Food tourism is a fun way for me (and most of my peeps) to explore new places when traveling and definitely part of my pre-trip research. That said, none of the places below (well, Voodoo I'd been to before) were on my list*. Instead, they were a combination of recommendations and kismet. These were definitely the best meals of the trip (because don't be fooled into thinking there weren't sad stops at places like Quiznos in the middle of nowhere Nevada and Arby's in the middle of nowhere Oregon and Lara bars and grapes from our bag of snacks).
If you're ever in Portland, find a way to try Tasty n Sons. Though small, it's a welcoming restaurant full of comfortable decor, great lighting and friendly waitstaff. They recommend ordering family style and sharing, and I have to say that everything we tried was indeed tasty. Best asparagus I've ever had. If you really want to keep the fun going, head downtown to Ground Kontrol and play some classic arcade games. First Awakenings and BurGR also led the pack. I'm still thinking about the amazing english muffins and scramble (below) that I couldn't finish.
I'll subject you to tales of my favorite coffee places later ;-)
Bacon-wrapped dates, asparagus with bacon and egg, polenta with peppers and Italian sausage, and chicken and dumplings at Tasty n Sons in Portland
Voodoo Doughnut in Portland
Blueberry wheat germ pancake at First Awakenings in Monterey
More brunch at First Awakenings
Burgers at The Habit in Santa Barbara
Mexican food at Casa Blanca in Santa Barbara
Brunch at Five0Four in Hollywood
Gordon Ramsey's BurGR at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
Pancetta & Pear pizza at Brix Wine Cafe in Juanita, WA
*Really bummed I never made it to Delancey in Seattle.