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Hello!

I am an East Coaster and this spring my best friend and I are flying to Seattle, renting a car and driving all the way down to San Diego (detouring to Portland too).

Anyhoo, I'm not too worried about the cities (Seattle, Portland, San Fran, L.A., San Diego) I can search through threads for that stuff, (although if you have a favorite, I'll take recommendations). What I'm more interested in is not to miss places along the way along the coast.

We are not doing too much of the Washington Coast (time constraints), but we are doing Oregon and then of course the long drive through CA.

We are planning on spending a night in:

the Crescent City/Eureka area

Mendocino

San Fran

Monterey/Carmel

SLO

LA

San Diego

In addition we were thinking about stopping off to eat/explore:

Leggett

Santa Cruz

Big Sur

San Simeon

Santa Barbara

La Jolla

So any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

kt

Edited by ktbear7476 (log)
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Well, the no-brainer for Mendocino is the famed Cafe Beaujolais. I've never eaten there, but unless it's gone downhill it the last few years it sounds like it's a must.

Edited by Hest88 (log)
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In addition we were thinking about stopping off to eat/explore:

Leggett

Santa Cruz

Big Sur

San Simeon

Santa Barbara

La Jolla

So any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Santa Cruz...

Oswald, Avanti, Soif, Tacos Morenos

Watsonville...

De La Comena, La Pajaro Food Center, The ceviche truck...

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Well, the no-brainer for Mendocino is the famed Cafe Beaujolais. I've never eaten there, but unless it's gone downhill it the last few years it sounds like it's a must.

I had a TERRIBLE meal there last month. One of the worst dining experiences I've had in a long time.

Milla-I'll answer your questions in a few days. I have some ideas for you about CA from Eureka through Big Sur.

Tell me your planned routes through WA & Oregon. I took a 3-week road trip through there a few years ago.

Are you looking for places to stay, too? If so, how much do you want to spend/ night?

Is there a reason you are not veering inland to go to the Napa Valley?

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If you want the full Big Sur hippie experience, eat at Nepenthe. The food is rustic and okay, but the view is incredible and the servers are, well, very California. Tie dye skirts, Birkenstocks . . . I had a waitress that kept staring off into the upper corner of the room, somewhat disconnected, shall we say, from the ordering process? :wink: If I asked a question, she'd fade off (checking with Gazoo) and respond, "I. . . dunno. . . ."

Edited to add: Years ago they had this awesome tea. I can still taste it. It was spicy strawberry, vanilla and clove--very zingy. My girlfriends and I would drink quarts of it with dinner and get very, very giggly. Then they stopped serving it and couldn't clearly explain why . . . :sad:

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In addition we were thinking about stopping off to eat/explore:

Leggett

Santa Cruz

Big Sur

San Simeon

Santa Barbara

La Jolla

So any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Santa Cruz...

Oswald, Avanti, Soif, Tacos Morenos

Watsonville...

De La Comena, La Pajaro Food Center, The ceviche truck...

Oswald is my most consistent recommendation for Santa Cruz, along with Ristorante Avanti if Brian Curry is cooking.

Milla and I will have to arm-wrestle as I endorse Tacqueria Vallarta instead. Personal preference. I personally love the burrito stuffed with roasted chicken: as big as a fat baby's leg. He may have other, more adventuresome endorsements.

Tacqueria Vallarta has multiple locations, but I am only familiar with the one next to Shopper's Corner on Soquel Avenue, and the 41st Avenue location.

Can you give more location about your budget, desires, and schedule?

San Luis Obispo isn't that noteworthy, if you ask me. I say stop in Paso Robles and skip SLO.

But give more information about your style/age/desires.

Oh, and the San Diego eats are also not so noteworthy, given a city of its size.

Where do you want to sleep? How open are you to detours?

Ciao.

Edited by tanabutler (log)
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If you take tanabutler's advice (and of course I think you should):

McPhee's Grill in the burg of Templeton

Bistro Laurent for dinner (Laurent Grangien trained with Michel Rostang in Paris, was the chef at Fennel Bistro in Santa Monica, and executive chef at the Inn at Morro Bay before moving to Paso to open a French family-style bistro.)

