As the title hints at, this will be a post for me to rave about my favorite restaurants.
Unfortunately, we will not be including restaurants from New York, due to the fact that we already have a post dedicated to it (and, more importantly, because if we DID include it, every single restaurant would be from there. Go figure). Rather, this will be a post including restaurants from Vancouver, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Kauai, the Big Island, Big Sur, San Francisco, and anywhere else (New York excluded) that we've failed to mention. (I'm getting excited just thinking about it). So I'll waste no more time... here's a list of my Top Twenty Favorite Restaurants.
(Please note: these restaurants are not listed in any order of sort, only by location.)
L'Abattoir is probably one of the most memorable meals I've ever had. I remember that every gave my brother and I funny looks, because we were young kids in what's probably the nicest restaurant in Vancouver (to top it off, it's a French bistro, which is pretty complicated and sophisticated flavors). I also remember loving the environment, and, more importantly, the FOOD. We were served plate after plate of some of the best-tasting food I've ever had. I think my taste buds started worshipping L'Abattoir by the time we left that night :).
What To Get: everything? (no, seriously)
Much like with L'Abattoir, our visit here earned us a few odd looks. Bao Bei is my favorite restaurant we went to in Vancouver, hands down. For me, Asian food is hard to resist, and this is no exception. Throughout our meal there, we constantly reordered dishes (think: tapas) because we couldn't stop thinking about how amazing they tasted. If I had to pick one restaurant to go to right this minute (my mouth is watering just thinking about it), it would definitely be Bao Bei.
What To Get: the mantou. By the time we finished the first three of these pork belly buns, we were pleading to order more. But really, you can't go wrong.
We had heard loads of good things about Tacofino, a restaurant just down the street from Peckinpah in Gastown, but to our disappointment we found that it was closed that day (we tried again the next day and it was open). Nearly down to chewing our fingers off and cooking them for lunch, we wandered Gastown until seeing Peckinpah. Barbecue? I thought. I'm in! I'm thrilled that we happened upon Peckinpah, because boy, was that good.
We ordered fries, beans, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and brisket, and ate it all within ten minutes (don't judge). It was the best barbecue I'd ever tasted. I think I recall my parents actually trying to talk the waitress into convincing the owners to open a Peckinpah in Santa Barbara.
What To Get: everything mentioned above :)
We managed to go to Hawksworth at least two times during our trip to Vancouver, and I savored every second of our breakfasts there. This is another one of those restaurants that contradicts with the overall idea that hotel food isn't good. My mom and I split a smoked salmon sandwich (which was to-die-for, by the way), and my brother ordered french toast that was drizzled in chocolate and sprinkled with caramelized hazelnuts. My dad got simple eggs, but even that was amazing.
What To Get: smoked salmon, french toast
La Super Rica
Okay, so naturally I'm going to include a TON of places from Santa Barbara, as that's where my family and I live. You'd expect Santa Barbara to be overflowing with amazing food, but actually, we constantly find ourselves groping for new restaurants to make our mouths water. Which makes listing our favorite restaurants here all the more meaningful.
La Super Rica has been mentioned quite a bit over the past ten years - especially by celebrities. Julia Child said it was her favorite Mexican restaurant; Katy Perry sang about it in her song This Is How We Do. Likewise, when singer "Lorde" went on tour and came to Santa Barbara, my friends (the ones who went to her concert) told me that she talked about La Super Rica, too. But trust me - you have reason to believe the hype. La Super Rica is truly amazing. Although unassuming on the outside, this restaurant is one to make your taste buds yearn to return. With Mexican food that's bound to bowl you over, La Super Rica is definitely one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.
What To Get: the sopas (my brother and I like to call them "Mexican pizzas"), the La Super Rica especial, the bacon queso, and the quesadillas.
I don't normally mention a lot of breakfast places when I talk about my favorite restaurants, but Bree'Osh is one of those places not to be ignored. It just opened quite recently in Santa Barbara, but still manages to have some of the best breakfast food and french pastries that I've ever had. It's so good, in fact, that you really can't go wrong when it comes to what to order. Once, I came and ordered the croque monsieur (one of my brother's favorites) with a side of bacon. The french-speaking owner thought I wanted croque monsieur and an egg/bacon sandwich, which is what I walked out with. When I tried it at home, I was astonished. The egg/bacon sandwich was literally to die for. So really, at Bree'Osh you can make no mistakes.
