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6 Great Foodie Day Trips From LA

By Lesley Balla
August 4, 2014

There's no end to incredible quick trips around Los Angeles. But we've singled out six fast getaways for the food and drink lovers in your caravan, complete with recommendations on what to eat and do in each place. From the Vietnamese food of Little Saigon to the farms and wineries of Ojai, all of these trips are less than two hours away from LA. 

  • Photo by: The Lark/Facebook

    The Funk Zone in Santa Barbara

    Santa Barbara is one of the best getaways from Los Angeles. For a day trip, zero in on these few blocks filled with vibrant art galleries, shops, restaurants and wineries, housed in old warehouses and shops.

    What to Eat and Drink: Lunch on pizzas, fresh salads and fantastic cold-brew coffee at Lucky Penny. Snack on deviled eggs topped with crispy pancetta, gem lettuces with Dungeness crab, and gnocchi at The Lark. Dine on smoked mussels, cheese plates and a wine tasting at Les Marchands. Get into a whiskey sampling at Cutler’s Artisan Spirits or beer at Figueroa Mountain. Feast on Cali-Peruvian fare at Ricardo Zarate's Blue Tavern, on the ground floor of the Hotel Indigo.

    While You’re There: Wander around the neighborhood for even more wine tasting. Half of the more than 10 wineries and tasting rooms in the area are part of Santa Barbara’s expansive urban wine trail.

    Transportation: The fact that the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner stops directly across from the Funk Zone means you can take a day trip and never have to get behind the wheel. If driving, Santa Barbara is about 90 miles from Los Angeles, which can take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours, depending from where and what time you leave.

  • Little Saigon

    We might have Little Tokyo, Koreatown and the large San Gabriel Valley Chinese community around Los Angeles. But for a taste of Vietnam, this neighborhood near Westminster in Orange County is cheaper than a flight to Vietnam with as many cultural tastes, smells and sounds.

    What to Eat and Drink: With the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, the choices can be daunting. Finding the best pho is highly subjective. You’ll find great bowls at Pho Nguyen Hue. Or for strictly chicken pho, hit Com Ga Nam An. There are great pork spring rolls at Brodard Chateau. And for a cultural mash-up, grab croissants, French pastries and luoi bo, or beef stew, at Le Croissant Dore. Finally, your place for banh mi is Banh Mi Che Cali — any of their outposts will do.

    While You’re There: Check out the Asian Garden Mall for its food court, jewelry stores, knickknack stalls and more.

    Transportation: On a good day with little traffic, you can shoot down to Westminster in less than an hour.

  • Photo by: Facebook/The Jolly Oyster

    The Jolly Oyster

    You can't do much better than some freshly shucked oysters on the beach. The Jolly Oyster serves DIY oysters and clams from the "shuck shack" tucked away in Ventura's San Buenaventura State Beach Park. It's a great spot to stop on the way to or from Santa Barbara. It's even a fun little trip on its own.

    What to Eat and Drink: Order up the oysters and either shuck them yourself or throw them on a grill in the park. If you go unprepared, you can buy just about everything you need there, including oyster knives, hot sauce and charcoal for the grills. If you don't know how to shuck, whoever is working in the shack will give you a quick lesson. The oysters come from the Jolly Oyster's own oyster beds in Baja, and the Pacifics are big and briny, just right with a squirt of lime and hot sauce or with a bit of the Thai chile mignonette you can get on the side. On weekends, there’s a truck serving Creole baked oysters, fried oysters and oyster tacos.

    While You’re There: You’re on the beach and already paid the park entrance fees; enjoy the sand and sea.

    Transportation: Ventura's San Buenaventura State Park is approximately 65 miles from Los Angeles, so give it a good hour and some change to get there.

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Ojai

    The beautiful enclave tucked in the mountains and valleys of Ventura County is a haven for artists, spiritualists, spa-goers, golfers, hikers, nature lovers and anyone who loves a fantastic Pixie tangerine. Citrus growers inundate the area and the smell of orange blossoms is intoxicating in the spring.

    What to Eat and Drink: Dig into big egg sandwiches with wild arugula and cheese, fresh pastries and great coffee at Knead bakery and cafe. Grab pizzas and one dynamite strawberry shortcake at Boccali’s, a little roadside Italian restaurant hidden in the orange groves. Have a tangerine-infused cocktail at Azu. Sample olive oil at Ojai Olive Oil. Or sip wines at local wineries like Ojai Vineyard.

    While You’re There: Head up to Meditation Mount for a gorgeous view of the valley and soul-cleansing breezes. Don't miss one of the farm stands, including Friend's Ranch, which has some of the best tasting local honey we’ve come across. The weekly farmer's market is in town on Sundays from 9 AM-1 PM.

    Transportation: Just a little more than 80 miles from LA, a drive to Ojai takes about 90 minutes.

  • Photo by: SY Kitchen

    Santa Ynez Valley

    When people talk about Santa Barbara wine country, they mostly mean the hills, vineyards and wineries set in the Santa Ynez Valley. The towns of Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Buellton, the Danish charm of Solvang and Santa Ynez proper are where you fuel up during wine-tasting adventures. Pick one or two towns to visit in one trip.

    What to Eat and Drink: Eat seasonal, local cuisine at Bell St. Farm and wood-oven pizzas from Full of Life in Los Alamos or fried Brussels sprouts and fish tacos for lunch at Sides Restaurant in Los Olivos. There's charcuterie, rotisserie chicken or côtes du boeuf at Mattei’s Tavern for dinner; steaks and chops at The Hitching Post II, abelskivers at Solvang Restaurant and cheese Danish at Mortensen’s in Solvang. Finally, you can chow down on fresh pastas at the Cal-Ital charmer SY Kitchen or shrimp cocktail and rack of lamb at Brothers Restaurant at Red Barn in Santa Ynez.

    While You’re There: You’ll be wine tasting a great deal, so grab a map from one of the wineries or here.

    Transportation: The area is about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, about another 30 to 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara.

  • Photo by: Underwood Family Farms

    Underwood Family Farms

    It’s one thing to pick up all of your fruits and vegetables at the farmer's markets. It's another thing entirely to pick your own fruits and vegetables directly on the farm. This working farm in Simi Valley is great for families or anyone who wants to feel closer to the earth.

    What to Eat and Drink: The fruits or vegetables of your labor, of course. Everything is priced per pound, and there’s a handy harvest calendar so you know what’s good now. For instance, you can still pick blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, plus everything for your entire salad bowl — tomatoes, cucumbers, greens — this August. There’s also a market where you can grab and go. For family-friendly sandwiches, Custom Melt serves grilled cheeses nearby in Moorpark proper.

    While You’re There: On the weekends, there are tractor rides and animal shows featuring some of the furry, feathered and four-legged friends living on the farm.

    Transportation: A day on the farm is less than 50 miles away from Los Angeles proper, about a 60-minute drive.

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