As we paddle along the border to one of the Seven Sea Caves of La Jolla Cove, my tour guide points to the cliff above us and shares how past access to this cave was via a 60-foot descent by rope. Those who took the risk were bootleggers who stored whiskey in the cave during prohibition. Nearly 100 years later, my Everyday California kayak group stared at the enormous swells thrashing angrily against rock walls at the entrance, while swirling rips threatened the lives of anyone who dared venture inside. It was obvious we were not welcome in this cave, so we kayaked away, alongside sea lions that frolicked near La Jolla Shores.
My kayak bobbed under the sun’s warm rays as I stared mesmerized toward the pristine shore and reminisced on my experience in La Jolla. On Friday evening, I arrived in time for dinner at Whisknladle, one of a plethora of casual, yet upscale dining options in an area known for its local catch and social vibe. A glass of Chablis paired well with an amuse bouche of Gruyère gougères and Pink Lady apple salad with walnuts, while my main course of scallops with sweet-glazed cubes of pork belly implied I’d landed in foodie heaven.
However, La Jolla presented much more than local, fresh catch: a feeling of living the good life. As a guest of the Balinese-inspired Pantai Inn, a mere 20 minutes from San Diego, a Mercedes SUV was available on-call to deliver me in front of my second-floor bungalow. Inside, a full kitchen, living room with a view of La Jolla Cove, and a bedroom with a four-poster bed garlanded in white fish netting added to the centering energy flow.
By morning, after a short stop in the courtyard for a buffet breakfast with an ocean view, I jogged across the street to walk the cove where sea lions and seals sunbathed on rocks below and further down where surfers glided across tunnels of waves. Nature’s eye candy lured me to continue my exploration with a walk across town, past bustling downtown shops, art galleries, La Jolla murals and Spanish architecture, to lunch at Galaxy Taco. Surrounded by walls of Mexican-inspired graffiti, I sat inside to sip a margarita and munch house-made blue chips dipped in award-worthy guacamole made with a kick of Serrano pepper. I ate so much guacamole I could barely finish two of the best tacos I’d ever tasted: one crispy fish taco and a carnitas.
My final night concluded with an all-star dining experience at George’s at the Cove, where I highly recommend a starter bowl of tender octopus mixed with bits of Andouille sausage for added spice, and an entrée of local, fresh yellowtail. The takeaway of La Jolla is that its weather is perfect year-round, as is the farm- and ocean-to-table dining. Add to this the unparalleled hospitality from everyone you encounter within this beach town, and you’ll want to visit time and again, much like Dr. Seuss, who moved to La Jolla and penned “The Cat in The Hat” and more tall tales.
Charlene Peters is a passionate explorer of indigenous dishes throughout the world. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serves 4 (8-ounce servings)
• 6 large avocados (pitted and peeled)
• 1 bunch cilantro (cleaned and chopped)
• 3 oz. Serrano juice (with seeds)
• Salt, to taste
Mix all together to the consistency you desire. Mix less for a chunky texture.
To make your own chips: In vegetable oil, fry a package of corn tortillas purchased from your local grocery store.
— Courtesy of Galaxy Taco
Photo caption: La Jolla Cove
Photo caption: Yellowtail dish at George’s at the Cove.