Eating in la la land

Los Angeles' food scene is as diverse and expansive as the city, but it's also worth exploring a little further afield.

Indulge in fresh ceviche by the beach on an elegant island, enjoy a rustic meal and wines in the vineyards or grab a good old-fashioned hotdog. If you can crave it, the City of Angels has a menu that will deliver it.

This is where Hollywood stars of the 1930s came to play, and the glamour lives on today. It's a bit like travelling back in time.

Catalina Island escape

For a relaxed, outdoor dining experience, make a day of it with a trip to Avalon on Catalina Island, just an hour's ferry ride or a 15 minute helicopter flight from Los Angeles. This is where Hollywood stars of the 1930s came to play, and the glamour lives on today. It's a bit like travelling back in time.

Avalon is a compact town that's easy to explore on foot. For the real inside word on the local food scene, take a walking tour that leads to delicious sample dishes from several restaurants and specialty food stores. You'll learn about the culture, culinary history and Art Deco architecture, including the famous casino.

A taste of wine country

Less than two hours' drive from the hustle and bustle of LA is Santa Barbara wine country, a haven for food and wine lovers wishing to while away a few relaxed hours or spend the weekend. There are plenty of top quality seafood and Italian restaurants to discover, not to mention the more than 50 grape varieties grown here, making for the ultimate vineyard-hopping experience.

Try the chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah and sauvignon blanc, plus boutique styles such as albarino and grenache blanc. If you're short on time or want to keep things easy, just follow one of the region's many wine trails that deliver you to various tasting rooms and vineyards. While you're sipping and sighing with contentment, you can take in the region's beauteous landscape and warm, sunny weather.

Pink's Hotdogs, Los Angeles, USA.

Hotdog heaven

You don't need an excuse to eat a giant American hotdog when you're in Hollywood. It's a must. For a taste of the finest, most famous dogs in town, head to the original Pink's, on the corner of La Brea and Melrose, which was started by Paul and Betty Pink in 1939. Midway through a busy day of shopping or sight-seeing, a celebrity-inspired hotdog hits the mark with just the right balance of flavour and fun. The menu also includes a jaw-stretching selection of burgers.

As you'll see when you spot the many signed photographs on the wall, everyone from Marlon Brando to Michael Jackson has eaten here. Kick back on the outdoor patio knowing that you're getting a taste of Hollywood history. Just remember to bring your appetite - everything about Pink's is larger than life.

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