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Top Ten California Restaurants

A highly subjective, and delicious, tour of eateries in sunny California, from L.A. in the south to wine country in the north.


The patio at Brix restaurant, Napa Valley.

The patio at Brix restaurant, Napa Valley.

Chinois on Main – Opened in 1983, this bustling Santa Monica mainstay in Wolfgang Puck’s empire pioneered East/West fusion anchored by California’s peerless ingredients. A compact, airy room fosters a convivial vibe with across-the-board appeal. Private room available for business meetings.

Matsuhisa – This is where it all began for Nobu Matsuhisa’s global empire of haute, Japanese-inflected restaurants. Drawing on influences from around the world, Matsuhisa’s food embraces creativity realized with top-notch ingredients. Patio seats 35 for private events. Restaurant can be bought out, too.

Petros – Classic Greek, given an haute twist, in Los Angeles’s Manhattan Beach. Decked out in California Cool, the space is casual and welcoming and the service professional. The 110-seat restaurant and 60-seat patio are available for group buyout.

Mediterraneo – Little dishes, big flavours, all with a playful Spanish, Italian, French and Greek slant. Hermosa Beach loves this fab ‘n’ funky tapas-focused resto, and why not? Every city should have a place like this. On Tuesdays, it’s two-for-one tapas, all day.

Brix – Italian, with a global slant, deep in Napa Valley wine country, a short drive from San Francisco. The view of the Brix Vineyard and Mayacamas Mountains is breathtaking. Three private-dining spaces, including the Reserve Wine Cellar, in the main dining room, and two other spaces feature private garden areas.

French Laundry – Located in a turn-of-the-century stone building, the French Laundry draws culinary pilgrims from around the world eager to sample Thomas Keller’s upscale, French-influenced cuisine. Reserve two months ahead for dinner. Ten-seat private dining room; alternatively, entire 60-seat restaurant can be bought out. Caters off-site events.

La Serenata de Garibaldi – Creative, spirited Mexican, highlighting seafood – say, fish tacos embellished with avocado and cilantro, or salmon enchiladas. Three casually fun Los Angeles locations, including a site in downtown L.A. offering semi-private dining in the 110-seat main space, which can also be bought out for groups.

Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa – A sprawling resort nestled in Rancho Mirage, in the luxurious Palm Springs area, Rancho Las Palmas offers several dining options, from upscale bluEmber to RBar and Splash Bar. Thanks to 41,000 sq. ft. of flexible space, it easily accommodates meetings and events.

Nepenthe – Nestled in rugged Big Sur, on California’s majestic Pacific Coast Highway, Nepenthe is perched 800 ft. above the ocean and offers spectacular views from its sprawling outdoor terrace. Located below Nepenthe and seating 80, the Café Kevah terrace is available for special events.

Yuca – For an authentic taste of L.A., visit this family-run parking-lot taco stand which, since 1976, has been dishing up homestyle Mexican fare in the Los Feliz neighbourhood. In 2005, the shredded-beef machaca and Yucatan slow-cooked pork won a James Beard Foundation “America’s Classics” Award.



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