Discover Story Ideas Details Back to Story Ideas

California Dishes Up Storied Eateries

Nov. 15, 2019

As the top food and wine destination in the U.S., California holds court over America’s culinary scene. Inspired and spoiled by surrounding vineyards, ranches and farms across the state, California chefs practice their craft in humble historic Gold Rush inns, rustic mountain getaways and even the finest urban and wine country Michelin-starred eateries.


  • Dine at the Gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park
    Dine on seasonal American cuisine where the meadow meets the mountains at Highlands Ranch Resort, located at the southwest gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
  • Dine with Rustic Elegance in Yosemite’s Wawona Hotel Dining Room
    The Wawona Hotel Dining Room, which dates to 1879, serves traditional American fare in a white-tablecloth, Victorian era setting with a fireplace, veranda and lawn seating. This well -preserved National Historic Landmark has hosted many famous guests, including President Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Dine in a Historic Barrack in a National Park
    The Commissary restaurant in San Francisco’s Presidio national park. Built in 1895, the Spanish-influenced restaurant is housed in the former mess hall of the iconic streetscape known as the Montgomery Street Barracks.



  • Dine on Top of a Gold Mine at Smith Flat House Restaurant
    Built in 1853 on top of a gold mine, the Smith Flat House Cellar & Grill still contains the mine entrance and original bar where Mark Twain was once rumoured to write. The cave that once stored the blasting powder still boasts powder marks on the walls. The eatery sources local wine and local ingredients whenever possible with a seasonal menu.
  • Strike Restaurant Gold in Tuolumne County
    Got a pocket full of gold? Then the 1859 Historic National Hotel Restaurant & Saloon is the place to eat like royalty. The proprietor still accepts gold as payment, updating gold exchange rates daily and setting the scale appropriately. You can still pay by cash or credit to dine on fine American cuisine, and the server might share their favourite resident ghost story. 



  • Top of the Mark Celebrates 80 Years in San Francisco
    From its 19th floor location at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel, Top of the Mark—known for Sunday brunch—boasts renowned views, entertainment and a rich 80-year history. Once a location for WWII servicemen, the eatery hosted many luminaries, including Elvis Presley, Judy Garland and Brad Pitt.
  • The Milias Restaurant Once Served as Hollywood’s Waystation
    The Milias Restaurant, which opened in downtown Gilroy in 1922, serves New American plates—with plenty of the Garlic Capital’s signature spice—and pours cocktails in a cowboy-motif horseshoe cocktail lounge. Once a popular stopping-place for Hollywood royalty like Clark Gable and John Wayne when travelling between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the eatery is reportedly haunted by friendly spirits.
  • Musso & Frank Grill Celebrates a Century in Hollywood
    Legendary Old Hollywood restaurant Musso & Frank turned 100 this year, boasting a roster of celebrities a mile long, including Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck. Famous today for its stiff drinks—especially martinis—the restaurant still serves traditional steak and seafood, as well as the first Fettuccini Alfredo in the U.S.



  • Dine at California’s Oldest Roadhouse
    The Washoe House in Petaluma—once a stop for stagecoach travellers and mail carriers—continues its 160-year tradition of hospitality with classic comfort food served from its landmark location amid rolling hills and untouched pastureland. The state’s oldest roadhouse offers roadhouse fare, from pancakes to burgers and fried chicken.
  • Dine Old-West Style in Santa Barbara
    Cold Spring Tavern, which opened as a stagecoach stop in 1868 on scenic San Marcos Pass, serves Old West dishes like home-baked molasses bread and wild game chilli. The Hitching Post, which opened as the Casmalia Hotel in 1920, served the area’s first indoor oak-wood barbecue, and today makes its own brand of wines. The Hitching Post II, which also serves the region’s famous Santa Maria barbecue, was featured in the 2004 hit movie “Sideways."
  • Fresno Presents an Old-Fashioned Tavern with a Modern Twist
    Nearly 100 years old, School House Restaurant & Tavern serves seasonal, farm-to-fork New American cuisine with a modern twist and features schoolhouse relics including desks and a drinking fountain.



  • Shadowbrook Named Among Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants
    Named one of the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the nation by OpenTable visitors, Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola overlooks picturesque Soquel Creek. Originally built as a summer home in the 1920s, guests take the iconic “cable car” hillside tram or stroll along waterfalls and lush gardens to reach this ivy covered, unique and world-famous destination.
  • Madonna Inn Dishes Out Famous Food in Kitschy Setting
    San Luis Obispo’s Madonna Inn, renowned for its 110 themed, kitschy guest rooms, carries the whimsical charm into its Copper Café with elaborate wood carvings, red leather seats, hand-painted Old-World murals and famous bakery. Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House boasts décor highlighted by chandeliers and red velvet seats with gold accents, and serves an indulgent menu.
  • Try One of Oakland’s Quirky Eateries
    Oakland boasts a vibrant cuisine scene, with hotspots including the Landing Cafe, set above the Oakland Zoo’s California Trail, and only accessible via an aerial gondola ride boasting views across six Bay Area counties. While they serve great burgers and salads at Oakland’s Fentons Creamery and Restaurant, they invented Rocky Road and serve a signature Black & Tan Sundae, so you might want to eat dessert first.
  • Take in Lake Tahoe Views and East-West Cuisine at Wolfdale's
    Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique in Tahoe City, featuring East-West cuisine and overlooking Lake Tahoe, features a one-of-a-kind backstory. Constructed on the south shore in 1889 and floated to its current north shore location in 1901, the eatery was once occupied by the town Constable—hence the name of its signature drink, The Constable.
  • Hop Aboard Torrance’s Historic Red Car Line Restaurants
    Diners can taste their way into railroad history in Torrance, which has emerged as the South Bay’s foodie capital.  The Depot, housed in a historic train station for LA’s Red Car Line and built in 1912, features inventive global cuisine and custom woodwork and archways a Davy Crockett descendant.



  • Fresno Serves Up Unique Eateries
    Famous for its Blossom and Fruit Trail, Fresno County is earning a place on the culinary map for must-taste eateries. Bring a big appetite when you visit Grill Masters BBQ which serves the four-patty Ultimeat Matty Challenge Burger, that, if devoured within 30 minutes the champ gets a t-shirt, gift card a free meal.
  • Conejo Valley Restaurants Serve Colossal Dishes
    Guests should arrive hungry for two Conejo Valley restaurants: The Park Restaurant serves a colossal 28-gram “Tomahawk” Ribeye steak wet-aged for 30 days, while Twisted Oak Tavern’s famous Hogzilla dish features a half pig’s head on a platter, brined overnight with a unique spice mix and then oven roasted.


Related Content