Posted January 08
By John Godfrey
Taken as a whole, California Restaurant Month is a fairly fabulous phenomenon. Forty regions across the state—from San Diego to San Luis Obispo to Suisun City—are participating this January, offering up special menus, steep discounts, and sometimes even a free drink or dessert. It's such a huge event that we created a California Now Podcast episode to celebrate it.
And when you take a closer look at this food-forward festival, it's even more impressive. The 15 communities below are launching their individual restaurant week celebrations in the days ahead, and each and every one is worth a visit. Read the details below, click on any of the links for more information, and start planning your culinary tour of California today.
Get Hooked: Monterey Bay
For more than 20 years, Monterey Bay has served as the epicenter of the sustainable seafood movement. Seafood Watch, developed in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, helps conscientious eaters all over the world choose dishes that are delicious, healthy, and better for our oceans. From Jan. 14–21, Monterey is bringing this mission to the dinner table with the first Get Hooked week. Head to the seaside city to try specialty dishes featuring local, sustainably sourced seafood. Consider a stop by Wild Fish, a Pacific Grove restaurant that opened in May of 2018. The owners change the menu daily and give credit to the specific fishermen and fishing vessel responsible for that day's catch.
Newport Beach Restaurant Week
Newport Beach is the perfect place to pump up the romance thanks to luxurious oceanfront restaurants serving freshly caught seafood… oysters, anyone? But whether you’re dining solo, enjoying date night, or just out with family and friends, Newport Beach Restaurant Week has something for everybody. During the 14-day dining event, from Jan. 14–27, participating restaurants offer prix fixe menus with lunches from $10–$25 and dinner from $20–$50. If you’re headed out for the evening, cap off the night with a ride on the Balboa Fun Zone’s Ferris wheel and enjoy a spectacular view.
Oxnard Tacos, Treats, & Tastings
The diversity of Oxnard’s culinary scene can be found right in the heart of its vibrant downtown, where more than 40 international restaurants, and even a tortilla factory, line the streets. During Oxnard Tacos, Treats, & Tastings, Jan. 18–27, the Ventura County city will celebrate its multicultural heritage. Participating establishments will serve signature tacos, tasty treats, and beverage pairings. Oxnard knows that nothing washes down a salsa-topped taco better than an ice-cold beer, perhaps from one of the local breweries like Red Tandem Brewery, Casa Agria Specialty Ales, or Poseidon Brewing Company.
Berkeley Restaurant Week
When Alice Waters opened the doors of Chez Panisse in 1971, the chef ushered in a food revolution centered on sustainability with Berkeley as its promised land. The 7th Annual Berkeley Restaurant Week celebrates the city’s New American dining roots, along with an eclectic mix of nearly every international flavor imaginable. Try German, Yemeni, African, French, and Mediterranean dishes from Jan. 17–27, as restaurants offer specially priced three-course menus along with complimentary amuse-bouche, wine pairings, and more.
Alameda Restaurant Week
This sun-filled island south of Oakland packs dozens of family-owned restaurants into six square miles of land. During its second annual Restaurant Week (Jan. 17–27), participating eateries such as Italian gem C’era Una Volta and tiki spot Forbidden Island will offer special deals, ranging from a free dessert or cocktail to a two-for-one special. Grab a stamp card and make multiple stops to be entered to win raffle prizes. Some lucky diners will win restaurant gift cards, providing the perfect excuse to come back for more.
Ojai Restaurant Week
Artists and spiritual seekers have been traveling to Ojai for decades in an effort to find their bliss. But Ojai is so much more than granola bowls and avocado toast. The food scene is both sophisticated and delicious. During Ojai Restaurant Week from Jan. 17–27, visitors and locals can enjoy discounted menu offerings. Take a stroll downtown where sampling tables offer small bites of what’s to come. Oenophiles should be on the lookout for special wine pairings, highlighting bottles from the valley’s many wineries.
Santa Maria Valley Restaurat Week
In Santa Maria Valley, a new year means the celebration of a new growing season. The Central Coast region’s cool ocean breezes make fruits and vegetables taste all the sweeter, and its long-standing ranch culture makes for a unique style of barbecue. From Jan. 16–27, hungry visitors are invited to Santa Maria Restaurant Week. Featured entrees, showcasing the region’s best flavors, are priced at a celebratory $20.19. For an immersive Santa Maria experience, head to barbecue landmark restaurant Far Western Tavern, where chef Maili Halme serves regional specialties like oak-grilled tri-tip and lamb.
