Eating Out in Riverside, California: The 10 Best Local Restaurants
Surrounded by orange groves and blessed with near year-round sunshine, Riverside is like a postcard from California come to life. Whether you’re visiting to experience the weather or dropping by on the city’s flourishing art gallery scene, these are the best restaurants in the city.
Festival of Lights | Courtesy of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
If you’re looking for somewhere picturesque to dine out, The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is the perfect destination. Built in 1876 as a two-story guesthouse, it is the largest Mission Revival style guest house in the United States, and is comprised of several restaurants, a hotel and a spa, making it the perfect getaway. A highlight of the restaurant is the Spanish-style open air patio, where you can experience the gorgeous Californian weather under the stars. Make sure to time your visit for the ‘Festival of Lights’, a Dickinson-style festival involving horse-drawn carriages and spectacular light displays, which takes place at the Inn every year from November 28th to January 6th.
If you’e staying at the Mission Inn, it’s worth paying a visit to Duane’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, one of the many restaurants housed in the historic building. The restaurant pays tribute to the building’s history as it is named after Duane Roberts, the hotel’s proprietor in 1992 who saved it from destruction. The restaurant’s interior remains faithful to the hotel’s romantic decor while offering classic American favorites, and guests can choose from a range of USDA steaks and wines. The restaurant’s premier feature is the ‘Charge Up San Juan Hill’, an important painting of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, which stands at 8 feet tall.
The Salted Pig features a menu that pays great respect to seasonal produce and handcrafted dishes. Everything in the restaurant is made in-house, from the breakfast brioche to home-made ice-cream. While California may be more famous for wine production, the restaurant showcases the best of its growing craft beer breweries by showcasing a wide selection on draft. The restaurant has farmhouse style decor and features a menu of classic American comfort food such as mashed potatoes and fried chicken, pumpkin soup, and mouthwatering turkey and avocado sandwiches.
Across the road from The Mission Inn in the heart of downtown, you’ll find Mario’s Place, the premier location for Italian cuisine in Riverside. In addition to food, this restaurant features live jazz every Friday and Saturday at 10pm. Chef Leone Palagi creates dishes that fuse Northern Italian cuisine with inspiration from Southern France. The interior is elegantly decorated, with mahogany furniture and modern paintings. This is a restaurant that truly brings the chic feel of dining on the East Coast or in San Francisco to downtown Riverside.
Market Broiler is a chain restaurant that has locations throughout Southern California, but each branch still maintains individuality. The company was born out of the tradition for Californian seafood and a selection of 18 fresh fish is offered daily. If dining out isn’t your scene and you still want to sample what the restaurant has to offer, there is also a fresh fish market in the lobby where you can pick up a selection of house favorites, such as clams and albacore tuna, to create your own seafood dish at home. The restaurant also sells ‘clam chowder kits’ with everything you need to make the famous soup at home.
Anchos is a hub of Southwestern tradition in a colorful and friendly atmosphere. The menu features a huge selection of Tex Mex favorites: from New Mexican enchiladas, to Texas-inspired fajitas and grilled meats. The ideal option for those who shy from upmarket white-table cloth style of dining, this restaurant will give you great food in a laid back atmosphere with zero pretension. Consequently, this affordable restaurant has been a huge favorite with locals for years, so you’ll really feel part of the culture in Riverside when you visit.
Vino Veritas is the ideal place to experience nightlife and culture just outside of Riverside. The restaurant features live music from local acts on weekend nights, which provides the perfect cultural backdrop for an evening of food and wine-tasting. The fantastic selection of 150 wines from local and international wineries is provided via a ‘credit card’ system, which means that you can affordably sample a selection of wines from a higher price-range. To soak it all up, the chef offers tantalizing gourmet interpretations of all-American favorites, such as white-truffle mac ‘n’ cheese and Argentine-style ribeye steak.
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Zacatecas café is the place to go to if you want to experience homestyle Mexican cooking in a cozy setting. The family-run restaurant was founded in 1963, and each recipe is still inspired by traditional recipes created by founders Oscar and Josephine Medina. Now in its third generation of proprietors, the restaurant has gone from strength to strength, and has been featured in magazines such as The New Yorker. The best time to visit is during the restaurant’s Dia de los Muertos celebrations, which showcase South American culture. Menu highlights include Mexican interpretations of classic American dishes, such as Zac’s hamburger ranchera.
For a quality lunch stop, Backstreet restaurant is one of the best choices in Riverside. Voted ‘Best Sandwich and Best Outdoor Dining in the Inland Empire’ by Inland Empire Magazine, the family-run restaurant is proof that creating a small menu and honing each dish to perfection is a safe way to keep crowds coming back for more. The restaurant’s famous sandwiches and salads are prepared fresh everyday, meaning that you won’t want to opt for a any lesser creation by a chain brand ever again. Make sure to get there early to beat the line for lunch, as the restaurant is only open 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday.
While Riverside’s host of Mexican and fine-dining restaurants are sure to satisfy most foodies, no trip to California is complete without a trip to an organic health restaurant. Luckily, Goodwins Organic Foods & Drinks manages to incorporate 100 percent healthy, organic ingredients into all-American favorites, such as breakfast burritos and hash browns. A lunchtime visit offers the perfect opportunity to stop by their bakery and shop to take home some of their boulange-bread, which is a local favorite. The store also offers special occasion catering in the form of wedding cakes, and you can learn how to create the cafe’s healthy treats at home at their in house cookery classes.