It’s that time of year to start making your Southern California dining bucket list for 2017.
Throughout the past 12 months, we have dined on unforgettable meals in some pretty dreamy places – from homestyle diners with nothing but comfort food on the menu to fancy schmancy eateries with stunning SoCal views. We have pretty much seen and eaten it all!
Looking back on our favorite restaurants in 2016, here are 11 spots in SoCal that you should definitely add to your must-eat list.
1. Petit Trois -- 718 N Highland Avenue in Los Angeles
Tiny restaurants were all the rage in 2016. And, moving into 2017, they still are the place to be. One of our favorite tiny restaurants in SoCal is hiding in a random strip mall in a location that you'd never guess housed a french eatery. Food is cooked to perfection at Petit Trois and the cozy ambiance just adds to the charm of the experience.
2. The Deck on Laguna Beach -- 627 Sleepy Hollow Lane in Laguna Beach
If you live in Southern California there's no reason why you shouldn't be dining outside every chance you get. One of our favorite waterfront spots is The Deck at Laguna Beach where you can feast on elegant meals with the ocean as the backdrop. You really can't get any more SoCal than this!
3. Bear Flag Fish Company -- 3421 Via Lido
It's hard to go wrong with fish tacos in SoCal, but we can't resist our favorite spot in Orange County for the tastiest fish tacos ever. The vibe here is filled with loyal locals who appreciate the incredibly fresh fish that is caught daily.
4. Cowboy Star -- 640 10th Ave in San Diego
Our favorite steakhouse of 2016 goes to Cowboy Star in San Diego. The sumptuous setting and elegant meals make this a go-to spot for a night of fine dining. Plus, cuts of meat sourced from humanely raised cattle make our hearts and tummies quite happy.
5. Sqirl -- 720 Virgil Avenue, #4 in Los Angeles
This bustling spot is a favorite for a comforting morning or afternoon meal. You might have to wait for a table at this popular restaurant in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, but the wait is well worth it. And don't forget to try the jam -- it's homemade and it's delicious!
6. The Taj Cafe -- 574 E Main Street in Ventura
For a taste of ethnic cuisine that will delight your tummy, make sure to check out The Taj Cafe. Ancient Indian recipes are what you'll find at this cozy and inviting eatery in the heart of downtown Ventura. Everything on the menu is a hit, but the naan bread is one item you won't want to miss.
7. Cold Spring Tavern -- 5995 Stagecoach Road in Santa Barbara
An oldie but a goodie, Cold Spring Tavern has been a fixture in SoCal since the 1800s. Yes, you read that right -- the 1800s! Not only is this a historic restaurant to visit, but it also serves up incredibly delicious food and provides a warm and romantic ambiance that's one of our favorites on this list.
8. Julian Cafe and Bakery -- 2112 Main Street in Julian
The town of Julian in San Diego County is full of cuteness. And it's also full of apple pie. To find the very best apple pie on the planet, just head to Julian Cafe. They also serve home cooked meals that are out of this world, so start with a main dish and then save room for dessert...and ice cream!!
9. The Busy Bee Cafe -- 478 E Main Street in Ventura
If you love a good retro spot that will take you back to a different decade, you'll want to head to Busy Bee Cafe in Ventura. With classic burgers, thick milkshakes, and jukeboxes at every table, you'll be taken back in time to the 1950s at this retro cafe reminiscent of Happy Days.
10. Back on the Beach -- 445 PCH in Santa Monica
If the idea of dining with sand between your toes makes you all giddy, then you're going to love Back On The Beach Cafe in Santa Monica. Why? Because it's literally right on the beach. And you will literally get sand in your toes. Go for the food and the view and walk away a happy camper.
11. The Crab Cooker -- 2200 Newport Blvd in Newport Beach
The Crab Cooker in Newport Beach is a friendly and familiar place in Orange County that deserves being on every list of must-eat restaurants. It's the kind of spot you can take the whole family and always be assured everyone will have a good time.
So there you have it – the 11 restaurants in Southern California that you must add to your bucket list. If you’ve already dined in one of these memorable spots, go ahead and make it an encore performance and treat yourself again.