As you know from your poppy-populated Instagram feed, Los Angeles has been in the grips of super bloom mania for the last few weeks.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, currently experiencing a top-notch wildflower season, is one of the most popular destinations in Southern California for super-bloom-seeking crowds. Around three hours from Los Angeles, it’s also a bit of a trek and you’re bound to get hungry.
Lucky for you, there are no shortage of restaurants, bars and bakeries along the way to try. Here’s where to stop on your drive:
Kra Z Kai’s: As Times restaurant critic Patricia Escárcega noted in her February review, this is (probably) the only Laotian barbecue spot in Southern California. The small counter-service restaurant, situated at the edge of a strip mall, specializes in Laotian-style barbecued meats. Escárcega recommends ordering dishes such as the Laotian sausage, papaya salad, beef dip and barbecue chicken. After a long day of wildflower hunting, you’re going to need some protein.
Kra Z Kai’s, 1218 Magnolia Ave., #110, Corona, (951) 268-6968 instagram.com/kra_z_kais_bbq/
Oak Mountain Winery: What’s more quintessentially Californian than the California poppy? California wine. Oak Mountain Winery, just a 10-minute detour off Highway 79, serves wines grown and produced in Temecula. Stop by before 5 p.m. for a hard-earned post-hike wine tasting. Or schedule a tour of the winery’s caves, the first of their kind in Temecula.
Oak Mountain Winery, 36522 Via Verde Road, Temecula, 951-699-9102, oakmountainwinery.com
Padua Pasta Makers: Passing by Upland on your way down to the wildflowers? Padua Pasta Makers is known for its freshly made pasta but also offers boxed lunches that include a sandwich, side dish, pickle and chocolate hazelnut truffle for dessert. Between the drive and the inevitable crowds, it’s bound to be a long day. Having lunch ready to go will help. (Hat tip to Daily Bulletin reporter David Allen — Escárcega passed along his recommendation.)
Padua Pasta Makers, 300 E Arrow Hwy, Upland, (909) 985-4900 paduapastamakers.com
The Mission Inn: After a day spent in the great outdoors, battling the selfie-obsessed hordes it attracts, you’re going to need a drink. Up for a slight detour to Riverside? In 2011, Jonathan Gold listed the Reagan Martini at the Mission Inn’s Presidential Lounge in a roundup of “L.A.'s Best Cocktails” for L.A. Weekly, calling it “as strong, undiluted and unpalatable as the man himself.” With a long day in the wildflowers and a few Reagan Martinis under your belt, you might want to book a room for the night. Trust us on this one.
The Mission Inn, 3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, (951) 784-0300 missioninn.com