I'm constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place with an abundance of culture, sights, and of course, cuisine. One of my favorite ways of exploring a city is through food, whether it be in my hometown or halfway across the world.

Our favorite research tool for dining is the Michelin guide. A common misconception of restaurants that are Michelin recommended or rated is that they are pricey. Though the best of the best tend to a meal of a lifetime, there are handfuls of restaurants that don't break the bank. I'll be covering those in my upcoming travel guides, which will also cover everything from lodging to sights.

When I was younger, my biggest nightmare was when my parents would drag me to boring restaurants for meals that lasted hours. It wasn't until recently that I started to really appreciate those dining experiences. It's become a family tradition and our own little way of treating ourselves.

Today's post introduces restaurants that I call "special occasion restaurants," meaning that they're definitely not restaurants we would visit everyday. But if I were to ever win the lottery...

Below is a sample of restaurants we've visited, loved, and recommend to anyone looking for a special meal:

South Bay:



Chez TJ


Plumed Horse

San Francisco:


Benu (anyone trained by Thomas Keller is going to develop some serious skills, as proven by Corey Lee)


Michael Mina (my favorite Michael Mina restaurant that I've visited; RN74 is fantastic, too)

Atelier Crenn


Keiko à Nob Hill


Lord Stanley

State Bird Provisions (reservations are close to impossible to make, but keep trying!)

Lazy Bear


Campton Place



Napa Valley:

The French Laundry (if I had to pick only one restaurant, if would be this one)

Bouchon (Thomas Keller's casual alternative to The French Laundry)

La Toque


The Restaurant at Meadowood


As you might have noticed, I've started to post some reviews of our dining experiences. Since food can be such a personal and subjective experience, I invite you to take a look at my reviews, but also be sure to conduct further research on your part. Happy eating!


© 2021 Chic in Cali

All rights reserved.

All trademarks and registered trademarks are acknowledged.