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21 Cant-Miss Restaurants in Carmel-by-the-Sea California

Carmel, also called Carmel by-the-sea is one of the best seaside getaways in California, and restaurants in Carmel are a considerable contributor to this reputation.

This charming seaside village has much to discover, from fanciful storybook architecture to secret tunnels and hidden courtyards.

Besides the fantastic attractions, Carmel has so many restaurant options it is always hard to choose.

In fact, you will find some of the best eateries that provide delectable food anywhere, including pizzerias, steakhouses, burger joints, and pasta restaurants here.

With these Carmel eateries, you can’t go wrong whether you’re visiting for the day or a long weekend. Here are the best restaurants in Carmel you shouldn’t miss.

Best Restaurants In Carmel CA

1. Cultura Comida Y Bebida

Best Restaurants In Carmel

The Cultura Comida Y Bebida

Cultura is a perfect mix of authentic Oaxacan food, delicious cocktails, and a warm staff. It is a wonderful well-kept secret and a local favorite.

If you’re in the area and want some excellent Mexican-inspired food and drink, check out Cultura.

How do you say amazing in Oaxacan? Alsambrosa! This restaurant is nothing short of amazing.

The dining room is beautiful, the bar is cozy, and the outdoor seating around two fire-pit tables is fabulous on a lovely evening.

First off, the food is creative, delicious, and well-presented. Secondly, Cultura Comida has a healthy mezcal selection and is also served with excellent presentation.

Try the chapulines and any beverage with mezcal first.

Then move on to more substantial selections like the enchiladas with salsa verde and the mole with pig cheeks.

The cocktail menu is perfect, and the dinner menu has a lot of variety.

This location is suitable for a date and a night out with friends because of the upmarket but active ambiance.

Also, if it’s a very special occasion, you can reserve the inviting mezcal room for your own exclusive gathering.

Address: Dolores Street, between 5th ave. & 6th ave Su Vecino Courtyard, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

2. Aubergine the restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel

Aubergine the restaurant at L'Auberge Carmel

The restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel: Aubergine

Aubergine is one of the best restaurants in Carmel and one of the most decorated.

When you enter the restaurant off Monte Verde, you are transported into what feels like a small intimate French Farmhouse – simple but elegant.

You will come across awards from Forbes Travel Guide and James Beard, among others; this should give you some indication that you are in for something special.

However, try not to read too much about this place before going. But do go! Despite a rather conservative dining room of earthy hues and pastels, expect a sense of playfulness, brightness, and unique flavor expressions.

The printed menu is simple and nondescript, but the food is precise, fresh, complex, and esthetically presented on unusual ocean-themed ceramics, adding texture into play.

In fact, each dish seems to dive deeper into new flavor profiles.

In between, Chef will delight you with combinations of textures and wallops of flavor you might.

You’ll be here for 2.5 to 3 hours as they bring out your dishes in perfectly timed synchronicity, starting with amuse-bouche small bites, appetizers, a few small entrees, and then several bite-sized desserts.

In addition, if you go there multiple times, Aubergine will remember your preferences.

The wine list is also extensive regarding countries of origin, varietals, vintages, and price points.

Address: 7th avenue Monte Verde St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

3. Seventh & Dolores

Seventh & Dolores

The Seventh & Dolores

Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse (7D), located in one of Carmel’s most striking buildings, whisk diners away to a luminous celebration of steak, seafood, wine, and creative cocktails.

The building was once a bank but has been transformed into a hip, sleek restaurant.

The high vaulted ceilings can get loud but not overwhelming. It’s the food that is the standout.

This is a steakhouse, so you pretty much know what to expect: big expensive steaks, a wine list heavy on cabernets and red varietals, ala carte veggies and sides, loaded baked potatoes, onion soup, Caesar salad, rich sauces, and calorie-loaded desserts.

The small, independent farmers in the Niman Ranch network are the exclusive source of the all-natural farmed meats used here.

The atmosphere is upscale and friendly thanks to the wine bar made of white marble, the cocktail bar, and the communal table.

