California Dining


California Food News 2016

ANAHEIM: Anaheim's Craft Beer Scene has become a Mecca in Orange County and Southern California. New breweries Black Sheep Brewing, Bruery Terreux, and Unsung Brewing Company join established Anaheim Brewery, Backstreet Brewery, Bottle Logic Brewery, Golden Road Brewing, Hoparazzi Brewing Co., Legends Craft Brewery, Noble Ale Works, and Phantom Ales & Cellar. 

CARLSBAD: New Campfire Dining Concept Comes to Carlsbad Campfire, a new innovative open flame dining concept in downtown Carlsbad features 6,000-square-feet of indoor/outdoor space with a Quonset hut aimed at engaging guests and inciting conversations between strangers. Diners enjoy classic cocktails and rustic food cooked in open flames—reminiscent of a campfire. The restaurant is the brainchild of Consortium Holdings alumnus John Resnick, who most recently served as general manager of Ironside Fish and Oyster, and was designed by Bells and Whistles. In his newest project, Resnick intends to create an organic extension of the already vibrant culture of Carlsbad, and build a community hub with his neighbors—such as Carruth Cellars and a yet-to-be-determined coffee shop/beer concept. Prominent chef Andrew Bachelier—formerly of Addison and CUCINA Enoteca—will helm the kitchen using ancient and elemental live-fire cooking methods.

COSTA MESA: Restaurant Marin in Costa Mesa at the stylish South Coast Collection is inspired by the sea with emphasis on coastal California. The décor combines the old and new, featuring vintage windows, marble tables and dark-blue leather booths —all in tones reminiscent of the Gilded Age. The space also includes antique mirrored panels, which complement the French pendant lighting. Chef Noah Blom, whose menu features regional seafood with a Parisian flair, also helms Arc, rated one of the top five restaurants in Orange County by the Orange County Register. He worked at the Michelin two-starred French restaurant Daniel in New York

FAIRFIELD: New BackRoad Vines Offers Wine Paired with Bocce Ball The newly opened BackRoad Vines, located in the Suisun Valley near Fairfield, pours wines in a 100-year-old family farmhouse. The winery invites guests to venture outside after tasting and play bocce ball on the two tournament-size clay courts. Courts can be reserved in advance online or by calling 707-759-0185. On Friday evenings through November, BackRoad Vines is partnering with The Napa Deli in Fairfield to prepare pizza kits with everything needed to make two personal pizzas that guests can bake in BackRoad's outdoor pizza oven.

FELTON: The Cremer House, built in 1874 as a hotel and restaurant in downtown Felton, recently reopened after a major restoration. In its new incarnation, Emily Thomas of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing expands her love of farm-fresh food and craft beer. The Cremer House features a main bar created from 18th century barn wood and vintage light fixtures, preserving the integrity of the structure and honoring the space's history. The eatery offers 25 rotating taps of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery suds and other beers, along with 10 kegs of local wine. Behind the bar is a giant copper kettle with 25 brass taps, showcasing seven Santa Cruz Mountain beers and 13 other rotating craft beers, cider and kombucha. Menu items include comfort food options such as fried chicken, black kale salad, bison meatballs, apple cider donuts and hopcorn—sweet flint popcorn tossed with hop-infused oil and parmesan.

HEALDSBURG: Wine Country Walking Tours Summer Evening Savor & Stroll tour is available from June to September. Gourmands can start their night on the town with a 2 1/2-hour wine and food pairing adventure in the wine country town of Healdsburg. During the tour, guests  enjoy exclusive private seated tastings at nationally acclaimed restaurants, wine and food pairings at boutique tasting rooms, and delectable bites at local artisan food shops. While savoring appetizing flavors, visitors can learn more about the art of wine and food pairing in addition to the area's history and culture to get a head start on planning the next day's activities.

