A Golden State of haute cui­sine

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY LAURA NESS

Din­ing Out


All up and down the state din­ing in the open air is pop­u­lar, as it is here in Los An­ge­les, above. LA is known for its wide va­ri­ety of ex­quis­ite restau­rants, and its cousin to the north, San Fran­cisco, has more restau­rants per capita than any other U.S. city. Old stan­dards that have been around for decades still hold their own against in­no­va­tive new ar­rivals. SF’S Mis­sion district has be­come a foodie haven and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties from Berke­ley to Palo Alto to Napa and Sonoma all bring fine food to the ta­ble. Like ev­ery­thing else in Cal­i­for­nia from pol­i­tics to en­ter­tain­ment, food is a celebrity-driven busi­ness. From the rock star an­tics of Guy Fieri to the farm-to-ta­ble phe­nom that took the coun­try by storm, the culi­nary scene is a mix of where to be seen and those un­seen farm­ers and field la­bor­ers who ac­tu­ally do all the dirty work nec­es­sary to put food on ta­bles.

Ku­dos to gar­den-to-ta­ble pi­o­neer Alice Wa­ters, who made grow­ing your own green the new black be­fore that was even an ex­pres­sion. There are now nearly one thousand farm­ers mar­kets and CSA’S thriv­ing here: more than in any other state.

Sus­tain­abil­ity is the key­word in all things agri­cul­ture, and we can tip our hat to the Mon­terey Bay Aquar­ium for its im­pact­ful Seafood Watch pro­gram that helps din­ers make in­formed choices at places like Cindy’s Wa­ter­front and Pas­sion­fish (Pa­cific Grove).

Sonoma and Marin coun­ties have be­come cheese tourism havens and ap­ple lovers can pick their fill in Se­bastopol and El Do­rado’s Ap­ple Hill.

Coast­side, berry farms (Swan­ton) and pump­kin patches (Arata’s, Half Moon Bay) beckon: visit Har­ley Farms for adorable goats and ex­quis­ite cheese (Pescadero).

Many restau­rants have on-site gar­dens, in­clud­ing The Restau­rant at Wente (Liver­more), Chez TJ (Moun­tain View) and Zazu Kitchen (The Bar­low, Se­bastopol).

Cal­i­for­nia’s olive oil pro­duc­tion is boom­ing, with Stella Cadente (Fort Bragg), Vic­torine Val­ley Farms (Liver­more) and Olea (Paso Robles) all pro­duc­ing deca­dent

fla­vor-in­fu­sions. For­tu­nately, as the state faces wa­ter chal­lenges, olives are one of the most drought-re­sis­tant crops.

Din­ing Among the Stars

It comes as no sur­prise that of the 148 Miche­lin stars awarded to restau­rants na­tion­wide, a full third of them go to San Fran­cisco es­tab­lish­ments. Let’s take a tour of the gourmet gal­axy.

LA & En­vi­rons

Trendy din­ing spots in­clude 71Above, An­i­mal, Er­ven, Faith & Flower, Ge­orgie, Gwen, Here’s Look­ing at You, Kali, Lost at Sea, Maude, Nora, Pa­ley, The Glen, The Guild, Trois Mec and Wolf. Miche­lin stars in­clude Asanebo, Birch, Cut, Mélisse, Os­te­ria Mozza, Patina, Spago, Sushi Zo, Valentino and Wa­ter Grill.

San Diego

San Diego’s food scene is cur­rently buzzing over Bar­busa, Bracero, Camp­fire, Car­ni­tas’ Snack Shack, Cucina Sorella, False Idol, Herb & Wood, Madi­son, One Door North, Pokir­rito and Tru­lucks.

San Fran­cisco Bay Area

Aglow with cov­eted Miche­lin stars, the area boasted a record 50 hon­orees for 2016. Benu, French Laun­dry, Mead­owood, Man­resa and Sai­son all have 3, while Ac­querello, Ate­lier Crenn, Baumé, Camp­ton Place, Coi, Com­mis and Quince each sport two. New one-star es­tab­lish­ments in­clude All-spice, Al’s Place, Az­iza, Cal­i­fornios, Com­mon­wealth, Kin-khao, Lord Stan­ley, Mourad, Nico, Oc­tavia, Omakase, Rasa, Sushi Yoshizumi, The Lazy Bear and Wako.

Sil­i­con Val­ley

True Food Kitchen comes to Stan­ford, while An­drew Welch pre­mieres ASA in Los Al­tos: he opened The Basin in Saratoga in 1999. Los Gatos gems in­clude Nasch (Aus­trian), Hult’s (Scan­di­na­vian) and By­wa­ter (New Or­leans). In Camp­bell it’s Or­chard City Kitchen (Miche­lin starred Chef Jeffrey Stout). Luxe din­ing di­vas Chez TJ, The Plumed Horse and The Vil­lage Pub all boast Miche­lin stars. Wine tast­ing abounds through­out the Santa Cruz Moun­tains from Sum­mit to Sea.

Sea­coast Stars

Think Men­do­cino for ro­man­tic and iso­lated coastal din­ing stars, such as Chef Marc Dym of Lit­tle River Inn and Chef Ni­co­las Petti of Mendo Bistro. The cre­ative cui­sine of Chef Peg Davis at Brew­ery Gulch Inn makes it a gour­mand’s de­light and The Wild Fish in Al­bion sets new stan­dards for sea­side din­ing. The Madrones in An­der­son Val­ley of­fers cen­tral­ized wine tast­ing, gourmet food and posh ac­com­mo­da­tions, and Men­do­cino’s beau­ti­fully pre­served Joshua Grindle Inn of­fers rest and respite.

Carmel & Mon­terey

La Balena’s authen­tic Floren­tine cui­sine sets a high bar, while Miche­lin-starred Aubergine, An­ton & Michel, Casanova, Carmel Belle and Cul­tura are Carmel dar­lings. Carmel Val­ley’s Lu­cia at Bernar­dus Lodge, headed by es­teemed Chef Cal Sta­menov, fea­tures his new men­tor-in­spired menu, along with Café Rus­tica, LOKAL, Roux and Wills Fargo. Mon­terey’s 1833 is his­toric chic while Fan­dango in Pa­cific Grove of­fers Old World cui­sine and charm.

LA PERCH, op­po­site; salad at Faith & Flower, LA, right; kitchen crew work­ing at Valette, Healds­burg, bot­tom.

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