Check Out California’s Newest Culinary Hotspots

Z&Y Peking Duck, San Francisco’s newest restaurant that celebrates the centuries-old. (Image: File Photo)

If you are headed to California this summer, make sure to add these amazing eateries to your list of places to visit

The latest culinary scene in California is redefining traditional cuisine by incorporating global influences and utilizing locally sourced ingredients. By prioritizing innovation and sustainability, this trend is giving rise to unique and environmentally-conscious dining experiences.

Check out the amazing list-

  1. The India ConnectPippal Launches Innovative Cocktail Program- Pippal, one of San Francisco’s newest, innovative cocktail programs, tells the rich story of India’s heritage landmarks through the eyes of the team’s creative lead bartender, Izler Thomas. Every cocktail on the menu pays homage to a specific heritage property in India and incorporates flavour profiles that reflect the ingredients found in that region.
  2. LA Welcomes Recently-Opened SHORThe team behind a twice Michelin-recognized restaurant opened the doors to their second culinary venture, SHOR, an experience inspired by bazaars, in the heart of the Hawaiian Gardens neighborhood in LA. Led by Chef Imran ‘Ali’ Mookhi, SHOR is advancing Mookhi’s mission to revolutionize high-end Desi cuisine in the West. Inspired by Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, SHOR’s menu offers 100% halal global flavours in sophisticated presentations. To complete this immersive experience, the team brought on Executive Pastry Chef Mark Medina, Le Cordon Bleu Alum, to develop an elevated pastry menu that embodies the integral flavours of Desi cuisine. Adhering to the halal non-alcoholic tradition, SHOR features a unique non-alcoholic beverage selection including zero-proof versions of classic cocktails and a water bar.
  3. Baar BaarChef Sujan Sarkar, a James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalist Nominee, is creating elevated Indian cuisine at the newly opened Baar Baar in Downtown Los Angeles. The bold and imaginative menu explores the many flavors and textures of authentic Indian cuisine with a contemporary approach. Guests can enjoy nightly tasting menus or visit the restaurant for Sunday Bollywood Brunch, featuring a live DJ and the right atmosphere to get up and dance. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, guests can indulge in bar bites and Bollywood-inspired cocktails during Baar Baar Hour.
  4. More in CulinaryNew Restaurants in Costa Mesa- Straight from Mexico City, Churrería EI Moro introduces its US flagship location in Northgate Market, offering the best churros and chocolate since 1935. The Plot, a near-zero waste kitchen, features 100% plant-based dishes rich in flavour and sustainability, marking the newest location by a dynamic husband and wife team. Maizano reshapes the landscape of elevated Mexican cuisine, offering a contemporary interpretation of traditional recipes from Yucatán, Puebla, and Oaxaca. Costa Mesa Kitchens, a ghost kitchen, boasts over 24 unique restaurants, including Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Kitchen, creating a bustling culinary playground.Slow & Low Becomes Elk Grove’s Newest Smokehouse- Located in Historic Elk Grove, Slow & Low will occupy a 2,400 square-foot brick building that has been completely renovated with a spacious outdoor patio and state-of-the-art custom smoker. The restaurant will feature barbecue favourites in addition to vegan and vegetarian options. Michael Hargis, founder of the popular LowBrau German beer hall in Midtown Sacramento, is expanding his presence to the greater Sacramento region with the addition of Slow & Low in Elk Grove.
  5. New Healdsburg Mocktail Trail DebutsContinuing the trend towards embracing low or no-alcohol options, the Mocktail Trail in Healdsburg offers diverse mocktail menus from many popular Healdsburg restaurants. Mixologists at Lo & Behold, Spoon Bar, Bravas Bar de Tapas, Chalkboard, Goodnights Prime Steak & Spirits, Little Saint, The Rooftop at Harmon House, and Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar have crafted drinks that feature a no-spirits menu going well beyond typical alcohol-free cocktails. From Spanish-inspired mocktails to coastal creations, each stop on the trail promises a unique and delightful experience.
  6. Whaling Bar ReopensFollowing a 10-year closure, the Whaling Bar reopened in early 2024 located inside the Valencia Hotel. Originally opened in the 1940s, the Whaling Bar was a favourite among notable locals and luminaries like Tom Hanks and Robin Williams. The new rendition will incorporate a new design but will bring back some original nautical-themed paintings and cocktails. The cocktail lounge will continue as part of the hotel, but its cocktail and bar menu will be created and managed by the SDCM Restaurant Group.
  7. The Bar Debuts at Short Stories HotelThe Fairfax neighbourhood welcomed The Bar at Short Stories Hotel, an elevated lounge and bar concept offering a cocktail-forward experience. Nestled in Short Stories Hotel’s central courtyard oasis, the lounge evokes a secret garden sanctuary with European and African touches. Their craft cocktails feature unexpected pairings that are also creative and playful. The wine list spotlights a succinct yet broad collection of old and new world labels, with a strong focus on California winemaking. The culinary selection highlights classic American fare, boasting familiar favourites and refined small plates, with an emphasis on shareable dining.
  8. Downtown Mariposa Welcomes Happy Goat DinerThe farm-to-table restaurant serves updated American classic food for breakfast and lunch with food grown at the Happy Goat Farm just a few miles away. The 1,850-acre farm was established in 2020 and is dedicated to serving the local community through a variety of programs. Starting in 2024, the afternoon Fun on the Farm Happy Hour experience will be available to the general public. In the evenings, guests can snuggle with and feed the goats while enjoying a cocktail made with ingredients from the farm.
  9. Tank GarageTank Garage Winery, a wine brand and 1930s-era gas station-turned-winery in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga, is opening a second tasting room in Paso Robles in spring 2024. The winery features eclectic wine blends and vintage vibes, to make wines with soul and purpose.
  10. Z&Y Peking Duck Z&Y Peking Duck, San Francisco’s newest restaurant that celebrates the centuries-old, Chinese culinary icon the Beijing Peking Duck, is now open with the completion of its new event space designed for social and corporate events and VIP parties. Featuring modern Chinese décor with a vibrant red and gold colour scheme, the space has been completely remodelled for private parties and events for up to 60 people.
  11. Luna Red Nestled beside the Mission de Tolosa in downtown San Luis Obispo, Luna Redd delivers an extraordinary dining and drinking experience in a vibrant and artistic ambience. Chef Shaun Behrens’ vision is embodied in a menu of small plates, reflecting his deep commitment to utilizing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.
  12. New Restaurant Openings in Solvang from Two Local ChefsChef Budi Kazali, former chef and owner of the beloved Ballard Inn, will return to the kitchen in his forthcoming restaurant concept. Similar to The Gathering Table, the restaurant aims to open in the spring of 2024 with menu items of mixed cuisines meant for convivial sharing, most with an Asian cuisine-inspired influence. Named in honour of Chef Cullen Campbell’s former Phoenix, AZ hospitality concepts, “Crudo” restaurant and bar will open this spring. Crudo will later be joined by a sister sushi and izakaya-style restaurant.

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