Long overdue, but here is a list of my favorite restaurants in Southern California. Since I now live in LA, but was raised in Orange County, lived in San Diego for 10 years and go to Palm Springs like once a month, I think I am a good person to compile this list. I feel like 80% of my DMs these days are just people asking me for restaurant recommendations so I wanted to get this post up ASAP. Keep in mind that most of these restaurants are super busy and recommend reservations, so plan ahead!
Hope you find your new favorite spot! xx
Southern California Restaurant List
COFFEE & BRUNCH:
Great White– My favorite spot for brunch (and it is actually amazing for dinner too). Their breakfast burrito is one of the best I’ve ever had and the shaken vanilla latte is to die for.
Alfalfa– This place originated in New York and just opened up in Santa Monica! They have an amazing veggie breakfast burrito and their coffee is unreal too. I also LOVE all their salads.
The Rose Venice– This place is pretty pricey, but it is SO fun for a sit down brunch. I always get the “Gold Standard” breakfast bowl or the breakfast burrito. Great drinks too!
Sol– This little cafe is tucked away on Melrose in WeHo, but it has literally the best breakfast sandwich ever. I love posting up here with my laptop.
Bodega– Another great place to work from! Their oat milk iced latte and breakfast sandwich is incredible.
Alfred’s– The best iced coffee! I get an iced almond milk latte with light vanilla syrup. YUM!
Cha Cha Matcha– The cutest little matcha cafe in WeHo!
Erewhon– The most expensive grocery store on earth, but go for the bacon breakfast burrito. So bomb.
Milo + Olive– Cutest little brunch spot that is actually right across from Erewhon in Santa Monica.
FarmShop Brentwood Country Mart– This place is so fricken cute! They have amazing omelettes and baked goods.
Felix– The best Italian food in LA. Get the rosemary focaccia and prepare for your life to be changed. You really can’t go wrong with anything here.
Bavel– Obsessed with this place. So many breads and dips and delicious shareable plates. I recommend going with a group so you can order literally everything.
Elephante– You all already know how much I love Elephante…. It is such a vibe, yes, but the FOOD. Incredible. Get 2 of the whipped eggplant, broccolini, crispy potatoes, calamari, sopressata pizza, and the brussell sprout salad.
Ospi– Another amazing Italian spot in Venice. The crispy provolone and eggplant are a MUST.
Hatchet Hall– Love this place so much. The patio is SO cute and the food is always amazing. The cornbread is a must.
Night + Market– This Thai street food inspired restaurant in WeHo is one of my favorite spots. Order the crispy rice salad, pad thai, crispy chicken sandwich, green beans and the coconut rice.
Scopa– Yet another great Italian spot in Venice. The whipped ricotta is to die for!
Jon + Vinny’s– An LA staple. The meatballs and spicy fusilli are incredible.
The Honor Bar– My favorite date spot in Beverly Hills. I seriously eat here at least once every 2 weeks (which is a lot for me since I only eat out on the weekends usually). Get the crispy chicken sandwich, fries with spicy mayo, kale salad and their sushi is also unreal.
Calabra at The Proper Hotel– Ok, so the fries and cocktails here are incredible. The whole hotel is just such a vibe too! The food is just not my favorite. I would say go for drinks and fries then head somewhere else for dinner!
A.O.C.– This little tapas place in WeHo is so good and the vibes are just amazing. Their fried chicken is a must.
Wabi– A “vibey” spot in Venice, but the sushi and food here is amazing. The cocktails are also so so good!
The Window– A cheap eats spot in Venice- seriously the best burger ever!
Dudley Market– This little hidden spot in Venice is amazing for fresh seafood and natural wine. The menu is always changing but they usually always have fish tacos.
Gran Blanco– Great White’s sister restaurant across the street! They have an amazing burger and great cocktails.
Taverna Tony– Mediterranean food in Malibu? Sign me up. Always get the meze plate.
Petit Trois Valley– Had to throw a restaurant in the Valley on here! Amazing French food. French onion soup is a must!
Grand Central Market– A collection of amazing LA restaurants in Downtown LA. Great for anyone visiting that wants to try a bunch of different places.
Citizen Public Market– A similar market in Culver City! Tons of amazing places to try and amazing outdoor vibes. Get a burger from WeHo Sausage Co, a pizza from Pizzette and a drink from Bar Boheme on the roof!
COFFEE & BRUNCH:
Madison– Love this place for brunch and cocktails! Their dinner is incredible as well. You can’t go wrong.
Better Buzz– Can’t leave San Diego without an Iced Best Drink Ever half sweet.
VG’s Donuts– Get a maple bar from here and prepare for your world to be rocked.
Seaside Market- Ok, yes this is a grocery store but please go and get the breakfast burrito with tri tip (aka Cardiff Crack). Insane.
JRDN– Beach/Boardwalk front sit down restaurant with amazing food and drinks.
Goodonya– Healthy eats in Encinitas! I love their breakfast tacos and cinnamon roll.
Second Nature– I love this place for a healthy breakfast. It’s super cute too!
Harry’s– I love an old fashioned diner breakfast. This is such a classic spot right in La Jolla!
Parakeet– I used to come here every day when I lived in San Diego! Such great food and the best iced matcha ever.
