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10 Best California Restaurants (That Serve Food Better Than Your Mom’s)

The state of California is chock full of restaurants and bistros, places that everybody claims to be ‘the next best thing.’

There’s a certain pride that comes from being able to introduce people to a new place before they’ve heard of it elsewhere, but sometimes it takes an old favorite to really impress.

There’s a lot of hype around new restaurants.

Every now and then, some of them actually live up to the hype.

10 California Restaurants That Serve Food Better Than Your Mom's

breakfast republic/yelp

Updated 2/9/2020 – From time-tested classics, to the latest hotspots, here are 10 California restaurants scattered throughout the state that serve food so good you’ll go back for more…and more…and more.

Then California Restaurants That Serve Food Better Than Your Mom’s

Table of Contents

  • 1 10) The Kitchen  – Los Angeles, CA
  • 2 9) The Coffee Cup Café – Long Beach, CA
  • 3 8) Cask & Barrel – Sacramento, CA
  • 4 7) Peanuts Deluxe Café – San Jose, CA
  • 5 6) Sweet Maple – San Francisco, CA
  • 6 5) Moonstone Bistro – Redding, CA
  • 7 4) Woolworth Diner – Bakersfield, CA
  • 8 3) Pickles & Swiss – Santa Barbara, CA
  • 9 2) Breakfast Republic – San Diego, CA
  • 10 1) Good Harvest Café – Crescent City, CA
  • 11 Conclusion

10) The Kitchen  – Los Angeles, CA

The Kitchen in LA looks like the boxcar of an old train, but what's cooking inside is much more delicious.

stella l./yelp

Baked Mac and Cheese is a comforting classic at The Kitchen in Los Angeles,

inhwa c./yelp

In addition to classic comfort food options, such as a killer chicken pot pie, and a macaroni and cheese that comes highly recommended.

The Kitchen boasts many unique menu options and combinations, including an eggs Benny accompanied by crab cakes.

Enjoy this sophisticated and cozy atmosphere without being bombarded by pretentious wait staff.

Want to enjoy brunch outside?

Be sure to grab a table at the outside seating area.

9) The Coffee Cup Café – Long Beach, CA

Find some parking nearby and hop into the Coffee Cup Café in Long Beach.

Google Street

This Mexican-Fusion scramble at Coffee Cup Café is true excitement for your taste-buds.

alicia w./yelp

This casual café is a new favorite among locals. Enjoy the cozy, and casual atmosphere and super friendly staff.

The American-Mexican fusion-style breakfasts are always accompanied by three homemade salsas to  delight your tastebuds.

The Coffee Cup has a wonderful kids menu, and is incredibly family friendly.

Come and enjoy a green chili omelet and see why so many locals now visit the Coffee Cup on a regular basis.

It’s one thing to try a cool place and enjoy, but another to actually keep going back on a regular basis.

Bet you will.

8) Cask & Barrel – Sacramento, CA

You can't miss the Cask & Barrel if you're in Sacramento.

The Cask & Barrel in Sacramento has some very unique items on their menu for you to experience.

raina l./yelp

Considered one of the newest best-kept-secret brunch hot spots in the area, come and enjoy a fantastic menu full of unique flavors and a plethora of adult beverages.

This casual style restaurant is becoming known for its amazing brisket, and outstanding bourbon caramel chicken wings.

They have elevated versions of classic comfort food.

Sip on a perfect bloody mary as you enjoy company on the patio deck.

Casual by day, and romantic by night, the Cask & Barrel is the perfect setting no matter what the occasion.

7) Peanuts Deluxe Café – San Jose, CA

Peanuts in San Jose is a local favorite.

dave a./yelp

Huge portions at Peanuts in San Jose plus cold drinks, hot coffee - what else could you want?

veronica a./yelp

This super casual and very friendly café is the ideal place for students and those who have lighter wallets but still want a great meal.

At the Peanuts Café, you order at the register, so it is ideal for casual mornings on the move.

While it’s interior is casual and very unassuming, it has amazing breakfast options with huge portions.

Visiting the inexpensive café at lunchtime?

Enjoy a decent selection of beer at this newly discovered hidden gem.

6) Sweet Maple – San Francisco, CA

Sweet Maple in SF is a gem of a place to eat.

