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Driving from Salinas to LA on Friday night

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Where should I stop for dinner? I'm a fan of taco trucks, and anything cheap, fast and delicious.

My route will probably be along Highway 101 --> 198 --> I-5 and then south.

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  1. There is Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach or SLO!!! They have the best clam chowder. They are fast around $6-7 for the soup in a toasty bread bowl.

    1. 198 though Coalinga? Cowabunga, that's a lonely road. Have you done it before?

      152 (Pacheco Pass to Los Banos) is a better road.

      Or down to Paso and east over 46. No taco trucks operating in Paso after lunch. Best taquerias are on east side of town, a 15 min detour. Take 16th st exit, left on Riverside to signal (13th St.), left at signal & out about 5-6 miles to the aging strip mall on the left with Senior Sanchos out front. Tacos Tenexpa is in the rear.

      I'd see the Bakersfield/Taft listings for some close-to-5 Mexican stops in that area.

      Closer to Salinas, you might try the 101 Grill just outside of Soledad, at the Chevron station. Huge semi trailer advertising "Carnitas Estilo Sahauyo" at the Sillman Rd overpass. Carnitas was good, excellent corn tortillas like El Grullense's. Fast service on Sat afternoon, don't know about Fri. nite! Other promising items on a huge, ecclectic menu with decent prices. Coffee shop/taqueria atmosphere.

      good luck

      5 Replies
      1. re: toodie jane

        I haven't done that road, no. Maybe Paso is better. Any good spots in Paso worth stopping for?

        1. re: cfarivar

          cyrus, try stopping in Santa Maria on trhe way back. It has the highest concentration of taquerias and Deli-Mex's on the our part of the central coast. Take Main St exit, head west past Broadway into the Mexican business area. Most Taquerias are on the north side of the street. Also Panaderia San Juan which makes a mean flan.

          A few blocks further along W Main, at the intersection with Blosser (La Joya Plaza on your right) turn left at the signal and immediatley swing right into the parking lot of Carniceria Su Mesa. With luck, the garbonzo man will be there. Very good food offerings at the deli counter to your left as you enter the small market.

          If you like menudo, a few blocks north of Main, on Broadway, in a small strip mall on the left is Carmelita (cafe) with homemade corn tortillas made to order with your menudo. Packed with fellows and families on Sundays getting the menudo. Good lengua here too.

          Just up the streeet from Carmelita's is a paleteria with an amazing selection, both popsickles (made with milk or water) and ice cream by the scoop in wonderful tropical flavors. Guava with pinenuts is my favorite. Next door to Wimpy's Liquors.

          1. re: toodie jane

            Hi toodie jane, I was wondering about the town of Guadalupe. Do you have any recommendations for tacos there? I've been through there a few years ago and it seems like a cool little town.

            1. re: taco clandestino

              Not much chowish activity in Guadalupe though I must admit it's been quite a few years since I ate there. Yes, it is a throwback to a past era, but very difficult for restaurants to thrive there. Sometimes a truck is parked midday at the intersection of Main St (166) and Hiway 1, the main drag in Guadalupe. Not on a regular schedule that I can discern.

              Your best bet for tacos in the area are the multitude of Mexican markets with taco counters and the late-evening taco trucks that line north Broadway in Santa Maria. Also, daytime, Tichita's truck which is parked roadside, east of 101 at the south end of town on Betteravia near the interestion with Rosemary Rd. And El Chino which parks along the west frontage rd at the intersection of 101 and 166 just north of SM River bridge. Good lengua and carnitas. At 4 p.m. El Chino moves to its dinner location on W Main a few blocks east of Blosser, south side of the street. In front of a tire shop.

              Carniceria Su Mesa @Blosser and Main St
              El Bravo deli " " " "
              Tacos La Unica @ So Broadway in FoodsCo center--south end
              Mexican Grocery name not known @ E Grant St and N Broadway near FoodsCo center

              While none of these places shine like some of the vendors in Salinas or the East Bay, we find them head and shoulders above the storefront taco shops like Tacos Acupulco, Taco Roco, etc.

              1. re: taco clandestino

                Guadalupe: Romos Market

                Dropped by a small market and had a pair of tacos at their deliMex. Lengua and Buche. Lengua was in a non-descript red sauce, tender but not much noticeable flavor. The buche was better--toothsome and flavorful, but not a rich concentrated flavor as some other I've had. There was a spice in the cooking broth I couldn't identify--cinnamon, nutmeg, clove,....h-m-m-m? Small corn tortillas were steamed and rather bland. The condiment bar had been hit hard already, and was missing radishes and cilantro. Couple of good fresh salsas, though. All in all, not bad but hardly worth a long side trip. I'd definitely eat there if I was in town and needed lunch, but not worth an excursion. The market features two sets of 20- or 30-something brothers who obviously enjoy working together. They were giving each other a hard time (in Spanish) and greeted just about everybody who came in by name.

                A few other hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Guadalupe looked funky and inviting, along with some golden oldies (La Simpatia) but doubt they specialize in tacos. It take meals or combinaciones to make rent. Some of the old buildings in town (c. 1915-1920) were being worked on--I peeked and saw cold cases, so maybe more eating establishments--but most had notices that they are non-reinforced masonry (brick and mortar only). I hope someone has the money to retrofit, or they may eventually have to come down.