Cheeseburger Week in Pasadena runs January 6-11, and you should definitely check out the birthplace of this iconic sandwich. More than 100 restaurants will participate in Oakland Restaurant Week, held January 11-20 this year. And San Diego Restaurant Week, running January 20-27, is yet another reason to visit the southwest corner of the Golden State.
For those of you who simply cannot wait to start enjoying special menus and sizable discounts, however, the eight regions listed below celebrate California Restaurant Month the entire month, beginning New Year's Day and continuing through the 31st. Here is a quick rundown of their offerings, with handy links so you can plan your food-forward trip today.
SLO CAL Restaurant Month
Less than 10 miles from the ocean and in one of California’s agricultural hubs, San Luis Obispo County has no shortage of fresh ingredients just waiting to be made all the more delicious by SLO’s excellent chefs. During SLO CAL Restaurant Month, visitors can indulge in three- or four-course dinners at a fraction of the normal cost ($30–$40 per person). Thirsty travelers should look for restaurants serving special craft beverages or wine flights as well. The county boasts more than 100 wineries like the iconic DAOU Vineyards or the rustic J Dusi, both featured in the New York Times.
Yosemite - Madera County Restaurant Month Celebration
Yosemite - Madera County isn’t just home to some of the Golden State’s greatest natural wonders. The area also offers world-class wine, exceptional produce, and award-winning beer. During the month of January, local establishments will provide once-a-year deals to hungry travelers. But don’t just stay for a meal, enjoy the full foodie experience with a trip to America’s oldest Port winery, Ficklin Vineyards, or a self-guided tour of Hilmar Cheese Company.
Fit and Sip Gilroy Month
New Year’s resolutions and Restaurant Month go hand in hand in Gilroy. This Santa Clara County city is putting a healthy spin on its celebrations with the first-ever “Fit and Sip” Gilroy Month. During the month of January, pick up a bottle of heart-healthy wine from a Gilroy-area vineyard and take it with you to participating restaurants to pair your vino with special nutrient-dense dishes. Gilroy is one of the country’s top producers of garlic, so anything with the herb is always a good bet. Double down by adding some fitness into the mix. Head to nearby Pinnacles National Park for a hike or ride a bike around downtown to see Gilroy on two wheels.
Temecula Valley Restaurant Month
For the entire month of January, Temecula celebrates its fresh, local produce by challenging the region’s top-notch chefs to present their Best of the Best for Temecula Valley Restaurant Month. Dozens of restaurants will serve one-of-a-kind dishes you can only find in Temecula Valley. At Garage Brewing Company, try a white pizza dotted with gorgonzola and cranberries for dinner or a chocolate-hazelnut version for dessert, paired with the Inline IPA and Marshmallow Milk Stout, respectively. Wine lovers can go tasting before, after, or during their meal at one of the area’s excellent wineries like Doffo, Europa Village, or Callaway Vineyards.
Greater Palm Springs serves up desert-style deliciousness all year. In November, the area’s best meals-on-wheels collide for the Food Truck Mash-Up; December brings the Indio International Tamale Festival; and in March, taste from more than 100 booths at the Rhythm Wine & Brews Experience. The month of January, however, might just top them all. For 31 days, during dineGPS, visitors can enjoy a variety of unique culinary experiences. Think multi-course winemaker dinners, food tours, cooking classes, and tastings all month long.
Sonoma Valley Delicious!
US News & World Report recently named Sonoma Valley the Best Wine Vacation in America thanks to its “collection of vineyards” and “delicious Californian cuisine.” During the entire month of January, Sonoma Valley Delicious! will celebrate it all with restaurants, wineries, farmers, cheese makers, brewers, distillers, and culinary artisans getting in on the fun. Explore its website for gastronomic adventures (prix fixe menus, and special food and wine pairings), as well as epicurean experiences, unique enough to build an entire vacation around.
Fork in the Road, El Dorado County
One of the state’s original counties, El Dorado served as the epicenter of the California Gold Rush. Millions of visitors still flock to the region to pan for the shiny stuff, but its eating options have come a long way since the days of salted beef and campfire bread. Today, Highway 50 serves as a corridor for some culinary hidden gems, many of which can be found right off the freeway. Throughout January, El Dorado visitors are invited to explore seasonal bites and special offers during the monthlong Fork in the Road celebration.
Rancho Cordova Restaurant Month
Just east of Sacramento, Rancho Cordova is a popular destination for outdoor adventurers. But after a day spent cycling on the American River Parkway Trail, you’ll want to refuel at one of the city’s excellent dining options. Head to this lovely city to take part in Rancho Cordova Restaurant Month during the whole month of January. Must-stop spots include one of National Geographic’s 10 Best Burgers (at the aptly named Famous Burger) and Formaggio Restaurant & Taverna, where seasonal Italian fare is served at the area’s only four-diamond hotel (snag a seat on the patio during warmer months).