Cruisin' California with Guy

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Guy's California Road Trip

Guy Fieri’s culinary career started in the Golden State when he opened up his “Awesome Pretzel” cart in the fourth grade and later washed dishes to save up for a trip to France to study French cuisine. Since then, he’s visited hundreds of restaurants. Head back to California with Guy and visit some of the locations featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Octopus Tostada — La Tostaderia (Los Angeles)

For tostadas with a towering twist and more elevated Mexican classics head to La Tostaderia which is tucked away in Grand Central Market in L.A. The chef was born in Mexico and later went back to culinary school to learn more about flavor profiles and it shows. Guy was impressed by the tender octopus tostada and blown away by the cheesy shrimp burger.

Butter Burger — Crest Cafe (San Diego)

The Crest Cafe in San Diego is a diner lover’s dream: This joint is open from 7am to midnight every day. Guy’s crazy about the Butter Burger, a patty stuffed with herb butter. If you’re not ready for a burger, then go for breakfast, which is served all day (and night!) long. Guy sighed with joy after taking a bite of the Creme Brulee French Toast: “It’s just the right balance: half dessert and half breakfast.” 

Tom Yum Soup — Jitlada (Los Angeles, CA)

There’s regular Thai food and then there’s Jitlada. Guy swore that if the chef of Jitlada won GGG he would come to the restaurant, and he was not disappointed. “This is one of the best Thai experiences I have ever had,” Guy said after tasting the Green Curry and the Tom Yum Soup.

Pork Belly Tacos — Cosecha Cafe (Oakland)

Chef and owner Dominica Rice-Cisneros has worked in top kitchens in California, New York and Mexico, and she brings a range of experience in creating the impressive tacos at Cosecha Cafe. A slab of pork belly roasts in the oven for close to two hours before it's sliced, salted and seared in a pan for a crusty edge.

Pulled Pork Biscuit Sandwich — CatHead’s BBQ (San Francisco, CA)

Co-owners Pamela Schafer and Richard Park are bringing the best flavors of down-home barbecue to San Francisco at CatHead’s BBQ. This joint takes its name from the “cathead” biscuit — a Southern staple that’s the size of a cat’s head. It’s also one of the rare spots in the city with a barbecue pit. As such, Guy had to try the classic pulled pork biscuit sandwich served with a housemade mustard slaw and a side of pickles.

Fried Chicken Sandwich — Clove and Hoof (Oakland, CA)

A mecca for ethically minded carnivores and anyone who loves top-quality meat, Clove and Hoof houses both a butcher shop and restaurant under one roof. Owners John Blevins and Analiesa Gosnell use only antibiotic-free and hormone-free meat in their dishes, like the cheesesteak that Guy stopped in to try.

Seared Ahi Tuna — Radio Africa & Kitchen (San Francisco, CA)

Chef-Owner Eskender Aseged left quite the impression when he appeared on Guy’s Grocery Games — so much so that Guy made sure to check out Aseged’s Ethiopian joint Radio Africa & Kitchen when he was in San Francisco. Follow Guy’s lead and order the seared tuna. It’s topped with chermoula, a Moroccan cilantro and parsley sauce, and served over a bed of sauteed vegetables. “I don’t want this dish to end,” Guy exclaimed.

Fried Chicken — The Front Porch (San Francisco)

Guy recommends checking out The Front Porch in San Francisco for “honest-to-goodness Southern food,” especially the bucket of fried chicken. Comfort food staples are done right, with everything from melt-in-your-mouth braised short ribs to mac and cheese. It’s got a cozy atmosphere too, complete with rocking chairs and a checkered floor.

Matzo Ball Soup — Miller's East Coast Deli (San Francisco)

If you’re in the Bay Area, make sure to try these fresh, homemade matzo balls in a homey chicken soup. If you’re not in the mood for soup, then go with Guy’s other favorite: a good old-fashioned pastrami sandwich. Guy calls the rendition at Miller’s East Coast Deli killer, and says that “nothing’s lost in the translation of this flavor.” 

Hot Dogs — Show Dogs (San Francisco)

You might not normally think of hot dogs as works of art, but after visiting Show Dogs in San Francisco, you’ll think twice about what it means to be best in show. These franks range from classic flavors to creative, like wild boar sausage. They’re covered with all kinds of out-of-this-world toppings including delicious housemade sauces like lemon-cayenne aioli and champagne vinegar. “That really is a gourmet dog,” Guy said, after devouring a Polish sausage. 

Cold Cut Combo — Eastside Market Italian Deli (Los Angeles)

There’s nothing that says diner like a classic Italian sandwich. The combo at the Eastside Market Italian Deli in Los Angeles knocks it out of the park. Guy loves coming to this deli, one of the few remaining authentic joints from when the neighborhood was L.A.’s Little Italy. It’s a favorite of Hollywood’s regulars (celebrities and locals alike), and after you try the meatball sub, you’ll know why.

Tri-Tip — The Park’s Finest (Los Angeles)

No list of Guy’s would be complete without a well-crafted piece of meat, which is what you’ll find in L.A. at The Park’s Finest. Its celebrated tri-tip is carefully flavored with an in-house pepper and pink Himalayan salt blend and served with a horseradish crema and a special vinegar-soy sauce based on traditional Filipino sawsawan dips. 

Chorizo Sandwich — Nopalito (San Francisco)

This chorizo sandwich from Nopalito in San Francisco puts a spin on a diner classic. Guy loves this place, saying it's where “Mexican flavors meet Bay Area attitude.” Guy thinks the cuisine here is “the real deal,” and it’s easy to see why when looking at the spice list for this sandwich, which includes everything from pinquito picante (a flavorful bean-based salsa) to pink salt to adobo.

Pancake Roll — Pete’s Breakfast House (Ventura, Calif.)

Guy knows he can count on British husband-and-wife team Pete and Lyndsay Timpson to crank out fantastic pub classics while serving up fresh takes on regular diner food. Guy loves their famous Pancake Roll served with homemade maple syrup (that’s right –– Pete’s Breakfast House has its own maple tree), calling it “a perfect storm of flavor.” 

KoJa Burger — KoJa Kitchen Truck (Berkeley, Calif.)

Guy calls the concept of Asian-style fillings in rice-cake buns crazy, but was completely blown away by the KoJa Kitchen food truck in Berkeley, Calif. Guy said, “I’ve seen some cool stuff in my day, but this is –– wow.” He had the short rib KoJa, a Korean and Japanese twist on a classic burger. The meat is marinated in a house blend that includes sugar, sake and Korean shingo pear.

Fish Tacos — Haggo’s Organic Taco (Encinitas, Calif.)

When visiting Haggo’s, Guy said, “You know you’re gonna get fresh, fresh meals when you’re this close to the water.” Owner James Haggard, aka Haggo, impresses with his finesse and elegantly created spice rubs for the fresh catches. Guy whistled at the gourmet fish taco, commenting, “This is just mouthwatering. It’s a rock star fish taco.”

Pastrami Dip Sandwich — Norton’s Pastrami and Deli (Santa Barbara, Calif.)

Guy trusted his East Coast friends when they recommended Norton’s Pastrami and Deli in Santa Barbara, Calif. Guy had many things to say about the pastrami dip sandwich, like “That’s a monster. What can you not love about this?”

Guy's California Restaurants

Enjoy this California road trip? Don’t forget to check out Guy’s popular Golden State restaurants: Johnny Garlic’s (flavor fusions of Italian, Mexican, Cajun and Asian cuisines) and Tex Wasabi’s (serving a combination of two of Guy’s favorite foods: traditional Japanese sushi and traditional Southern BBQ).