Vinoteca Wine Bar (half a block from BL) is a well-appointed, cozy wine bar with great appetizers (generally more than are listed on their website)--a fun way to start the evening and a good way to try a tasting course of Central Coast wines.

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Tell me your planned routes through WA & Oregon. I took a 3-week road trip through there a few years ago.

Washington is still under discussion. I really wanted to go up to Port Townsend and that area, but I don't know if we'll have time. See, the way this trip started was that we wanted to hit all the cities, so we decided to do this big road trip. Then when I started researching I found all these incredible places to stop along the way. This is how our trip looks right now:

Seattle (3 nights) From Seattle we are going to drive out to Astoria for lunch (and then I was considering going to Tillamook) and then to Portland that night (I'm still investigating routes). Spend 2-3 days in Portland and then we're going to head back to the coastline (I was thinking about getting back to the coast around Newport) and stay that night in the crescent city area. Then a night probably in Eureka. From Eureka we go to Mendocino (or around there for a night) and then SF. 4 nights in San Fran (my best friend is ALL about SF, it is how this trip started)...from there we will stay over night in Carmel/Monterey then SLO (I saw that someone said it wasn't worth the overnight, is that the general consensus?) And then 1 night in LA (we've been there already before). From LA we'll go to SD(2 nights). Then it is back to NJ!

Are you looking for places to stay, too? If so, how much do you want to spend/ night?

For the cities we are going to Priceline it. I'd be open to suggestions for the "along the way" stops. For our accommodations we are trying to be budget conscious.

Is there a reason you are not veering inland to go to the Napa Valley?

We were considering this, but I didn't know if we were taking on too much.

Can you give more location about your budget, desires, and schedule?

But give more information about your style/age/desires.

Like I said, we are trying to be budget conscious for our accommodations so we can spend our money in other areas. We both spent a lot of our college years working in restaurants (our experience runs from chains to upscale dining) so we are pretty open to a lot of experiences. I'll try pretty much anything once. I want to focus on quality food, hidden gems, local treasures and maybe one or two big expensive meals. Of course we like to enjoy a beer and a glass of wine whenever possible. We like to consider ourselves "incognito tourists".

I think the trip is going to be about 18 days.

We are both 28, we travel a lot and I'm sure my best friend would appreciate a few gay-friendly spots along the way.

Thanks! You guys rock!

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Visit Manresa in Los Gatos, CA for dinner then either stay over or take the 25 min trip to Santa Cruz,

Lots of great Santa Cruz spots for breakfast including Zacharys, Linda's Seabreeze Cafe, Aldos

Tacos Morenos for lunch (although Vallerta would be a decent substitute)

Then Omei or Oswald for dinner (Omei for amazing szchewan chinese and Oswald if you are in the mood for more CA cuisine)

Stay in Santa Cruz for the night then head on to Carmel/Monterey

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Washington is still under discussion.  I really wanted to go up to Port Townsend and that area, but I don't know if we'll have time.  See, the way this trip started was that we wanted to hit all the cities, so we decided to do this big road trip.  Then when I started researching I found all these incredible places to stop along the way.  This is how our trip looks right now:

Seattle (3 nights) From Seattle we are going to drive out to Astoria for lunch (and then I was considering going to Tillamook) and then to Portland that night (I'm still investigating routes).  Spend 2-3 days in Portland and then we're going to head back to the coastline (I was thinking about getting back to the coast around Newport) and stay that night in the crescent city area.  Then a night probably in Eureka.  From Eureka we go to Mendocino (or around there for a night) and then SF.  4 nights in San Fran (my best friend is ALL about SF, it is how this trip started)

As I am fond of saying, "If you don't go to Ferry Plaza marketplace, I'll ______________." Plotz. Cry. Strike you from my list. Don't even THINK of missing it. Short rec: Hog Island Oyster Company: a dozen oysters and a bottle of dry French wine for $38. Split a green salad and grilled cheese sandwich, and you will be perfectly full.

