Wine may have put Temecula on the map, but its creative restaurateurs and talented chefs are outdoing one another on the foodie scene. There was a time when you had to really look to find top-notch restaurants in Temecula, but those days are long gone.
Located just an hour north of San Diego, this historic town truly celebrates food. From pubs, breweries, wineries, cowboy-themed eateries to white-linen establishments it’s guaranteed you’ll leave Temecula happy.
Here are some must-visit restaurants guaranteed to be palate-pleasing adventures.
15 Must Try Temecula Restaurants
32575 Rancho California Rd. // 951-699-0099
Café Champagne is one of our favorite Temecula winery restaurants. Located on the grounds of Thornton Winery, the French country-inspired eatery serves up some amazing food with views overlooking the vineyards.
No one comes to the Café without ordering the Signature Brie en Croute topped with warm honey and walnuts. It’s no surprise it’s been on the menu forever. Loyal patrons absolutely love it.
While you’re there, enjoy a flight of Thornton Winery’s sparkling wines made using the traditional French Methodé Champenoise.
32720 Rancho California Rd. // 951-587-8889
Meritage is an elegant yet relaxed dining experience perched high above picturesque rolling hills and vineyards of Temecula Wine Country on the grounds of Callaway Winery. Meritage serves lunch on Monday through Friday and dinners on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Patrons can select from the regular menu or choose a three-course Prix Fixe selection.
We love Meritage selection of tapas including the Poke Nachos, Roasted Pork Belly Cubes with apple and chilis, and Rhode Island Tempura Calamari.
Meritage offers a selection of salads, sandwiches, and entrees that can be paired with vintages from Temecula’s first beloved winery. It’s an experience hard to forget. And the awe-inspiring sunset views come at no extra charge.
40620 Calle Contento // 951-676-8231
Panoramic views from the winery’s Pinnacle Restaurant are simply stunning. Indoor and outdoor patio seating along with their Mediterranean-inspired cuisine make for a magnificent dining experience.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts are one of the crowd favorites here, prepared with sliced almonds, goat cheese crumbles, dried cranberries and finished with a fried egg and hibiscus drizzle. I’ve always avoided the “egg” concept topping an entree, but this dish definitely converted me.
35960 Rancho California Rd. // 951-699-9463
The Sunday Buffet at Wilson Creek Winery’s Creekside Grille Restaurant is by far one the best buffets we’ve ever experienced. In addition, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner throughout the week as well.
The buffet includes an array of incredible food stations-especially the Prime Rib carving area and fresh seafood section consisting of you-peel shrimp, crab legs and claws, omelets, waffles, desserts and so much more. At $55.95 per person, it may sound pricey, but it’s worth every penny especially when it includes your choice of unlimited sparkling wines.
Surrounded by picturesque verdant grounds with fountains and waterfalls, Creekside is a superb place to eat in Temecula.
35601 Rancho California Road, Temecula // 951-365-3388
Though the newest winery on the Temecula scene doesn’t have a restaurant, it has something incomparable to any other winery in Temecula- a most magnificent seated Charcuterie and wine pairing experience.
Italian-inspired modern, elegant and chic BOTTAIA winery has raised the bar on refined wine and food accompaniments. This restaurant carefully and selectively pairs Charcuterie plates consisting of a variety of meats, cheese, olives, and other Italian delights with BOTTAIA’s impressive crafted Italian varietals.
“A match made in heaven” is how we described each and every bite and taste. Reservations are necessary and the winery is open Wednesday through Sunday.
41911 5th Street Ste. 100 // 951-695-5600
The culinary team at The Goat and Vine (named after an Aesop fable) assembles each morning at 4 a.m. in their stone hearth kitchen to handcraft their homemade bread and pizza dough. The Goat and Vine makes all dishes from scratch and though the menu isn’t extensive, it’s superb.
The restaurant specializes in a unique variety of creative pizzas like Goats Garden, made with roasted cremini mushrooms, goat cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, spinach, white wine ricotta cream sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes.
One bite and you’ll understand why patrons start lining up at 11 a.m. for a table. But save room for dessert. The Jack Cappuccino Ice Cream Cake with cookie crunch and chocolate and caramel drizzle is delectable.
41923 2nd St., Ste 102 // 951-506-9929
There’s a new kid in Old Town called The Nightingale, opened by the owners of The Goat and Vine. This modern-day elegant but charming restaurant is almost a throwback to the Great Gatsby era.
The menu is seasonal-based and extremely well-planned. Pasta is homemade here and the Short Rib Pappardelle is a huge winner.
I decided to give The Nightingale’s Ciopinno a try since I’m a huge fan. I’m going to proclaim that it’s the best I’ve ever had—anywhere.
We were too full for dessert but our server insisted we couldn’t leave without trying one of their signature desserts–the Salted Caramel Smores Bar. That we even found room to finish this stacked sweet Smores-inspired delight it says it all.
26700 Ynez Court // 951-308-2722
For the absolute best sustainable seasonal fish guaranteed to hook any seafood lover, Bluewater Grill is where to eat in Temecula. The restaurant even operates its own swordfish harpoon boat out of Newport Coast and purchases other seafood daily from local fishermen.
Oysters on the half shell, their award-winning chowder and Cedar Plank Salmon and Whole Roasted Fish are definite dinner favorites.
