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Roadtrip: Houston to Los Angeles


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I'm making a road trip from from Houston to Los Angeles in the immediate future with some friends and family (all adults). I've been given the following route and responsibility to find out where to eat for this trip. Help is much appreciated, seeing as we'll end up eating Little Debbie snacks and Funyons if we can't find places worth stopping!

I'm familiar with the eats along 290, but any other suggestions would be fantastic.

From Houston, we're going 290 to I-10, then to I-25N with a stop in Las Cruces.

From I-25N we're heading to I-40W and making a jaunt up to the Grand Canyon via 64.

After that it's back on 64 to Vegas via US 93 and 95.

We'll make a pit stop there and then head into LA, taking I 15 then I-10. Apparently traffic may play a role in which direction we come in, so I'm not sure how we're coming in that day- we may brown bag it.

I'm not the navigator on this trip (for good reason) so I hope our route is clear enough for food suggestions. We'd like to splurge on two or three meals during the trip, but are trying to keep the other meals under $10/person if possible. We're taking 5 days for the drive so the more suggestions the better! Looking forward to any ideas.

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I believe this puts you through San Antonio. You might want to check out Bayseas, a Southern cuisine place. They had a branch open in Austin a few years ago that I thought was quite good, but never had a chance to try it in San Antonio.

I'm also making a roadtrip through Vegas soon and want to try Lotus of Siam. Do a search on the forum.

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I believe this puts you through San Antonio. You might want to check out Bayseas, a Southern cuisine place. They had a branch open in Austin a few years ago that I thought was quite good, but never had a chance to try it in San Antonio.

I'm also making a roadtrip through Vegas soon and want to try Lotus of Siam. Do a search on the forum.

We've just added a pit stop in Austin (old stomping grounds) so I think we're actually going to go through Fredricksburg over San Antonio since it's a more direct route. I will keep Bayseas in mind though for next time I'm in San Antonio.

Lotus of Siam looks great. I don't have a lot of experience with Thai food, so I might as well start with the best, ha.

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I'm making a road trip from from Houston to Los Angeles in the immediate future with some friends and family (all adults). I've been given the following route and responsibility to find out where to eat for this trip. Help is much appreciated, seeing as we'll end up eating Little Debbie snacks and Funyons if we can't find places worth stopping!

I'm familiar with the eats along 290, but any other suggestions would be fantastic.

From Houston, we're going 290 to I-10, then to I-25N with a stop in Las Cruces.

From I-25N we're heading to I-40W and making a jaunt up to the Grand Canyon via 64.

After that it's back on 64 to Vegas via US 93 and 95.

We'll make a pit stop there and then head into LA, taking I 15 then I-10. Apparently traffic may play a role in which direction we come in, so I'm not sure how we're coming in that day- we may brown bag it.

I'm not the navigator on this trip (for good reason) so I hope our route is clear enough for food suggestions. We'd like to splurge on two or three meals during the trip, but are trying to keep the other meals under $10/person if possible. We're taking 5 days for the drive so the more suggestions the better! Looking forward to any ideas.

You say, "immediate future." When? I've driven that route many times, and as a matter of fact, have lived in several spots along the way. I can do a little research, if it's not too late.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm making a road trip from from Houston to Los Angeles in the immediate future with some friends and family (all adults)...

You say, "immediate future." When? I've driven that route many times, and as a matter of fact, have lived in several spots along the way. I can do a little research, if it's not too late.

That would be fantastic! :biggrin: We leave this Saturday.

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If I were you, I'd plan my first overnight stop at Fredericksburg. Of course, I'm assuming you live in Houston and get up to Austin fairly often, so I probably wouldn't do a lot there on my first leg of a long journey. I'd wait until later and get up there over a long weekend. Actually, several long weekends. You've got a lot of ground to cover and Austin is pretty accessible.

