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Amazing Destination Restaurant for Anniversary Dinner?

My husband and I are coming up on the 5th anniversary of our first date and wanted to go somewhere special to celebrate. Though we live in LA, we were thinking it would be fun to go somewhere not in LA but within driving distance - maybe Central Coast, but we're open to other ideas. Cost is not really an issue, but amazing food is a must - and if the service and ambiance were great, that would be a plus! Does anybody have any recommendations? TIA!

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  1. I think your question is too open-ended. Maybe list a couple of locations so it can be narrowed down a bit. I'm thinking Santa Barbara would be a great place and not too far from LA. Think about changing your title to one or two specific locations and ask for suggestions from there.

    1. The Ballard Inn in the greater Solvang area would fit the need. Spectacular food and a lovely place to stay.

      The Ballard Inn & Restaurant
      2436 Baseline Ave, Solvang, CA 93463

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bruce in SLO

        Thanks, Bruce, this is exactly the kind of place we had in mind - off-the-beaten track, but great food. Have you also been to Root 246, and if so, which restaurant do you prefer?

        Root 246
        420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463

        1. re: aching

          Studio @ the Montage in Laguna Beach is amazing! :)

      2. Sycamore Mineral Springs in Avila Beach (just south of San Luis Obispo) is a fun place. The restaurant is great. If you choose to stay, each room has its own private jacuzzi that you fill with hot mineral water after you arrive. The spa is also excellent. Perfect for a winter getaway!

        1. Stay at the Inn of the Spanish Gardens or Simpson House in Santa Barbara and have dinner at Julienne.

          1. The Stonehouse at the San Yisdro Ranch.


            Happy Anniversary.

            Stonehouse Restaurant
            107 Sacramento St, Nevada City, CA 95959

            1. I would highly recommend Root 246, and the adjacent Hotel Corque has been nicely redone. You might want to see if you can get the table in the kitchen for a really special evening.
              While we like staying at Sycamore Mineral Springs, I feel the food leaves a lot to be desired, and service has been less than stellar a couple of times. In SB, I second the recommendation of Julienne, terrific food and service. If you venture as far as Paso Robles, have a fabulous dinner at Artisan (there are a tons of B&Bs in the area or Hotel Cheval right downtown).

              Root 246
              420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463

              1 Reply
              1. re: sbgirl

                We recently dined at Navio @ the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay where we stayed, it was phenomenal! ;)

              2. How about going away from the coast and heading toward the Palm Springs area? Wally's Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage. Built by Wally Botello, founder of the vaunted Velvet Turtle chain and now owned and operated by his son Michael, it offers old school service of the kind that is getting harder and harder to find. A sumptious menu and extensive wine list. It's a joy to have a sommelier that knows his stuff. AAA 4-diamond award.

                As an adventurous alternative: why not try Thomas Keller's, Michelin rated 3 star restaurant in Yountville, California? Take a trip up to the wine country and enjoy a meal of your lifetime at The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, CA. It will be a memorable meal, for certain. Visit their website for more information. Bon appetit!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Catmandu

                  If we are now talking about getting away, the elegant and historic Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley is a stunner - lovely balcony rooms over looking a palm oasis, huge natural hot spring swimming pool, and a very good restaurant these days. Quite a magical place with a wonderful array of daytime exploration adventures into the surrounding area.

                2. Just wanted to thank you all for your suggestions! We have decided to go to the Awahanee in Yosemite for their "Chef's Holiday" at the end of this month, which includes culinary demonstrations with Neal Fraser, Suzanne Goin, and David Lentz, and a five-course "collaborative" dinner, moderated by Barbara Fairchild. I'm geeking out here! Will report back...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: aching

                    Color me jealous.

                    Not only a fabulous meal, but in one of my favorite places on earth ...


                    1. re: aching

                      Wonderful choice. The Ahwanhee food has greatly improved and the setting has to be one of the most spectacular of all. The rooms were a little disappointing and the place is too full of day-trippers hogging all the great spaces in the Great Room. The dress codes even for dinner went by the way of the buggy whips, but it is still one of those once in a life time grand experiences to have and the very best way to enjoy the Yosemite Valley floor. Here is my report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/733271

                      Please come back and report because with that line up of chefs it shows they want to upgrade their dining reputation and we found they were off to a good start on our visit last September.

                      1. re: aching

                        I've never attended the Chef's Holiday, but Yosemite is my favorite place in California. The scenery really is breathtaking! Let us know how it turns out.

                        1. Love the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur and dine at Sierra Mar..

                          San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito/Santa Barbara Stonehouse or Plow and Angel.

                          Catalina Island, the Inn at Mt.Ada...dining at El Galleon or Portofino

                          Wynn Las Vegas for a great 5* star resort and the food to match..Country Club is excellent.

                          Sedona Enchantment Resort

                          1. Post Ranch Inn for views.

                            Ventana Inn across the street for their steak with porcini mushroom rub, incredible.