So in honor of President’s Day, we decided to explore some famous presidential dining destinations in California.
President Barack Obama may have been dubbed the first “foodie president,” but our fascination with what our country’s leaders like to eat can be seen in the recording of their favorite foods going all the way back to George Washington, who was particularly fond of nuts and fish. Lincoln? Turns out he probably would have reveled in our modern day obsession with bacon.
For more recent presidents dining out has become increasingly popular. President Clinton was lampooned by Saturday Night Live for eating at McDonald’s, but also ate Chinese at San Francisco’s popular House of Nanking and proclaimed that one of the best burgers he ever had was from Granite’s Sub and Wing Shop in Sacramento.
As you might expect from California’s only native son to take up residency at the White House, President Richard Nixon was known for his love of the Mexican cuisine at El Adobe de Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano. There you can enjoy his favorite combo plate: a chile relleno, chicken enchilada and shredded beef taco.
Ronald Reagan, who is the state’s only governor to ascend to the presidency so far, frequented the now-closed Chasen’s in West Hollywood. In fact, the booth where Reagan proposed to Nancy is even on display at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library.
Like most things in life, the food we consume is often a lens into the time we inhabit, which makes some of President Obama’s favorite restaurants quite telling. The 44th president has been seen dining out at some of the Bay Area’s best contemporary restaurants, such as Spruce and the farm-to-fork innovator Chez Panisse. Yet, it isn't always just about healthy fine dining for President Obama. He is also a big fan of the California chicken and waffles institution, Roscoe's, where diners can order the "Obama Special," including three pieces of wings and one of the restaurant's legendary waffles.
Which is all to say we might want to add another item to the presidential job description for 2016: "Foodie-in-chief."