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Your road trip restaurant guide to the California coastline


The California coastline is over 1100 miles long. And if you’re brave enough to make the long drive from San Diego to San Francisco, get the most out of your trip with California’s best restaurants. Foodies across the country agree that California’s diverse food scene is some of the country’s best.

Say goodbye to side-of-the-road fast food: We’ve gathered some of the best restaurants along the coastline to turn your California road trip into a gourmet food tour.

San Diego— A trip through San Diego wouldn’t be complete without Phil’s BBQ. Known for their baby back or beef ribs, Phil’s is a can’t-miss spot.


LA/Santa Monica — For those looking to grab lunch and stock up on snacks for later, there’s no better stop than Bay Cities. Located in Santa Monica, the restaurant and market’s most popular items include “The Godmother,” a Prosciutto, ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami and provolone sandwich, and the burrata caprese sandwich.

Santa Barbara — This scenic city’s best tacos can be found at Lilly’s Tacos, where patrons can choose from grilled or steamed corn tortillas. Some of the joint’s most popular items include the carne asada tacos and the adobada (marinated pork) tacos.

San Luis Obispo/ Pismo Beach — Sure, San Francisco may be known for their bread bowls, but Splash Cafe is giving Boudin a run for its money. Try the fish and chips or the award-winning clam chowder, and don’t forget the bread bowl!

Cambria — If you’re in the mood for a sit down meal and global cuisine, check out Robin’s. With live music, romantic lights and three full menus for brunch, lunch and dinner, Robin’s is an any-time destination on your trip. Order the grilled naan pizette, the lamb chops or the artisan cheese plate.

Big Sur — Since 1949, Nepenthe Restaurant has been serving up great views and even better food. The spot, nestled in the Santa Lucia Mountains, serves up lunch, dinner and desserts, along with an acclaimed wine and specialty drink list. Try the restaurant’s signature Ambrosia burger, a ground steak sandwich served on a French roll.

Santa Cruz — If you’re on the hunt for the ultimate drink, look no further than Santa Cruz’s Cafe Brasil. Their Juice Bar features fruit smoothies and juices made from scratch. Choose from acai bowls, avocado shakes and blended juices in eight different flavors.

San Francisco — Round out your road trip at Sweet Maple, a breakfast and lunch restaurant serving cool twists on breakfast classics. You can’t pass up the Millionaire’s Bacon, thick cuts of bacon baked with brown sugar. If you’re in the mood for a vegetarian option, try the potato medley.


Elaina Steingard