LA JOLLA: The Hake Kitchen & Bar's complete overhaul adds 2,000 square feet, 60 seats and sweeping ocean views. The new space, designed by Mexico City-based Jorge Campos, features two separate dining experiences within the restaurant: one designated as a casual lounge boasting a classic-yet-modern bar; and another for a relaxed take on fine dining overlooking the Pacific. The restaurant also expands its outdoor seating for customers who like to dine alfresco.  An oyster/raw bar includes many of the menu's signature Latin-inspired, locally sourced seafood dishes.

LOS ANGELES: The Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine Debuts The Hollywood Bowl, a beloved landmark in Los Angeles, announces the dynamic new offerings from Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine opening to the public on June 18 in time for the 2016 summer season. The concept for Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine was developed with the LA Phil, local restaurateurs, Chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne. Over sixteen venues offer full service, takeaway foods and imaginative wine lists personally designed and crafted by Goin and Styne, among the most celebrated restaurateurs in the USA. It's an exciting year for Suzanne Goin who just received the 2016 Outstanding Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.

MAMMOTH LAKES: Mammoth Lakes Offers Beer Lovers New Options Beer fans in Mammoth Lakes now have two more options to satisfy their cravings. With more than eight years of home brewing experience, Mammoth Lakes residents Drew and Kerissa Wallace recently opened Black Doubt Brewing Co., a nanobrewery with less than 1,200 square feet of tasting and brewing space. The tasting room serves up Belgian style ales, sour beers and as many barrel-aged creations as they can fit. Also new this year, Eastern Sierra Brewery Tours offers beer tasting tours via a luxury, 12-passenger van to three local beer destinations in Mammoth Lakes and June Lake.

MENDOCINO COUNTY: Mendocino County Welcomes New Culinary Offerings Visitors to Mendocino County can enjoy several new culinary options this summer. Known for its fresh menu of inventive small plates, salads and Neapolitan-style pizzas, Stone & Embers now offers a seasonal, farm-to-fork menu, thanks to a partnership with the organic Three Dog Farm. The restaurant now sources 75 to 90 percent of its produce directly from the farm, which is located just two miles down the road. Nestled within a 10-acre organic vineyard, Domaine Anderson's new tasting room opened mid-April and features chardonnay and pinot noir that vividly express the Anderson Valley appellation. Finally, Mendocino Brewing Company recently released a special Limited Edition label honoring the Mendocino Coast 50K along with two seasonal ales celebrating the region: Rock Point Session IPA and Lake Shore Hefeweizen.

NAPA: Basalt Debuts on Napa River Basalt, a new restaurant helmed by renowned Chef Esteban Escobar, opened April 4 in downtown Napa along the scenic Napa River. Chef Esteban Escobar's seasonal California cuisine uses the freshest ingredients from the market and the restaurant's garden plot, drawing influences from California's first settlers as well as the traditions and flavors from Spain, Mexico and Portugal. San Francisco Chronicle bar star Jason "Buffalo" LoGrasso curates exciting and approachable cocktails with an extensive array of wine and beer on tap—largely celebrating local products and ingredients. Keeping with the local theme, designers from Rapt Studio sourced 80 percent of all furnishings and lighting from local artisans and fabricators. Guests can enjoy their food and drinks at the bar, communal table, private dining room or outside by the large fire pit.

NAPA: Napa's First Japanese Pub Opens Miminashi, the first and only Izakaya (Japanese pub) in downtown Napa, opened early May 2016 under the helm of chef/owner Curtis Di Fede. The menu features dishes such as Karage (fried chicken) and binchotan grilled porterhouse with uni shiso butter. Miminashi also offers a variety of beers, wines and cocktails. Di Fede collaborated with local artist Michael McDermott on the restaurant's design, which features an open binchotan grill.

NAPA: New Gastropub Coming to Napa Late Spring The Corner Napa gastropub, set to open late spring 2016, will serve modern California cuisine revolving around fresh and seasonal ingredients from Northern California. The lounge will offer a relaxed setting and full menu options with wine bottle service or mixed cocktails. The bar will offer artisanal cocktails made from fresh juices, natural sugars and local produce. The restaurant will be located in the Riverfront Building in downtown Napa, ideal for guests who want to enjoy a scenic stroll after their meal.