Google Street

Fact: a sandwich doesn't taste as good if it hasn't been stabbed with a knife. Check out this San Francisco favorite.

cynthia l./yelp

This breakfast and brunch restaurant is a new, necessary stop for anyone visiting the San Francisco area.

This cute and casual joint has started getting crowded, but is well worth planning around.

Now known for its fantastic millionaire’s bacon, many locals and visitors alike are starting to rave about Sweet Maple’s deep fried French toast and raspberry preserves.

Each dish is presented in a creative and colorful way, and comes with an assortment of gourmet syrups to feast on.

5) Moonstone Bistro – Redding, CA

The Moonstone Bistro is a beloved place to grab a bite.

courtny v./yelp

The Moonstone Bistro is one of Redding's tastier places to stop by for classics presented in an elevated way.

kimmy s./yelp

The Moonstone Bistro is unique in that it has a revolving menu that is changed seasonally.

Using local ingredients whenever possible, this chic and modern restaurant has a few staples that nobody can do without, including excellent fish tacos, corn cakes and a chocolate soufflé that is out of this world.

It’s crisp, clean exterior is perfect for brunch or even a casual date, and diners can eat with peace of mind, knowing Moonstone utilizes locally sourced ingredients with each passing season.

4) Woolworth Diner – Bakersfield, CA

Woolworth's is a local institution in Bakersfield.

helen y./yelp

Delicious beans and a stacked-high burger at Woolworth's in Bakersfield.

maria n./yelp

Ready to don a poodle skirt and race off to the sock hop?

This super relaxed, kid friendly diner is like stepping into time.

It’s a classic diner with retro 50s flair, inside as well as outside.

Featuring Dewars’ delicious ice cream, Woolworth’s is worth experiencing for the crazy good milkshakes alone!

Many visitors first come for the aesthetic experience but have started to come back for the classic American fare.

3) Pickles & Swiss – Santa Barbara, CA

Pickles & Swiss in Santa Barbara has a menu full of amazing items that will keep you coming back.

tiffany l./yelp

Love sandwiches? You'll Pickles & Swiss in Santa Barbara California.

jessica v./yelp

This little sandwich bistro may not seem like much from the outside, but it offers classic sandwiches and American meals with a touch of something unique, making each entrée a new, beloved favorite by locals.

The incredibly friendly staff is happy to list off gluten free and vegan options, making this cute and cozy joint ideal for anybody.

Enjoy a touch of steampunk décor as you munch on a hand crafted sandwich and make conversation with Mark, the always friendly and super accommodating owner of Pickles & Swiss.

2) Breakfast Republic – San Diego, CA

Breakfast Republic in San Diego is worth waiting for the line-up.

breakfast republic/yelp

Breakfast Republic's pancake flights let you try a bit of everything.

tiffany k./yelp

This hip little restaurant sometimes has a long wait, but is definitely worth the extra time.

Enjoy complimentary coffee and flavored water as you much down a unique breakfast and brunch menu that is to die for.

This place has a sense of humor and a lot of personality.

Breakfast Republic is becoming known for its delectable shrimp and grits meal, as well as a brioche French toast.

Hit the town early to enjoy a table in the patio outback, and sip on a bloody Mary made to perfection as you explore this trendy joint that is becoming a new San Diego favorite.

If you love pancakes, try one of their pancake flights if you want to add a little variety to your stack.

1) Good Harvest Café – Crescent City, CA

The Good Harvest Café is not as fancy or upscale as some of the places on this list, but that's okay.

kelly b./yelp

Fancy some locally caught fish tacos? Here's one of the best bets in Crescent City.

bebe w./yelp

This unassuming restaurant packs a delicious punch.

This spot offers up many coastal style foods, including a fantastic scallop dish and clam chowder that is positively delicious.

Top each off with a craft beer, and you have yourself a meal worthy of royalty.

Popping in for breakfast?

Enjoy an array of comfort foods accompanied by fresh squeezed orange juice.

Good Harvest’s rustic décor and furniture may not seem like much, but that’s because all attention and detail goes into the delectable food.


No matter if you are in the southern or northern parts of the state, California is home to some amazing restaurants, cafes and bistros.

From amazing seafood, to unique takes on breakfast favorites, be sure to check out this collection of places to enjoy a great meal.

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