And I wouldn't take 290 to Austin. I'd take 71 so that I could stop at Weikel's Bakery in La Grange, to fill up the car and buy some kolaches for breakfast and some more for the trip. Not sure if you're familiar with Weikel's, but they also have great sandwiches. It's the same family that used to own the legendary Bon Ton Cafe.

And then I'd scoot right on to Fredericksburg. I'd stay and eat at the Hill Top Cafe. I'd try to get there early enough to take the tour of the LBJ Ranch. It's not a long tour, and if you haven't done it before, it's very, very well worth it.

And I'd definitely pick up some Texas peaches from the fruit stands along the way. Be sure you've got a cooler, and those peaches will come in handy the entire trip.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Heading west on I10, there's not much, but you really do zip right along. Lum's BBQ & Deli is pretty good in Junction City and in Ft. Stockton, I recommend Bienvenidos Cafe for Mexican food. Sometimes, depending upon what distance I'm coming from and the timing, I stop here for the night. If you're coming from Austin or Fredericksburg, however, you'll make such good time that you'll probably hit this area around lunchtime.

So I'd probably press on to Fabens and the Cattleman's Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch for the night.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Coming through El Paso, you absolutely must stop at the H&H Car Wash. It's a legend in these parts and when you tell folks you've passed through El Paso, everybody asks if you stopped at H&H. They've got a small coffee shop there that serves delicious Mexican food. It's kind of a mixture of authentic Mexican, and Tex/Mex, and my personal favorite, NewMex/Mex. They have great breakfasts as well as lunches and they open at 7am.

Next up the road is Las Cruces, and a place I absolutely adore and never can drive by without stopping: Old Mesilla, New Mexico

Not sure how your timing will work out, but this historic pueblito, with its charming plaza of shops, restaurants and galleries, is utterly delightful. There are several restaurants there, but I love La Posta. Much of the reason why might be the atmosphere, but having lived in New Mexico for many years, I like the famous stacked enchiladas that they serve at La Posta. I always get the Green Chile Enchiladas (it's not on the menu - you have to ask for it) and despite the fact that I've been ordering them for some 35+ years, it never disappoints. If you're traveling with kids, they'll get a kick out of the fish tank of piranhas in the lobby. I try to spend the night at Mesilla so I can get in two meals there - lunch at La Posta, and dinner at the Double Eagle.

Even if you don't have time for a stop and meal at the Double Eagle, you absolutely must tour this gorgeous and historic home. Don't worry about feeling uncomfortable wandering through - the staff is quite accustomed to sightseers, and they'll accompany you, pointing out items of particular note, and explaining the many legends, including all about the two young lovers that still haunt the place.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm marking down Hill Top Cafe and Cattleman's Steakhouse. They both look like great places to stop in. It looks like its a good idea to call ahead for Hill Top so I'll see about their lunch schedule.

I've been dreading that stretch of I-10 so it will be nice to have Cattleman's to look forward to.

We're stopping in Austin to see family before we head out, so I think my mom's feelings would be hurt if we bypassed them. :wink: It is a good thought to possibly take 71 though, especially with the promise of kolaches.

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Now up the interstate to Albuquerque. There's not a lot along that road. But if you've got a few extra hours, I'd consider a jog up 70 to White Sands National Monument. It'll take you about three hours - 45 minutes or so travel time each way and an hour to drive into the park far enough that all the vegetation disappears and all you see are blazing white gypsum sand - but it's a sight you'll never forget. When we lived there, my kids were small, and we'd take old flattened cardboard boxes for the kids to slide down the dunes. If you decide to try this, call ahead. Sometimes they close the park due to windstorms or an occasional missile shot at White Sands Range.

If you do that, you can take 54 north out of Alamogordo, but it will cost you time, and there's not much else over there that's worth it with your schedule (otherwise, a stop in Ruidoso would be terrific) so I'd probably just head on back to I-25.

