Sure, you can go to the local Starbucks and get yourself a nice pumpkin spice latte. After all, it’s not fall without one, right? True, that frothy goodness can be irresistible, especially on a chilly morning. But it’s just the beginning of all the pumpkin goodness that awaits this month. From savory, to sweet, to something surprising to sip, we’ve got all the best pumpkin plates to enjoy in California in October.
Gecko Gecko Thai
Pumpkin beautifully suits Thai spices, and the pumpkin red curry served at this popular downtown Berkeley eatery is a rich, spicy concoction of Asian pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, and Thai basil.
Oasis Wine Lounge
Oasis Wine Lounge is known for exotic tastes with a modern twist, and those who have discovered this unique downtown Pleasanton spot are lucky to enjoy the pleasure of pumpkin all year long. Pumpkin borane is their signature dish, and it features pumpkin sautéed in olive oil, with peppers and garlic, and topped with a garlic-yogurt sauce. Oasis Wine Lounge also offers a Sweet jalapeno artisan flatbread with braised pumpkin slices, jalapenos, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella.
San Luis Obispo (also in Paso Robles)
Zagat’s review of Buona Tavola in downtown San Luis Obispo was dripping with praise (like “superb dining, and “charming setting,” and “one of the best between Los Angeles and San Francisco”). The food holds up to the kudos, especially when you order the tortelloni di zucca alla salvia e mascarpone, homemade tortelloni stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta cheese in a sage and mascarpone cheese sauce topped with toasted walnuts.
24th Street Café
You can find pumpkin pancakes on many a menu this time of year, but it won’t be easy to find a better version than the one they serve at 24th Street Café. This Bakersfield mainstay has been the city’s favorite spot for all-day breakfast (plus a full menu of lunch and dinner items) since 1987, and the pumpkin pancakes are a favorite of locals, travelers, and even Guy Fieri, who visited the spot on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a few years back.
This elegant vegan dining spot has a plethora of tasty, upscale, organic food all year round, but you can’t beat their fall menu, which includes a kabocha pumpkin croquette appetizer described as, “crunchy sweet pumpkin and tofu croquettes with tomato sauce” and a kabocha pumpkin soup with pumpkin mocha.
Or, go full Halloween with Shojin’s famous haunted pumpkin castle, featuring “Jenga-stacked” tempura pumpkin on hijiki roll served with curry mayo, black sesame sauce, and “blood” beet sauce, or the vampire black ramen special with pumpkin, spicy tamari broth, and black sesame sauce.
If you just can’t resist something pumpkin-y in a cup this month, try this: Studio City hotspot, The Bellwether’s, newest addition to their vast cocktail menu. The pumpkin king cocktail features Bulleit Rye, cream, cherry bitters, and house-made pumpkin spice syrup.
“Not to brag, but our waffles have been featured in Gourmet magazine,” said Café 222. Indeed, the magazine featured the recipe for their famed pumpkin pancakes, and for good reason. This is no ordinary breakfast staple, unless you think of ordinary as “moist,” “light,” and “tasting like pumpkin pie.”