They offer everything from oysters to octopus, crab cakes, sweetbreads, calamari, foie gras, a wicked burger, duck breast, scallops salads, and numerous steaks.

Start with its Specialty Martini, a Gray Goose Vodka Martini with a piece of seared flat iron steak wrapped around olive; this will act as a palate cleanser/appetizer before your meal arrives.

Similarly, the Grand Seafood Tower is an excellent choice for a satisfying summer supper for two.

Think French-inspired, two levels of Chef’s Selection of Prawns, a dozen Raw Oysters, a couple of pieces of Lobster, and four Tuna Crudo Spears.

Overall, this is not the place to go if you want a calm, charming supper. But welcome if you want a lively spot.

Address: 7th Avenue &, Dolores St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

4. Flying Fish Grill

Best Restaurants In Carmel

The Flying Fish Grill

Flying fish grill provides one of a kind Carmel-by-the-Sea Dining Experience, especially if you are looking for intimate restaurants in Carmel.

This intimate space has a thoughtful menu and a beautifully curated wine list.

Enter through the unassuming Carmel Plaza street entrance, which is located off Mission Street between Ocean Avenue and 7th street; this will take you to a space with cozy dim lighting, wood walls, and understated Asian decor.

The beautifully crafted interior and exceptional staff provide a great setting to enjoy a well-crafted menu of seafood delights.

The restaurant boasts of food with Asian touches, which is true.

Additionally, the place is a little small, so make sure to make reservations, especially Friday and Saturday nights.

Check out yin-yan salmon, the halibut, and the peppered seared ahi. Their black bean halibut is their house specialty.

The restaurant is open from 5 pm to 9 pm every day.

Address: 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

5. Treehouse Café

Best Restaurants In Carmel

The Treehouse Café, Carmel

Treehouse Café is one of the best restaurants in Carmel if you are looking for a very cozy, romantic dining place.

It’s on the 2nd floor of a quaint building. The Treehouse is just the kind of restaurant you hoped to find in Carmel.

Seating is primarily under red umbrellas on a beautiful rooftop terrace surrounded by trees, plants, and decorations, and away from the crowds on the street.

Furthermore, the umbrellas are folded up during dinner when it gets cooler.

The Treehouse is a winner for Mediterranean food. There are many options for every taste, with an emphasis on the Mediterranean, but not so many as to put you off.

Music is also played so you can enjoy a conversation and feel the sound.

Indulge in all the delicious menu options, which include snacks or bigger meals.

Address: San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

6. L’Escargot

Best Restaurants In Carmel

L’escargot, Carmel

If you love French country-style dishes, you must get a table here.

This Haven lies in a residential neighborhood on Mission Street, three blocks north of Ocean Avenue.

The restaurant was first established in 1958 by Yvan Nopert and his family, and Chef-Owner Kericos Loutas continues the traditions of excellent Country French cuisine and attentive, individualized service.

The first thing you notice is the comfortable dining room.

So many places in Carmel do their best to crowd in as many tables as possible and are, therefore, noisy. On the other hand, L’escargot has very well-spaced tables, and conversation is easy here.

The menu frequently changes, as do the specials. In addition, a three-course prix fixe Bistro Menu is offered nightly.

Given its name, the restaurant serves escargot in garlic butter in the shell or mushroom caps. Both ways are good and prepared classically.

They also have a well-curated wine list with good selections at different prices. You can depend on a decent wine at lower prices.

The chef does a tremendous job preparing a meal to please you in the kitchen.

The goat cheese tart, as are the veal medallions and the petrale sole, are a delight. The peach cobbler is something not to be passed up.

Similarly, the duck, the pasta, the sand dabs, and even the bread are all delicious.

Address: Mission St & 4th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

7. Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar

Best Restaurants In Carmel

Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar

This is not your place if you’re looking for a fancy romantic dinner. But this is for you if you’re seeking good seafood at lower prices than the typical Carmel restaurant.

They have two sections, one is more of a sit-down white cloth table restaurant, and one is more pub-like.

