Californiacation | A West Coast Getaway, Eating Our Way Around LA, Santa Barbara & Ensenada
If you happen to find yourself upon a Princess Cruises West Coast Getaway with Santa Barbara, plus a couple of days extra in LA – here’s our recommendations of where to eat. In true WLF style, we crammed in as much as was comfortably possible. We also spent the night before the cruise at Long Beach so we were close to the port to set sail the following day.
The Attic on Broadway
Head to this homely and relaxed restaurant, that’s been standing on East Broadway in a circa-1920s Craftsman bungalow, for their signature Mac ‘n’ Cheetos – a towering bowl of mac and cheese topped with, yep you’ve guessed it, Cheetos. Ade tried the original Reggae ($9) but there’s also Hey Shorty ($12) with braised short rib, Jalo Bac ($11) with candied cayenne bacon or the OG Mac ($10) with chopped pecan wood smoked bacon.
It’s not all about the cheese though, (although it’s their signature thing) you have to try their Chicken fried steak ($10) with the fluffiest mash I’ve ever had and braised greens topped with scallions.
3441 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90803
The Potholder Cafe Too
We’d read that the Potholder was the undisputed “King” of Long Beach when it comes to breakfast so we put it firmly on our list. Awake before the crack of dawn due to jet lag, we were there as the doors opened. A wonderful old school dineresque restaurant greeted us with super-friendly staff (standard in America but still special for us) and a mammoth menu. I went for Tim’s Dug Out ($13.25) – basically a mix of their bestsellers from steak and spuds, avo omelette and stuffed french toast. Ade chose the California ($11.95) – turkey breast, tomato, avocado and jack and cheddar cheese omelette. All washed down with bottomless coffee ($3) because that’s what you do in America, isn’t it?
301 W. Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802
We had a few hours of shore leave and opted for the Eat This, Shoot That! food tour in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone and we’re so glad we did. An amazing whistle-stop tour of some great restaurants, street food vendors and even a distillery. Imagine Shoreditch but with sunshine, prettier surroundings and no hipsters.
ENTERPRISE FISH CO.
One of Santa Barbara’s longest standing seafood restaurants, rustic and very cool with a fab open kitchen.
225 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Burgers and craft beers, very Shoreditch. We sampled a burger with peanut butter and jelly – sooooo good.
14 E Cota St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
A cute cafe covered in pennies, specialising in wood-fired flatbread and homemade barbecue chips.
127 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN BREWING CO
A family run brewing company, featured in the heart of the Funk Zone with a huge range of interesting beers and a lovely beer garden to drink them in.
137 Anacapa St F, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
CUTLER’S ARTISAN SPIRITS
The city’s first distillery since Prohibition ended, featuring top shelf bourbon, vodka, gin, and apple pie liqueur. We couldn’t resist bringing back a bottle, thank God we bought two suitcases.
Suite D, 137 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
SANTA BARBARA WINE COLLECTIVE
A winery featuring reserve wine labels from five different winemakers.
131 Anacapa St c, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
HELENA AVENUE BAKERY
The Funk Zone’s only bakery featuring freshly baked breads, goodies, and fresh fruit jams.
131 Anacapa St c, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
MONY’S MEXICAN FOOD
Family-owned and operated, hole-in-the-wall taqueria known for street tacos, homemade chips, and the best salsa bar in town. Could have stood outside in the sun eating tacos all day – wonderful sauces too.
217 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
A vast selection of creative and unusual ice creams such as Eureka lemon and marrionberries to Chamomile tea and oatmeal cookies.
728 State Street, Santa Barbara, California 93101
Ensenada is pretty touristy so leave that all behind and visit this bar. It’s said to be where the margarita was invented so we just had to try it. Such a find, sawdust floors, it’s probably not changed much since it was established back in 1892. Many of the staff have been working there pretty much all their lives and you can get a great margarita for about $3! We liked it so much we went back before we got back on the ship.
Avenida Ruiz 113, Zona Centro, 22800 Ensenada, BC, Mexico
A great grocery shop with a fabulous brightly painted exterior where they make and sell flour tortillas for next to nothing.
Calle 2A 558, Ensenada, Baja California
Restaurante El Corralito
This was our first stop – cool interior and friendly staff, dollar bills adorn the walls.
Avenida Adolfo López Mateos 627, Zona Centro, 22800 Ensenada, BC, Mexico
Off the beaten track, the sherbet coloured decor attracted us to this place, dead cheap prices, huge portions and friendly staff (although be warned that don’t speak any English.)
Calle Castillo 401, Centro, 22800 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
A highly regarded award-winning seafood stand which dates back to the 1960s. The Sea urchin cerviche tostada ($2) is the one to go for – named Best Original Dish at the L.A. Street Food Fest, .
