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16 California Restaurants Every Foodie Should Try

These restaurants are some of the best in the west, as chosen by BuzzFeed staff. Find more culinary adventures in the Golden State by following California's Dream Eater on Instagram.

1. Alma – Los Angeles

Courtesy of Lani Trock
Courtesy of Lani Trock

Alma has been called "the most exciting restaurant in Los Angeles." It won Bon Appétit's award for "The Best New Restaurant In America" in 2013; Food & Wine named chef/owner Ari Taymor "Best Chef" in 2014; and the restaurant's vegetables are grown exclusively for Alma by Courtney Guerra, an urban farmer in the L.A. neighborhood of Venice.

2. Ahwahnee Dining Room – Yosemite National Park

Courtesy of Ahwahnee Dining Room

Good news, nature lovers: Once you're done hiking in Yosemite, you don't even have to leave the park to have an elegant meal. The organic and locally grown options on the menu of the Ahwahnee Dining Room are created by executive chef Percy Whatley, who has prepared dinner at the prestigious Beard House.

3. The Sardine Factory – Monterey

Courtesy of The Sardine Factory

Monterey's Cannery Row was made famous by John Steinbeck, and places like the Sardine Factory keep Cannery Row a must-see when in Monterey. The Sardine Factory has a beautiful interior, an award for the best wine list in America, and a menu that has attracted chefs like Julia Child and Rachael Ray to the restaurant's dining room.

4. Blue Bayou – Disneyland

Courtesy of Blue Bayou
Courtesy of Blue Bayou

The best part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland isn't technically on the ride. The ride's boats float right past Blue Bayou, a restaurant that sits by a gorgeous plantation-style house under perpetual twilight and paper lanterns. The ambience isn't the only reason to come here — the filet mignon and the cajun-spiced salmon are just some of the many delicious dishes at Blue Bayou Restaurant.

5. The Cellar – Fullerton

Courtesy of The Cellar

If dining next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride isn't in the cards for you, consider a visit to The Cellar in nearby Fullerton. The Cellar's interior was designed and built by the craftsmen who created the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Their French cuisine has made The Cellar one of America's 10 best French restaurants.

6. Post Ranch Inn – Big Sur

Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn
Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn

A good chef knows that presentation matters. Well, how about a restaurant perched on the cliffs of Big Sur for presentation? The stunning view at Post Ranch Inn is coupled with their nine-course Taste of Big Sur menu that immerses visitors in the culinary offerings of the region.

7. The Firehouse – Sacramento

Courtesy of The Firehouse

The Firehouse is steeped in history. It sits on Sacramento's riverfront, known as the "gateway to the goldfields" during the Gold Rush. The building itself is actually an old Sacramento firehouse from the late 1800s. Executive Chef Deneb Williams' own history as a brewer and winemaker ensures that fine beverages will be available for pairing with the food at The Firehouse.

8. Lassen Ale Works – Susanville

Courtesy of Lassen Ale Works
Courtesy of Lassen Ale Works

The Shasta Cascade region in northern California has a tremendous amount to offer beer lovers. Northern California has a ton of breweries, and Lassen Ale Works is a great starting point for craft brew aficionados. Nestled in the historic Pioneer Saloon, Lassen Ale Works makes a full flight of great beers made with local NorCal flavor.

9. Frances – San Francisco

Courtesy of Frances

It's hard for a restaurant to impress in a foodie mecca like San Francisco, but Frances does it. The exemplary atmosphere and menu have led reviewers to say that Frances has a very metropolitan vibe while at the same time feeling as intimate as a dinner at home.

10. The Hobbit – Orange

Courtesy of The Hobbit
Courtesy of The Hobbit

The Hobbit has garnered many awards for its unique dining experience which, like many great stories (culinary or otherwise), has three acts. It all kicks off with a trip to the wine cellar, where guests choose wine alongside the executive chef; the second act involves a light meat and salad, then a chance to visit the kitchen; and the third act is the main course followed by dessert and then coffee, liqueurs, and fine cognacs.

11. Circa 59 – Palm Springs

Courtesy of Riviera Palm Springs

In the Riviera Palm Springs hotel, you'll find Circa 59, a restaurant with an ambience that mixes mid-century modern architecture with the glamorous feel of old Hollywood. The restaurant's menu is ever-changing, due in part to Circa 59's commitment to local food. Scores of Southern California farms supply the restaurant with seafood, meats, and fresh produce from the Coachella Valley.

12. The Spanish Patio at The Mission Inn – Riverside

Courtesy of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

The Mission Inn has hosted nine U.S. presidents during its existence, so you know you're being treated to the good stuff here. The Inn's Spanish Patio has won awards for its Champagne Sunday Brunch. They even have a whole mimosa bar devoted to keeping your mimosas flowing on those special Sundays.

13. The Belvedere Room – Bakersfield

Courtesy of The Belvedere Room

The Belvedere Room, located in Bakersfield's Padre Hotel, offers fine dining at the southern end of California's Central Valley. Guests can enjoy dishes like Shrimp Pappardelle, Apple Glazed Cornish Game Hen, or just a satisfying cut of steak in an atmosphere that brings modern and neoclassical design elements together.

14. Cowboys and Turbans – Los Angeles

Courtesy of Cowboys and Turbans
Courtesy of Cowboys and Turbans

Southern California is known for its Mexican food, but you might not think about it as a place for great Indian food as well. Cowboys and Turbans, a Mexican-Indian fusion restaurant in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood, aims to change that. If you're looking to try an aloo gobi quesadilla or a chicken masala burrito, this is the place to be. Plus, Cowboys and Turbans was voted best outdoor restaurant in Los Angeles, so it's a great place to take in the region's famously warm weather.

15. Restaurant 301 – Eureka

Courtesy of Restaurant 301
Courtesy of Restaurant 301

27 years ago, Restaurant 301 planted an edible flower and vegetable garden with the aim of serving the fruits of their labor to their customers. It doesn't get more garden-to-table than a restaurant that plants its own garden. Restaurant 301 also boasts a wine list that is 3,400 wines strong.

16. The Prado – San Diego

Courtesy of Cohn Restaurant Group

San Diego's Balboa Park is a historic jewel in the middle of the city, and The Prado is right in the middle of Balboa Park. San Diego is also home to some of the state's best craft breweries, many of which are represented on tap at The Prado.

There are way more than 16 great meals to be had in California. Seek out more of California’s culinary best by following @CaliforniaDreamEater on Instagram.