Travelling through California is one of the world’s greatest road trips. Aside from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the intricate details which make these cities so unique, the state also welcomes almost 35 million visitors annually to its 25 national parks, including Yosemite, Death Valley, and the Mojave Desert.
So how do you fuel a road trip through California? With food, glorious food, of course. Gnom gnom gnom.
And what do you think of when you think of American food? Well, let’s just say it probably isn’t salad. So this week I’ve sniffed out some of California’s most-revered food, and served it up to you, right here on the STA Travel Blog in full-fat, gut-busting glory.
Tuck in to…
California’s Best Budget Eats
The Original Mel’s
565 Howe Ave, Sacramento and other locations
The Original Mel’s has been dishing out delish since 1947, and these days you’ll find them in 10 locations across the Golden State. But what’s for lunch? Chow down on a Reuben, and you’ll be sinking your teeth into a fresh grilled corn rye bun, stacked with hot sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, oozing in Thousand Island dressing.
2101 Broadway, Sacramento and other locations
Two guesses what this joint serves? Yes, that’s right: the all-American pancake, complete with every type of topping you could ever wish for. Personally, I’m quite tempted by their No. 6: chicken fried steak smothered in country gravy served with a couple of eggs. But where’s the pancakes? There’s three on the side, of course!
6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles
Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery has been a local favourite for over 70 years, and prides itself on quality home-cooked food, within the classic 1930′s experience. Swerve your instincts, and snag a Corned Beef Hash for a truly American experience. A hearty mound of meat and potatoes, lovingly hashed together with a fistful of spices.
Corned beef hash… and a twig of thyme, obviously. | Image by jeffreyw
Bette’s Oceanview Diner
1807 4th Street, Berkeley
This local favourite celebrates its 30 year anniversary in 2012 and is best-known for its pancakes and scones, but also prides itself on making the best of the rest, with premium ingredients. Our pick of the menu is Bette’s Potato Pancakes, served with homemade apple sauce and sour cream. The souffle pancakes are a treat, too!
Main St., Cabazon
This is the capital of comfort food, and one of the southwest’s finest truck stops, complete with a walk-in statue of a T-Rex to echo the call of the Dino Burgers inside. (Because that’s what all good truck stops should have, right?) But don’t be blinded by the meat and veg, whistle for the Coconut Cream Pie and gorge on goodness.
6255 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
This imaginatively named waffle house takes its inspiration from the American west, but you’ll find it along Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard serving blockbuster bites. Our superstar pick is a bun, disguised as a waffle: introducing, the Sticky Bun Waffle; a brown sugar waffle spiked with cinnamon, walnuts, raisins, and a maple glaze.
Plate, meet Pancake | Image by mockstar
2115 Kelly Street, Hayward
Frozen in burger nirvana, this gem is widely believed to be on of the west coast’s finest burger joints. Sloshing out perfect chocolate malt shakes, and spicy chilli dogs earns them fan points, but it’s the grilled-to-order 1/3 pounder Baby Burger, which steals the show with its crispy bacon and jack cheese for under $5.
The Original Pantry
877 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
The Original Pantry has been serving Angelenos with hearty portions since 1924, and swears by its mantra, “We never close. We’re never without a customer.” And who are we to argue, especially when we’ve got a mouthful of their ham steak and eggs, with a side of garlic toast. And a coffee. All for less than $11.
St. Francis Fountain
2801 24th Street, San Francisco
SF’s oldest ice cream parlour, comes with a reputation for serving up some of the country’s thickest shakes, plus classic burgers, flat-iron favourites and grilled breakfasts. Our pick however, is The 49er. Named after the city’s American football team, this tasty toastie packs the forward line with egg salad, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo(nnaise).
3489 16th Street, San Francisco
Ike’s has only been open a few years, but in that time it’s earned a reputation for serving some of California’s finest (and biggest) eats, featuring Ike’s Dirty Secret Sauce baked straight into the bread. Feeling brave? Devour the Kryptonite: seven types of meat, heaps of cheese, stuffed jalapeno poppers, and beer battered onion rings. Ouch!
Have you worked up an appetite?
Feeling stuffed just reading about them?
Not only is California one of America’s foodie destinations, it’s also one of the best places to take a tour. At the time of writing (I’ve always wanted to write that) STA Travel are offering up to 25% off many North America tours — including the California Highlights and the Wild Western — for bookings made by 23 December.
Can you muster the energy to share your favourite eats in California? Spread it into the comments below and whet the appetite of thousands of travellers from across the country, and around the world.