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California Road Trip


Todd36
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I'm driving a one way road trip from LA to Sonoma, at the very end of this month, huging the coast to the extent possible, over the course of about 10 days. Hotels in LA and area, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Fran and Sonoma. While food is not the principal reason for the trip, it is an important component. Looking for interesting use of local ingredents, stores and farmer's markets. Wine is not the key compenent. Dim Sum (so I can see how much better it really is than NY) in San Fran will be one stop, I'm also booked in at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma and in the interests of insanity, I'm probably stopping for Breakfast at the LA farmer's market between downtown and West LA. Suggestions?

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I'm driving a one way road trip from LA to Sonoma, at the very end of this month, huging the coast to the extent possible, over the course of about 10 days.  Hotels in LA and area, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Fran and Sonoma.  While food is not the principal reason for the trip, it is an important component.  Looking for interesting use of local ingredents, stores and farmer's markets.  Wine is not the key compenent.  Dim Sum (so I can see how much better it really is than NY) in San Fran will be one stop, I'm also booked in at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma and in the interests of insanity, I'm probably stopping for Breakfast at the LA farmer's market between downtown and West LA.  Suggestions?

I have some favorite spots in Big Sur/Carmel. They are resorts, so the locals will probably not echo my recs but I stand by them as destination/occasion restaurants, if that's what you're after versus local color. Both offer delightful locations, views, etc.

Sierra Mar at Post Ranch (Big Sur)

Bernardus (Carmel Valley)

Also, in Big Sur and less toney, Deetjen's restaurant serves first those staying there but typically you can get a table and the homey ambience is hard to beat, plus the food is primo quality.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Upper West Side of what?

I think Upper West Side of ... new york, new york ...

I'm driving a one way road trip from LA to Sonoma, at the very end of this month, huging the coast to the extent possible, over the course of about 10 days.  Hotels in LA and area, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Fran and Sonoma.  While food is not the principal reason for the trip, it is an important component.  Looking for interesting use of local ingredents, stores and farmer's markets.  Wine is not the key compenent.  Dim Sum (so I can see how much better it really is than NY) in San Fran will be one stop, I'm also booked in at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma and in the interests of insanity, I'm probably stopping for Breakfast at the LA farmer's market between downtown and West LA.  Suggestions?

Todd36, let me see if I can remember some of the important places to stop at as you drive along the California coast.

You should have dim sum .. in Los Angeles, namely downtown Chinatown. CBS Seafood restaurant has excellent dim sum, and you don't have to take my word for it. eGullet member Pan from Manhattan likes it very much, and you can order dim sum to take out, starting at 7:30 a.m. (yes, in the morning). If you're going to the Farmers' Market on 3rd & Fairfax, you can go across the street (Fairfax, that is) to the Farmer's Daughter's Motel & try a place called Tart. Tart got a nice write-up in the LA Times Food Section recently. How long are you staying in LA, Todd?

Santa Barbara: La Super Rica for great Mexican food. And here's the Santa Barbara discussion thread

San Luis Obispo: The Thursday night Farmers' Market on Higuera. Plenty of produce to buy, as well as some wonderful Santa Maria-style tri-tip barbecue. And here's the San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay thread.

If you're planning to drive along Highway 1 from SLO to Cambria/Hearst Castle to Big Sur/Carmel, you can have lunch at Nepenthe, mainly for the experience, not necessarily the food.

Here are two threads in the Monterey/Carmel area: Restaurants in Monterey/Carmel area ; Monterey discussion thread

I hope this helps.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I had a really yummy, meat-heavy, fantastically satisfying meal at the homey Hitching Post in Buellton, near Solvang. Also I am a fan of their pinot, which tends to be very heavy and rich.

(Yes, this was the place in Sideways, but that is really not so important, as it's been there for ages and has plenty of character.)

Bon voyage!

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La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara is a don't miss. (It's on Milpas)

Also second Rjwong Thursday night Farmers' Market on Higuera in San Luis Obispo. In Pismo Beach go to

Cracked Crab

751 Price St.

Www.crackedcrab.com

where they dump a bucket of mixed shellfish on your table and you crack and hammer away. Lots of fun.

In Cayucos you should go to the best restaurant in town Hoppe's Garden Bistro

78 N. Ocean Avenue • P.O. Box 569 • Cayucos, CA 93430

where you can find expertly prepared fresh abalone. If you have time visit the abalone farm a couple of miles north.

