Tucked farther north just off the 101 freeway, Los Alamos is sometimes woefully neglected by food and wine seekers—don’t make the same mistake. A former stagecoach stop and home to the last standing Pacific Coast Railroad Station (now a sprawling antique mall and wine pub), Los Alamos offers plenty of Old West character with the added bonus of innovative eateries and great local wine. Start the day with Bob’s Well Bread for top-notch artisanal pastries, loaves and breakfast plates. Browse vintage home decor at Sisters Gifts & Home, then unwind with local vintages and play bocce in the spacious backyard of Bodega Los Alamos. Other great tasting room options include Lo-Fi Wines for natural wines and vinyl, and Bedford Winery for syrahs and forgotten varietals. At Casa Dumetz sip well-balanced pinots and grenaches, and visit the adjoining Babi’s Beer Emporium for craft brews and ciders, paired with the colorfully creative tacos on house-made tortillas from Valle Fresh.
Relative newcomer Bell’s offers phenomenal French bistro-inspired fare from two Per Se alums, including a coveted French dip sandwich and classics like coq au vin made with rotisserie chicken. For phenomenal wood-fired flatbreads like the date and bacon or smoke-dried tomato and mushroom, plus farm-to-table fare like dried and aged persimmons with prosciutto and burrata, head to local stalwart Full of Life Flatbread—Los Alamos’ pioneering artisanal eatery helmed by Clark Staub. They’re open for dinner Thursday through Sunday and for lunch on the weekend, but they fill up fast, so get there early.
For an exceptional dinner featuring sustainable and local ingredients, alongside great cocktails and wines, stop by Pico (where they also have a burger night on Mondays). For a nightcap, there’s the historic 1880 Union saloon, which has been fixing drinks since the stagecoach days (and has the carriage chairs and ranch decor to prove it) and now serves craft cocktails and upscale bar fare. The adjoining 1880 Union is an event venue and a former, supposedly haunted hotel once used to film the Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s music video for “Say, Say, Say.” For accomodations, choose from the wonderfully quirky Victorian Mansion featuring creatively themed rooms, the Alamo Motel for stylishly cozy desert chic, and the beautifully restored Skyview Motel, which features a pool, on-site restaurant and stunning views. Possible side trips include nearby wineries like Presqu’ile and Martian Ranch.