Spring is a time of renewal, and for Californians, that includes savoring some of the state’s freshest and most delicious seasonal foods and drinks. Many of the fabulous restaurants in California have breathtaking coastal views that add to the experience of indulging in perfectly crafted dishes and drinks. To make the most of spring in the Golden State, here is a Foodie’s guide to the best local eats and drinks in California.

Exploring Local Cuisine by Region  

California has so much delicious local cuisine to discover, so let’s take a look at each region of the state to explore their unique gastronomical delights.

Northern California

Northern California is home to vineyards and fresh seafood, as well as some of the nation’s most remarkable venues for first-rate tasting menus. The famed Napa valley is unparalleled when it comes to world-class wines and the food served at restaurants in the area takes advantage of local ingredients. Start your savoring journey in Wine Country with freshly shucked oysters, dungeness crab, duck and quail.

Central California

Central California is bursting with flavors, as the region is home to some of the most diverse agricultural regions in the world. From berry picking in the Central Valley to foraging for mushrooms in the hills, Central Califonia’s bounty immediately comes alive during spring. Fill up on some of the region’s favorite eats, including the seasonal artichoke and asparagus, shrimp cocktails and the beloved Mission-style burrito.

Southern California

Southern California’s laid back coastal vibes provide a great backdrop for some of nation’s best beachside dining. Soak up the warmer spring days with a delectable artisanal ice cream, or head to San Diego for some delicious Mexican fare. The tacos and tostadas here fit perfectly with the coastal climate, while the burrito stands offers an excellent and convenient way to enjoy the area’s delicious and fresh flavors.

Local Craft Beers  

Craft beers are one of the prime attractions in California, as the state is home to many incredible local breweries and taprooms. From tangerine-infused IPAs to flavorful pilsners to barrel-aged sour ales, California knows how to create an unforgettable craft beer.

Northern California Breweries :

• Russian River Brewing Company – The brewery is tucked away in the heart of Sonoma, and specializes in farmhouse ales, hoppy beers, and barrel-aged concoctions.

• Faction Brewing – This brewpub specializes in ales, stouts, and IPAs, with a range of seasonal favorites for the spring.

• Fieldwork Brewing Company – This rustic brewery is big on hop-forward hazy IPAs, but also offers a refreshing range of farmhouse ales, saisons, and pilsners.

Central California Breweries :

• BarrelHouse Brewing Company – This brewery is making some of the finest beers in the Central Valley, with an emphasis on giant stouts and barleywines.

• Tiedhouse Brewing Company – This is a great spot for hop-heads, as the brewery is all about full-bodied IPA’s and unique hoppy ales.

• State Street Brewing Co. – If a light, crisp beer is your go-to, State Street has you covered. Their house brews include brewpub favorites like golden ales and pilsners.

Southern California Breweries :

• Three Weavers Brewing Company – Having gained notoriety for their IPAs, the brewery has recently expanded their range to include sours and session beers.

• Karl Strauss Brewing Company – One of San Diego’s oldest breweries offers award-winning IPAs, stouts, and Belgian ales in a cozy taproom with a stunning view.

• Stereo Brewing Company – This family-run brewery specializes in hoppy beers, wheat ales, and barleywines, with a small taproom that hosts live music and food trucks.

Springtime Spirits  

California’s locally-sourced spirits capture the essence of the season. From innovative craft distilleries making small-batch spirits to some of the nation’s best brandies, there’s something for everyone.

Northern California Distillery :

• Hangar 1 – Located at the former naval air base in Alameda, Hangar 1 produces artisanal vodkas and gins.

• Charbay Distillery & Winery – Founded in 1983, this celebrated distillery specializes in American whiskeys, brandy, and vodka.

Central California Distillery :

• Bruvado Wines – This innovative winery is making unique spirits, by producing a combination of a California-style spirit with Caribbean Rum.

• Vulcanus Spirit – Located in the center of the state, Vulcanus focuses on small-batch production, with experimental spirits that use infused spices and botanicals.

Southern California Distillery :

• San Diego Distillery – This distillery specializes in small-batch spirits, with gin, whiskey, rum, and vodka crafted according to traditional methods.

• Golden State Distillery – Located in Escondido, the distillery produces quality gin, whiskey, and vodka. Their whiskeys and brandies stand out among other craft brands, thanks to their judicious use of California-grown fruit.

Ensuring Sustainable Eating  

Whenever possible, look for farm-to-table eateries and food products that have been sustainably produced and locally sourced. Sustainable products help support the farm and ranch owners who are committed to humane animal practices and using fewer chemicals in the production of their products.

Likewise, supporting restaurants, delis, and grocery stores that are committed to sustainability can help reduce their carbon footprint, so take the time to research the ones that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable production and sourcing. A good way to find sustainable restaurants is to look for the Ocean Friendly recognition, which is given to restaurants that are committed to protecting ocean resources.

Food Trucks Everywhere

For an exciting experience, check out the many food trucks that are located all around California. From tacos and burgers to hot dogs and fried chicken, food trucks offer some of the most delicious local street food near and far. Some of the most popular places to find food trucks are in the major cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Enjoying Outdoor Seating & Patios

As soon as the weather warms up, outdoor seating and patio areas seem to spring up almost overnight. California is blessed with mild temperatures and sunshine most of the year, so make sure to take advantage of the great local eats and drinks when the weather is just right for it. From bistros tucked away in vineyards to rooftop bars in the city, there are plenty of outdoor spots that offer breathtaking views and fantastic seasonal menus

Farmers Markets & Cancelled Food Festivals

Farmers markets in California are a great way to get your hands on some of the freshest and most delicious local eats. Many of the state’s farmers market have experienced a resurgence in popularity over the past few years, as shoppers look for nutrient-dense and sustainably produced foods. Outdoor markets typically offer a wonderful selection of snacks and drinks, as well as some of the best seafood in the season. However, keep in mind that not all farmers markets are continuing to operate this season due to the pandemic, so make sure to get in touch ahead of time to ensure that the market is open.

Unfortunately, many of the food festivals that happen in the spring have been cancelled this year, due to the pandemic. But if you know where to look, you may be able to find some smaller, socially distanced events or takeout-only festivals.

Springtime in California is a magical time for savoring the state’s fresh and delicious flavors. From craft beer and brandy to local eats and market goods, there is so much to eat and drink in the Golden State. Whether you’re looking to sample some craft beer in the taproom, or indulge in some gourmet cuisine in the vineyards, make sure to explore all the great local eats and drinks while savoring Spring in California.