Albuquerque is a terrific city to visit and I love it there. I'll point out here that I'm not one of those tres sophisticated folks that avoid all things "touristy." A tourist is, in fact, my very favorite thing to be. I mean, why not? I'm on vacation, seeing and doing things I've not done before, having a fabulous time. I do not avoid tourist attractions. After all, there's got to be a reason why half the planet has traveled untold hundreds and even thousands of miles to tromp through something.

And I feel that way about Albuquerque's Old Town. It's lovely and picturesque and well worth a hour's wander. I wouldn't eat there, though. My love for touristy things definitely does not extend to restaurants. For New Mexican food at its best, go to Garcia's Mexican Kitchen. Again, here I always order the green chile and cheese enchiladas. Get them made with blue corn tortillas if they have them, and I like an egg fried over easy on top. And again like at La Posta, they're stacked in the traditional New Mexican manner.

As an aside: now that you're in New Mexico, you'll notice every time you order Mexican food, you'll be asked that quintessential New Mexican question: "Red or green?" I love green the most, although in cold weather sometimes the homey heartiness of red is more appealing. If you can't decide between the two, say "Christmas" and you'll get a little of each.

The number one tourist attraction in Albuquerque for my money, though, is the Sandia Peak Tramway. It doesn't take that long to go up and back and you really get a feel for the place. It's my 'do not miss' for Albuquerque. There's a restaurant up there, but the food is pretty average and kind of expensive. You can get a coffee or hot chocolate and sit out there on the deck and gaze westward for a few minutes, but you're probably better off to just head on back down the mountain.

Next is Indian Country.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Once you reach Albuquerque and turn west, you'll be following pretty much along the route of the old Route 66. Don't know how old your fellow travelers are, but if any of them are "of an age," they'll remember it well. When I'm on road trips, I like to play CDs that have some connection to the region. I know it's getting close to your departure time, but if you can manage it, get a copy of that old theme song about getting your kicks on Route 66 to pop into the CD player. Maybe your mom could run out this afternoon and pick up one.

If you want to get a feel for what it must have been like, when you travel through Albuquerque, get off of the interstate and take old 66. It's well-marked, and a real time warp. Sort of sad in a way to see all those kitschy old motels that in their heyday were the bees knees, but that now sit in various stages of neglect and disrepair.

Everybody hurries right through Gallup. Everybody but me. Here again, I get off of the interstate east of town and take old 66 through. There's a historic hotel here, the El Rancho where I always stop for the night. They've got a wonderful dining room, where I get bowls of green chile, and soak in the ambiance. And I like poking around in some of the many pawnshops and Indian souvenir stores for turquoise and silver.

There are quite a few good places to eat in Gallup. Here's a list of restaurants, with reviews. Restaurants in Gallup. I like all of the ones mentioned, but I've got a strong emotional attachment to Earl's. Now officially and more grandly renamed "Earl's Restaurant," in the old days, it was Earl's Truck Stop - or as everybody in town called it, the 'tuk sop.'

Gallup is kind of the unofficial capital of the western US Indian universe and each August, it's the site of the Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial celebration. I know it's a nothing little dusty town, but I love it. Although admittedly, I don't know exactly why. I do think, though, that it has something to do with the elderly Native American couples that shuffle gracefully along holding hands, the silver streaks in their coal black hair matching the turquoise-flecked silver in their belts and bracelets.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Interrupting the travelogue for a quick moment to talk about the food.

Not sure where y'all are from, and don't know how much traveling you've done, but you're taking a culinary tour of what we in the US all call "Mexican food." I've lived in every single state that borders Mexico, and spent a great deal of time in Mexico itself.

If you're traveling with native Texans, they'll probably bitch about the "Mexican food" that you find along the way. At least my family of native Texans always do. TexMex is quite different from NewMexMex, which is also different from ArizonaMex and CaliMex. Of them all, New Mexican "Mexican food" is by far my favorite. I know I'm making assumptions here about your traveling companions but if they start to complain, you might remind them to keep an open palate and learn about the differences.

