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Mar 17, 2007 08:30 PM

I-5 Greater Patterson … more than apricots? Sausages, coffee, jam, cinnamon rolls, eggs over easy, BBQ chicken, tri-tip … and Caribbean?

Someone mentioned a restaurant in Patterson yesterday. Has anyone tried the food in this area and nearby towns of Gustine, Newman, Vernalis and Wesley?

Is it possible that one of these joints serves a good apricot pie?

Previous Chowhound mentions … some dating to 1999

34 S Del Puerto Ave,
Patterson, CA
(209) 892-5282
“They have some of the best coffee drinks I've had outside Seattle … Also a good selection of sandwiches for lunch, and some tuely zany decor.”
“Blue's Cafe is a good place to get a jolt of fine coffee for the drive, and they have nice fresh cinnamon rolls and Mexican pan dulce.”

100 S Del Puerto Ave
Patterson, CA 95363
(209) 892-2100
“Mil's is your basic diner, and that's perfect for breakfast. I had eggs, over easy … They were perfect, with firm white and completely runny yolk. With them, an absolutely delicious pork chop …Coffee was typical diner coffee--nothing to write home about.”

2553 State Highway 132 E
Vernalis, CA 95385
(209) 835-8972

This place started as a roadside fruitstand and has grown by accretion to include a flea market, water slides, and the restaurant … I had a waffle which was just about perfect. About my only quibble would be the huge glop of butter on it … But the crowning glory is the toppings … blackberry, pomegranate, apricot, peach, or others … These are Mrs. Bogetti's jams and syrups and they are wonderful. I had apricot jam and pomegranate syrup, and I was in heaven. Made with local ripe fruit, and not too much sweetness, so the fruit flavors really come through. Wow! I'm impressed. By the way, with coffee this feast was under 5 bucks.”:


358 South Ave
Gustine, CA 95322
(209) 854-6456
When you click on the website, you will weep that you ever at fast food on I-5
“we stopped at Wolfsen's in Gustine and selected four of their now over sixty house made sausages. They have two kinds of linguica. The milder flavored one is very flavorful and is probably best used as a condiment than for eating straight up.”
“stop at Gustine, just south of Patterson, for some good deli sandwiches, and on weekends, BBQ's chicken and tri-tip. 70-odd handmade sausages, both fresh cured and frozen to suit any taste. Friendly folks in a friendly little town. Real traditional Portugese linguisa.

Take the Gustine exit, travel east about 5 mintues and turn left onto the highway that runs east through town. Turn left just past the school and at the next stop sign is Wolfsen's. A real valley gem”

“A good stop at the I-5 Westley offramp for Mexican is Antojitos Mexicanos, 7154 S Mccracken Rd # D (east frontage road), next to Subway. Be advised, the Torta Cubano is central Mexican style, not Cuban and substitutes a weiner for the roast pork.”
On the last trip on the 5 the Mrs. and I cruised downtown Patterson, but did not stop, there was a storefron Mexican, a pizza parlor in a former theater and a diner/bar joint. About two miles off the 5 at the Patterson exit.

So … has any one tried any of these restaurants not yet mentioned?

I found there was more than fast food on I-5 if you drive a few miles from the freeway exit. I was traveling with my cats when one got ill and I was forced to spend a few days in Buttonwillow. Turns out there are a few restaurants there including a good pupuseria.

I listed the street address for my own benefit, so I could throw the list in the car for the next trip down I-5.

However, most of these joints are pretty close together in the small towns, so I imagine just getting to the town would get you to the grub. They look like they are just a few miles off I-5.

Who knew there was more than apricot trees around Patterson? And what’s up with St George Carribean Cuisine in Newman?

Probably most of these are average at best, but still has to be better than fast food … at least more interesting.

I-5 might not be a food wasteland after all.


