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Roadfood, Brewpubs, & Other Good Cheap Eats in CA


Susan in FL
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Later this month I'll be heading west by air with one of my sons and a friend, for a roadtrip and a visit to my other son. We will land at LAX and head up the coast, starting a 10 day loop, ending in the San Diego area before going back to LA to fly home.

It is going to be a trip on a budget, so no luxury hotels or upscale dining experiences this time. It will be a different kind of traveling for me, unlike any vacation I've ever taken. I will be forced to resist fine dining :sad:, but I really want to eat good food rather than junk, and I hope to enjoy some decent adult beverages, too. :smile: I hope you can help me with what I'm calling "This Old Woman's Roadtrip With 20-somethings" by recommending stops for good roadfood or other inexpensive eats along the way -- perhaps brewpubs, hamburger joints, farmer's markets, etc.

Also, as part of the sight-seeing, we're interested in breweries or wineries which aren't too far off our (still tentative) path, especially ones that are not crowded with long waits to see or taste.

The tentative itinerary is: From LAX (not wanting to spend too much time in the horrible LA traffic I've heard so much about), go to the beach, perhaps Venice Beach/Santa Monica; head up Route 1; through Malibu; continue mainly on Route 1 (maybe 101?) to Salinas and/or San Jose; San Francisco; east to Yosemite National Park; Lemoore, where my son is stationed; Death Valley; Las Vegas; Utah/Zion National Park; Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks; Grand Canyon; Interstate 40 and/or some other routes to San Diego; probably a couple days in the San Diego area, and then back to LA to fly home.

Thank you so much for any ideas, recommendations, or links to threads which would provide us information.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Later this month I'll be heading west by air with one of my sons and a friend, for a roadtrip and a visit to my other son.  We will land at LAX and head up the coast, starting a 10 day loop, ending in the San Diego area before going back to LA to fly home.

Hiya, Susan!

I am all about the budget dining here in (currently not-so-sunny) San Diego. Looks like this thread hits a lot of the highlights I would mention, but just want to reinforce what it says about Point Loma Seafood, Hillcrest, and the area around Convoy Ave. in Kearny Mesa (a.k.a. my backyard).

As to brewpubs: I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I really dig the mellow atmosphere and the SoCal-style pub-grub at the Coronado Brewing Company, and their beers seem to be well-liked by those who know from beer. More about San Diego brewpubs here.

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Susan,

Check out this discussion thread on California Diners

You might want to PM Rebel Rose about a winery somewhere around Paso Robles (hint-hint). :wink:

The tentative itinerary is: From LAX (not wanting to spend too much time in the horrible LA traffic I've heard so much about), ....

Susan, what "horrible LA traffic"? They're rumors. Just RUMORS!! :laugh:

You can't go wrong with In-N-Out Burgers. They use fresh ingredients.

If you can stop by San Luis Obispo on a Thursday night, there's a farmers' market right on Higuera St. Complete with several BBQ stands serving ribs, Santa Maria-style tri-tip, ... It's wonderful!

Maybe at the end of your trip, you should allow yourself one "fine dining" meal in Los Angeles??

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I was in the Monterey area earlier this year and have a few recommendations:

Brewpub - English Ales in Marina (just north of Monterey)

I didn't eat the English pub grub but the beers I sampled were superb, particularly the Stout, the Pale Ale and the Winter Warmer. It's a fairly non-descript brewpub in a rather insipid location - while it tries to create the experience of an English pub, it really lacks the charm to pull it off. Again, go with tasting a few beers in mind, if nothing else.

Winery - Bernadus Tasting Room in Carmel Valley

Excellent tasting room in a picturesque setting. I picked up a magnum of tasty chardonnay at a bargain price from the remainder bin.

Most unusual snack - French fried artichoke hearts at the Giant Artichoke restaurant in Castroville

North of Monterey, you see signs everywhere advertising french fried artichoke hearts. This ignited a pavlovian search mission to find the best example and, after asking around, I was directed to the Giant Artichoke restaurant in Castroville, which also features a great example of American kitcsh in the form of a giant man-made artichoke that sits in front of the restaurant. Apparently, people come from all over to be photographed next to the artichoke. Me, I just wanted to taste them. My verdict - excellent, with a nice garlicky mayonnaise dip

Seafood - Monterey Fish House

Located a couple of miles north of the touristy Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf areas, the Monterey Fish House serves a nice variety of local seafood at much more reasonable prices than you will find on the tourist path. I had an excellent Cioppino but there were a number of other tasty seafood dishes on the menu.