Of course, easy to say. And I should add that this approach never worked with my family.

:laugh:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I realize it's a little late for you and your party to do much research on the tribal lands of the various Native American groups through which you'll be traveling, but you're really passing closely by some remarkable sites.

As far as the food goes, be sure to try some fry bread, and the famous Navajo taco.

The first, just west of Albuquerque and south of I-40, is Acoma - Sky City.

Zuni Pueblo is directly south of Gallup.

And north of I-40 at Window Rock AZ is the tribal headquarters of the Navajo Nation and the Navajo National Museum.

You're leaving in the morning, and I don't really have time to go into the pros and cons of each of these places, but I would suggest you select one of them for a quick visit.

I also don't know anything at all about your traveling group, so should point out that reaching each of these destinations involves a pretty boring drive of about a half-hour or so from I-40. If you're with young adults, they'll be like totally like OMG like awesomely totally bored. And they might not like it much better after they get there. These places are not Disney-esque, prettied-up attractions. They are dusty, dirty, impoverished communities.

But they are a remarkable part of the history of our nation, and are what makes the southwest special.

I suppose that if I had to recommend one, it'd be Zuni. It's a quick jaunt south. Stop at the visitor's center. It's on the main drag. There's a small fee to get a guide to see the interior of the mission. It's one of the most special places I have ever been.

In the town of Zuni, there's also a bakery where the folks bake bread and pies in a traditional old clay horno. Every time I go, I get some bread and delicious apple pie to take with me. Here's a pictorial essay that somebody did after their visit to Zuni: Visiting Zuni NM

Farther west into Arizona is the Hubbell Trading Post, the nation's oldest continuously-operating trading post. It's a good place to stop for a soft drink and a look around. Of particular note are the large spools of brightly-colored velvet and other rich fabrics that the Native Americans use to make their colorful outfits.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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TexMex is quite different from NewMexMex, which is also different from ArizonaMex and CaliMex.  Of them all, New Mexican "Mexican food" is by far my favorite. 

My curiosity is piqued. Can you generalize about the differences among the 4 and explain why NewMexMex is your favorite?

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TexMex is quite different from NewMexMex, which is also different from ArizonaMex and CaliMex.  Of them all, New Mexican "Mexican food" is by far my favorite. 

My curiosity is piqued. Can you generalize about the differences among the 4 and explain why NewMexMex is your favorite?

Yep. But that'll have to wait for another day. It's late and I'm kinda tired and I have two more states to go...

:cool:

Apronless - will you be checking in from time to time as you travel?

If so, I'll finish up tomorrow.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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TexMex is quite different from NewMexMex, which is also different from ArizonaMex and CaliMex.  Of them all, New Mexican "Mexican food" is by far my favorite. 

My curiosity is piqued. Can you generalize about the differences among the 4 and explain why NewMexMex is your favorite?

Yep. But that'll have to wait for another day. It's late and I'm kinda tired and I have two more states to go...

:cool:

Apronless - will you be checking in from time to time as you travel?

If so, I'll finish up tomorrow.

Don't wear yourself out! Yes, I will be able to check in as I travel. We are all from Texas. I spent some time in Mexico and love MexMex food (and TexMex every now and then). I'm not familiar with New MexMex or CaliMex but I too would be interested in a thread about the different types.

I am beyond excited at everything you've laid out. Thank you so much for sharing and stepping into the role of food tour-guide. I was worried that we'd end up settling for fast food, but this is just wonderful! :wub:

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Jaymes is correct on a visit to Zuni Pueblo. While a little off food topic, one should note that Zuni frequently has religious observances going on. To see traditional Zuni religious ceremonies is a truely incredible experience, but note certain behavior is expected. A side note, Zuni is a settlement founded in the 1600s. It was a consolidation of several pueblos which were the legendary seven cities of Cibola that Coronado was searching for. In fact, Coronado encountered and engaged the Zunis at Hawiku in 1540. Thus, this is not your typical "pow-wow" touristy type of place and their religious observances are ancient. If a ceremony is occurring, and it is likely that one may be, please:

Keep away from the religious figures;

Do not have a camera and leave your cell in your car (they will be confiscated);

Watch from the rooftops in the plaza; and

Respect the ceremony as you would a church service.

