Every city has its food that it is famous for. Here are some of the most popular foods of the major cities in California. Have you checked any of these off your bucket list yet?
Anaheim: Poke bowls at PokiNometry
California is definitely not landlocked, so I was sure there would be many places known for their seafood. One of those places is PokiNometry in Anaheim. You get to choose your fish and toppings, or you can just go all out and get all the toppings.
Fresno: Tri tip sandwich at Dog House Grill
Every time I look at this picture, it makes me want to rush over to the Dog House Grill in Fresno. Their tri tip sandwich is piled high with sliced tri tip slathered in BBQ sauce, and it looks like you should definitely go on an empty stomach.
Huntington Beach: Lobster rolls at Slapfish
I'm sad to say that I've never had a lobster roll before and now that I've heard about the rolls at Slapfish in Huntington Beach, I'm determined to go. The lobster is tossed in hot butter and lemon mayo and is piled high on a roll. It sounds and looks so good that it's definitely worth the wait.
Irvine: Salmon at California Fish Grill
Salmon is one of my favorite fishes; when it's fresh and grilled, it just melts in your mouth. The salmon at California Fish Grill in Irvine is no exception. The salmon is charbroiled with either a garlic butter sauce or cajun style, and comes with fries or rice, cole slaw, and bread. I'll be right back, just going to head over for dinner right now.
Long Beach: Lynn Special at 39 Degrees
As someone from Japan, I admit I can get quite picky about my sushi. But I do have a soft spot for sushi rolls filled with tempura. There's something so satisfying about the crunchy tempura inside of the fluffy rice, and I'm dying to try the Lynn Special at 39 Degrees in Long Beach. It's a sushi roll filled with shrimp tempura, imitation crab, avocado, cream cheese, and jalapeño. Can't imagine it getting any better than that.
Los Angeles: Rattlesnake and Rabbit Hotdogs at Wurstküche
As someone who doesn't eat hot dogs very often, I wondered what it was about this place that was so popular. Once I found out how they had Rattlesnake and Rabbit Hotdogs at Wurstküche, I was intrigued. Not only do they have a huge selection of sausages, the popular Belgian fries are also making my stomach grumble.
Malibu: Fish and chips at Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Café
The seafood in Malibu is surely fresh and delicious: Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Café is a local favorite located right next to the beach. The fresh seafood brings in the crowds, but their fish and chips are what seals the deal — piping hot and satisfying with delicious tartar sauce.
Monterey: Clam chowder and fried calamari at Old Fisherman's Grotto
As soon as it starts getting slightly cooler in California, it's important to rush down to get some hearty and warm clam chowder, especially at Old Fisherman's Grotto in Monterey. The fried calamari are also a must try as well, and the just the thought of tender Monterey Bay calamari — lightly seasoned, floured and deep fried, served with tartar sauce — confirms it to me.
Oakland: Mac and cheese at Homeroom
You can never go wrong with some mac and cheese. This cheesy goodness is always my go to when I'm craving some comfort food, and I'm dying to try the mac and cheese at Homeroom in Oakland. They have a shop separate from their dine-in just for take-out because of the huge lines — another reason I'm making time in my schedule to try this as soon as possible.
Palm Springs: Bacon Flight and pesto fries at Cheeky's
Brunch is my favorite meal of the day and it always will be. It seems that many people agree with me according to the popularity of Cheeky's in Palm Springs. The famous Bacon Flight is a plate of five bacon strips cooked in different ways, and the pesto fries are sure to be a new favorite guilty pleasure.
Pasadena: Burgers at Slater's 50/50
Several thoughts ran through my head when I first saw that there was a knife sticking out of all the burgers at Slater's 50/50: 1. There's so much stuffed in the burger that it needs a knife to help it stand? 2. What could possibly be in those burgers? 3. How are you supposed to eat it? 4. The aesthetic looks so good though, I have to eat it and make sure to take tons of pictures.
Riverside: Roasted bone marrow at The Salted Pig
I'd never imagined that it would be even be possible to eat something like bone marrow, but then again, anything is possible. The roasted bone marrow at The Salted Pig in Riverside is a unique experience. This is going on my bucket list, but I'm also down to indulge on another crowd favorite: Bacon fat popcorn.
Sacramento: French toast at Tower Café
Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, period. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that Tower Café was one of the most popular places to go in Sacramento and that their french toast was a must try. The knob of butter on top of the french toast looks like it's just waiting to be smeared all over the toast and drowned in some syrup.
San Diego: Mesquite-barbecued baby back and beef ribs at Phil’s BBQ
Whenever I smell a waft of barbecue, it usually immediately makes me hungry. If I ever walk past Phil's BBQ in San Diego, I am sure the same thing will happen and I will make a bee-line for the entrance. The mesquite-barbecued baby back and beef ribs with Phil's signature BBQ sauce is a huge hit here.
San Francisco: Sandwiches at Ike's Place
I've heard about this place so many times but have never gotten the chance to go; now, I have no excuse because it's so close to where I live. The pictures of the huge sandwiches at Ike’s Place make me wonder if I would be able to eat it in one bite, and the sheer number of choices on the menu is sure to make me struggle to decide what to get.
San Jose: Falafels at Falafel's Drive-In
The first time I ever tried falafels, I fell in love. I remember even buying a falafel mix to try to make my own at home, but it ended in a crumbly and dry mess that failed miserably. When I saw that the falafels at Falafel's Drive-In was a frequented stop in San Jose, I knew it had to go on my bucket list.
Santa Barbara: Enchiladas at Los Agaves
Back in Japan, I rarely ate any Mexican food since there weren't many Mexican restaurants. When I arrived in California, I was suddenly bombarded with Mexican food everywhere, from the dining halls to the abundant taco joints around me. I knew then that the enchiladas at Los Agaves in Santa Barbara were definitely going to be a hit.
Santa Clara: Orenchi Ramen at Orenchi Ramen
Ramen can be so many different things. It can be a satisfying, quick lunch, a comforting dinner, or even a huge afternoon pick-me-up snack. It's no wonder why Orenchi Ramen in Santa Clara is so popular. The signature Orenchi Ramen comes in a tonkotsu broth and is topped with a soft-boiled egg, pork, green onion, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, sesame, and nori seaweed.
Santa Cruz: Pasta at Lillian's Italian Kitchen
I can't get enough of Italian food because of my love for cheese, bread, and pasta. If you're like me, you should head on over to Lillian's Italian Kitchen in Santa Cruz where you can't go wrong with any of the pasta options. The Black Truffle Stuffed Gnocchi is a crowd favorite, but most swear by the Sunday Gravy, a tomato-base meat sauce simmered with beef, pork, Italian sausage, and spare ribs, served with your choice of pasta.
Santa Monica: Godmother Sandwich at Bay Cities Italian Deli
Anytime I come across an Italian deli, I always make sure to walk in even though I might not be getting anything because the trays of deli items look so fresh and delicious. You'll have trouble finding parking at the Bay Cities Italian Deli in Anaheim, but it'll all be worth it for their signature Godmother Sandwich: Prosciutto, ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami, and provolone cheese.
Did this make you want to go on a road trip across California? Are there other places that you think should make the list and you're dying to go again? I hope it did because I would love to go with you all and continue the love and fun of food adventures.