22800, Av Adolfo López Mateos 998, Zona Centro, Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
Our first port of call when we landed on Melrose was our favourite Urth Caffé, brilliant (gigantic) coffee, great for people watching (and celebs if you’re lucky). Don’t miss the Urth Bread Pudding Breakfast ($7.75) and their Famous Pecan Sticky Buns ($3.95)
8565 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (with other locations throughout LA)
OK, so we went here last time too but we just had to go back, it’s a special little place with outdoor seating (and patio heaters, thankfully). We popped in after a trip to the Griffith Observatory, it was either a half hour walk down the hill or a ten minute Uber journey – Uber won, it was freezing. We got there just in time for happy hour – result.
1760 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 9002
Pink’s Hot Dogs
We were yet to try Pink’s legendary hot dogs and needed a quick lunch, there was one up the road from our hotel and as the time was right it would have been rude not to visit. There’s always a queue and it doesn’t move fast but that’s fine because you can watch them do what they do. We went for a Chili dog ($4.40) and a Chili cheese dog ($4.90) – big, dirty, perfect.
709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (with other locations throughout LA)
Another restaurant near to our hotel that came highly recommended was Animal. We had a load of places on our list but the menu here really appealed. Everything was bursting with flavour but the Yellowtail collar, jerk spices, jicama, citrus and palm sugar ($21) knocked our socks off. Go hungry with plenty of money and order everything and save room for the Bacon chocolate crunch bar, s&p ice cream ($9).
435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Also on Fairfax and right next to the Farmer’s Market is Tart. Part of the adjacent Farmer’s Daughter hotel where we nearly stayed. We went for a ‘light’ brunch so had the Market Scramble ($14) and Ade the Market Fruit Platter with yogurt and honey ($13) as he’s having to be careful (see this for a reminder why). Make sure you visit the restroom before you leave, whether you need to or not.
115 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Lemonade was recommended by fellow LA-lover, Rachel Phipps (as was Tart) so we knew we’d be onto a winner. After a failed trip to Father’s Office for a burger and little time to spare, a visit to Lemonade in Santa Monica was perfect timing. Bright, canteen style salads and out of this world sandwiches. Oh and lemonade, of course.
3rd Street Promenade, 301 Arizona Ave, Santa Monica, Ca (with other locations throughout LA)
Shutters on the Beach
A renowned hotel (in which unfortunately we were not staying). We slid in on the way to Abbot Kinney for a drink at the bar during happy hour and watched the sun setting over the beach – perfect.
Santa Monica State Beach, 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 shuttersonthebeach.com
Abbot Kinney’s First Friday
Food trucks + our favourite street in LA? Hell, yeah! Events like these in London are on a far grander scale (surprisingly) but can be crowded and noisy. Plus they’re not on LA’s coolest street with the best shops scattered amongst the trucks. From 6pm on the first Friday of the month (hence the name), look out for the famous Kogi taco truck, nachos from Peaches’ Smokehouse and pudding from The Pudding Truck.
Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
After all that shopping, eating and wandering up and down Abbot Kinney Blvd, we needed a beer and a sit down. All the bars were heaving apart from this one for some unknown reason. Dark and cosy with candles twinkling and music not too loud – a great little bar.
1201 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice Beach, CA 90291
PCPLA brings a bit of Oz to LA – when Australia and America merge you know you’re going to get great coffee. There’s food and pastries too but we just popped in for a pick me up before heading back to the airport.
456 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Crumbs & Whiskers
People have mixed feelings about cat cafes but Crumbs & Whiskers have a great back story and we could see they truly cared for the cats. All the moggies are rescue cats and can be adopted – a great idea and we certainly wanted to take a few home, we don’t think Bubble and Squeak would have been too happy about that though.
7924 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Blu Jam Café
This was a little bit like the equivalent of The Table Café – queue out the door (but not for us as we were awake early – again). It’s a little rough around the edges but the food is great, especially their signature dish: Crunchy French toast ( ) – French brioche dipped in their secret batter, rolled in crunchy corn flakes, topped with fresh berries and vanilla bean sauce. It’s everything.
7371 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90046 (with other locations throughout LA)
Joan’s On Third
We had heard of Joan’s and then a couple we got chatting to at Blu Jam recommended we go there. It’s in the great district of West 3rd Street and is well established so very busy – especially on a Saturday. You order at the bar and then take a seat, this seems to be quite common in LA. The Tarragon chicken salad with apples and pecans ($10.95) was great but not as good as Ade’s Short rib sandwich (13.95) with melted jack cheese and sweet red onions on country white bread.
8350 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (with other locations throughout LA)
The Blending Lab
We stumbled across this new little place on 3rd Street and being the only ones there, we had a nice chat with one of the owners. For $10 each we sampled a taster flight of five wines. All of them were fab, just wish we had more room in our suitcases. They hold wine tasting classes to – shame we had to rush back to head off to share a plane home with Priscilla Presley (true story.)
948 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Stay tuned for our review of our Princess cruise – coming soon…