Cheryl's Restaurant 403 3rd Ave
Crazy Café 444 5th St
Good Times Restaurant 475 5th St
Krazy Gal's Café 597 6th Ave
Mariscos Pueblo Nuevo 448 5th St
Ninos Pizza 475 5th St
Paradise Coffee Co 877 Walnut Dr
Perry's More Than Pizza 292 5th St
Taqueria Castillo 1813 State Highway 33
Taqueria Las Grullas 436 5th St


El Campestre DOS Restaurant 1452 Main St
Foster's Saloon & Restaurant 2830 Hills Ferry Rd
Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant 1413 Main St
Las Flores Mexican Restaurant 1417 Main St
Linda's Café 717 Sweetgum Ln
Perry's Casa De Pizza 1446 Main St
Pizza Plus 1420 Main St
St George Carribean Cuisine 1342 Main St
Taqueria Carolina 3 1451 Main St
Taqueria El Mexicano 1405 Main St
Taqueria Los Potrillos 1245 Eucalyptus Ave
The Grille a breakfast joint with supposedly good pancakes 933 Fresno St


Del Lago Steak House 15000 Rogers Rd
Ernie's Taqueria 459 Eureka St
Golden Lion Chinese Restaurant 329 S 2nd St
Hank's Coffee Shop 31 S 3rd St
Junior's Kitchen 25 S Del Puerto Ave
La Perla Tapatia 131 E Las Palmas Ave
Lams'restaurant 36 S 3rd St
Las Gaviotas Restaurant 525 S 2nd St
Manny's Sandwich Shop 25 S Del Puerto Ave
Pizza Plus 40 S Del Puerto Ave
Ranch Burger 2 314 N 2nd St
Taqueria El Mexicano 100 E St
Vallarta Mexican Food 42 S 3rd St


Bobby Ray's Restaurant 7125 S Mc Cracken Rd
Ingram Creek Restaurant I 5 & Westley Exit
Westley Hotel 8615 Highway 33

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  1. I used to go to the annual flea market in Gustine as a teenager and have memories of the linguica. May be a place to explore your inner Portuguese.

    1. This is all very cool to know - Thank you but, where are these villages??? What is really worhtwhile to go to if traveling N from LA

      12 Replies
      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        These are small west-side valley towns strung out along the lonely I-5 corridor between Los Banos and the junction with 580 (south of Tracy) coming out of the east SF Bay Area. There were historically far from the old original north/south route of Hiway 99, which ran through or close to the larger, more well-known towns and cities of Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton and Sacramento.

        Often not much larger than a church, grocery, hardware store, gas station and post office along with whatever agricultural infrastructure (railroad shipping head, grain silos, etc) supported the local ag crop (dairy, table grapes, orchards, grain crops, cattle) they have been the hub of small town California ag culture. Dining meccas, not; but hounds over the ages have found many gems to recommend and frequent. See above links.

        A huge migration of Bay Area suburbanites in the last 15-20 years has pushed these tiny towns to larger size. With that has come more dining choice. Unfortunately for the Hiway 5 traveler, all that is visible from the road are fastfood chains and convenience stores.

        I believe rworangeis suggesting we'd all benefit if locals or adventurous travelers would try and then comment on any of the above eateries. There have been scant reports here and there. Not really enough; c'mon, are we true hounds sniffing around, or taking the easy way out and grabbing cheetos and diet cokes at the minimart?

        Next trip, it's the Patterson taquerias for us. Thanks rworange, for the reminder to keep looking!

        1. re: toodie jane

          One thing that was good about this for me, is that in the future when travelling I-5 or 99 I will probably do a Google search of any small towns hugging the highway. Like you said, you don't see much from the freeway. Some of those exits look like dead ends with not so much as a gas station. Actually seems like a good strategy for any major road.

          And to answer your question about the best place to try ... don't know. Haven't tried any yet. However going on what I read, at the top of my list would be Wolfsen's, Blues Cafe to see if the coffee is that good and the Carribean place. I mean, come on, what the heck is a Carribean place doing out of context here? Even if the food sucks, the story has to be interesting and break up the boredom of the drive.

          1. re: rworange

            Thank you rwo for these recs. I am spending quite a bit of time in the Central Valley on business. Check out my post on Central Valley finds for some places near 99 that I discovered in the last couple of days. I will keep your list and will report back if I try any of them. I have a visit to Los Banos coming up soon.

            1. re: dimsumgirl

              Thanks. Is this the post?

              I saw an old query on you profile about eats in Delhi? Did you find any?

              I read that Machado's Elegant Bull Restaurant is a great old-style steakhouse. Not to be confused with the Bullpen which I have no clue about. Lots of cows in that area? I guess there are more restaurants in nearby Turlock and Livingston.

              Nearby Hilmar has me interested. According to the site Hilmar Cheese Company is the largest single site cheesemaker in the world ... and who has ever heard of them. They even have a tour. There's a deli but they boast about serving Starbucks coffee ... so a warning bell is ringing. Still ... on my check-out if I'm in the area.