They have a seafood menu, a non-seafood menu, and a kids menu.

The shrimp and crab cake entree is superb, and the clams, oysters, and seafood selections are great meals to try.

Address: between Dolores &, 6th Avenue, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

8. La Bicyclette Restaurant

Best Restaurants In Carmel

The La Bicyclette Restaurant, Carmel

La Bicyclette Restaurant is one of the most amazing Italian restaurants in Carmel. The restaurant is located in the heart of the business district of Carmel.

This cozy corner restaurant not only tempts patrons with its charming name and location but with a menu loaded with untraditional flavors.

Gaston Georis, the proprietor and a native of Belgium, established his first restaurant in the same space where La Bicyclette is situated in the early 1970s.

The restaurant’s original moniker came from customers’ wine purchases being delivered by bicycle from a sizable wine cellar a few streets away when it originally opened.

The restaurant now has a few bicycles and small but cozy wooden chairs and tables positioned beneath hanging copper pots.

Once you step inside, you feel transported to another time and place upon entering La Bicyclette.

The kitchen’s primary concentration is on hearty seasonal fare with a California-Mediterranean influence, along with a few pizzas and amazing bread baked in their wood-burning oven.

The Stone Fruit Salad, packed with fresh local fruits, nuts, and a peach/turmeric vinaigrette, is also really good.

Similarly, the Fichi e Rucola Wood Oven Fired Pizza is just as memorable with its blend of mission figs, prosciutto, manchego & cambozola cheese, walnuts, and caramelized onion puree.

Address: Dolores St &, 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

9. Il Tegamino

Best Restaurants In Carmel

Il Tegamino

Carmel has no shortage of upscale restaurants, but Il Tegamino is a true find.

If you want a real homemade Italian meal, Tegamino is one of the best restaurants in Carmel to visit.

The lovely Court of the Golden Bough is where you’ll find Il Tegamino.

The Court of the Golden Bough is located behind the Cottage of Sweets and is one of Carmel-by-the-best Sea’s kept secrets.

Tegamino has delicious Italian dishes that taste like only fresh ingredients are used.

Additionally, their kitchen brings a sophisticated, creative touch to the traditional antipasti courses, with specials that take advantage of seasonal produce.

It is described as “cozy” here, but there is a casual, fun-loving atmosphere, and albeit a bit noisy, this is the way it is in Italia with people laughing & enjoying each other’s company and the food.

There is also outside seating with heat lamps, and they are quite effective.

Be sure to go a little before you’re hungry. The eggplant and the ragu with short ribs and sausage are a must-try. Everything tastes like it’s homemade from scratch.

Address: South side of Ocean Avenue between Lincoln and Monte Verde We are tucked in the Courtyard behind Cottage of Sweets, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

10. Anton & Michel Restaurant

Best Restaurants In Carmel

Anton & Michel Restaurant

If you are looking for a restaurant that is both elegant with attentive staff attentive, look no further than Anton and Michel!

This restaurant has been around forever and is always a pleasure to dine in—very old-school style and upscale in ambiance with classic dishes that never go out of style.

This restaurant is in the heart of Carmel shopping. It is an adorable restaurant with spectacular seating on its garden patio.

They have a large outdoor patio with a central pool with fountains, white lights strung across the courtyard, a large fire pit, and heaters near the tables.

Their dessert list includes banana foster, which is prepared at your table.

Overall, this is a great place to have an intimate meal and conversation in this environment. In addition, the wine list here is one of the best!

Address: Mission Street &, 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

11. Cantinetta Luca

Best Restaurants In Carmel

Cantinetta Luca

Luca is a good spot for anyone but is excellent for those who enjoy salami and other pork products.

With so many Italian options at Carmel, Cantinetta Luca offers genuine flavors in a limited but curated menu of appetizers and mains.

The cured meats (salami, prosciutto, mortadella, etc.) are the highlight of this place.

Using the best Italian ingredients and fresh local delicacies, the chef creates each dish by hand in a lively setting.