Tourist attraction not to be missed - Monterey Aquarium

I have been to a few aquariums around the country, but this one was superb. While not the largest aquarium around, it is sensibly designed and the jellyfish exhibit (yes, the jellyfish exhibit) is not to be missed. With excellent lighting techniques, the exhibit reveals the gracefulness and beauty of jellyfish in a surprisingly elegant and haunting setting.

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You might want to PM Rebel Rose about a winery somewhere around Paso Robles (hint-hint).  :wink:

If you can stop by San Luis Obispo on a Thursday night, there's a farmers' market right on Higuera St. Complete with several BBQ stands serving ribs, Santa Maria-style tri-tip, ...  It's wonderful!

Ah, but of course. Either way, 101 or Hwy. 1, you'll be passing through or near Paso Robles Wine Country. Hwy. 101 cuts right through the middle of our wine region, just 25 mins. north of San Luis Obispo. Hwy. 1 is only 25 mins. to the west of us; the road from #1 to #101, Hwy. 46 West, is one of Sunset Magazine's "most scenic highways."

You can find more information at www.pasowine.com, and if you contact them, or PM me your mailing address, I can send a beautiful brochure and map of the local wineries.

If you spend the evening Thursday in SLO for the farmers' market and enjoy a leisurely breakfast there Friday, it's an easy drive north to wine country for a day of wine tasting. You should stop in town first at Odyssey Cafe on Pine Street and get a picnic lunch. That evening it's less than half an hour to the coast on a high, scenic highway. When you reach the coast, I recommend the Cavalier in San Simeon for lodging. Pool, hot tub, and chimineas surrounded by chairs on the beach. Also their own restaurant, and a sweet Mexican restaurant within walking distance.

Fill your gas tank before heading north on Highway 1 for Big Sur and Monterey.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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I know I'd have to hit Stone Brewing and Pizza Port.

While it doesn't have the brewpub atmosphere of Pizza Port, Knockout Pizza in Carlsbad has great pizza at cheap prices. If you can't get a table, get the lunch special of 2 pieces of whatever kind of pizza you want with soda for $5 and take it down by the beach. http://entertainment.signonsandiego.com/profile/250738

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What good information and advice so far! You guys are great. This is going to help so much. I'm in the process of reading through it all more thoroughly, and printing out stuff from the links. Thanks for taking the time to include the links in your posts. Then, we will get serious about planning the "final tentative itinerary."

The replies and the PMs are much appreciated. MMmmm... does west coast hospitality rival southern hospitality? :biggrin:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I'll second In-n-Out burgers. (As in, I'll take two. Right now.) So cheap, so delicious, so...safe. (Thank you, Eric Schlosser.)

Get the fries "well done." They go up magnitudes of deliciosity that way. And by all means, have a chocolate milkshake. You're on vacation! :rolleyes:

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I agree with ingridsf. The burgers are the best fast food burgers, but they usually don't cook the fries enough- they are limp and kinda soggy. I usually get two burgers with grilled onions. I used to get animal style, but I think the pickles overwhelm the whole experience.

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I used to get animal style, but I think the pickles overwhelm the whole experience.

For those not 'in the know,' animal style is In-N-Out code for put-everything-on-it!

The In-N-Out secret menu.

:laugh: Thank you. I was just about to ask.

I had no idea that my order was animal style! It just seemed like the natural order of things, hee hee.

Mmm, pickles and raw onions...on meat....(Homer Simpson sound)

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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The tentative itinerary is:  From LAX (not wanting to spend too much time in the horrible LA traffic I've heard so much about), go to the beach, perhaps Venice Beach/Santa Monica;

You mentioned farmers markets as one of the things in which you are interested. If you are in Santa Monica on a Wednesday, or Saturday (Wednesday is the best day,though) there is the incredibly wonderful Santa Monica farmers's market. One of the largest in California, I think.

http://santa-monica.org/farmers_market/wednesday.htm

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That looks good. A Saturday is possible. Does anybody know about security laws/rules pertaining to carrying fresh produce on a flight out of LA? Is there something about a med fly that might be an issue?

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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That looks good.  A Saturday is possible.  Does anybody know about security laws/rules pertaining to carrying fresh produce on a flight out of LA?  Is there something about a med fly that might be an issue?

I may be wrong, and someone can correct me if I am, but I think the main inssue is bringing produce into California, not out of it. I think carrying produce on a flight out will not be a problem.