Not a seafood lover? No problem. Bluewater’s extensive menu has a myriad of non-seafood items as well.
42072 5th Street // 951-699-2895
Located in the heart of Temecula’s Old Town, the elegant turn-of-the-century Gambling Cowboy and Saloon specializes in top quality Midwestern corn-fed beef. The Gambling Cowboy serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but dinner is guaranteed to be the busiest meal of the day.
It’s easy to see why as steaks like the Ribeye, Prime Rib and New York Strip here are amazing. An insider tip here is that portions are definitely large enough for sharing.
Our favorite must-have starter is the sweet and spicy mouth watering Cowboy Kisses, Applewood bacon-wrapped jalapeños filled with serrano cream cheese served over a The Cowboy’s spicy Asian sauce. This one you may not want to share!
28693 Old Town Front Street // 951-506-4024
What started out as a popular food truck morphed into much more and it’s not surprising after tasting the tantalizing offerings at Devilicious Eatery. Devilicous Eatery serves unique American bar food with a twist. The Bacon Wrapped Mac and Cheese, California Cheesesteak and famous Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese guarantee that diners will be back again for more.
Reservations are necessary for the Apparition Room located at the back of Devilicious Eatery. This speakeasy’s claim to fame is taking traditional classic cocktails like the Whiskey Sour and Sidecar and boldly creating new fun and funky libations that dazzle the taste buds.
41955 5th Street #101 // 951-699-7300
Havana Kitchen, a quaint and casual eatery tucked away in Old Town Temecula, celebrates the culinary traditions of Cuba. We stumbled on it by accident at lunchtime on a weekend visit and are we ever glad we did.
Havana Kitchen makes all their food fresh to order daily from breakfast through dinner. Patrons order at the counter and their food is delivered to their table. Everything we tasted on their extensive menu was amazing. Standouts were definitely the Cubano Sandwich with a side of luscious plantains, and Cuban Joe, made famous at the legendary Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana, Cuba.
Coffee lovers must try the Cuban Sal Latte made with two shots of espresso, milk, sugar, and a touch of kosher salt (the secret ingredient). It’s amazing.
28544 Front Street // 951-693-4567
Lively artisan restaurant Crush & Brew located on the main drag of Old Town Temecula celebrates the local craft brew movement and wine culture along with some outstanding dishes like their tantalizing Lobster Mac & Cheese and tender flavorful Steak Au Poivre. The Roasted Beet & Burrata salad is a real winner and large enough to share.
There’s a hidden door on the backside of Crush & Brew that most people wouldn’t even know is there. But that secret door houses the town’s other speakeasy Thompson & Twain Prospecting Co. Reservations are a must but a visit here is literally a “travel back in time.” With décor celebrating the Old Frontier, their libations celebrate the creativity of the mixologists who conjure up offerings like Rattlesnake, Dead Ringer, and Snake in the Sand.
28656 Old Town Front St. // 951-252-1909
An old historic tin-roofed warehouse-like structure that once served as a trading post and livery houses 1909 Temecula. But don’t let the rustic feel of this place fool you. This isn’t ordinary pub grub.
Handcrafted fluid and fare is the restaurant’s motto and everything here from the cocktails to food was delicious. One of our favorites was the Roasted Garlic & Gouda Mac. Made with smoked Gouda, white & sharp yellow cheddar, cremini mushrooms, asparagus, roasted garlic and topped with panko bread crumbs, bacon, and green onion, it’s definitely not your kids Mac and Cheese. And word of warning: you won’t want to share.
Classic cars cruise up and down Front Street, the town’s main drag, nightly. You can see them if you’re seated in the outdoor patio.
29095 Old Town Front Street // 951-587-2537
With 25 house-made craft brews on tap, Garage Brewing Company is kicking it up a notch with their gutsy and amazing selection of beer. Garage Brewing Company guarantees that every visitor to their taproom has an incredible experience with palate-pleasers like Mango Hefeweizen, Hatch Chile IPA and Marshmallow Milk Stout.
Pizza partners perfectly with beer and the custom-designed wood-fired pizzas here are a must-try. Garage Brewing Company makes dough daily in their kitchen with the finest Italian milled double 00 flour before being cold fermented for a minimum of two days.
The result? Incredible mouthwatering goodness.
41971 Main Street // 951-676-7305
Seasonal farm-to-table offerings celebrate the abundance of local produce, meats, and seafood of Southern California at PUBlic House, the funky Temecula gastropub.
Diners can eat indoors, on the balcony or a lush patio garden. Menu offerings include a host of tasty creative vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free offerings as well as scrumptious chicken, beef, pork and fish selections.
Showstoppers here are the Spicy, But Gouda Burger, smoked grass-fed ground Wagyu beef on citrus slaw with smoked gouda, fried jalapenos, and roasted poblano and Peach Pork, an 8-ounce loin with creamy polenta and grilled squash topped with Chipotle Peach Plum Sauce and crispy arugula.
Which of these restaurants in Temecula do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Noreen Kompanik is a Registered Nurse and San Diego-based travel writer and photographer. Over 400 of her published articles have appeared in 38 different digital and print publications. She especially loves writing about family travel, luxury travel, food, wine, coffee, history and travel writing and shares these articles on her travel website What’s In Your Suitcase.