A sizable wine list completes the Cantinetta Luca experience with a sizable Italian variety section and house-made treats, including salume, fresh pasta, and Bistecca Fiorentina.

In fact, this is undoubtedly the best experience on so many levels as a restaurant in Carmel.

Starting a meal with antipasti and good wine or beer always relaxes everyone in a good mood.

The menu from there is varied, with excellent pasta, short ribs, and a wonderful double-cut pork chop.

Address: Ocean Ave &, Dolores St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

Planning on exploring more cities in California? Check out our list of the best things to do in Paso Robles!

12. Grasings



If you are looking for one of Carmel’s best romantic dinner spots, look no further than Grasing’s.

Grasings is tucked away on Mission & 6th, but well worth finding. The place is quaint and comfortable and offers top-notch service and food.

Kurt Grasing officially inaugurated his restaurant, which bears his name, in 1998.

In 2010, Kurt renovated Grasing’s by building a new bar and lounge and finishing the restaurant makeover.

Grasing’s has a new look while maintaining the excellent food and first-rate service to which customers have grown accustomed.

First, the atmosphere is cozy and inviting, almost like you’re in a tree house.

As you walk in, there is a large bar area, and then you go through an opening and are in the dining area.

It can get crowded, so make a reservation or plan to wait a bit for a table.

Grasings provide excellent food in a nice atmosphere in Carmel.

Overall, Grasings never disappoint. You can’t go wrong, from the ice-cold martinis to the excellent wine list, savory lamb ribs, and delicious Prime cut steaks.

The panko-crusted onion rings are also a must.

Dinner on the dog-friendly terrace is a great way to experience real Carmel.

Address: NW Corner of Mission and, 6th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

13. La Balena

Best Restaurants In Carmel

La Balena, Carmel

Carmel has no shortage of Italian restaurants, and La Balena is one of the best Italian restaurants in Carmel.

First, you will love the atmosphere! Plenty of outside seating and cozy inside seating.

Owner Florence-born Emanuele Bartolini and his wife Anna provide a setting and a well-rounded Italian menu.

La balena has been around for seven years and is the sister restaurant to Il Grillo, which is also wonderful but is now permanently closed.

Furthermore, the menu is very Italian but has classic favorites and some great specials, including a whole branzino fish or lasagna.

Everything is made fresh in the restaurant, including the bread and the pasta.

Be sure to try the octopus, which is served differently at various times of the year.

Similarly, if you are lucky enough to go on a Sunday or Tuesday, try the Pollo Fritto, which is large enough to share (although you might not want to as it is so delicious).

The wine list is also extensive, with many Italian selections

The only caveat here is the fact that the space is tight. You have to walk sideways between tables. And that means that no matter how polite the people are next to you, you will hear their conversation.

But neglecting that, it’s all good and awesome.

Address: Junipero St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

14. Bistro Giovanni

Best Restaurants In Carmel

The Bistro Giovanni

Bistro Giovanni is a unique hidden gem in Carmel. So unassuming outside, but the warmth of the staff and the atmosphere is so inviting from the moment you walk in.

This restaurant has been around forever for a reason. It’s charming and traditional yet just casual enough. In fact, it’s like being in a museum and a restaurant simultaneously!

The interior space is boisterous, festive, and beautifully decorated with original murals.

Don’t be surprised if the diners at an adjacent table offer you suggestions about the menu or wines: take the advice. And yes, the manager/owner will drop by to ask about your meal.

Enjoy some of the favorites, such as the “Mamma Mia,” which includes delectable meatballs with pasta and a sauce with southern Mediterranean spices, lamb shank, certified Angus steaks, and a variety of seafood, such as halibut, seabass, salmon, and local sand dabs!

Additionally, there are over a dozen pasta meals on the menu in addition to salads, pizzettas, crab cakes, osso buco, lamb shank, chicken marsala, and lobster ravioli.

Bistro Giovanni has an expansive offering of gluten-free options. In addition, the restaurant takes care to ensure there is no cross-contamination.

The gluten-free ciabatta bread and sun-dried tapenade are a nice pairing appetizer; you should try them.