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I just noticed you will be in San Francisco.

A couple brewpubs here are 21st Amendment Brewpub and Rogue Brewpub. If you can still set up a tour at Anchor Brewing that's always fun for the whole family. They tend to fill up about 6 weeks in advance; but, give them a call.

I haven't been to 21st Amendment yet; but, Rogue is pretty fun, if you are a fan of their beers. While you are in North Beach, I would also have some tasty and down to earth Italian at L'Osteria del Forno.

Also, I would second, if you are going to be in the San Diego area, don't miss Stone Brewing! Some of the finest examples of hoppy West Coast style ales and one of the best craft breweries in the US.

edited for usage

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Susan,

Back on 23 Feb. 2005, there was an LA Times article on West Coast Pilseners. Unfortunately, it's now in their Archives section, which requires payment.

However, below is my digest entry to this article from the LA Times Food Section digest:

On the West Coast, true Pilseners on tap / by Jordan Mackay

The art and craft of making genuine Pilseners here on the West Coast (and not those mass-produced, flavorless beers) are explained.

Includes the side article, “Judging the brewer's art.”

Seven of the best West Coast craft Pilseners are described: Trumer Pils; Lagunitas Pils; Rouge Imperial; North Coast Scrimshaw; Firestone Lager; Gordon Biersch; Sudwerk.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Later this month I'll be heading west by air with one of my sons and a friend, for a roadtrip and a visit to my other son.  We will land at LAX and head up the coast, starting a 10 day loop, ending in the San Diego area before going back to LA to fly home.

It is going to be a trip on a budget, so no luxury hotels or upscale dining experiences this time.  It will be a different kind of traveling for me, unlike any vacation I've ever taken.  I will be forced to resist fine dining :sad:, but I really want to eat good food rather than junk, and I hope to enjoy some decent adult beverages, too. :smile:  I hope you can help me with what I'm calling "This Old Woman's Roadtrip With 20-somethings" by recommending stops for good roadfood or other inexpensive eats along the way -- perhaps brewpubs, hamburger joints, farmer's markets, etc.

Also, as part of the sight-seeing, we're interested in breweries or wineries which aren't too far off our (still tentative) path, especially ones that are not crowded with long waits to see or taste.

The tentative itinerary is:  From LAX (not wanting to spend too much time in the horrible LA traffic I've heard so much about), go to the beach, perhaps Venice Beach/Santa Monica; head up Route 1; through Malibu; continue mainly on Route 1 (maybe 101?) to Salinas and/or San Jose; San Francisco; east to Yosemite National Park; Lemoore, where my son is stationed; Death Valley; Las Vegas; Utah/Zion National Park; Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks; Grand Canyon; Interstate 40 and/or some other routes to San Diego; probably a couple days in the San Diego area, and then back to LA to fly home.

Thank you so much for any ideas, recommendations, or links to threads which would provide us information.

Hi Susan:

You have quite an ambitious trip planned. If you do make it out here to "God's Country" in Utah, particularly Moab, which is at the entrance to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, I recommend to you two brewpubs: Eddie McStiff's and the Moab Brewery, both on Main Street. Both are good...........my favorite being the Moab Brewery.........good eats too, but kinda touristy. There is also a winery a few miles outside of Moab, Castle Valley Vinyards. They have tastings and tours, but I cannot in good conscious recommend the wine...............110 degree summers and freezing winters do not Napa Valley make :wink:

The is a nice little innexpensive place downtown on Main Street for great wraps and smmothies, The Peace Tree.

If I can be of any assistance or provide further information re: lodgings or iteneraries in any of the 5 Souther Utah National Parks, please feel free to PM me.

Have a great trip!

Bill

Bill Benge

Moab, Utah

"I like eggs", Leon Spinks

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Thanks, Russell and Bill.

We do have quite an ambitious trip planned, don't we. My one son was the primary planner of these routes. Actually, he's the Danish one, and has taken two road trips across the United States and back, to visit most of these places. He wasn't even raised in this country, and has seen more of it than I have! I've already told him we need a couple of months to do all the things I want to do, from the great suggestions I have on this thread. :biggrin:

We might be saving some time and not going to Lemoore. The son who is stationed there has to go out on an aircraft carrier for a week, during this time, so we might meet up with him in San Diego instead of at his home.

I appreciate that you noticed the Utah part, and advised accordingly!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Since your son is Danish, you may want to make a stop at Solvang. It's "the danish capital of America" and it's off 101 north of Santa Barbara I believe. I've never been but want to some day.

