Our 29 Best Californian Recipes, From Roadside Tacos to Sprouted Grain Salads

How to cook your way through the best coast

Thriving agriculture, a wealth of immigrant cultures, and a strong tradition of innovation—it's no wonder California produces some of our favorite American recipes. In recent years, the Golden State has become known for a health-conscious, farm-to-table ethos layered with strong influences Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American communities that have long called the West Coast home. Though some in Texas and the Southwest may disagree, California often claims to produce America's best tacos, best Korean food and more. Ready to see why they call the West Coast the best coast? From Vietnamese breakfast pho to Cal-Mex huevos rancheros, here are our favorite Californian recipes.

Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodles

Korean Soba Salad
Korean Soba SaladMatt Taylor-Gross

Don't be fooled by the vegetable-heavy spread; this dish is sure to fill you up. A medley of thinly sliced vegetables is piled up with a mound of cold buckwheat noodles. They're dressed with a slurpable spicy and savory gochujang sauce that makes for a Korean take on a chef's salad. Get the recipe for Korean Soba Salad »

Bacon XO Sauce

Bacon XO sauce
Bacon XO SauceMatt Taylor-Gross

At Hopscotch, an upmarket Asian-American diner and cocktail bar in Oakland, CA, chef Jack Lin replaces the traditional Jinhua in XO sauce with bacon for a smoky kick. Use this spicy, meaty, addictively funky condiment with everything from stir-fried dishes to soups. Use it in this stir fry of shell-on shrimp with long beans. Get the recipe for Bacon XO Sauce »

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos
Shrimp TacosDylan + Jeni

Every element of this taco—inspired by those at Don Pepe Taqueria in Fresno—is amped up, from the red rice simmered in a blend of chicken stock and puréed tomatoes to the quick-marinated shrimp. Use large flour tortillas as tacos or wrap them into a burrito. Get the recipe for Shrimp Tacos »

Sprouted Seed and Grain Salad with Spiced Prawns

Sprouted Seed and Grain Salad with Spiced Prawns
Sprouted Seed and Grain Salad with Spiced PrawnsRyan Liebe

This hearty grain and seed salad is perfect for lunch, as the quinoa, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds luxuriate in a lemon dressing with mandarin-sauced shrimp. Get the recipe for Sprouted Seed and Grain Salad with Spiced Prawns »

Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Budino

Budino
BudinoMatt Taylor-Gross

Jon & Vinny's restaurant in Los Angeles serves this rich bittersweet chocolate budino with caramel sauce, a drizzle of fruity olive oil, and flaky sea salt crystals. For an easy but impressive dinner-party dessert, we skip the caramel, pile the pudding in a pretty glass bowl, and drizzle it in extra-virgin olive oil at the table. Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Budino »

The Soul Train

The Soul Train
The Soul TrainMatt Taylor-Gross

Tequila and cardamom is an unexpected combination, but it works beautifully with the help of lime and grapefruit juice. Get the recipe for The Soul Train »

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad
Cobb SaladMatt Taylor-Gross

Los Angeles's Brown Derby closed its doors long ago, but this classic salad, invented in 1937 by the restaurant's owner, Robert H. Cobb, lives on. Get the recipe for Cobb Salad »

Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken
Korean Fried ChickenMatt Taylor-Gross

Double-frying chicken wings is the secret to achieving the delicate, crackly crust that is the hallmark of this popular Korean specialty, made famous in this country at the Los Angeles restaurant Kyochon. Get the recipe for Korean Fried Chicken »

Yucatán-Style Shredded Pork Tacos with Achiote (Cochinita Pibil Tacos)

Yucatán-Style Shredded Pork Tacos with Achiote (Cochinita Pibil Tacos)
Yucatán-Style Shredded Pork Tacos with Achiote (Cochinita Pibil Tacos)Dylan + Jeni

This pibil recipe, inspired by one used at Chando's in Sacramento and prepared in a Dutch oven, pops with earthy achiote paste and citrus juices, yielding a luscious, spicy pulled pork. Get the recipe for Yucatán-Style Shredded Pork Tacos with Achiote (Cochinita Pibil Tacos) »

Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs

Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs
Japanese Grilled Chicken MeatballsMatt Taylor-Gross

These full-flavored chicken meatballs get dressed with a sweet and salty glaze. Get the recipe for Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs »

The Malibu

The Malibu
The MalibuFarideh Sadeghin

This refreshing tequila cocktail comes from the team behind Los Angeles' The Walker Inn. Inspired by the Pacific Coast Highway, it's infused with grapefruit and pisco, then softened with floral Lillet Blanc. Get the recipe for The Malibu »

Butterscotch Budino

Butterscotch Budino
Butterscotch BudinoMatt Taylor-Gross

Pizzeria Mozza's butterscotch budino has become one of Los Angeles' most iconic desserts. And in a city obsessed with budino (which is just the Italian word for "pudding"), many people think Nancy Silverton, Mozza's co-owner and chef, is responsible. But Silverton takes very little credit for its creation. While she was preparing to open the pizzeria in 2006, their pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez was biding her time and honing her skills at Jar, a restaurant owned by Silverton's friend Suzanne Tracht. Jar had a butterscotch pudding on the menu, to which Narvaez added a layer of caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt. Silverton contributed a pine nut rosemary cookie, which is served on the side at both Mozza and chi Spacca. Get the recipe for Butterscotch Budino »

Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos)

Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos)
Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos)Romulo Yanes