They also have a lovely selection of mocktails, wine, and cocktails.

Address: San Carlos between 5th &, 6th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

15. Mission Bistro

Mission Bistro

Mission Bistro

The Mission Cafe is in the center of Carmel-by-the-Sea and is the ideal setting for a meal and a drink with your loved ones.

The restaurant is a little away from the hustle-bustle of the city and allows you to feel safe and in another world.

The extensive menu offers a superb range of local and regional wines and meal options from New American, Italian, Mediterranean, and Thai cuisines.

Mission Bistro offers a wide selection of delicious meals and good wine in a relaxed setting.

The portions are large, the entrees are tasty, and all the staffs are much warmer and more engaging than most you’ll meet.

Make sure to try the crab cakes. Sit outside and enjoy the atmospheric music. Forget you’re in a tourist town for a while and relish charm and civility.

Address: Mission St. 2 SW of Ocean Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

16. The Stationæry

Best Restaurants In Carmel

The Stationæry

There are different restaurants in Carmel, but stationæry stands out when it comes to breakfast.

Don’t leave Carmel without stopping in Stationaery. It’s a combination coffee shop–breakfast spot–dinner restaurant.

It’s owned and operated by a young couple who live with their two small children above the restaurant.

The location is in the middle of a block bounded by the streets 5th, 6th, San Carlos, and Mission.

Park on any of those streets and then walk into the middle of the block bounded by the streets mentioned.

The food is California cuisine and full of tasty dishes thoughtfully prepared and presented in a style that is reminiscent of Europe.

The coffee and lattes are delicious. It is enjoyable on a sunny day when you can sit outside and watch the world go by.

Similarly, the homemade biscuits, jam, and honey are amazing.

Address: San Carlos Street, 3 NE of 6th Avenue, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

17. Brophy’s Tavern

The Brophy’s Tavern

The Brophy’s Tavern

Brophy’s tavern is conveniently located on the corner of 4th & San Carlos in downtown Carmel and is one of the best pubs in town.

In fact, Brophy’s provides what you expect in a pub. It’s a nice size, offers bar and table seating, T.V.s for sports and a nice variety of food and drink.

Stop in for a friendly staff, a clean & welcoming environment, and an outstanding dining experience with plenty of T.V.s to keep you occupied!

The food is outstanding (try the pretzel and then move to the burger!). In addition, they have a killer beer selection on tap and in bottles.

You can also stop in for lunch and dinner for a great time with your friends and family!

There are a lot of cool tchotchkes in the bar – for example, on the west wall, you’ll find hundreds of beer cans (many duplicates) from the late 1970s.

You will also find other things on the east wall, including mining stock certificates, among other things.

All in all, this is a wonderful spot to watch a game or hang out with friends.

Address: San Carlos St &, 4th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

18. Casanova

Best Restaurants In Carmel

Casanova, Carmel

There is always a reason why some establishments endure in the cutthroat restaurant industry, and Casanova is a keeper for a variety of factors. First, it is an exceptionally charming location that will make you think of Europe.

It is an iconic Carmel restaurant: tucked into a small structure with great, intimate tables and enjoyable amenities.

The restaurant is in an old house with several small dining areas, including a heated patio.

The restaurant’s stonework, plants and flowers, and rustic table settings in an open-air environment will make you fall in love.

The menu offers meals such as pork chops, osso buco, a rack of lamb, small plates, house-made pasta, and California cheeses.

The hand-dug Wine Cellar has also won numerous accolades for its exceptional collection of wines worldwide.

In fact, the meals are great, especially the bucket of mussel you can get when it’s fresh and available, but the main highlight of Casanova is actually in one of their appetizers.

Gnocchi Casanova is a spinach gnocchi that melts in your mouth. It is by far one of the softest gnocchi you’ll ever taste. Casanova is one of the must-visit restaurants in Carmel.

Address: 5th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

19. A.W. Shucks Cocktail & Oyster Bar

Best Restaurants In Carmel

A.W. Shucks Cocktail & Oyster Bar

If you’d like a more moderately priced restaurant choice, consider A.W. Shucks Cocktail & Oyster Bar.

