California Native is a cool ambient American restaurant bar in Coorparoo where diners can sample delicious southern Californian cuisine along with boutique beers, wine, cocktails and soda.
And for those who can’t make it to west coast USA, California Native is one restaurant worth travelling across town for. The savvy owners have transformed an old shop into a fresh and funky ranch like space festooned with Mexican and vintage Californian memorabilia, posters and artworks and a garden terrace out back.
The menu offers a unique blend of New American, Mexican and some retro California dishes based on recipes from one of the owners' grandmother (who was born and bred in San Diego and watches over things from a painting on the wall).
Salads, black beans, salsas and lime feature heavily on the menu, which changes regularly and is divided into Starters, Big Hero salads, Nachos, Tacos, Main and Desserts. Salsas, which are made in-house, come in 4 varieties: Salsa Pina (Mild, pineapple based), Fresca (tomato based, mild to medium), Verde (tangy green, medium) and Rattlesnake Jack (a blend of the 4 hottest chillies in the world and not for the faint-hearted).
As a nice touch, on arrival all diners are offered a complimentary dish of premise-made corn chips and fresh salsa dip. Starters include delish stuff such as Baked Ranch Wings, Chilli Fries and Jalapeno Peppers and Encinitas Elote (Mexican street food style corn on the cob).
For something healthy, fresh and hearty it’s hard to go past Big Salads such as the California Rose (Cali-Mex style crunchy vegetable and apple salad on warm tortilla with salsa fresca, sour cream and manchego cheese), Mendocino Superfood salad and the recommended SoCal Waldorf, a modern twist on the classic American salad featuring baby spinach, lime infused goats cheese, sweet pickled Spanish onion, compressed apple, pine nuts with chilli and mango dressing.
Nachos come as Colina (small) or Montana (large), both served with guacamole, salsa fresca, Spanish olives and sour cream, with Beef, Chicken, Pork and Sliced Jalapeno Peppers as optional add-ons. Meanwhile tacos come with filings of Carne, Pollo, Gamba (prawn), Vegetariano, Pescano (fish) or Cerdo (pork) and can be ordered single or as a plate of 3.
For Mains there’s choices such as Pasadena Steak con Queso (char grilled rib fillet with chilli con queso sauce, fries and salsa verde), Monteray Bay Toasty Fish Sandwich, Black Bear Chowder, Chili Con Carne Malibu Wagyu Burger or the highly recommended Mojave Pollo Grande (boneless free range chicken dowsed in southern Californian spices with crunchy corn tortillas, corn and tomato salsa, lime-infused goats cheese and coriander.
And leave room for one of the delectable desserts like the Soda Shop Banana Split or the must try warm Aztec Brownie.
California Native is fully licensed and serves a mix of local craft beers from the likes of Burleigh Brewing Co as American. On the boutique wine list are some excellent organic California wines and the cocktails are a fusion of classics with a twist and new inventions from the in-house bartender (who came across from Archives): Baha Sands – a delicious take on the Margarita, and menu staple Berkley Boar – gin, pear juice, lime juice, honey and rosemary.
And like everything else at California Native the background music fits with the theme - a mix of Old Skool West Coast (think Santana, Mommas and the Poppas and The Doors), jazz and lively Mexican tunes.
Need to know – This restaurant is an absolute fav with locals so bookings are essential. Book via their Facebook page.
Nice to know – California Native is family friendly, with a small separate kids menu, high chairs, plenty of space and curios galore. The owners (parents themselves) even let littlies play with the vintage typewriter at the door.
It’s also a great place for large groups and celebrations.
The menu may have changed since this review
321 Chatsworth Rd
0438 685 650