In Cambria, there's a million unnotable tourist restaurants, but the best of them is Main St Grill. It's a BBQ place. Don't go to any of the "fancy" restaurants in town--they're awful.

In Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn is quite amazing and expensive.

Edited by archestratus (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
Check out the NY board for some results on what I found.

Here's a link: click

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I'm a SoCal person (non-native, born in KCMO and moved around from mid-west to Boston and SoCal) and don't know much of what you just saw/experienced out here in the Northern areas. My only comment can be that if you weren't aware, Watsonville was nearly completely destroyed by an earthquake around 15-20 years ago. Being a small community to begin with, I'm sure it has taken quite some years to rebuild the area. Especially since it's not a "hub" anyway.

Deb

Liberty, MO

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  • 6 months later...
Seems funny to me to compare California fruit and Mexican food to those of New York. 

I was doing some research on a CA food related topic and happened across this thread. Having returned as of yesterday from a California trip I can appreciate the desire to try and/or assess Mexican food and produce in CA when one is from NY (the city or, as in my case, elsewhere in the state).

NYC will have some excellent produce available on the retail level but the most interesting selections are available for very short durations of time during a limited number of months (mostly late May to early September) - and in precious few places in the city or the state.

As for Mexican food? Manhattan has 4 or 5 million residents and only a handful (i.e. perhaps two or three) of authentic taquerias. The remaining portion of the state (the "real NY" :rolleyes: ) has only a few as well. I just returned from San Francisco and had a taqueria dinner in the Mission high on my list of "must-do's".

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I went to the eponymous La Taqueria (link to burritophile.com review). It was inexpensive and excellent. My only gripe was the truly awful tomatoes they used for the fresh salsa on our salsa and chips although it was only $1.40 for a decent sized basket. The tomatoes were so pale and fibrous they seemed to be some sort of pink/albino/flavorless tomato variety.

But the burritos were huge and stellar. And the salsa verde hot sauce was both flavorul and very hot. My GF has a chicken burrito and I had pork but we could easily have shared a single one between us - neither of us could finish more than half of one burrito.

For my birthday earlier that week we stayed in a cabin at Lucia Lodge about 25 miles south of Big Sur. I opted to have my birthday dinner at Nepenthe for sentimental reasons. When I was a stoned 21 year old longhair hitch-hiking down Highway 1 in 1977 when the folks who gave me a ride through that stretch of road stopped at Nepenthe for lunch. They both had the Ambrosia burger (about $7 or $8 back then - quite high for a burger in that era).

I was on a pretty tight budget.... couldn't afford to eat but they shared some of their fries with me (and we were all too grungy to get served inside). I swore that I'd get back there someday for a proper meal and last week I finally did it (I've actually driven by Nepenthe a handful of times in the intervening years but never stopped there).

There were only two other parties in the whole place, service was great and I kept ordering simple in hopes that the food would be okay. My lentil-ham soup wwas good and the NY Strip was excellent - not Peter Luger good but very fresh, very tasty and perfectly cooked to medium rare as ordered.

And this time I even had money for soup, mineral water and dessert! (not to mention a comfy bed, a gas fireplace and a roof over my head that night instead of curling up behind a bush on the ground in my sleeping bag)

We were only down the coast for the night and all our other meals were back up in SF. Had lunch at some non-descript dim sum take-out joint on Grant and it was excellent ($5 lunch between two of us and we couldn't finish it). Only other meal of note was shared with my cousin and her daughters - who both wanted to eat at Little Star Pizza on Divisadero out in the Western Addition neighborhood where they live.

The desired specialty was deep dish pizza and it was pretty darn good. My GF is a Chicago native and rated it as not quite to the level of Chicago's best deep dish pies but still highly respectable - her assessment was that it needed a bit more cheese and a bit less sauce but had an excellent crust.

I saw other tables eating the standard thin crust pizza and although it looked good.... the thin crust pies we saw the next day while walking by Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission looked to be far better. From a quick glance they appeared to have the type of crust texture, spring and char that I associate with the best of NYC type coal oven pizza.

The friends we were walking with love Delfina restaurant next door and assured us that if the pizza were of the same caliber as the food at the restaurant they'd be very good indeed. Delfina was on our route from stops at the Blue Bottle Coffee cart at the Ferry Building Saturday farmers market and a leisurely stay at Ritual Coffee on Valencia.

The ultimate desinatation that day was Tartine Bakery - well worth the trip. All told it was a very condensed visit without enough time for what we wanted to see and eat but a fair number of memorable highlights.

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