              Yet on the other hand checking out the special events calandar seems worthwhile. During the summer they have this event where you can make your own ice cream. There is a 'Taste of Spring' wine and cheese tasting. It looks a little lame though.

              The Vinters Dinners look interesting ...
              Amuse Bouché
              2005 Poplar Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
              Mussels and Mashers

              Also the holiday events look decent. The Holiday Open House Brunch ($12) has dishs like ...
              - Baked Oatmeal with Cinnamon Apples
              - Wood Roasted Beef with Worcestershire Jus

              There are other holiday events that involve Santa and a cow.

              As far as Los Banos, I never tried it but Taqueria El Rodeo is supposed to be good. (1313 E Pacheco Blvd # D). House-made tortillas, good chilie verde and stuff that starts with 'el rodeo' might be good. Again, only hear-say.

              Eddie's Restaurant (401 W Pacheco Blvd) is supposed to serve a good breakfast and diner type food.

              1. re: rworange

                Olinda's Peruvian on the east end of Los Banos (SE where the two hwys intersect) used to be a favorite of ours, haven't been in years. Would love to hear any recent reports.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  I have been two or three times in the past year and a half but can't say I was at all impressed. But please take that with a small grain of salt because I did not order any traditional Peruvian dishes.

                  As for Wolfsen's, I made the trek out about nine months ago and picked up some different sausages. The pistachio one was actually quite good. But I can tell you, no apricot pie. Sandwiches yes, pie no.

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    Change in location, now on the north side of 152, somewhere around 7th St., iirc.

                  2. re: rworange

                    Be wary of Hilmar Cheese Company. They have a horrible environmental record and are best known for producing commerical cheese under store/wholesale brands to claim "Real California Cheese" on the label. There are far better cheese companies in the San Joaquin Valley.

                    As much as I would like to discover the hidden gems along I-5, for the most part I just want to get through it as fast as possible on the way home or to SoCal. I have found a gourmet picnic lunch at the rest stop to be far more enjoyable.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Actually, I was disappointed that I was right there in Lindsay and missed out on getting to Three Sisters Cheese Boutique. I didn't find out about them until after I left Lindsay.

                      Three Sisters Cheese Boutique is located at:
                      Hilarides Dairy
                      24163 Road 188 Lindsay, CA 93247

                      1. re: dimsumgirl

                        Although Hilmar Cheese isn't the most upscale cheese company you'll find, the Hilmar Cheese Pie which is a taller version of a cheese cake is excellent and I highly recommend stopping by if you're in the area to have a slice. The visitor center also has decent sandwiches but the ice cream and coffee are coporate at best. They are no longer the largest single site cheese company though as they recently opened a branch in Dalhart TX.

                      2. re: rworange

                        Just going to tack on here. Saturday afternoon chowfun and I stopped for a bite in Delhi on the way to Hunan chowdown in Fresno. We were attracted by the sign for the Elegant Bull (not sure if it's the same one mentioned, sign was promoting it as a BBQ joint), but they were closed (very odd hours posted). Disappointed, but not daunted, we drove down the street to the first likely looking place and settled on La Michoacana Panaderia and Taqueria.

                        It's a modest place with a few Mexican-self-serve-style baked goods in the front and a counter in the back with the various meat choices on display. Since it was Saturday they had menudo, beef barbacoa and two kinds of birria de chivo (in soup and just the braised meat). I ordered a couple of tacos (barbacoa and birria) and chowfun ordered a couple of tacos and a bowl of the birria in soup. The food took a suprisingly long time to come, but when it did, it was clear the delay had been because she was making the tortillas fresh by hand -- warm and delicious. The barbacoa was just okay (although the flavors really focused after I added a squeeze of lime), but the birria I thought was very good: rich and flavorful, but not too greasy or blisteringly hot. I have no idea how it stacks up with other taquerias in the Valley, but judged purely on its own merits, it was quite solid. Stephens is the first street running parallel to 99 on the west side when you exit at South Ave. (about halfway between Modesto and Merced).

                        La Michoacana
                        9810 Stephens St, Delhi, CA 95315

                        1. re: rworange

                          That's the post I was referring to. Note that Java Java Espresso and More is no longer there-- as I was told by tavmark. Also, did not find anything in Delhi but just a little further south is the Foster Farms Cafe in Livingston.

                2. Has anyone tried the newish (1 year?) Mexican restaurant on 33 in Santa Nella? just about 1 block south of the Chevron station/McDonalds cluster at 5.

                  Looks interesting.