Inspired by the potato tacos at Loncheria Otro Rollo in Bakersfield, these Tacolicious versions are stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and pan-fried until crisp. The accompanying smoky ranchero sauce also would be great as an accompaniment for meat or fish or spooned over eggs. Get the recipe for Tacos de Papa Hwy 99 (Potato Tacos) »

Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter and Chives

Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter and Chives
Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter and ChivesMatt Taylor-Gross

Red miso adds a savory twist to sweet potatoes. Get the recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter and Chives »

Sprouted Chickpea Socca with Herb Salad and Yogurt

Sprouted Chickpea Socca with Herb Salad and Yogurt
Sprouted Chickpea Socca with Herb Salad and YogurtRyan Liebe

These thick, dinner pancakes are filled with cilantro, warm spices, and nutrient rich sprouted chickpeas. Get the recipe for Sprouted Chickpea Socca with Herb Salad and Yogurt »

Spicy Michelada

Spicy Michelada
Spicy MicheladaDylan + Jeni

For this take on a classic beer cocktail from Taqueria Mi Lindo Apatzingan in Rio Linda, Tajín (a Mexican seasoning blend of dried chiles, lime, and salt) adds both heat and tang. Get the recipe for Spicy Michelada »

Carnitas Tacos (Michoacán-Style Braised Pork Tacos)

Carnitas Tacos (Michoacán-Style Braised Pork Tacos)
Carnitas Tacos (Michoacán-Style Braised Pork Tacos)SAVEUR

At the Viva Taco bus in Turlock, Silvestre Valencia adds jalapeño pickling liquid to the pork braise, which tenderizes the meat and keeps it from drying out. Get the recipe for Carnitas Tacos »

Cranberry Ginger Chutney

Cranberry Ginger Chutney
Cranberry Ginger ChutneyTodd Coleman

This sophisticated take on cranberry sauce, laced with spices and plenty of fresh ginger, gets a boost from chopped celery and tart apples. Get the recipe for Cranberry-Ginger Chutney »

Jalisco-Style Goat Stew (Goat Birria)

Jalisco-Style Goat Stew (Goat Birria)
Jalisco-Style Goat Stew (Goat Birria)Dylan + Jeni

A low-and-slow cooking technique used for this birria, which colloquially means "a mess," ensures that the meat is fork-tender and the tomatillo broth infused with a rich, meaty flavor. Swap pork for goat, if you prefer. Get the recipe for Jalisco-Style Goat Stew (Goat Birria) »

Coconut Horchata

Coconut Horchata
Coconut HorchataRomulo Yanes

This version of the classic Mexican rice-based drink, which writer Sara Deseran adapted from one at Fresno's El Mercado Super, is made with a mix of coconut milk and coconut water for a beverage that is both luxurious and refreshing. Get the recipe for Coconut Horchata »

Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho

Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho
Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast PhoJoseph De Leo

After bringing it to a boil, Bowien simmers simple chicken broth for just a short period, believing that the flavor goes flat if cooked for too long. Get the recipe for Danny Bowien's Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho »

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers
Angel Cruz Beef SkewersMatt Taylor-Gross

Named for a park in Central Valley, California—a popular meeting place for the large Cambodian community there—these kebabs are slathered in an aromatic and pungent paste of lemongrass, kaffir lime, and fish sauce before meeting the heat of a charcoal grill. Get the recipe for Angel Cruz Beef Skewers »

Conquistador

Conquistador Gin and Tonic
Conquistador Gin and TonicIngalls Photography

At San Francisco's Coqueta restaurant, this fruity gin and tonic is mixed with a homemade citrus-and-fennel tonic and a spiced apple-celery juice, then garnished with fragrant fennel and star anise. Get the recipe for the Conquistador »

Bel-Air Club Sandwich

Bel-Air Club Sandwich
Bel-Air Club SandwichIngalls Photography

Topped with a pan-fried egg and Gruyère cheese and slathered with herb aïoli, this turkey and ham club is a decadent upgrade to the diner staple. Get the recipe for the Bel-Air Club Sandwich »

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros
Huevos RancherosPenny De Los Santos

This recipe for huevos rancheros comes from La Abeja, a restaurant on LA's east side. Get the recipe for Huevos Rancheros »

Persian Zucchini Frittata (Kuku Kadoo)

Persian Zucchini Frittata (Kuku Kadoo)
Persian Zucchini Frittata (Kuku Kadoo)André Baranowski

Put summer zucchini to good use with this flavorful Iranian frittata enhanced with ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Get the recipe for Persian Zucchini Frittata (Kuku Kadoo) »

Hangtown Fry

Hangtown Fry
Hangtown FryTodd Coleman

This rich oyster and bacon omelette is based on one from the Tadich Grill in San Francisco. There it is served with a side of sliced tomatoes—a refreshing counterpoint. Get the recipe for Hangtown Fry »

California Sandwich

California Sandwich
California SandwichTodd Coleman

A version of a California classic, this sandwich is a mix of vegetables, whole-grain bread, and Jack cheese, topped with ranch dressing. Get the recipe for California Sandwich »

Baja Ceviche Tostadas

Baja Ceviche Tostadas
Baja Ceviche TostadasAnna Stockwell

Inspired by the street foods of coastal city Ensenada, this tostada is a perfect combination of citrus, spicy chiles, and fresh seafood. This recipe was developed by Border Grill Las Vegas executive chef Mike Minor. Get the recipe »