NAPA: JaM Cellars Opened in Napa in MayJaM Cellars in downtown Napa pours wine flights, wine by the glass and wine from the bottle for Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cabernet and Toast Sparkling. The tasting room features a number of guest wines and special releases only available at the downtown facility. Designer Richard Vonsaal created a unique, funky space with reclaimed materials and contemporary twists, including a performance area and private room wired for sound.

NAPA: Judd's Hill Winery Completes Remodel Judd's Hill Winery in Napa recently remodeled their outdoor seating area and patio, aiming to enhance each guest's experience as they sip wines overlooking the tranquil vineyard. In addition to the new patio,  Reserve Tasting menu was introduced.  Judd's Hill also continues to offer their Bottle Blending Day Camp experience and Food & Wine in Balance seminar daily, by appointment.

NAPA: Napa Valley Distillery Expands Space and Offerings Napa Valley Distillery recently expanded into a 12,000-square-foot complex on Stockton Street in Napa, offering visitors an additional salon for tastings, tours, special events and bottle purchases. The company will continue to produce all of its current brands at the new facility, including their popular Old Hollywood Gin, as well as adding several new brands including rums and whiskies. Future batches of Napa Valley Distillery's spirits will be distilled using custom-made direct-fire Charentais copper pot stills.

NAPA: Vintner's Collective Reopens in Napa Vintner's Collective is celebrating their post-earthquake grand reopening this year in their newly renovated, iconic Pfeiffer building located at 1245 Main St. in downtown Napa. This multi-winery tasting room showcases more than 20 small-production, high-end wine producers in the Napa Valley. Walk-in guests can enjoy tastings seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and private, seated tastings can be scheduled by appointment. Vintner's Collective now serves lunch from Napa Valley Bistro with their private, seated tastings.

OAKVILLE: B Cellars Launches New Wine and Wellness Experience Oakville's B Cellars launched its "Wine and Wellness: Hike the Vines" experience in February 2016, which features a healthy tasting experience. The tour begins with a three-mile hike through the Napa Valley vineyards followed by a healthy vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free meal dubbed a "B Bite," which is paired with B Cellars wine (or special juice pairings for non-drinkers). During the experience, trained wine guides lead participants through some of Napa's most elite vineyard sites, and past Conn Creek and the Napa River. Along the way, hikers can see working farms and may encounter wildlife such as hawks and foxes. At the end of the hike, guests can pick produce from the B Cellars gardens that are then incorporated into the B Bites. Recipes for the pairings are available for guests to continue the experience with their favorite wines at home.

OCEANSIDE: Oceanside Welcomes New Eateries Oceanside's Coast Highway corridor has rapidly become the "it" destination in north county for dining and craft beer, with new restaurants that range from the Asian-inspired Whet Noodle to gastropubs like Local Tap House, Bagby Beer Company, O'side Urge: Gastropub, and Whiskey Bank. Foodies will also will want to set their sights on Cyclops Farms, an organic farm that will host a rotating schedule of chef pop ups later this year using farm ingredients. Visitors can navigate the dining scene via Carla and Linda's Walking Food Tours, three-hour culinary journeys offered Fridays through Sundays at 1:30 p.m.

OXNARD: Oxnard's Culinary Scene Dishes Up Big Changes Two of Oxnard's most popular restaurants have made big changes, creating quite a buzz on the coastal city's culinary scene. Mrs. Olson's Coffee Hut, which has served the community in the same spot for 42 years, recently relocated and expanded into a much bigger Channel Islands Harbor location. Mrs. Olson's continues to serve the classic breakfast and lunch menu that made them a local tradition. Over in downtown's Heritage Square, La Dolce Vita recently joined forces with the Kitchen Restaurant, combining the two eateries into one location now known as La Dolce Vita's Kitchen. Run by local celebrity chefs Michelle Kenney of La Dolce Vita and Cathie Moreno of the Kitchen—who appeared once on the hit TV series "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"—the restaurant now features combined menu options from calamari and chianti to burgers and brews.

