The West Coast is a hub for creative types and celebrities. And the hottest celebrities these days are chefs, food bloggers, urban farmers and anyone on the cusp of food culture. So when it comes to fine dining, my L.A. roots tell me that the West is best. It all starts with the variety of fresh ingredients that are grown here and the splashy ways that West Coast creatives infuse them with their larger-than-life personalities to turn out new dishes, restaurants and food concepts. Read on for a taste of L.A., San Francisco and Seattle’s evolving restaurants, food trucks and farmers markets.
It says something about this city’s food that one of the hippest jobs in Los Angeles these days is that of food blogger. Bloggers are writing about everything from great ethnic foods and food truck festivals to hot spots that make use of organic and sustainable produce grown in this bountiful agricultural region. If you’re visiting, stay in Santa Monica, West Hollywood or downtown for easy access to the best in L.A. food.
The most respected “restaurant” to come along in L.A. in years is run out of a truck. After two and half years in business, Roy Choi’s Kogi truck attracts foodies who queue up in lines sometimes numbering in to the hundreds to eat his mix of Korean and Mexican street food. Check the website to see where Choi’s five trucks will be serving up spicy pork tacos, Kim chi quesadillas and short rib sliders, all at great prices. Kogi, the granddaddy of the food truck craze, also recently opened its first casual sit-down restaurant, Chego, in Palms.
Santa Monica Farmer’s Market
Top chefs, bloggers and power moms clog this market every Wednesday morning to buy produce like Vietnamese mint, Persian mulberries and Black Muslim figs. The market has been going strong for 30 years from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Arizona Ave. between 4th St. and Ocean Ave. Visit to see and sample delicious and unusual produce and to enjoy great people watching.
With food connoisseurs the world over calling it one of the best restaurants in the country, this modern seafood scene offers the ultimate dining experience. Expertly blended flavors, sustainable fish, tableside views of the kitchen in action and excellent service make Providence a dream dining experience.
Most tourists visiting San Francisco list great restarants as one of their top reasons for visiting the city by the Bay. Imaginative chefs with access to a thriving agricultural market make this an evolving and inspiring place for great food. Wherever you choose to stay in the city, a great spot to eat is only a cable car ride away.
Commonwealth calls itself a Progressive American restaurant, which in part refers to its practice of giving ten dollars from the sale of each tasting menu to local charities, a way to allow “conscientious indulgence”, as the restaurant calls it. Those indulgences include interesting twists on the tasting menu craze, including six-course tasting menus featuring tasty takes on sea urchin, hen and lamb cheeks.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Ferry Building Marketplace
The city’s old Ferry Building on the water at Market Street has been transformed into a beautiful shopping area with restaurants, stalls and shops celebrating all things food-related. This is a great spot to combine shopping, wining and dining at places like cheese shop Cowgirl Creamery and Il Cane Rosso rotisserie and sandwich shop. The farmer’s market concept is indigenous to San Francisco, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the Ferry Building is home to Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, where great chefs gather to select their ingredients.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Coffee lovers credit Blue Bottle with treating coffee like a fine wine. Blue Bottle began in nearby Oakland, California as an experiment by a musician coffee lover who grew tired of coffee bean taste disguised under gimmicky flavors like gingerbread and pumpkin spice lattes.
The Seattle restaurant scene is as quirky and hip as this city and its residents. Top restaurants are defined by their chef’s personalities and their devotion to the local agricultural bounty. Dining at communal tables is a trend at many hot spots here, as is bartering with local bakers, winemakers and butchers to bring the finest in local ingredients to the table.
The Corson Building
The Corson Building is the name of a restaurant owned by chef Matthew Dillon in a beautiful old home serving new American cuisine. Dillon embraces organic, local foods. The dishes are served family style at communal tabes for a friendly, community vibe.
Brave Horse Tavern
Local microbrews and bar snacks, including hand-twisted, homemade pretzels, are the stars at this popular new spot. Try the gourmet dipping sauces (like smoked peanut butter and bacon) that go with the pretzels. Or try the clams and pretzels entr©e.
You’ll find more communal dining at Caribbean hotspot Paseo, known for its great sandwiches including the pork-stuffed Cuban. Be prepared to wait for that delicious and tender pork to roast.
Don’t forget the coffee, since Seattle is the coffee capital of the country. Your options are endless, from the original Starbuck’s outpost downtown and Seattle’s Best Coffee, to local spots like All City Coffee and Espresso Vivace.