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Feb 25, 2007 07:53 AM

Any Must Eats Along I-5?

I'm driving the length of I-5 and back soon and an wondering if anything worthwhile is along the way or do I resign myself to chains and fast food?

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    1. I would post this on the SF and LA boards, also, if you haven't already. You'll have better luck with finding good eats in their surrounding bergs if you do.

      1. It would probably help to describe which section of I-5 you are referring to. The section between the Tracy Triangle and the Grapevine is notorious for being a wasteland - unless you venture several miles away from the off-ramp. I-5 between Woodland & Red Bluff in the north also suffers the same problem. Best bet is to schedule those sections between meals, or just pack a gourmet picnic lunch and stop at a rest stop.

        Otherwise, there is an In-N-Out at the Kettleman City exit and Harris Ranch at the Coalinga exit that I would recommend.

        1. A search of the CA board on Buttonwillow provides:

          This is about it between the Grapevine and Stockton. Think I'd opt for In-N-Out over Harris Ranch.

          If you're willing to detour 7 mi east on 152 in Los Banos there are some small Mexican places, Olinda's (Peruvian on the east end) and Wool Growers (Basque) about in the middle. Do a search on the town's name for more details. Likewise, Stockton has a number of decent places.

          North of Sacto do a search on Williams, Chico, Dunsmuir, and Mt. Shasta, quite a number of threads on these areas. I-5 doesnt' intersect the SF Board's area, but you'll need to post on the LA Board for S of the Grapevine through Orange County.

          Be sure and report back on your experiences.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PolarBear

            Note that you no longer have to go into Buttonwillow proper, can get the pupusas right on the highway:

            My post on spotting this was in the search you link:


            and I've seen a confirmation post recently, but don't see that more recent one.

          2. Thanks all for your recs. My trip got delayed so I won't be doing it 'til April. I made a tentative list, tho, from chowhound and eg posts:

            I-5 EATS

            Wong’s King (E. Portland ¼ mi. off 205) 8533 S.E. Division 503-788-8883
            The only decent dim sum in Oregon. Get there at 10am or plan on wait in line.

            Banh Cuon Tan Dinh (E. Portland ¾ mi. off 205) 2850 S.E. 82nd St. 503-445-6807
            Good Vietnamese that goes way beyond the usual pho/bun/com dishes.

            In –n- Out Burgers
            1275 Dana Drive Redding, California 96003
            2727 W. March Ln. Stockton, California 95219
            Highway 41 at Bernard Dr. Kettleman City, California 93239

            Bartels Giant Burger 22355 Corning Rd, Corning CA, 96021-9669 Sun: 11:30am-9pm Mon-Sat: 10am-9pm North Corning exit off I 5, west side, serves great juicy giant burgers.

            Granzellas in Williams. 451 6th St. 95987 (530) 473-5583
            Granzella's Restaurant serves breakfast lunch and dinner seven days a week. Granzella's breakfast specialties include items off the griddle, Belgian Waffles, omelet's, country fried steaks, and much more! Granzella's also serves an extensive lunch and dinner menu, with items that will satisfy any hungry beast at an affordable, family-friendly price. Items include a long list of appetizers, specialty soups and salads, sandwiches, pastas, charbroiled specialties, and our house specials. Our wonderful line of home made pizzas include tons of toppings and varieties, don't forget to try some of our favorites like the "Granzella's Pizza" and the "Garlic & Herb Chicken Pizza". Granzella's didn't forget its senior citizens and included a special senior favorites menu. Join us every Saturday night for Prime Rib Night.

            Cutija A stand on Hwy 152 at Los Banos, has a classic taqueria menu, with all the weird meats (lengua and cabeza and such) and a whole passel of tortas. They have jalapenos en escabeche on the side

            Tita's Pupuserias (Buttonwillow)
            Four miles west of Hwy 5 on Hwy 58. 7 AM to 10 PM. 661/764-9351
            Branch (Not a taco truck) at the I-5 offramp. Tita's would be a major find in SF, LA or San Diego. The pupusas are thick handmade discs filled with cheese. In addition there are pupusas with loroca, a salvadorian flower, fried pork or refried beans. It is accompanied by an tasty corrido, that vinegary slaw of onions, carrots and cabbage. Spread it on top of your pupusa and dig in.

            Johnnie's Pastrami (just off 405) 4017 Sepulveda Blvd Culver City, CA 90230 (310) 397-6654
            Fifty year old joint that does the L.A. pastrami dip right. Not cheap but you get a huge, great pastrami. Small eaters can split one. Cash only.

            Empanada's Place (just off 405) 3811 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90066 (310) 391-0888
            A great little hole in the wall Argentinian place known for its empanadas.

            9 Replies
            1. re: kirkj

              Would strongly recommend checking the CH posts for the Mt. Shasta City and Dunsmuir areas for the best along the northern I-5 corridor.

              1. re: PolarBear

                Sengthong's sounds outstanding, thanks.

              2. re: kirkj

                Don't waste your time at Granzella's. Very ordinary food in a tourist trap. I don't know if its still there, but a couple years ago I stopped at a taco stand around the corner, and it was quite good.

                      1. re: jwbarth

                        The exception worth getting at Granzella's are the sandwiches at the deli counter. Get one to go. The veggie on sourdough and the Big Tom Combo on sourdough are both great. And that little taco stand around the corner you mentioned is great. It's painted bright yellow, on the right. BIG burritos.

                        451 Sixth St, Williams, CA 95987

                      2. re: kirkj

                        Hillside Grill in tiny Coberg...7 miles before you get to Eugene, Oregon, or 7 miles after Eugene. We loved it and stop there when we go to Portland.

                        Fresh ingredients, lovingly prepared, great service..surprising menu for such an out of the way spot. Fabulous BBQ.

                        1. re: kirkj

                          Tita's is now located across from McDonalds just off I-5 at exit 257, Buttonwillow.


                          Tita's Restaurante y Pupuseria
                          20643 Tracy Ave, Buttonwillow, CA 93206