PASO ROBLES: Alta Colina Offers New Wine Experiences Paso Robles' Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery, known for its estate-grown Rhône wines, recently introduced new tours and tasting experiences for wine lovers. The family-owned, boutique winery's offerings include a Behind-the-Scenes Tasting, which teaches guests about Alta Colina's eco-friendly practices and equipment, such as a nighttime cooling system, LED lighting, a grey water system and the region's first Tesla charging station. Top-to-Bottom Vineyard Tour escorts guests around the 130-acre estate vineyard from its highest point, where they can sip wine and enjoy sweeping views of the Adelaida District. Throughout the two-hour tour, visitors will learn firsthand how the Tillman family integrates sustainability into their business. The newest offering, the Vineyard Tour and Tech Wine Tasting features a hands-on technical tasting series that is perfect for oenophiles and wine aficionados. The four-part technical wine-tasting course begins at harvest and includes hiking the mountaintop estate vineyard, experiencing harvest both in the vineyard and winery, learning about the winemaking process, blending wine, and tasting library wines.

PASO ROBLES: Lone Madrone Winery Offers New Tour Lone Madrone Winery, where Neil Collins has crafted wines sourced from dry-farmed vineyards since the 1990s, now offers Private Tastings, where guests sit down with a wine educator in the cozy barrel room to taste through and explore the nuances of limited-production wines. This intimate tasting experience, available by appointment only, provides the guest with an in-depth background of each wine and explores the unique character that the specific vineyard adds to the wines.

PASO ROBLES: Castoro Cellars Goes 100 Percent Green Castoro Cellars recently completed installation of a massive new solar project that will allow the winery to run 100 percent on solar power. As an early adopter of solar energy, Castoro Cellars' first solar project was in 2006 at its tasting room on Highway 46 West. Castoro Cellars is also the largest grower of organic grapes in Paso Robles with over 400 acres certified by California Certified Organic Farmers. Additionally, the winery is a certified organic facility and all other vineyards the own and source from— more than 1,000 acres—are SIP certified by the Central Coast Vineyard Team.

PASO ROBLES: Firestone Walker Introduces Union Tour Firestone Walker Brewing Company just introduced its newest experience, the Union Tour, which offers guests a unique glimpse behind-the-scenes of the Firestone Walker brewhouse, as well as a rare look into the highly regarded barrel aging room. An experienced Firestone Walker Beer Educator leads guests through this interactive experience, guiding them through areas of the brewery that are usually off-limits to the public. The hour-long tour also includes the facility's history, the brew deck, the cellar, the Firestone Union system, and both the Canning and Kegging Hall. Throughout the tour, guests who are over 21 will have the opportunity to taste four of Firestone Walker's finest ales while being shown the process in which they are made. Guests must be ages 12 or older to go on tours. Flat, closed toe shoes are required. Tours are offered Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and on Sundays at 11 a.m.

PASO ROBLES: Halter Ranch Debuts New Tasting Room Halter Ranch opened the doors of its tasting room in February 2016, featuring floor to ceiling windows with sweeping views of the estate vineyards. The main tasting room has a large, open floor plan with multiple tasting bars while the two smaller tasting rooms can accommodate private events and group tastings. The indoor patio welcomes guests with a large fireplace and a variety of seating options while the outdoor patio features teak tables and chairs, a large fireplace, a pizza oven and an oak pit Santa Maria-style barbecue. The inspiration for the design of the tasting room came from the local rustic cabins and barns with various uses of wood, cedar siding and rusty metal roofing. Owner Hansjörg Wyss carefully hand-selected all the artwork for the tasting room.

