There’s so much to love about California’s beautiful beach towns. Aside from the white sand, roaring surf and perpetually sunny weather, there are some seriously delicious dining options… and many of them have incredible water views. You could plan an entire road trip around where you’ll eat on the California coast—and in fact, we recommend that you do just that.
Of course, the first step to any road trip is securing a good rental car. We specialize in Los Angeles underage car rental, so if you’re under 25, you don’t need to worry about paying extra. Look up local Los Angeles car rental packages to find the deal that’s right for you. Because whether you head north or south to begin, LA is always a wonderful place for a road trip to start.
We suggest heading straight to Santa Monica to begin your food tour, then heading south all the way to San Diego. You’ll have plenty of beaches to choose from, and every beach town you pass will have some amazing food options. And while you could do the entire trip in a weekend if you wanted to, you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you give yourself four or five days to experience it. That way when you’re heading home to LA, you can eat at the places you were too full to try on your way down.
This laid back, family friendly coastal LA neighborhood makes an amazing first stop. Stretch your legs on the Santa Monica Pier and work up a sweat (and an appetite) with a beach jog before deciding where to dine. Here are a few great options:
- Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie on Wilshire Boulevard for some tasty Tex Mex lunch.
- Reds on Pics Boulevard for the best pizza in the area.
- Society Kitchen on Ocean Park Boulevard for a little bit of everything: Brunch, pizza, and American classics.
- Tar & Roses on Santa Monica Boulevard for a contemporary fine dining experience you won’t soon forget. They’ve been voted one of the best restaurants in LA!
Are you more of a Venice Beach person than a Santa Monica person? If you relate more to the laid back surfer or artist lifestyle than anything else, you might be. Here are your best best for a Venice Beach meal:
- Toyaca Organica on Pacific Avenue for fresh, healthy Mexican food with plenty of vegan options.
- Wild Poke on Ocean Front Walk for the best raw bar in town.
- Barrique on Main Street if you’re craving a classic Italian meal with a nice glass of wine.
- Pono Burger on Rose Avenue when nothing but a burger will do.
Manhattan Beach is a beautiful, clean little coastal city full of shops, great bars and, of course, delicious restaurants. Here are a few suggestions:
- Manhattan Beach Post on Manhattan Avenue for those moments when you’re too indecisive to choose an entree… it’s a tapas / small plates place.
- Fishing With Dynamite on Manhattan Avenue for some scrumptious seafood.
- Manhattan House on Manhattan Beach Boulevard for a modern gastropub experience.
Long Beach seems to have something for everyone. It’s rich in arts, culture and music, and there are lots of unique festivals throughout the year. The city welcomes people from all walks of life… and of course, there are some wonderful restaurants. Here are our suggestions:
- Cesar’s Bistro on East Pacific Coast Highway for delicious Latin-American fusion food (make a reservation on a weekend!).
- 39 Degrees on Redondo Avenue for excellent sushi.
- HashTag Burgers on Atlantic Avenue for a casual burger and beer meal.
- Pier 76 Fish Grill on Pine Avenue for tasty lobster rolls or sandwiches.
This is a slightly quieter area that some of the livelier beach towns, but it’s a pristine and beautiful place. Here’s where to eat when you park your car in Newport Beach:
- Ike’s Love & Sandwiches on Macarthur Boulevard, a brand new sandwich shop with an outstanding reputation.
- Crocker’s The Well Dressed Frank on Marine Avenue is worth checking out for the name alone, but also happens to have tasty (and affordable) American classics.
- Wild Taco on 31st Street when nothing but fancy tacos will do.
- Mama D’s Italian Kitchen on Newport Boulevard when a pasta craving strikes.
Have you ever been to a place so beautiful, it’s almost surreal? Laguna Beach is one of those magical places. This is a perfect place to spend a couple of days and relax for the final stretch of your road trip before turning around. And it should come as no surprise that this place is a mecca for foodies (not that you have to be one to love dining here). When you visit, check out some of these spots:
- The Grove on Forest on Forest Avenue for an absolutely delicious brunch and great coffee.
- Slapfish on Broadway for casual seafood classics like fish & chips.
- Laguna Beach Brewery and Grill on Ocean Avenue, which is new and already well-loved, for tasty Mexican food and excellent beer.
- Watermarc on the South Coast Highway for tapas and small plates.
- The Deck on Luna Beach on Sleepy Hollow Lane for a laid back dining experience with stunning beach views.
Happy road-tripping, and non appetit!