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Roadfood, Brewpubs, & Other Good Cheap Eats in CA


Susan in FL
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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.

Thanks, malachi. I'll give Lee Vining a try the next time I'm heading up to Carson Valley. Thanks also for mentioning the Great Basin Bakery. Yeah, Schott's is rather touristy.

BTW, you got me curious. What's the other place worth eating at in the Eastern Sierra? Anything south of Bishop, Independence, Lone Pine, etc.?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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FYI, for some years if you said "brewpub" in California, people would respond "you mean like the Mendocino Brewing Company, in Hopland?" That one was the first brewpub in California since Prohibition. The signature product was called Red Tail Ale, and for some years it was only available on-site, in large magnum-size crown-capped bottles. You could see the Volvos from San Francisco to hot springs or whatever pull over on the sidewalk in Hopland to stock up. (The brewpub had live entertainment and for some years would not even send its newsletter further away than Santa Rosa, forcing me to use a local accommodation address to receive it.) All that changed eventually, Red Tail Ale became distributed, and now there is a brewpub on every corner in the state, it seems. (Someone who arrived into the current situation with all the competing micro-breweries might have no idea of how fast it all changed.)

However, the itinerary in question veers inland south of there so I don't think the original brewpub can be included. (Nor, alas, will you have the chance to see for yourself the verdant landscape nearby, the newer agriculture supply firms advertising hydroponics and "lighting" -- not used, so the local jokes go, in "mainstream" agriculture at all ...)

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I would reverse your route and do the Utah/Arizona parks, then LV, Etc.

Having lived in Arizona, and now in Southern Oregon, I've driven lots of your route, several times in certain streches.

California, the Mountains and Coast especially, will seem twice as inviting after a stint in the sand and rock. Plus, you'd be driving down the coast, the preferred direction to me.

Don't know whether that's feasable or not, considering your goal of seeing your son, but that's been my traveling experience over the past 20 years.

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More valuable information... and continued thanks to all.

I think that he has Solvang on our itinerary, unless there are others. If this is "the one," we will be making a stop there.

About reversing the route and driving down the coast with the ocean on our right... but of course! We have decided to do that. The only missing details about the general route are depending on when we meet up with my Navy son... and he keeps telling me that the Navy doesn't tell him anything until the last minute. I'm trying to be patient. :biggrin: We fly out early Thursday morning, so we'll probably find out Wednesday night. :hmmm:

And so... If anybody has any last minute additions to our list of possibilities, they are still welcomed!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wonderful, beautiful, awesome, exciting, adventurous... I do not have words to describe it. It was a life-changing experience! Thank you for asking. I intend to report back, but it's taking me a while to re-orient myself back to time and place. :smile: Hopefully tomorrow I will report back thoroughly.

In the meantime, let me start by saying that one of the first places we went was Solvang. We ended up going up the coast a bit in the beginning and going down the coast later. Thanks to the U.S. Navy, we did not do a well planned neat loop as intended, and sort of zig-zagged around California at the beginning and the end. We ate at a few of the places recommended, and they were perfect. Some of the recommended stops were, besides Solvang, the place at the intersection of 120 and 395, a couple of brewpubs, an It's It, and an In n Out Burger. Oh my... so much fun. We went to seven National Parks! More to come soon!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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We began our roadtrip after landing in LA, and after we got our rental car, headed up the coast for a beautiful start to sight-seeing. Before driving to my son's house in Lemoore, we went to Solvang and had dinner. We enjoyed a smorgaasbord at The Red Viking. Some of the foods were like what we ate when we were in Denmark at Christmas, and were quite good, especially the Danish style bread. My first beer on the trip was a Carlsberg with that meal.

The next morning we stopped for gas in Lemoore before hitting the road, and in the convenience store I found It's It, the first time looking! That was my breakfast. Little did my son know that they could be found right in little ol' Lemoore.

We went to San Francisco that day and we ate at recommended brewpub, San Francisco Brewing Company. I had a sampler of beers, which were all good, and the housemade sausage sandwich. The food was great. It was one of the best tasting sausages on a sandwich I've had. Camilla and Morten shared fish & chips and nachos.

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We were late getting back to Lemoore that night. Michael and I ate pizza and Morten and Camilla ate McDonald's. Throughout the trip, we made stops at McDonald's and Wendy's for dollar menu and value menu, but it wasn't so often that I couldn't tolerate it. Actually, I'll take a Frosty at Wendy's any time.

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.

...This might have been the best recommendation of all. Seriously. Thank you! What a place, and not to be missed if you want good road food and are traveling through the area from Yosemite to Death Valley. Hell, I would even drive out of my way for road food there. They do serve unexpectedly good food, in what seems like an unlikely setting, and decent wine to go with it. You place your order at a counter, where you also pick up your wine or whatever to drink and then find your own table. It's a great place for a trip on a budget like this one was, with reasonable prices and self-service saving on tip. Morten and I got the Fish Tacos and Camilla got the Steak Caesar. It's all good. I wish I had taken pictures of the food and the place, but we were charging my camera while we were eating and I didn't think of it at the time. Here's a website.

The Moab Brewery was another much appreciated suggestion. I drank two pints of the Scorpion Pale Ale. Calling all hopheads: This truly is "The Ale That Stings". Food was real good here, too. I got the Beer Cheese Soup and Smoked Salmon Salad. I would love to have the soup recipe. I can't remember what Camilla and Morten ate, but they liked it. Portions are generous. For an appetizer we shared a Hummus Plate, and that could have been a dinner for one.

