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Escape and discover food columnist's favorite California restaurants

You Too Can Escape has appeared in The BottomLine about 200 times since 1999.

One of my reader’s favorite parts is the restaurant recommendation portion of the column. Due to the fact that one of the most popular activities among travelers worldwide is eating at local dining favorites.

Avoiding the ordinary is a theme of this column so many unique restaurants have been recommended over the last decade. This column is dedicated to those finds in the great state of California. Clip this column and save it for your next trips around the golden state. Cheers!

The Beach Street Café, Santa Cruz
This long time fixture of the Santa Cruz beachfront has been serving up freshly made breakfast and lunch specialties for decades. You cannot be on a time schedule, and what sane traveler to beachy laid back Santa Cruz would be.

There are only 10 tables and you may have to wait. Everything is made fresh, and the wait staff is friendly and folksy, your meal, as it should be, will be a highlight of your day. They also display one of he largest Maxfield Parrish collections in the nation!

The Fish Wife, Seaside
This small, family operated restaurant on a busy, non-descript commercial road in Seaside, is worth the trip out of Carmel. It is only a few minutes away. Wonderful sustainable seafood, soups and desserts along with a great wine list and service will put this establishment on your favorite's list.

Buena Vista Café, San Francisco
This famous eatery near Fisherman's Wharf cannot be missed. The long time favorite breakfast and lunch spot became famous in 1952 when gourmet Stan Delaplane coaxed the owner to help him create Irish Coffee – a drink he had tasted at Shannon Airport in Ireland. The rest is history; millions of cups of the savory brew have been drunk in this old fashioned diner on the Bay. Herb Caen said,” Slurping down the BV's Irish Coffee and standing with crowds is just like getting drunk in a subway.”

City Hotel Columbia
Lively college students are only part of the attraction to this wonderful cafe in the Gold Rush town of Columbia. A visit to the Columbia City Hotel in the Columbia State Historic Park is a glimpse into one of the most fascinating periods of America’s history, as well as one of California’s finest restorations. Dine at the acclaimed City Hotel Restaurant and there are five wineries within a 15-minute drive, and Yosemite National Park is just over the hill.

El Michoacán, Greenfield
Off the 101, this amazing restaurant is just a touch better than the thousands of similar places along the highways of California. You will adore the freshness, the prices, and the most amazing salsa verde on the continent.

The Kitchen, Silver Lake, Los Angeles
This warm and friendly neighborhood spot sits near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Fountain in Silver Lake. Fabulous fresh food is prepared daily. It is the opposite of fast food so do not be in a hurry when you dine here. Lunch and brunch have just started to be served in this homey spot. Let the screaming pace of Los Angles disappear in a slow paced meal and quiet conversations.

Mom’s Tamales, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles
The Food Network’s "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" discovered this great local eatery a couple of years ago, but it has been a Lincoln Heights legend for years. You are literally transported to Mexico with the amazing food, super friendly service and amazing tamales including their famous veggie version. It closes by 4:30 pm when the food runs out.

Javan, West Los Angeles
West Los Angles is often referred to a “Tehran-geles” because of the thousands of Iranians living in the area. And of course, the cuisine, along with the very handsome people, has arrived as well. Javan is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the area, with stunning examples of great food. It sits just west of the 405 on busy Santa Monica Boulevard.

Paru’s, Los Angeles
This totally vegetarian Indian restaurant is hidden on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Dinner only during week and lunch/dinner is available on the weekends. Very good healthy Indian food. The rava dosa is the best in Los Angeles!

Rivoli, Berkeley
This busy restaurant is always on the top ten of Eastbay places to dine. They change the menu every three weeks to keep the locals coming back often. Think treats such as mushroom fritters and goat cheese soufflés. Unique, slow movement and fresh. It is up the hill on Salano off the 80.

Cafe Flore, Castro, San Francisco
One of the long time establishments of the Castro. Many folks have met their “next ex” in the loud, boisterous, colorful place with great food. It often is packed but that is the best way to meet some of the great folks who hang there. They nearly invented the tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwich. Yum!

Ahwahnee Dining Room, Yosemite
The ultimate mountain lodge in the nation has excellent dining with amazing views of Yosemite from every window. Brunch is famous, but the candlelit dinner in this rustic-elegant venue will remain with you forever. Make a real adventure and spend a night or two in this unique hotel.

Santa Barbara Fish Co., Santa Barbara
A crab here nearly bit the Food Network’s Rachel Ray, but the unflappable star still loved this spot on the end of the pier in lovely Santa Barbara. Fresh fish is served in this lively, small place. You will wait but it is well worth it!

Wild Ginger, Cambria
Another tiny gem in one of the coast's most beautiful towns awaits the foodies of the world. It presents fabulous innovative Pacific Rim and Southeast Asian cuisine daily – except Thursdays. They don't take reservations so expect to wait for this great spot.

Neptune's Net, Malibu
No doubt many of you have already eaten at this quintessential southern California “fish shack” at the Los Angeles/Ventura county line on the Pacific Coast Highway. The food is amazing, fresh and plentiful. Parking and tables are tough to find, but patience wins out in the end. Sweeping views of the ocean and surfers are also well worth the trip!

So, cut this list out and keep it in the your car. You will not regret stopping and enjoying these lovely restaurants.

For this and other trip ideas, e-mail George at zander44@aol.com