For accommodations in San Francisco, I have been using www.HotelRes.com for years. They are usually cheaper and more versatile than other travel discount sites, and you aren't buying a pig in a poke. Some of the better deals include Beresford Hotel, Beresford Arms, Queen Anne, Hotel Majestic, the Mosser, and the Francisco Bay Inn (in the Marina, which is about as loud as Union Square, which is about as loud as Rome--but the rooms are big, it's got wireless, free parking and it is a great bargain). Parking adds a lot of cost to most hotels, especially those in Union Square. Free parking = a good thing in San Francisco.

...from there we will stay over night in Carmel/Monterey then SLO (I saw that someone said it wasn't worth the overnight, is that the general consensus?)

Eh. There's not much there worth the trip. Really, head to the wineries in Paso Robles, then go to Cambria and see Hearst Castle. (It's not expensive, and it's actually really cool.) A stop in Harmony, a little artists' enclave (population 18), would be worthwhile—it's just a few miles from Cambria. Cambria itself is a very nice little town: there are good galleries and good enough food. It's not as expensive to stay in as Paso Robles.

I've stayed in a cabin at the Cambria Pines Lodge and loved it.

http://www.cambriapineslodge.com/

Check out some of their specials: if you hit it right, you can stay for $99 and get a good breakfast (they call it Continental, but there was much more out than stale pastries and juice), dinner, or other goodies thrown in. The cabins are not "rustic," in my experience: they're just older, and have the charm of their era. Marble bathroom floors, wood paneling on the walls, and wall heaters instead of central. They are also more private: they're duplexes as opposed to the main lodge.

I would go back there in a heartbeat. Their gardens are just great, too--I can't believe they're not featured more on the website.

Robin's is a good place for dinner (fresh/local/seasonal), and not too expensive.

http://www.robinsrestaurant.com/

For the cities we are going to Priceline it.  I'd be open to suggestions for the "along the way" stops.  For our accommodations we are trying to be budget conscious.

See below for Santa Cruz/Central Coast recs. I think you will be happy.

Is there a reason you are not veering inland to go to the Napa Valley?

We were considering this, but I didn't know if we were taking on too much.

Napa is pretty darned expensive, relatively. I mean, it's glorious, yes. If it were me, I'd probably skip Eureka and Mendocino, as they're so remote, and do either some Napa or Sonoma.

Like I said, we are trying to be budget conscious for our accommodations so we can spend our money in other areas.  We both spent a lot of our college years working in restaurants (our experience runs from chains to upscale dining) so we are pretty open to a lot of experiences.  I'll try pretty much anything once.  I want to focus on quality food, hidden gems, local treasures and maybe one or two big expensive meals. Of course we like to enjoy a beer and a glass of wine whenever possible.  We like to consider ourselves "incognito tourists".

I think the trip is going to be about 18 days. 

We are both 28, we travel a lot and I'm sure my best friend would appreciate a few gay-friendly spots along the way. 

Thanks! You guys rock!

Santa Cruz is a very gay-friendly spot (there are a couple of gay bar/dance clubs, and a lesbian bookstore called Herland). If you're looking for hidden gems and local treasures, it's a must. I would definitely recommend it for your stopping point on the Central Coast. Visit Monterey (the aquarium is fabulous, and so is A Taste of Monterey, on the same side of the street and up a block or two -- you can taste Monterey wines for very little money, with a 180-plus degree view of the bay). Carmel is okay, but the snooty factor can be oppressive at times. Like a bunch of Mrs. Thurston Howell III's, you know? Carmel Valley Road is more enjoyable for me. Both places are more expensive than Santa Cruz.

For Central Coast lodgings, you can stay at the very nice Inn at Pasatiempo, just outside Santa Cruz, for $49 during the week. This is an extraordinary bargain, believe me. It's charming.

http://www.innatpasatiempo.com/html/managers-special.asp

Make SURE you use the Manager's Specials page, which are only posted a week in advance. Otherwise expect to pay $130 a night. You won't find a better deal on the Central Coast.

The two best breakfasts in town (good value, too) are Linda's Seabreeze Café and Silver Spur on Soquel Drive (there is always a big line there, and it's one of the bigger restaurants for breakfast/lunch in town). It's closed on Sunday, though. Fancy that!