What To Get: the egg/bacon sandwich, the croque monsieur, the smoked salmon, and... um, all the pastries (no, I'm not a diabetic).
My family has traveled quite a bit, and we've never come across sushi so amazing as Arigato's. Even in our frequent travels to Hawaii, we've never been faced with such incredible seafood. So you'll have to understand my excitement that such a good restaurant (yes, contradicting my original claim about Santa Barbara's food), is located just minutes away from where we live. To give you some perspective, you know that time when your parents offer to take you somewhere, anywhere, for dinner, and you respond without a moment's hesitation? Every single time I'm offered that, Arigato is on my lips. Yes. It's really that good.
What To Get: the salmon sushi, the miso glazed black cod, the teriyaki chicken (if you don't like sushi as much, like my brother), the ahi carpaccio, and the sunomono.
On the Alley
If you've ever been to Santa Barbara, chances are you've heard of Brophy Bros. Set right up against the Santa Barbara Harbor with great food and an incredible view, it's hard not to resist. So when we discovered that the owners of Brophy Bros. had opened another restaurant - one "on the alley" that borders Brophy's - we couldn't wait to try it out. We weren't disappointed. On the Alley is our "go to" restaurant for lunch, and it has been for a few years now. We never tire of its awesome food (pretty much the same menu as Brophy's, just a lot more casual) - and the short, less-than-a-minute walk to the Harbor doesn't hurt, either.
What To Get: the clam chowder, the baja fish taco, the chicken club wrap, fish and chips, and the salmon salad.
Empty Bowl is located in the new (as of about a year or two now) Santa Barbara Public Market. It started out with a wide array of restaurants; unfortunately, Empty Bowl is now one of the few left. We're thankful, too, because its Thai food is some of the absolute BEST we've ever had. My parents go there so often for lunch that the waiters have come to know them and expect their order. My brother and I go head-over-heels for it, too.
What To Get: the bangkok street noodles and the northern thailand curry noodle "khoa soi"
Chicken In a Barrel
Don't let the name throw you. We probably walked past this place about a thousand times before finally suggesting we give it a try. Boy, were we shocked at the amazing chicken. To be honest, I don't love chicken - it wouldn't be my first pick for food - and I usually find it rather dry for me. But Chicken In a Barrel has the most incredible chicken I have EVER had. Once we started eating at this Kauai restaurant, we couldn't stop. We ordered takeout every night of our stay there.
Where In Hawaii: Chicken In a Barrel has locations in both Hanalei and Kapaa, both on Kauai
What To Get: Isn't it obvious? The ribs! No, just kidding. Get the chicken.
Kohala Burger and Taco
You know you've hit the spot when you start to daydream about a restaurant - that being Kohala Burger and Taco. We first stumbled upon this restaurant after a trip to Hapuna Beach, right next to the infamous Mauna Kea Resort. We were planning on getting some shave ice, and found ourselves getting hungry for lunch. Kohala Burger, being one of the few restaurants in that area, seemed the obvious choice (also, probably because it was directly next to the shave ice). As with Chicken In a Barrel, we were blown away by the incredible food. Every day since on our trip to the Big Island, we managed to sneak in a bit of Kohala Burger (my stomach is growling just thinking of it).
Where In Hawaii: Kawaihae, Big Island
What To Get: the burgers. The tacos. The shakes. :) (like with so many of these other restaurants, you really can't go wrong).
Lemongrass would be my number-one pick for Thai food. We found ourselves eating here as often as possible - it's just that good. The food is beyond incredible. My dad went out to Hawaii for a couple of weeks by himself before the rest of us had ever been, and came back talking ecstatically about Lemongrass. He had reason to. I don't think I can go on much longer writing about this place, because I'm seriously salivating right now.... don't judge.
Where In Hawaii: Waikoloa, Big Island
What To Get: the chicken lettuce wrap, the thai beef salad, the orange chicken, and the papaya salad.
The Beach Tree
Honestly, what's not to love? With great food, a breathtaking view, and a wonderful environment, The Beach Tree is a restaurant hard to resist. Located within the Four Seasons Hualalai, my family and I love coming here for both the food and the experience. While waiting for our food, my brother and I kick off our shoes and play on the beach and wade through the waves, often spotting a few sea turtles while we're at it. After dinner, my family and I take a walk around the beautiful resort. But don't let the amount of talking I'm doing about the location deter you from the food, which is nearly as good as the view.
