Though California rolls are ubiquitous at basically every sushi place across America, and the avocado-on-everything lifestyle has caught on nationwide, there’s more than a few other West Coast staples that Californians have managed to keep under the radar. Whether it be a french fry-stuffed burrito, or a simple fish taco, California has a wide range of tasty, iconic eats. So, for all my fellow non-Californian natives, here’s a guide to navigating some of the Golden State’s most classic and essential fare:


california eats

Photo by Helena Lin

A popular Mexican breakfast dish, Chilaquiles are deep-fried tortilla chips smothered in salsa or mole, often topped with queso fresco, refried beans, eggs, beef or guacamole. Indulgent and satisfying, they’re great for brunch, and additionally provide a great hangover cure. Learn how to make your own chilaquiles here.


california eats

Photo by Angel Tang

Pronounced “fuh,” this Vietnamese noodle-soup is omni-present throughout California and the West Coast. Most commonly served with beef or chicken, it’s hearty and filling, and is a great alternative when you don’t want something quite as greasy as ramen. Learn how to eat pho like a pro here.


california eats

Photo by Allie Yamashiro

Originally hailing from Hawaii, this bowl combines raw marinated ahi, seaweed salad, and sushi-rice, and is commonly topped off with tobiko, sesame, shitake with a variety of asian sauces like ponzu or shoyu. To learn even more about poke, check this article out..

California Burritos

california eats

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Created by surfers in San Diego during the ’80s, the California Burrito is stuffed with carne asada, cheese, and salsa, but instead of rice and beans, this tremendous pimped out creation uses french fries as its filling. Described by Huffpost as a “glorious work of Mexican-American culinary fusion,” this meat and cheese behemoth will most definitely not disappoint.

Açai Bowls

california eats

Photo by Mary Margaret Lipps

Pronounced “asaeee,” this Amazonian-inspired bowl is comprised of an açai smoothie base topped off with granola, nuts and a variety of fresh fruits. Healthy and satisfying, its a great option for breakfast or lunch. You can make your own like this.


california eats

Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

Also known as “bubble tea,” this popular Taiwanese drink consists of a tea-base that is mixed with either fruit or milk, and then combined with tapioca balls. Normally served with oversized straws, they enable one to slurp the chewy tapioca while simultaneously enjoying the tea.

Carne Asada Fries

california eats

Photo by Claire Tromblee

Taco fans, this one’s for you. A San Diego classic, these golden fries are piled high with carne asada, guac, sour cream, salsa and cheese. Carne asada fries are just one of the 31 things to try in San Diego before you die.

Animal Style

california eats

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I was once told that California could be summed up as the land of abundant sunshine and beautiful beaches. This is obviously an oversimplification because this description failed to include In N’ Out’s Animal Style. A not-so-secret menu option, this special “style,” which consists of In N’ Out’s spread topped with grilled onions, can be smothered on a burger, or heaped onto a pile of fries. You can even make your own like this.

Fish Tacos

california eats

Photo by Maddy Shannon

Originating in nearby Baja California, Mexico, fish taco joints are found all over coastal Californian towns and cities, but the most famous ones are from San Diego. A staple amongst surfers, there’s more than a few worthy places that pile fresh seafood onto warm tortillas to create this delicious creation. For more Taco Tuesday ideas, check these out.

Cold-Pressed Juice

california eats

Photo by Rachel Livengood

It wouldn’t be a complete Californian guide if without something absurdly healthy. Love them or hate them, cold-pressed juices truly do have a multitude of health benefits, including increased energy and glowing skin. Made with everything from kale and cayenne to apple and lemon, there are a lot of options out there for less adventurous juicers if you’re freaked out by drinking something that’s green.

Breakfast Burritos

california eats

Photo by Alison Weissbrot

Though found in other states across America, California’s availability is by far the most extensive and delicious. From your classic egg, cheese, potato, sausage combo, to more inventive additions like pastrami or lobster, there’s a whole world of Californian breakfast burritos waiting to be discovered.