California Fast Food Guide: Sinfully Tasty Food That You Should Try

California Fast Food Guide: Sinfully Tasty Food That You Should Try
| 5 min read

One of the great pleasures of a trip to the West Coast of the United States is definitely the food. That greasy, fattening but delicious and exotic fast food that is served in huge portions is absolutely a highlight of any trip. Be prepared to discover new tastes, smells, food combinations, and flavors.

Randy's Donuts in LA

california fast food guide: sinfully tasty food that you should try | randy's donuts in la

Donuts are definitely America’s national fast food. There is even a National Donut Day celebrated on September 14. One of the most famous places to taste a donut is Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, California, near Los Angeles International Airport.

The iconic building with the giant donut on the roof is a landmark itself, not only because of its vintage aesthetics but also because it was featured in many Hollywood films and music videos. 24 hours a day and seven days a week, you can find the best and cheapest donuts in the area (it costs less than 2 USD for a cinnamon roll and a glazed donut) that you can either order in one of the two drive-thru or get out of your car, take some photos, and order from the walk-up window. Apart from their fame, their donuts are really fresh, delicious, and are considered the best in California. I would highly recommend a stop at this legendary Donut Shop for both the tasty donuts and the LA experience.

Huge milkshakes in San Francisco

Chocolate shake from St Francis Fountain
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ann Larie Valentine used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are a genuine fan of chocolate, then you should try an American-style chocolate milkshake. Go ahead, have the one with whipped cream and a cherry on top!

In San Francisco, I recommend visiting the famous Lori’s Diner, a 50’s styled diner with really cool waitresses, red leather sofas, a jukebox, and greasy food. It is like the set from a Hollywood movie. Their food may be greasy, but the milkshakes are simply amazing! They are huge and tasty and they even bring you a glass full of ice cream with the remainder in the mixing cup. They offer a big variety of milkshakes. The classic ones: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, but also more special flavors like banana, oreo cookie, orange etc. It is a fun place to eat and an authentic diner experience!

Pancakes at IHOP

california fast food guide: sinfully tasty food that you should try | pancakes at ihop

Fluffy and thick American pancakes are a pleasure for the palate. For the sweet lovers, they are deliciously combined with maple syrup and/or whipped cream, buttermilk, fruit, or chocolate. For those who prefer savoury food order your pancake with bacon, ham, cheese, eggs, and more.

IHOP, which stands for International House Of Pancakes, is literally everywhere in California. It is a chain restaurant that serves pancakes, waffles, crepes, omelettes, salads, soups, and burgers. It is the best place to have a filling breakfast and try the most tasty pancakes. They offer a huge menu of pancakes with various combinations and you can also make your own personalised combinations. Many IHOP locations are open 24/7 and it is often characterised as “pancake heaven”.

Ghirardelli ice cream

california fast food guide: sinfully tasty food that you should try | ghirardelli ice cream

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is America’s oldest chocolate company. They have various shops around America but the one in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco is where it originated. The shop in Ghirardelli Square is actually the best place to visit the company, taste their ice cream and walk around and explore the other shops in the area. Going inside the actual shop you will feel like you entered a chocolate museum.

The place is simply amazing for chocolate lovers but also an adorable place to visit. If you have children, they will love it. Mouthwatering chocolate pieces of art, huge portions of chocolate syrup, sweets, mini caramels and more. It is a sugar heaven. Next to the shop, there is the Ghirardelli Restaurant / Cafe, where you can try their products. Their speciality is their ice cream and sundaes. You must try a chocolate sundae. The chocolate is very thick with a velvet texture and the portions are huge, easily enough to share with 2 or even 3 people. The sundae is not that cheap, it costs 10.95 USD, but you really have to try it. It may be the best sundae you have ever tasted.

Ghirardelli is definitely a tourist hot-spot, so expect a huge line most of the time. You order at the cashier unless you want to go for a table, which can be hard to find. However, it is “must do” if you want to taste this San Franciscan delicacy.

California Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!!

Tours by Stephanie

Mexican food at Chipotle

california fast food guide: sinfully tasty food that you should try | mexican food at chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a popular restaurant chain that specializes in burritos and tacos. It offers burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, and salads and you can choose the meat you want to have. You choose between chicken, pork, barbacoa, steak, tofu-based “sofritas” or vegetarian which comes with guacamole. There is also a children’s menu. You can accompany your food with well made margaritas or soft drinks and fruit drinks.

Fish at Bubba Gump

Coconut shrimp at a Bubba Gump restaurant
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Prayitno / Thank ... used under CC BY 2.0

If you are a fan of American films, then you definitely know the film ‘Forrest Gump’ that Tom Hanks starred in in the mid 90’s. Without spoilers, scenes from the movie were filmed at the Santa Monica Pier, California, and in the exact area opened the exact shop that was featured in the movie: the Famous Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

The whole place is an homage to this classic movie. It is decorated with signs from the move, they display Forrest Gump clothes and other memorabilia. The restaurant has a huge catalogue of seafood, cocktails and of course their speciality is shrimp. The restaurant has a great view at the Pier and the Pacific Ocean and you can dine with this amazing view. Next to the restaurant there is a big shop dedicated to the movie. So, you can combine food with shopping. Waiters are funny and attentive, most of the time telling you quotes from the movie. It is a tourist spot and prices are a bit high, but it is a unique experience that you should not miss if you find yourself in Los Angeles.

Sprinkles cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes - Los Angeles Vacation - September 2009
Source: Photo by Flickr user David Berkowitz used under CC BY 2.0

Cupcakes are also on the list of California food just because of the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes. This California-based cupcake bakery chain was first opened in 2005 and its original location is in Beverly Hills. They became quite famous through the lense of bloggers and LA based fashionistas and now they are a must-try. They have a great variety of cupcakes but they also offer ice cream and cookies. Another special thing about Sprinkles is that they established the first cupcake ATM machine in Beverly Hills, CA in 2012, which works 24/7. The exact address is 9635 South Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. So in case you crave something sweet in the middle of the night you know where to find it.

In-n-Out Burger

in-n-out burger

In-n-Out Burger is the most famous fast food chain in California. Founded in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California, In-n-Out was the first drive-thru hamburger spot in the area. Today, their burgers are famous around the world and you can have them at more than 140 locations in Nevada, Arizona, and California. They have great meat quality and they are very cheap. A hamburger costs 1.60 USD and a cheeseburger costs 1.80 USD.

Must-try Californian food

A trip to California is a magical dive into exotic flavors and a tasty food experience. Find seafood at its best, let your blood sugar go up with the special ice cream, chocolate, pancakes, and milkshakes and eat the tastiest burgers found only in California!

Iconic places that offer great tastes are a must try for a full Californian experience!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Travelling since 1999, I created my blog so my memories won't fade as time goes by. Passionate about travelling and music festivals, I try to combine them both. My motto is "I travel to live, I...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore California
Looking for accommodation?
Good things are meant to be shared!
Back to top