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What to eat in California

east coaster coming to southern ca in about a month. I would like tips on what to try while I am there. Thinking of foods that are grown in or unique to California that I am not able to get on the east coast, or things that suffer from being shipped that will blow my socks off when eaten closer to the source. Not really looking for restaurant recommendations .

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  1. The uni in Socal is some of the very best in the world. J. Steingarten considered it worth a trip.

    1. >>>The uni<<<

      Ed, please explain

      5 Replies
      1. re: Gail

        Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin roe/gonads) vs. Mendocino uni

        1. re: Gail

          Uni is a sushi staple. Really good uni is creamy, nutty, and unique in flavor/texture. Some places it is used for soups or in a sauce for like spaghetti, but fresh uni is my favorite way to finish a sushi meal - like a savory desert.

          1. re: Ed Dibble

            About 18 months ago had a carbonara-style uni-sauced udon at Morimoto in Napa, tasty!

            1. re: Stephanie Wong

              This sounds wonderful. I have always thought that udon noodles would be ideal with a carbonara sauce.

        2. Can only speak for So. Cal since I live there, but try fish tacos and/or street carnitas, both classics.

          1. Artichokes, avocados, dungeness crab, sand dabs (more norcal, but can be found in socal).

            1. In-season produce of just about all kinds in nearly every part of California. Depending on where you're going to be, you could be hitting strawberry season in stride.

              1. Santa Barbara Spot prawns

                1. All sound great please keep the ideas coming

                  1. I am not a Socal hound, but I agree with the other suggestions. Find a local farmers market and try local produce, and local baked goods. Not to mention a restaurant that uses local produce. A challenge will be what is in season this time of year.

                    Also, Mexican food in Socal is sometimes better than you can find in Mexico, try fish tacos (no tilapia), shrimp coctel, carnitas etc.. You will have to do your research though, there are a TON of places and most of them are mediocre to bad. One of my all time favorite Mexican seafood joints is 'El Oasis' in Pico Rivera, but I am sure there are more.

                    Seafood in California is hit or miss, and may be a disappointment compared to the quality and quantity available to east coasters, but the Dungeness Crab can be out of this world.
                    If you are in the Santa Barbara, Paso Robles area you may also want to try some 'Santa Maria' style BBQ. Typically grilled meats (Tri-tip) over local oak wood.