsellor today and take advantage of a range of benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.

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