The restaurant is a seafood pub specializing in fresh oysters – plus a full menu of classics like New England and Manhattan chowders, along with burgers, chili, and sandwiches.

This may look like a ‘simple bar’ from the outside, but the cooks and the bartenders are top-notch at the A.W. Shucks, and the Carmel locals know it.

The name perfectly describes the atmosphere: it’s a bar with great food.

You’ll find two short-order cooks at the counter focused on frying fish, shucking oysters, and plating up orders after order.

Similarly, the drink menu features perhaps a hundred varieties of bottled alcohol for tasting pleasure, plus mixed drinks, beer, and wine.

If you have time, read the menu for the library of spirit selections – one could spend an hour just perusing that.

Most popular dishes include fish & chips, tuna melt, and our Shrimp or Oyster Po’Boy.

Address: Ocean Ave 3SW of, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

20. Village Gem Restaurant

Village Gem Restaurant

Village Gem Restaurant

Nestled off the main touristy restaurant row of Carmel by the Sea, Village Gem is one of the must-visit restaurants in Carmel.

The Village Gem is located in a small courtyard off the street, with tables outside generously warmed by propane heaters.

Seasonal menu items prepared using materials sourced locally are served at Village Gem Restaurant.

This restaurant prides itself on serving tasty schnitzels, pork dishes, and beet salads. Do not leave without trying some delectable cheesecakes, lemon pies, and bread pudding.

Due to its diversity, you will always find something in the wine selection to suit their taste.

The restaurant is dog-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged friend to enjoy a great meal on the outside patio.

Address: Mission Street At 5th Ave Just North of, 5th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

21. Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge

Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge, Carmel

Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge, Carmel

The measure of a great restaurant, especially a hotel restaurant, is when it is popular with visitors and locals.

Terry’s restaurant is an excellent restaurant located in the Cypress Inn.

Terry’s is a magnet for dog-loving people from different parts of the world and a gathering spot for Carmel dogs and their owners.

The restaurant is inside the Cypress Inn, partially owned by Doris Day and named for her son. So, when you eat here, you can enjoy the food and the ambiance of the Inn, which is really nice.

You need to check out the Cypress Inn to get a feel of the history of Carmel. It is one of the must-visit restaurants in Carmel.

The decor of Terry’s Restaurant was inspired by the building’s fluid construction and Spanish Colonial flare.

Similarly, the walls are decorated with a variety of old black-and-white photos that complement the space’s clean lines.

The lounge area has two sections – one that allows/encourages dog owners to bring their pets and the other section that is a no-pet zone, which is great.

They also have an extensive cocktail menu with many unique options.

So, you should visit here if you are looking for dog-friendly restaurants in Carmel.

Address: Lincoln St &, 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, United States

22. Valley Kitchen

Valley Kitchen, Carmel

Valley Kitchen, Carmel

With clean, fresh foods, generous portions, and a welcoming ambiance, Valley kitchen is perfect for breakfast or brunch.

There is a unique offering of classic California cuisine that will meet the needs and taste buds of anyone.

Valley Kitchen sits up a hill inside Carmel Valley Ranch Resort.

Some of the tables overlook the golf course and vineyards, and some the infinity pool. You can also sit outside (they have heaters for cool nights).

Additionally, Valley Kitchen is great for casual dining at the bar, with a varied and reasonable bar menu. If you want a more formal dinner, the restaurant has several seating options and another great menu.

You can show up in jeans and tennies or get more dressed and comfortable either way.

The warm focaccia bread with herbed butter is a great start.

The chicken wings here have been featured in multiple food publications and have just the right amount of crunch and spice. The pizzas are also great, and you can never go wrong with their fresh fish and steak options.

Address: 1 Old Ranch Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, United States

Final Remarks

With some of the best eateries that provide delectable, including pizzerias, steakhouses, burger joints, and pasta, restaurants in Carmel are a must-visit in California.

Bon Appetit!