good places along 101 between san jose and san luis obispo
i travel this route weekly. are there any places that are really worth the stop, whether mexican, burger, etc.....
There is a little local Mexican restaurant in Soledad on the main street near the south end of town (heading south, it is on the left hand side of the street) -- sorry, can't remember its name but it is on the corner and has parking in the back. Food is only okay, but the colorful decor is charming with vividly carved wooden chairs and it feels good to patronize a non-chain eatery.
I had a wonderful lunch at McPhee's Grille in Templeton a few months back and if you search this forum you'll find many positive reviews of it. Some friends and I also had a very good dinner at Bistro Laurant in Paso Robles. If you stop there, be sure to try the Apple Beignets and a nice Sauterne if you're not in a hurry.
In Salinas, right off the freeway I'd rec a stop at Gutierrez Y Rico, right next to the PG&E substation and the old Cathholic church (look for the transformers and belltower).
Good Mexican food in a converted drive-in. Always busy with farmworkers, bluecollar guys, attourneys, moms with babies, etc. The noise can be deafening when they're busy in the kitchen. Good combo dinners or the usual a la carte items. 7 Seas a specialty.
Further up the valley in King City, take the Broadway exit to the end, (last block)to El Lugarcito. Specializing in seafood. I love their simple and delicious shrimp tostadas with lime dressing. Great roasted green chili salsa that we always get to go. Plenty of parking. The same family has a branch in Hollister, on the old route directly into town from the west. Not the new bypass.
In Paso, Papi's (pronounced Paw-peez) has good Mexican food downtown at Park and 13th. Can be slow at noon
Also in Paso, at a newish stripmall on the east side of Spring (main drag) at about 7th street, there is a little donut shop tucked in next to a pet shop. Great blended coffee drinks and as a bonus, the owner does a curry every day at lunch, served over a huge portion of jasmine rice. As spicey as you want it, and about 4.95. The Donut Company. Nice lady and her SIL run it. (Lao? Viet? Thai? not sure.) Ice creams too. Tables inside and benches out front under a huge oak tree.
For a treat, in Templeton, Herrmann's Chocolate lab. They make chocolates ( not very special) and have good ice creams. In a sweet little (mostly) unspoiled town. No chains. If you are ever there on a Saturday mornings, they have a great farmer's market around the town square park.
For something different in SLO, try the Jaffa Cafe on 'upper' Higuera St. Take Monterey to Johnson, turn right on Higuera, next corner at Toro St, 1212 Higuera. Middle Eastern food like dolmas, baba ganoosh, etc. Great roast chicken. Eat there inside or out, or takeout. Nice folks.
check out Melanie Wong's Salinas posts. She is a true hound, sniffing out all the best places. Go back about a year for some good posts.
I second the rec for Papi's in Paso if you want something casual. I love love love the crispy moist carnitas, the texture of the sopes, and the salsa bar which has like 5 different spiciness levels. It's a long-time favorite of my relatives there including my MIL's partner who lived in Mexico for many years.
I also second the rec for McPhee's but I think of that as a nice dinner kind of place, instead of a stop on the way to SLO kind of place.
re: Alice Patis
I usually get the lengua at Papi's cause it can be hard to find--I'll try the carnitas next trip. Thanks.
There is also and EZ-off EZ-on Papi's in Atascadero, just south 10 min. on 101 from Paso. Take the Traffic Way exit, turn north 1/2 block on El Camino to a small newish strip mall on the right. Same food and yummy condiment bar. I love the radishes.(rabanos)
Next door to Papi's is Hush Harbor Artisan Bakery, which has some good sandwiches, quiche, and salads bedsides the lovely baked goods. A little more pricey than Papi's but good quality. They do dinners on the weekends, with occasional special jazz dinners.
5735 El Camino Real
Atascadero, Ca 93422