Looking at the menu of California Native, everything sounds so delicious that it’s hard to decide what to choose. It’s one of those moments where you look across the table and give the person you’re dining with that ‘Wanna share?’ side-eye. The good news is, everything tastes so good that you’ll have to come back a few times anyway to work your way through the entire menu.
The whole place has a laid back feel to it, the kind of place you’d spend a long lunch with great friends or lose hours over a chilled out dinner. The restaurant has a comfortable, welcoming vibe encouraged by the earthy timber fit-out and stunning California maple-tree in the heart of the dining area. It’s on-theme California cool without being over-the-top Route 66 kitsch.
The warmth and welcoming feel of California Native comes from the love, thought and collective family effort that has been put into creating it. The artwork and styling come straight from the home of husband and wife co-owners, Karl and Anna. Favourite recipes come from the kitchen of Karl’s American-born Mum and Grandma, while the loud jazz and boozy Sangria evenings belong solely to Grandma.
An evening spent at California Native is made even better by the incredible menu brought together by Head Chef, Mathew Shannon. It’s not often you find a coeliac chef and it means you can rest assured most of the menu items are non-flour based and if you have dietary requirements, he’ll be able to hook you up.
Using only the freshest local produce, Mat and his team create a menu absolutely bursting with Southern-Cali flavour. First up is the bright and fresh selection of salsas, complete with crispy, non-greasy house-made corn chips. If you’re mad for chillies, the Rattlesnake Jake combines four of the hottest chillies in the world to make one heck of a salsa that may or may not come with a waiver.
Starters never looked so good with tasty bites like jalapeño poppers, ooey-gooey chilli fries, baked ranch wings and perfectly grilled, spiced corn on the cob. There’s a great selection of salads too, including Grandma’s California Rose and the SoCal Waldorf, a cool take on an old classic. If you’re up for the challenge, nachos come in ‘Montana’ (mountain) size with generous helpings of refried beans, salsa fresca, guacamole, Spanish olives, and sour cream piled on top.
One of the best things on the menu has to be the amazing soft-fried tacos. Not quite crunchy, but not quite soft either, they offer the absolute best of both taco worlds, right to your mouth. Stuffed with insanely good fillings like slow cooked shredded beef and fried spicy tiger prawns topped with cabbage slaw, salsa, black beans, and chipotle mayo.
If wagyu burgers, Monterey-Bay toasty fish sandwiches or seafood chowder are more your style, you’re in for a real treat. The Cali-Native team have struck up a deal with everyone’s favourite patisserie, Flour & Chocolate. Which means the crusty sourdough rolls and loaves used come straight from Lachlan and his team of bakery whizz’s. (Hint: order your wagyu burger medium-rare to get in the head chef’s good books).
Don’t let your sweet teeth go unanswered either, get your teeth into the delicious warmed dark chocolate aztec brownie with hints of coffee, served with vanilla and cinnamon whipped cream and a chilli-strawberry coulis on the side. Also on offer are grandma’s recipe mexican date cake and the soda shop banana split, the kind that dreams are made of.
California Native is just one of those places you instantly want to go back to, even before your plates have been cleared from the table. The easy atmosphere, amazing food, live music and cool vibe make it an instant hit with Coorparoo locals and food-lovers alike. Be sure to book a table and get down to this new Brisbane favourite, pronto!
Want opening hours, directions, and all the details? Check out California Native on the Directory!
Image credit: Ariana Gillrie