I won't advise on the big splurge meals, except to add my resounding endorsement that you have one of your splurge meals at Manresa. It's in Los Gatos, about a half hour north of Santa Cruz. You could get there from Pasatiempo in probably twenty-five minutes, tops. Not only will you get a world class meal from an amazing chef, but you will get so much more value for your money. (Search the site for Manresa, and read the whole thread. Look at all the photos.) Michael Bauer, of the SF Chronicle, called it "the French Laundry of the South Bay." Dinner won't set you back $600 for two, either. (Strongly recommend Chef's Tasting with paired wines, for $165.)

http://www.manresarestaurant.com

Also, sorry for lazy linking. I wrote the bulk of this in my e-mail program, and didn't have clickable HTML-coding.

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I would recommend that you allow some time to visit Cambria which has more going for it than being close to Hearst castle.

It has some fine restaurants, my favorite, The Sow's Ear, which may sound odd, but I can guarantee that if you sit down at a table and get through a dinner of their "Thick cut pork chops in bourbon sauce, or the Honey pecan crusted FRESH catfish, (I always have a tough time deciding between these two) and perhaps have the appetiser - Smoked salmon cheesecake,,,,,,

then you will know why Zagat's gave it Best Service on the Central Coast, plus other top reviews.

Best in California 2003 and 2004, etc.

Depending on your taste, they have a nice range of entrees. They do only a few desserts, all very good but I never have room for one after the generous servings of the rest of the meal.

I used to drive up there to visit a good friend who owned a rather high end pet shop,( that is, she sold pet clothes, artwork , including some of mine, and accessories, not actual pets), which she founded, Reigning Cats & Dogs, The Little Dog Laughed. She had to retire and it is now owned by someone else.

She never had to ask where I would like to have dinner, it was always the same.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Eh. There's not much there worth the trip. Really, head to the wineries in Paso Robles

This is totally a plug for myself, so be warned, but Issue 67 of The Art of Eating (due in stores early Novemberish; don't know your timeline) has an article on wineries in (mostly) western Paso. Notably, it has addresses and contact info for a number of them (um, 11? 12? 10? I forget). And Saveur did one roughly a year ago. And of course eGulleteer DoverCanyon would have some good insight :smile:

Sounds like an awesome trip, by the way!

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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I can't help you too much with the cities. I've lived in or around San Francisco for 33 years. Who needs to see other cities? :raz: Seriously, knowing that seeing the cities are your priority makes planning your adventure easier. We need to recommend two-hour stopovers, not the weeklong adventures.

My first recommendation, knowing that you are on a budget (and even our gas is VERY expensive out here), is to eat cheap. Making eating our wonderful ethnic foods a theme. Taco trucks, a Cheeseboard Collective pizza in Berkeley, dim sum, pho, chaat-you name it, you can eat fabulous food for $5-10./meal-and you will have lots of fun adventures seeking them out. If you must, spend some of your money one one or two fancy meals, but I think some of the very best food at any price is found at our local ethnic mom-and-pop places.

I enjoyed Port Townsend, but it took a long time to get there, and it will take you all day to get to the Olympic Peninsula National Park from there. It is a very cute city but not that different than Mendocino. I'd skip it.

A couple of places you will be near that I would recommend: a drive along the Columbia River and a hike all the way to the top of Multnomah Falls. That's about an hour outside Portland-so you can get there & back in an afternoon. MT. ST HELENS-you are going right by. The town of Seaview, WA is beautiful and has great food-there's an unbelievable pie shop on the main road and a place called the Ark for amazing oysters. It is across the bridge and up the road a bit from Astoria. The Oregon wine country is south of Portland. It is very pretty, but not really set up for tourism the way Napa is-very spread out and interspersed with other kinds of farms, poorly signed, and many wineries don't have tasting rooms, even by appointment. It is interesting from the perspective of seeing what a wine-growing region looks like before it becomes a tourist attraction.

You can drive through the Oregon coast along 101 in a day. I was SO disappointed in the Oregon Coast. For much of the drive you cannot even see the ocean. It doesn't get pretty until about Brooking. I'd skip it & drive the length of the California coast as another theme for your trip. It will be a great adventure for getting from coastal city to coastal city. Of course, there is also Mt. Shasta, Napa, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Gold Country, the desert, and much more that you will miss by staying along the coast. It is a BIG state!