Where In Hawaii: Four Seasons Hualalai, Big Island
What To Get: the burger, the pizza, the ahi burger, anything on the kids menu (if you're a kid, of course), and the bon bons, pictured above (yes, you heard me right).
Joan's On Third
Joan's On Third is the type of place I dream about (their smoked salmon in particular). If you haven't already been, you NEED to. Seriously. My mom and I love places like this (think: Dean and DeLuca in NYC), and every time we drive down to LAX for a trip, we go out of our way to make a stop at Joan's first. (by the way, don't let the name throw you. Joan's was originally "on third" street, but has now opened a location in Studio City as well). The food is so good, I literally rave about it to all my friends, teachers, strangers... everyone.
What To Get: EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING! (and if you go, I'm jealous :).
Although we don't go often, Mozza has Italian food to die for. You can't take five steps into this restaurant without pausing to take a deep whiff of the Italian-food-smelling air. With pizza, pasta, and other Italian dishes to make you start salivating like a Komodo dragon (don't ask), Mozza is a restaurant to daydream about.
What To Get: I know this is getting redundant, but you really can't go wrong.
I honestly could live in Big Sur, I love it so much. It doesn't hurt that it has such an amazing restaurant located within it, too. And trust me, Nepenthe isn't just good for its killer views (see above). The food is incredible, too. In fact, I think my mom has the Nepenthe cookbook. Every time we go to Big Sur, we take a special trip to Nepenthe, unable to resist temptation. Though our Big Sur trips are few, Nepenthe always pops up in our memories as one of the highlights of our stay. (Nepenthe is also an amazing place to see California condors, an immensely endangered species. However, we always glimpse a few circling over the ocean just feet away from the restaurant deck.)
What To Get: anything. It's all to die for.
My mom cooks meals from Nopalito weekly. She has reason to - Nopalito's Mexican food is insane. We look forward to going there every time we visit San Francisco, and never tire of it. The food is mouthwateringly good. The food is filled with flavor and spice, making my taste buds squeal with joy. I always love going there, getting my mouth heated up, and then ordering some of their popsicles to (somehow) split with my family.
What To Get: ask your waiter what their favorite things on the menu are and try an array of foods, from soups to tacos.
The Slanted Door
The Slanted Door remains one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco. We've gone there countless times (every single trip to San Francisco, in fact, and there have been a lot of them) and seem to enjoy it more and more every meal. As soon as we discovered they had a cookbook, we snatched it up - that's how good it is. This restaurant opened my brother and my eyes to a whole new world of ethnic food: Vietnamese food. We instantly fell in love with it and always beg to go to the Slanted Door.
What To Get: the green papaya salad (shown above), the cellophane noodles, the seared ahi tuna, and the cotton candy (no joke).
il Canne Rosso
A quick note: go to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Many of the restaurants listed here, including il Canne Rosso, are from there. In short, it's a foodie's heaven.
Il Canne Rosso is another one of two breakfast places listed here, which means you know it's good. We try to go here as often as possible. I remember the first time we ate at il Canne Rosso, we were blown away by the incredible, rich-flavored breakfast menu. It's literally incredible, shockingly so. I'm not even sure how they make their food so good, but as long as I eat there, I'm stoked.
What To Get: the cinnamon toast, the eggs, the bacon... and then eat it all together. You won't be disappointed.
Three words. Best. Pizza. Ever. What more can I say? I'm not usually a huge fan of pizza, unless it happens to be super gourmet and fancy, but I can always make an exception for Pizzeria Delfina. It's outstanding. We only recently discovered this restaurant, but still come back every time we go to San Francisco. It's become our new favorite restaurant there. The great thing about Pizzeria Delfina is that it has extremely high-end pizza, yet still appeals to younger kids who are used to simpler pizzas, too. It's just insanely good, period.
What To Get: any of the pizzas. What else?
A little bit about us...
We're a family of four (a daughter, a son, and their mother and father.... oh, and a six-month old Standard Poodle puppy). But we all share one thing in common: our love of travel and adventure!
Hotel of the Month
Solage Calistoga: the image of perfection. We stayed here recently on our trip to Napa Valley and couldn't have been more amazed at this stunning resort. The rooms, each one an individual cottage, were immaculate and private. The property itself contained multiple pools and other amenities, all of which were designed beautifully. One of our favorite parts had to be the Michelin-star restaurant, which served some of the best food we'd ever eaten. Solage Calistoga was the perfect fit for our family (and dog!), and we are eager to stay there again.