Outsiders are welcome to most ceremonies if they behave appropriately.

On a food note, you might want to look at the Hopi Cultural Center and take a detour to the Grand Canyon through the Hopi Reservation. While I cannot say the food is gourmet, you can get traditional food such as Noqwivi (mutton stew) and great Hopi Tacos. You can also try traditional Piki (Hopi paper bread).

My note about Zuni is not to scare you off but to encourage you to go. I just want to make sure that, if you are lucky enough to see a ceremony, you have the knowledge so as not to offend. By the way, the art an jewelry at Zuni (and Hopi) are incredible.

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Jaymes is correct on a visit to Zuni Pueblo.  While a little off food topic, one should note that Zuni frequently has religious observances going on.  To see traditional Zuni religious ceremonies is a truely incredible experience, but note certain behavior is expected.  A side note, Zuni is a settlement founded in the 1600s.  It was a consolidation of several pueblos which were the legendary seven cities of Cibola that Coronado was searching for.  In fact, Coronado encountered and engaged the Zunis at Hawiku in 1540.  Thus, this is not your typical "pow-wow" touristy type of place and their religious observances are ancient.  If a ceremony is occurring, and it is likely that one may be, please:

Keep away from the religious figures;

Do not have a camera and leave your cell in your car (they will be confiscated);

Watch from the rooftops in the plaza; and

Respect the ceremony as you would a church service. 

Outsiders are welcome to most ceremonies if they behave appropriately. 

On a food note, you might want to look at the Hopi Cultural Center and take a detour to the Grand Canyon through the Hopi Reservation.  While I cannot say the food is gourmet, you can get traditional food such as Noqwivi (mutton stew) and great Hopi Tacos.  You can also try traditional Piki (Hopi paper bread). 

My note about Zuni is not to scare you off but to encourage you to go.  I just want to make sure that, if you are lucky enough to see a ceremony, you have the knowledge so as not to offend.  By the way, the art an jewelry at Zuni (and Hopi) are incredible.

I'm glad to have pointers on the proper conduct in a different cultural setting. One of my biggest worries when arriving in a new area is inadvertently offending someone. Common sense normally gets me through situations unscathed, but its always nice to have extra help.

The paper bread sounds intriguing.

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The paper bread sounds intriguing.

It is called piki at Hopi, where it is most common and easiest to get. Zuni makes it for cermonial occassions where it is called Hewe. It is basically a batter made of blue corn meal, water and salt brush ashes. The batter is hand spread on a stone set over a fire (these stones are heirlooms and take on a polish like glass over the years). The batter is spread to a consistency similar to tissue paper. After it cooks, it is folded and rolled into a cylinder like shape. It is a traditional food that is served at all ceremonies and weddings. We had friends who were sponsoring a ceremony last weekend, and I bet there were at least 75 boxes full of piki that had been made. At Hopi they also make a chili flavored piki colored red and a sweet corn piki colored yellow.

The blue piki is available at the Hopi Cultural Center.

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We are into day 3 of our trip and are heading out from Las Cruces this morning. Yesterday we stopped at Cattleman's Steakhouse which was great. The views were wonderful and the steak cooked perfectly. The split plate charge (5.50!) deterred anyone from splitting a meal and it ended up being cheaper on most dishes just to order one per person.

The views were outstanding! They have a patio and I wish I had asked to eat outside. It was beautiful. We'll stop in Gallup next, I think at Jerry's and report back.

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