Tana will cry and cry if you do not visit the Ferry Building. I will merely pout if you do not make it a point to see our redwoods. They exist nowhere else on the planet except northern California. They are incredible; no words or pictures can capture what it is like to walk among these giant 2000-year old trees for a couple of hours. The very best ones are in a remote corner of California at the Oregon border-that you happen to conveniently be going right past. Don't miss them.

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Seeaview, Washington is indeed one of the prettiest towns I've ever seen. (I'm from WA, and lived on Orcas Island for several years.) Seaview will make you want to move to the Olympic Peninsula.

Thanks for the mention, derricks, and I should probably mention that dovercanyon has changed her moniker to Rebel Rose. Ta da! Since Dover Canyon is the name of our business, I changed my username to something less advertorial when I was asked to become a forum host. Pretty Rebel Rose is the winery's beloved mascot, in charge of hospitality.

Another wonderful place to eat in Cambria is Hoppe's 901. We never get past the appetizers because we have to try them all. The abalone comes from the local abalone farm in nearby Cayucos. Fresh from the ocean, probably delivered in a bucket of seawater.

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I will merely pout if you do not make it a point to see our redwoods. They exist nowhere else on the planet except northern California. They are incredible; no words or pictures can capture what it is like to walk among these giant 2000-year old trees for a couple of hours. The very best ones are in a remote corner of California at the Oregon border-that you happen to conveniently be going right past. Don't miss them.

Yeah I'm ALL about checking out the redwoods, that's why we were planning on staying in Crescent City and Eureka so that we could have lots of time to explore! :biggrin:

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:biggrin: Check out the town of Ferndale. It's only about 15 minutes south of Eureka-a fun place to stay. Are you going to be there over Memorial weekend by any chance. They have some 3-day kinetic sculpture race in all the towns in the area. Hurricane Kate's is a great place to eat in Eureka-we ate there on our 25th wedding anniversary, we like it so much. (It's cheap and casual.) That reminds me-there's lots of ideas on this thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=39525

Crescent City is a dump. (The whole area around the redwoods is pretty depressed-and depressing-because the logging jobs have gone away.) There is an interesting hotel called the Requa Inn right by the redwoods. I stopped in to check it out when we were passing through last summer. It looks over the Klamath River; they cook locally caught salmon that's a few hours off the boat. Recently San Francisco Magazine did a story on places to stay and said "why doesn't anyone know about this place."

There is no food worth eating between Eureka and Fort Bragg. Really. Nothing. You will starve if you do not take a picnic, and if you do not get it in Eureka you will be eating a sandwich made w/ green meat & two-week old bread from the gas station/ country store. (Been there, done that.) However, The Avenue of the Giants is a great drive. Just don't go hungry.

Just south of Fort Bragg is a little fishing town called Noyo Harbor. Nice casual fish-and-chips restaurants. Fort Bragg has a good breakfast place on the main street-the name escapes me at the moment.

Edited by marie-louise (log)
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Eh. There's not much there worth the trip. Really, head to the wineries in Paso Robles

This is totally a plug for myself, so be warned, but Issue 67 of The Art of Eating (due in stores early Novemberish; don't know your timeline) has an article on wineries in (mostly) western Paso. Notably, it has addresses and contact info for a number of them (um, 11? 12? 10? I forget). And Saveur did one roughly a year ago. And of course eGulleteer DoverCanyon would have some good insight :smile:

Sounds like an awesome trip, by the way!

How is it plugging yourself? The connection isn't apparent.

Dover Canyon is now known as "Rebel Rose."

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I had a whole paragraph or two and accidentally closed the window. Gack.

Anyway, take Marie-Louise's excellent advice about the redwoods. And guess what? Santa Cruz has redwoods, and the ocean, and a boardwalk with rides. Like a wonderful old-fashioned wooden roller coaster called the Giant Dipper. It's a scream. Literally.

You can see redwoods at Henry Cowell State Park, which is very close to the Inn at Pasatiempo. And check this out: a video gallery of California state parks and beaches, including Henry Cowell and San Simeon/Hearst Castle. Those are worth checking out.

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