California is blessed with a generous amount of sunshine, nice weather, gorgeous girls and great sports teams. It is just right that all these beautiful people have an abundance of restaurants to choose from. Here now is a list of the top 10 best restaurants in California.
10. The Bazaar, Los Angeles
The Bazaar is one of the foremost exponents of Spanish food in the city of Los Angeles. This Iberian restaurant actually doubles up as a culinary theme park. Diners can choose among different areas, including SAAM, a semi-hidden portion of the restaurant that has a multi course tasting menu. You can also try the Bar Centro, which specializes in Turkish carrot fritters, sea urchin and buns steamed in avocado. There is also the Rojo y Blanca, where you can have a bite of the best jamon Iberico in the entire country.
9. La Taqueria, San Francisco
There are a lot of casual Mexican restaurants in San Francisco, but when you are in the mood for a taco, you certainly won’t go wrong by heading out to La Taqueria. It may be more expensive than other taco joints, but it must taste really well as the restaurant is extremely popular. It also has rice-free burritos, with the grilled carne asada version a particular favorite among the regulars.
8. Bar Tartine, San Francisco
The Bar Tartine is a cozy and homey restaurant in a busy street right in the heart of the Mission District. The food experience it provides, however, speaks of elegance and fine dining. Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson opened Bar Tartine in 2005 with the aim of serving sophisticated, yet unpretentious, food to its customers. The menu changes regularly, depending on the seasonal ingredients available. Its specialties include the blood sausage, the beet and avocado salad, and its bread made from its sister establishment called Tartine Bakery.
7. Mission Chinese Food, San Francisco
Danny Bowlen, a Korean native who was raised in the American heartland of Oklahoma, owns Mission Chinese Food, which he himself would say as one of the most overhyped restaurants in the entire country. Yet, people still come back regularly for the restaurant’s kung pao pastrami, cumin lamb breast and riff on ma po tofu. Bowlen made sure that the restaurant could offer authentic Chinese taste by even sending out his entire kitchen staff to China to allow them to taste the real thing. The food was then Americanized to adapt to the American palate. Regular customers know that there is a reason for all that hype.
6. Bouchon Bistro, Yountville
Thomas Keller is the man behind this restaurant that offers traditional fare done perfectly. Do not expect any trendy meals or innovative menus here, as Bouchon Bistro is all about the normal dishes prepared and served exceptionally. Located at the Napa Valley, the façade evokes images of an authentic French bistro. Try out the restaurant’s basic servings, including shellfish platters, pate, salt cod beignets, streak frites, steamed mussels and profiteroles.
5. Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
The restaurant’s chef, Matt Molina, just won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Pacific. Osteria Mozza is an innovative Italian restaurant that serves unusual pasta, like calf’s brain ravioli and spaghetti with marinated white anchovies. It also has more traditional fare like the sea trout with lentils and sweetbreads piccata. There is also a mozzarella bar to complete the set up of this lively place. Italian food experts Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich own the restaurant, in collaboration with Nancy Silverton, who is known for helping change the world of artisanal bakery in the country.
4. Animal, Los Angeles
The name already speaks a lot about itself. No, this is not a vegetarian restaurant, but a place for those who want to eat heartily some straightforward meat meals. Backed up by the creative geniuses of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the restaurant features innovative and trendsetting culinary cooking. It has dishes with names like crispy pig head with salsa macho, crema and avocado; oxtail poutine; and kung pao sweetbreads. The place can be considered a paradise by carnivores that want some break from all those trendy vegetarian diet menus. In here, they can indulge their taste sense.
3. Zuni Café, San Francisco
Zuni Café is a San Francisco restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean food fare. Handling the kitchen is the team of Judy Rodgers and Gilbert Pilgram, who used to be connected with Chez Panisse. Some of the restaurant’s specialties include the house-cured anchovies with celery, the Parmigiano Reggiano, the Taggiasca olives, and a whole roasted chicken served with bread salad for two. However, if you can only go there once and there is a meal that you should not miss, try out the house ground, grass-fed burger on rosemary focaccia with aioli and specially made pickles. This meal, however, is only available during lunchtime.
2. Chez Panisse, Berkeley
It has been criticized as pretentious and irrelevant, but Chez Panisse is still going strong after four decades of culinary excellence. It helped change the food scene in the country when it started writing daily menus based on the season and serving fresh and local food. The food is undeniably superb, whether you take it upstairs or downstairs. The upper level is a café with a lively and diversified atmosphere. Below it is a restaurant with Italian and Provencal leanings that serves only one menu each evening.
1. The French Laundry, Yountville
Thomas Keller used to be a chef in a restaurant in Manhattan that failed miserably. He then headed out west, first becoming a cook in a Los Angeles hotel, before emerging in Napa Valley to establish The French Laundry. Located in a turn-of-the-century stone building, the restaurant with the blue door is known for its contemporary American food served in a classical technique. There are two items to choose from the menu each day, one traditional and one vegetarian. Each has nine courses, and not a single ingredient is repeated throughout. The restaurant was a recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award in 2012.
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