POPE VALLEY: Pope Valley Winery Expands Picnic Area Pope Valley Winery in Pope Valley—part of the Napa Valley region—just expanded their picnic areas in time for guests to enjoy spring alfresco dining. The winery, established in 1897, added five new picnic tables and two new locations for people to relax while enjoying the beautiful historic property. After enjoying a picnic, guests are invited to journey back in time on a history tour through the original winery, which includes cooling off in a century-old, hand-dug cellar. Those who reserve a picnic table receive a 10 percent discount on a bottle of wine to enjoy with the meal. Reservations can be made by calling 707-965-1246 ext. 102. POPEVALLEYWINERY.COM

REDDING: Redding Welcomes Unique Dining and Arts Concept Armando's Gallery House recently opened in downtown Redding, offering a unique dining and culture concept. The brainchild of artist and entrepreneur Armando Mejorado, the concept combines a multi-cultural restaurant with a gallery and art classes. Mejorado's paintings—which range from Abstract to Impressionism—and sculptures fill the space, while guest musicians and artists perform, films flicker across the wall, and a week's worth of menu planning comes alive on Friday and Saturday nights. Dishes range from Japanese, Italian and Thai fare to Moroccan and American cuisine. On Thursdays, guests can sip wine, nibble on appetizers and paint their own art piece they can take home. Weekend movie nights occur twice monthly featuring popular films and Armando's theme nights—such as Belly Dancing, Burlesque and Mother's Day Drag Brunch—aim to become a local tradition.

RUTHERFORD: Peju Province Winery Launches New Culinary Experience Peju Province Winery in Rutherford launched their new Wine and Culinary Exploration in March 2016. Guests can book the tasting experience, featuring seasonal small bites prepared by Chef Alex and paired with Peju wines, on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. 

SAN DIEGO: Modern Sicilian Eatery Coming to Little Italy Busalacchi Restaurants recently announced they are closing Little Italy's Po Pazzo and transforming the space into Barbusa, a modern Sicilian eatery. The 4,200-square-foot space will boast indoor/outdoor dining options and a prominent white Carrara marble bar area. Designed by Eugenio Velazquez, highlights include a hanging charcuterie and house-made pasta visual display, a crudo/carpaccio bar, Andy Warhol-esque pop art featuring prominent Italian figures, and an outdoor space set off by vertical bi-fold windows and a living wall.

SANTA BARBARA: Santa Barbara County Welcomes New AVA Santa Barbara County recently welcomed its sixth and newest official American Viticultural Area (AVA) or wine-growing appellation—the Los Olivos District. The 22,820-acre region encompasses the cities of Solvang, Los Olivos, Ballard and Santa Ynez and is located near the AVAs of Happy Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Ballard Canyon. This particular appellation is defined by its moderate warm temperatures, gently sloping terrain and consistent soils, all providing a fertile environment for Bordeaux grapes, as well as Rhone, Italian and Spanish varietals. Nearly 50 commercial vineyards and 13 award-winning wineries call this AVA home, including Brander, Buttonwood and Gainey. This designation develops a geographic pedigree for the area, helping visitors become more knowledgeable about the origins of the wine they are drinking.

SANTA CRUZ: Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar Unveils Renovations Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar in Downtown Santa Cruz recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment. The three-part renovation included updating the kitchen, the retail shop and the bar area. The kitchen nearly doubled in size and now offers direct views of the chef's preparation area. An expanded retail wine shop connects to the main dining room and emphasizes wines from small, family-run wineries that use organic practices, as well as hard-to-find and lesser-known wines from around the world. Soif's new bar area features wine, local craft beer and wine-based cocktails (think Spanish Rebujito with yuzu juice and cucumber or Chimera with fresh pluots and aperitif wine)—plus the full dining menu during the restaurant's normal operating hours.