While in San Diego, I highly recommend Rubio's for their Fish Taco Especials (not the plain fish taco). Best fish taco's I've ever eaten. My favorite taco shop is Nacho's at 7589 University Ave. in La Mesa. Been there for over 20 years. Good stuff.

For brewery's, there is the San Diego Brewing Co., Coronado Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co. (originated in SD) and the Karl Strauss brewery which originated in San Diego. I think the downtown location is the original.

I'll add my recommends to all the others for In-N-Out Burgers. To fully experience this place you've got to get the Double-Double. It's not as big as it sounds and it truely is hella good. Animal style is good and the pickles do tend to overpower. If you get it, just say no pickles and extra onions. The basic DD with raw onions though is the same burger they made when they opened up back in 1946 in L.A. (Calif's first drive-thru). There all over San Diego.

Other places to try to hit include the Corvette Diner in Hillcrest area. Fun place. For BBQ, I recommend w/o reservation Phil's BBQ. When I moved to SD 20 years ago, I started a quest to find the best BBQ in town. This place was third on my list of spots to hit...I have yet to try #4. The ribless dinner is awesome if you want to keep your hands clean. Chunks of pork tenderloin cooked same as everything else smothered in sauce. Back ribs are the best. <gettin hungry over here>. For Pizza, I highly recommend Filippi's Pizza Grotto. There are other Filippi's around town but for some reason, they don't all make pizza the same way. I ate at the one in Little Italy and I thought it was aweful. I have found the one on Kearny Mesa Rd. to be the best and ALWAYS eat there when I want pizza. Thick crust french bread dough with lots of cheese and toppings. The best IMHO. If you visit Old Town, you've got to go to Rockin Baja Lobster. Fun place with unique food and presentation. You can get your beers in one bucket and your food in another bucket. Fun and different.

Some place unique here in SD is Restaurant Row in San Marcos. Many really good restaurants including the San Marcos Brewery. My favorites are Bruno's Italian (walls have pics of celebs all over them)and Fish House Veracruz.

Well, I'm drawing a blank on more suggestions because I can't stop thinking about Phil's. I'll add more if I can think of them.

Cheers,

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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If you're driving from Yosemite to Death Valley, then you'll probably be going through Tuolumne Meadows and then down 395.

At the intersection of 120 and 395, right outside the town of Lee Vining, there is a Mobil gas station. In the back of this gas station is a restaurant.

YOU MUST EAT HERE.

Seriously.

Don't get a burger or slice of pizza. Get something real. Try the Kansas City Steak Caesar, or the Fish Tacos or whatever the special is.

I know it sounds odd, but trust me. It's very, very good.

fanatic...

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Since your son is Danish, you may want to make a stop at Solvang.  It's "the danish capital of America" and it's off 101 north of Santa Barbara I believe.  I've never been but want to some day.

Ah yes. Solvang, that Danish tourist trap, I mean that quaint little Danish town. :raz: If you do go there, take the 101 northbound from Santa Barbara to the Buellton exit (State Route 246), going eastbound. You'll past two steakhouses, A.J. Spurs & The Hitching Post, on your way to Solvang (about 3-5 miles). The Solvang Restaurant on Copenhagen Dr. is the home of Arne's Famous Aebleskiver.

If you're driving from Yosemite to Death Valley, then you'll probably be going through Tuolumne Meadows and then down 395.

At the intersection of 120 and 395, right outside the town of Lee Vining, there is a Mobil gas station. In the back of this gas station is a restaurant.

YOU MUST EAT HERE.

Seriously.

Don't get a burger or slice of pizza. Get something real. Try the Kansas City Steak Caesar, or the Fish Tacos or whatever the special is.

I know it sounds odd, but trust me. It's very, very good.

malachi, you mean Lee Vining, along the 395, south of Bridgeport and north of Bishop and Mammoth Lake?? I must admit, I find it hard to believe. To me, Lee Vining is just another town on the way to Nevada & the Carson Valley from the LA area.

BTW, what do you think of Schott's Bakery in Bishop? I usually stop there to buy some of their breads.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Schatt's is, at best, a tourist trap (IMHO).

Great Basin Bakery (275 D South Main St in Bishop) is a far superior option if you want to get some baked goods and Spellbinder is FAR superior if you're looking for coffee.

Believe me. The Mobile Mart is one of the two places to eat in the Eastern Sierra that are truly enjoyable in all ways.

fanatic...

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