Stratford Court Cafe– A little hidden gem in Del Mar! Great coffee and breakfast.
Herb & Wood– Probably my favorite restaurant in San Diego. The food is always incredible and nothing like what I made at home. Get the Oxtail Gnocchi and rolls off the secret menu.
Starlite– A great date night spot! Love the burger and Moscow mule here.
Barbusa– A super fun Italian spot in Little Italy! Great energy, food and cocktails.
OB Noodle House– A cheap eats spot in Ocean Beach, but it is some of the best food. Get the wings and pho!
Cesarina– The cutest Italian spot in Point Loma. The food is unreal!
Coasterra– Ok, I don’t LOVE the food here, but the cocktails and view are unbeatable. Go for drinks and apps at sunset.
Nolita Hall– Such a fun bar and their food is also amazing. Some of the best pizza in SD! Stay late night.
Himitsu– One of my favorite sushi spots in San Diego.
Born & Raised- If you are looking for a fancy dinner ($$$) this is your spot. Food is amazing, but you can also just go to the roof for drinks. The decor and architecture is INSANE.
Ironside– Love this place for amazing seafood and also the best cocktails.
Fortunate Son– I love Chinese food so much. This place is a must!
Bahn Thai- The best Thai food in San Diego.
Waverly– This spot is super cute and fun for a cocktail!
NORTH COUNTY (DEL MAR, ENCINITAS, CARLSBAD)
Herb & Sea– Same owner as Herb & Wood. I personally like Herb & Sea a little bit better, but both are great. The Shrimp Toast and Salmon really stood out to me here. The cocktails are also so good!
Juene Et Jolie- Ah, this place is a literal dream!! Incredible French food and the ambiance is just 10/10.
Campfire– This place is great for brunch and dinner.
Buona Forchetta– The best Italian! There is one in Encinitas and Normal Heights area (or somewhere over there).
Ken Sushi– Definitely a hidden gem but this is the best sushi in North County for sure.
Beeside Kitchen– This place’s pita bread is literal crack.
The Brigantine- Love the Brig for Taco Tuesday! So fun and a great view.
Monarch– A fun outdoor bar restaurant in Del Mar (finally)!
COFFEE & BRUNCH:
Coffee Importers– I’ve been going here since I was little! Cutest little coffee shop in Dana Point by the harbor. You absolutely must get the California Bagel.
Reborn Coffee CDM- I love the coffee here so much. They just make the best lattes! Grab a coffee and walk around CDM.
Project Social- I love the vibe of this place. It is fun to grab a coffee (then a beer later) and some breakfast.
Ramos House Cafe– If “charming” was a restaurant. This is seriously the cutest brunch spot on earth! Love walking around San Juan too.
Lost Pier Cafe– This is a hidden gem in Laguna Beach with the best breakfast burrito. Grab an Ashland while you’re there!
Gulf Stream- Love this place in CDM so much. Amazing food, ambiance, and cocktails. Get the Vegetable Chopped Salad it’s unreal.
Bandera- Another great restaurant in CDM! Can’t go wrong with the ribs and cornbread, YUM.
Nick’s– There’s a few Nick’s locations across Souther California and I love them all so much. Literally have never had a bad meal here.
South of Nick’s– Same restaurant chain as Nick’s, except Mexican food. Again, never had a bad meal here and their margs are unreal.
The Deck– Nothing beats ocean-front dining in Laguna, am I right? The food here is incredible too. I love their Cioppino.
Bear Flag– Casual dining in Newport Beach with the freshest poke I’ve ever had. I always get a poke bowl or salmon burrito. Everything here is incredible.
La Sirena– A great Mexican spot in Laguna Beach.
Muse Sushi– A hidden gem with amazing sushi in San Clemente.
COFFEE & BRUNCH:
Koffee– Great place for a quick coffee! Don’t love their food though.
Palm Greens Cafe– My favorite spot for lunch! I always get a wrap.
Cheeky’s– A Palm Spring’s brunch staple. Get the bacon flight!
Norma’s– The best brunch spot at The Parker hotel. It’s pricey, but worth it for the whole experience. Order the Crunchy French Toast for the table.
Farm– This place is so freaking cute for brunch! Literally a garden fairy land.
Rooster & The Pig– One of my favorite restaurants in the world. Order the Lychee Martini, Crispy Spring Rolls, Chicken Curry Ball (A MUST), Shaking Beef, Pork Belly Fried Rice… Just get everything.
Tropicale– This place is a MUST when you visit Palm Springs. The vibes are just immaculate. Food is kinda like Cheesecake Factory vibes- huge variety on the menu, no real “theme,” but honestly it’s always really good in my opinion. Won’t knock your socks off, but you won’t be mad. Get a martini!
Birba– I’m pretty vocal that I don’t LOVE the food scene in Palm Springs, but there are a few spots I do like. Birba has a great vibe and pretty good pizza and salads. I always get the Birba Pizza and Pizza Parlor Chop Salad.
Azucar– This place is seriously SO CUTE! I wasn’t completely blown away by the food and drinks, but it is good! The rooftop bar is fun for after dinner too.
Sandfish– Surprisingly great sushi in Palm Springs! It is also a whiskey bar which I love.
Workshop– Cute vibes, mediocre food. Typical Palm Springs haha.