SANTA ROSA: : The County Bench Kitchen + Bar Now Open in Santa RosaThe County Bench Kitchen + Bar is a casually elegant New American restaurant that opened in late May 2016 in downtown Santa Rosa, and boasts a menu designed by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Bruce Frieseke. The restaurant, owned by the Chandi Restaurant Group, has partnered with suppliers in and around Santa Rosa to source the best meats and produce from sustainable businesses. The extensive beverage selection emphasizes Sonoma County's renowned wine, beer and spirits as well as an international selection. Chandi Restaurant Group—which is comprised of brothers Sonu, Joti and Sunny, and Sonu's wife, Ren—also owns two other restaurants in downtown Santa Rosa.

SONOMA: COUNTY: Sonoma County Wineries, Breweries Announce New Developments Visitors to Sonoma County's renowned wine regions now have more options to explore. Wine lovers can indulge their passion at their own pace with the new Self-Guided Trails on Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures. This series of free unique self-guided vineyard walks is available at seven wineries

SAN FRANCISCO: Chart House San Francisco Opens at the Tip of PIER 39Chart House San Francisco opened on Feb. 2, 2016 in an iconic location at the end of PIER 39. With panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the 12,000-square-foot Chart House San Francisco sits above the famous dock where the renowned sea lions hang out. While known for high-quality fresh fish, seafood, prime rib and steaks, Chart House's menu changes daily depending on seasonal availability. The San Francisco menu is tailored to complement local cuisine while introducing a taste of the exotic. The Chart House offers four separate private and semi-private event spaces, seating 25 to 300 guests. Chart House is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

SAN LUIS OBISPO: SLO Brew Rock multi-million-dollar project features an upgraded brewery, restaurant, bar and intimate music venue where visitors can take in the passing scene while they dine creekside or on the patio, or simply enjoy a pint of locally handcrafted brews. SLO Brew Rock's over 14,500 total square feet of indoor and outdoor floor space will feature a beer garden, an outdoor event space, an additional music venue and a spacious taproom. Guests can book overnight stays.

SONOMA: Sonoma County Three Valley Adventure offers an all-day experience visiting wineries in the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. In addition to tasting, guests can learn about the grape-growing and winemaking philosophies of each winery while getting an in-depth education in the microclimates and growing conditions of each of these outstanding wine regions. Beer lovers can get in on the action at the new 101 North Brewing Company taproom, which produces and serves award-winning craft ales using inventive interpretations of traditional styles.

ST. HELENA: NBA Star Opens Napa Valley Tasting Room Yao Ming, global humanitarian, vintner, retired NBA star and NBA Hall of Fame Inductee, opened a new hospitality center for his YAO MING and Napa Crest wines in Napa Valley in February 2016. Just walking distance from downtown St. Helena, Yao Family Wines is a sophisticated and relaxing space, featuring an expansive marble-topped oval bar and intimate lounge area. Collectors Circle members also have access to a private club lounge and outdoor patios shaded by olive trees. While enjoying their wine tasting, guests can view mementos of Ming's sports career and philanthropic passions, which are on display.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE: Westlake Brewing Company Debuts The family friendly Westlake Brewing Company (WBC) just opened in Southern California's Westlake Village, adding more buzz to Conejo Valley's growing brewery scene. The 5,000-square-foot taproom features a 40-foot-long tasting counter, from which guests can view the brewery's three-and-a-half-barrel system. The team pours a variety of unique, full-flavored handcrafted brews out of the edgy, industrial-style taproom. Guests can stop for a drink, play a game of pinball or shuffle board, and listen to live music from Southern California's top talent.

YOUNTVILLE: JCB Tasting Salon features exclusive Napa Valley and French wines as well as luxury retail items created by Proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset. The retail store features high-end products including JCB's custom-designed jewelry collection, JCB candles and JCB perfumes along with merchandise from Baccarat, Christofle, Bernardaud and more. The JCB Tasting Salon is also home to a small, private space called The Surrealist Room, where groups can enjoy their flights of wine with a JCB wine educator while seated at a glass top table and bar that doubles as a merchandise display showcasing the JCB collection of jewelry.



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