Stockton Restaurant Week
The Central Valley city is a favorite for families thanks to institutions like the Micke Grove Zoo, The Haggin Museum, and Oak Grove Regional Park. From Jan. 18-27, bring the whole crew to join in on the fun during Stockton Restaurant Week. For the 10th year in a row, Stockton restaurants will deliver special fixed-priced menus and deals. Head to Market Tavern to try fresh-from-the-farm flavors like smoked escarole pizza, or stop by The Kitchen at StoneBrier for New American options—special restaurant week menus are being offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Turlock Restaurant Week
Turlock’s cultural diversity makes for deliciously varied dining options in the Stanislaus County. Try it all during Turlock Restaurant Week, running from Jan. 18–27. The 10-day feast includes fixed-price menus offered at a discount, along with celebratory menu themes at more than 20 restaurants. Ward off winter chills with the ribeye tacos or pozole verde at Agave Azul or fill up with a grilled chicken, artichoke, and bacon pizza for $18 at Crust & Crumb. For $30, you can eat a full three-course meal—house-made focaccia included—at Toscana's Ristorante. Don't miss a stop at one of the two Dust Bowl Brewery locations in Turlock, where you'll find craft and specialty beers on tap and a dog-friendly beer garden.
Perfect Pairings: Butte County Restaurant Week
Many trace America’s modern craft brewing craze back to the landmark Sierra Nevada Brewery. As well-made potables are central to Butte County’s culture, it’s fitting that the region’s Restaurant Week would center on the idea of “perfect pairings.” From Jan. 18–27, the bountiful region, which is 75 miles north of Sacramento, is serving up special epicurean experiences. Local restaurants will create conceptual dishes and treats that encompass the idea of the perfect pair. This will include plenty of beer and bites, as well as unexpected dishes and delicious one-of-a-kind duos.
Vacaville Restaurant Week
You can’t drive through Vacaville without spotting farm stands selling the season’s best produce. Consider that a good sign for any meal you’ll enjoy in the little Bay Area city. During Vacaville Restaurant Week, running Jan. 18–27, restaurants will offer special pricing and festive menu options for foodies and families alike. If you have kids in tow, make sure to stop by the two-acre amusement park at Nut Tree to burn off some pre-dinner energy on the stunning carousel.
Suisun Restaurant Week
Suisun City combines the charm of a quaint coastal community with the rich wine-making tradition of the French countryside—all nestled between the urban hubs of San Francisco and Sacramento. During its Restaurant Week (Jan. 18–27), experience some of Solano County’s best wine, beer, and food at once-a-year prices. Before dinner, get a peek behind the kingly curtain with the Budweiser Brewery Experience in nearby Fairfield. Let your meal settle with a walk along the marina as you watch the sunset behind the lovely Suisun City Harbor Lighthouse.
Elk Grove Restaurant Week
Just south of the state capital, the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove has a robust dining, beer, and wine scene all its own. From Jan. 18 to 27, Elk Grove Restaurant Week invites you to explore international flavors that include Korean, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, and more. Whatever cuisine you choose, wash your dinner down with some exceptional local brews at Tilted Mash Brewery or Dreaming Dog Brewery, where K9-named beers are paired with live music and family-friendly games.
oncord Comfort Food Restaurant Week
This small East Bay community boasts a diverse array of delicious restaurants, serving more than 37 different cuisines. From Jan. 18 to 27 hearty bites are the name of the game as Concord hosts its second annual Comfort Food Week. Participating eateries put their unique spin on the concept of “comfort.” Think free chocolate lava cake with dinner at Bambino’s Italian Restaurant or a complimentary cookie dough truffle when you spend more than $25 at Out the Dough.
Winter Feast Mendocino
Mendocino may be most known for its stunning coastline, but ask anyone who has partaken of the area’s culinary offerings, and they’ll tell you the real treasures lie beneath the surface of the sea. At the annual Winter Feast Mendocino (formerly the Crab, Beer & Wine Festival), for 10 days starting on January 18 you can sample a smorgasbord of local sea-harvested specialties and wash it all down with a glass or two of the good local stuff.