We stayed in Moab that night. The next day, between National Parks, we were very pleasantly surprised with Zion Pizza & Noodle Co. in Springdale, Utah. I would recommend this restaurant, as well, to any of you going through the area. Great beer! I had a Squatter's Full Suspension Pale Ale and Wasatch Polygamy Porter. The Full Suspension got my award for best tasting beer of the trip. Our pizzas were very good, BBQ Chicken Pizza and another one more traditional. Fresh cilantro on the BBQ Chicken Pizza was a nice touch.

The site of the best mountainside picnic ever was the Grand Canyon. Morten's on-the-road cooking specialty is pasta. They used his two burner propane stove to make a dinner overlooking the Grand Canyon. I never enjoyed a plate of pasta and a beer (New Belgian Fat Tire) any more than this.

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Of course, another highlight of the roadtrip was this, at last, in the City of Elsinore, California... my first:

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In San Diego, we were treated to dinner at the home of my son Michael's girlfriend's parents. They made a delicious crab jambalaya meal and served it outdoors, poolside. There was an assortment of wines and beers. The subject of wines came up and in the conversation I asked if they ever have Two Buck Chuck. I had never had it before, and so I got my first taste. They brought out a bottle and also gave me one to take home ...Another "first"! This was the table setting.

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We made it to seven National Parks: Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion. That left no time for wineries, so I saved that for my next trip to visit my son. Also planned for other trips are Stonebrew in San Diego and finding a fried artichoke.

Our last dinner was the lucky discovery of a good Thai restaurant in LA (Marina Del Rey area) just before we returned the car and were shuttled to the airport, Chan Darette. This was our most upscale restaurant meal. I was under budget every day, so I rewarded myself for that with this meal, which was not at all extravagant. The nine dollar glass of Pinot Noir was the biggest splurge. I haven't been in any other Thai restaurants outside of Florida, so I don't have a good comparison, but this was the best Thai I've had besides my own Thai cooking at home. I started with the Saigon Spring Rolls which were fresh rolls filled with seasoned vermicelli, cucumber, carrot, beansprouts, and basil, and dipped in a very good Vietnamese table sauce. Then I had a very large bowl of soup, Palo with sliced crispy roasted duck breast on top, and in the broth rice noodles, greens, scallions, cilantro, fish cake, and shrimp-pork wontons. Camilla ordered Chicken Pad Thai and Morten ordered a spicey chicken and noodle dish. We loved it all, except that my taste of Morten's was too hot of seasoning for me. I would suggest this to someone looking for a meal near LAX. It was very close to where we returned our car.

Once again, thanks to everyone for the suggestions. You all helped make the eats as memorable as the beauty and adventure of this trip.

Edited by Susan in FL (log)

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Hi Susan:

It sounds like you had a great and delicious trip. I'm glad you made it to Moab and the Brewery. I have been down here in Moab (110 degrees today :sad: ) a lot lately, so I was probably in there having a Scorpion Pale Ale myself at the same time. I should have given you my Moab office number and I would have "bought"................(you know.........locals discount and all :biggrin:

It looks like you enjoyed the canyons as well. Next time come and stay longer in Utah. This is truly "God's Country"

Bill

Bill Benge

Moab, Utah

"I like eggs", Leon Spinks

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In case anyone read this post earlier and noted that I had forgotten the name of the Thai restaurant in LA where we ate dinner at the end of the trip: Between the three of us we were able to recall enough to do a search and found that it was Chan Darrette, and I edited the post to include the description of that excellent meal.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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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.

...This might have been the best recommendation of all. Seriously. Thank you! What a place, and not to be missed if you want good road food and are traveling through the area from Yosemite to Death Valley. Hell, I would even drive out of my way for road food there. They do serve unexpectedly good food, in what seems like an unlikely setting, and decent wine to go with it. You place your order at a counter, where you also pick up your wine or whatever to drink and then find your own table. It's a great place for a trip on a budget like this one was, with reasonable prices and self-service saving on tip. Morten and I got the Fish Tacos and Camilla got the Steak Caesar. It's all good. I wish I had taken pictures of the food and the place, but we were charging my camera while we were eating and I didn't think of it at the time. Here's a website.

I'm so glad you went - and so glad you enjoyed it.

It's a pretty amazing experience - and the views are truly to die for.

fanatic...

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Hi Susan:

It sounds like you had a great and delicious trip.  I'm glad you made it to Moab and the Brewery.  I have been down here in Moab (110 degrees today :sad: ) a lot lately, so I was probably in there having a Scorpion Pale Ale myself at the same time.  I should have given you my Moab office number and I would have "bought"................(you know.........locals discount and all :biggrin:

It looks like you enjoyed the canyons as well.  Next time come and stay longer in Utah.  This is truly "God's Country"

Bill

I so enjoyed it all. I liked the town of Moab, which surprised me because I had pictured it as more of a tourist trap. It turned out to be more of an attraction than a trap! I didn't realize Utah had so much beauty and I can see why it's nicknamed "God's Country."

Is the Scorpion Pale Ale your favorite at Moab Brewery? Apparently some people don't know what they're getting themselves into when they order it... Our wait-"person" said she warns everyone who orders it, unless she knows them to be a regular customer!

I'm so glad you went - and so glad you enjoyed it.

It's a pretty amazing experience - and the views are truly to die for.

And I'm so glad you advised us to eat there!

I can't find it in Zagat now, but I heard that at one time it was the only gas station rated in Zagat.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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