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The Foodie Side of California

Meaghan's Santa Barbara Getaway Guide

California's the place to go to grab a meal whipped up by a celebrity chef or eat at the table where George Clooney nibbles between takes. If you want vegan, they've got it. Mexican? Some of the best I've tasted. A great burger? Only the most delish for Ben Affleck. California has it all and on a recent vacation to the sunshine state, I took in as much as my tummy and taste buds could handle.

Breakfast - the most important meal of the day

Our Daily Bread, Santa BarbaraOur Daily Bread, Santa BarbaraWe spent our first night in the harbor town of Santa Barbara, one of my favorite shopping destinations (more about that in my next post). A hard lesson I learned on my first visit there - if you're hoping to grab an early breakfast before hitting the shops, you may be walking around killing time for quite a while. Many shops don't open before 10am. But venturing a couple streets over off the beaten path, delivers some yummy local treats.

On our walk we came across Our Daily Bread, a great little bake shop with the best fresh squeezed juice I've ever had. I enjoyed a homemade waffle and fruit while my husband ate two poached eggs on toast. Only two streets over from State, we loved the cozy atmosphere and simple décor.

Marmalade Cafe, MalibuMarmalade Cafe, MalibuMarmalade Café in Malibu, located close to the beach, is bursting with atmosphere. We went for breakfast but they have a wide range of selections for lunch and dinner as well. The staff is attentive and down to earth. Because of my food allergy, I'm always grateful for wait staff that ensures I get the best experience - even if it means making substitutions.

I was craving pancakes, something I usually can't have, but they were eager to show me that they could make ones with coconut milk and that I could still have my favorite ingredients of oats, almonds and honey mixed in. The only thing I was disappointed with was not being able to finish the never ending fluffy goodness they created for me. There are several Marmalade Café locations all over southern California, making it even easier to not miss this gem.

Out to lunch

Andersen's, Santa BarbaraAndersen's, Santa BarbaraTaking in all the shops on State Street in Santa Barbara, we worked up a voracious appetite. Not wanting to fill up too much before dinner, we stopped in at Andersen's Danish Restaurant & Bakery. Stepping inside the doors made me feel as though I'd arrived at an English tea party. The atmosphere is cozy yet delicate - the staff, warm and welcoming.

I recommend ordering one of their delicious sandwiches with fries. You'll quickly discover how hard it is to devour something so simple yet made so elegantly.

walking the Malibu beach makes you hungrywalking the Malibu beach makes you hungryWhile spending the day with my friend Michelle, enjoying a girl's day of pampering and shopping, she insisted that a girly day isn't complete without a stop for lunch at Neiman Marcus Café in Topanga. Being in a department store I didn't know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised at the popularity of it.

This is where the ladies lunch.

After being seated, we were presented with chicken broth and a mini biscuit, freshly made by the chef. Fluffy and light popovers with homemade strawberry butter or jam. By the time we ordered, we were already filling up. I recommend choosing a sandwich with lightly crisped sweet potato fries to share. This is a café I would never have gone to on my own but would go back in an instant.

Dinner is served

Carlitos Cafe Y Cantina, Santa BarbaraCarlitos Cafe Y Cantina, Santa BarbaraIf you're like me, as soon as you land in California the first thing you'll want is a big ol plate of Mexican goodness. Point your nose toward Carlito's Café Y Cantina. Here you'll find the best fajitas you've ever eaten. They arrive sizzling and are large enough that one order would be good to share between two, something we learned for next time. If you want to go when it's really happening with live music and lots of atmosphere, the place bustles after 7pm.

Bouchon, Santa BarbaraBouchon, Santa BarbaraI'm all about locally inspired food so when we were hunting down a restaurant to have our anniversary dinner, Bouchon in Santa Barbara stood out. Known for their fresh produce and meats from local farms and ranches, this place radiates local treasures. The duck seriously melts in your mouth and is cooked to perfection. One thing to be aware of though is they only have a partial liquor license so it's wine or nothing.

But that wine has been given the ‘award of excellence' and this is where you will find the best wines of California. We survived...

Ben Affleck and Jennifer GarnerBen Affleck and Jennifer GarnerWhen in California, celebrity sightings are par for the course. R&D Kitchen is the place to go to make it happen. Located in Santa Monica, it's a regular dinner spot for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. But if you don't care about celebrity spotting and just want a good burger, this is the place.

I've never had a burger as amazing. The meat is cooked perfectly with just the must-have toppings of pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and special sauce - it's a flavor explosion in your mouth. If you're hungry for an appetizer, order the dips. Probably the best guacamole you'll ever eat.

Do you have a favorite foodie hot spot in California? We would love to hear all about it! Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let's start talking!

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