HOME > Chowhound > California >


L.A. to Santa Cruz Sat. 6/30 - Cheap on the way eats?

From roadside diners, tacos, sausage stores to nuts and ostrich/game burgers/meats.......

Don't want to venture too far from the Highway.

Also, anything interesting in Santa Cruz.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you headed up 5 or 101?

      1. For Sausage, Corralitos Market. They may not meet your "close to the Highway" requirement.

        1. Oh, dang!
          I'm doing the 5 to the 152 etc........route.

          1 Reply
          1. re: slowrider

            Well, there's In-n-Out in Kettleman City. That's all I know of on 5.

            Then, from 152, Casa De Fruta is a fun place to stop for a snack:


            Once you get into the Watsonville area, stop by Freedom Meat Lockers for a delicious Sausage or BBQ sandwich:


          2. If you're taking I-5, then there's pretty much nothing until you get to 152 around Gilroy or thereabouts. The reason to take I-5 is because you want to speed the hell up there. If you're willing to extend the drive by an hour or so, it's probably worth taking the 101 for the scenery and for the potential for good places to take a pitstop.

            Some potential places to stop off on 101 might be:
            Santa Barbara area: La Super Rica, Cold Spring Tavern (off the Cachuma pass)
            Solvang area: Paula's pancakes, other kitchy Danish appelskiver shops
            Nipomo: Jocko's
            San Luis Obispo: ... well I've always bypassed San Luis for whatever reason, there's a lot if you search
            Atascadero: McPhee's, there's a good wine outlet in Atascadero if you want to find some good local wines
            Paso Robles: Good ol' Burger
            I usually don't stop between Paso Robles and Salinas.
            Salinas: there's all those Mexican food trucks that's been getting a lot of mention here to check out.
            Castroville: Fried artichokes at the Giant Artichoke or other stands.
            These are just a few places that I've been able to scope out on the road. I'm sure there are lots more.

            6 Replies
            1. re: E Eto

              Thanks for the tips........ sounds like it may be worth switching to the 101..

              1. re: slowrider

                I have to add Santa Maria's Tamale Shop at Betteravia and Blosser (5 min west on B'ravia from 101)

                and Carniceria Su Mesa's deli-Mex counter for tacos, tortas, burritos, etc.( 5 min west from 101 on Main at Blosser, s'west corner) Cheap, fast, and good!

                Noon through 5-ish, just north over the Santa Maria River Bridge, take the 166 offramp from 101, turn left under the highway, then right on the frontage road 1 block to the Taco truck parked on the shoulder, just past the RV lot. Carnitas--wow, and tripas, so rich and yummy. Good Stuff! $1.25 each taco.

                15 miles north in Arroyo Grande, stop for dessert at Doc Bernstein's; great handmade ice cream. Rich and creamy. many great flavors. Doc's Java my favorite. Exit 101 at Grand Ave, turn right onto W. Branch St. 1/2 block past 1st signal on left. Has a real soda fountain.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  'El Chino' is anme of the Frontage Rd/166 truck. So far I've had the carnitas, lengua, pastor and tripas tacos. They were all excellent. Good charring on the tortillas gives and extra dimension to the taste. Served with radishes and lime wedge; chilis on request. $1.75 each. Tortas and burritos availble too. They offer the common meats plus tripas, chicharrones, sesos. Also cokteles of shrimp and octopus.

              2. re: E Eto

                The taco trucks in Salinas would be a good option...The El Grullense truck is parked near the freeway IIRC, and Salinas would also be a good place to find relatively cheap gas (gas on 5 can be expensive...)


                If you can't wait that long, or want to compare, King CIty, half way between Paso Robles and Salinas, might be worth checking out for some good al pastor..


                1. re: susancinsf

                  I forgot about the Google map of the Salinas taco trucks that rworange posted:

                  And the CH post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/407568

                2. re: E Eto

                  I created a Google map for some 101 stops from posts on CH. I've done this drive so many times, but I still have trouble remembering what's where. I hope this helps. I know it'll help me.

                3. Once you get to Santa Cruz, Asian Rose on Front St. downtown serves delicious vegetarian Sri Lankan food, and lunch is around $7 for a huge amount of food. Try the Tempeh La La!

                  1. Close to L.A. and off the 101 - The Habit in Ventura - California exit. Yummy ahi tuna burgers and fries -BBQ, Andria's fish and chips - Seward L off fwy L again at the light down the street passing the shopping center. Go around the corner to the Ventura Harbor. Off the 101 at Buellton, where Solvang is, will be the ever so yummy, lovely and famed, Hitching Post restaurant (Sideways). www.hitchingpost2.com. Then in Santa Cruz.......a must see is: www.postranchinn.com. Expensive and exclusive. Have lunch or tea and a massage. :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kitchen Queen

                      Post Ranch Inn is in Big Sur - 2 hrs south of SC...But - in San Luis Obispo - do not miss the entirely bizarre Madonna Inn....epic. They make a great ice cream sundae but the place is beyond freaky. A must see...google it..

                      1. re: jbyoga

                        gosh, for food I'd skip the Madonna Inn's coffee shop. A weird kistchyy vibe there, to be sure.

                        In SLO, I'd rec a tiny taco takeout/patio dining place a the corner of Sata Rosa (Route 1) and Foothill. Have made several stops there latley and the carnitas tacos are fresh and lively. Not as cheap as at the trucks in Santa Maria, but larger. A good haeping cup of carnitas over 2 standard corn tortillas with good salsa and fresh chopped condiments. Serves on a glass dish wiht a wedge of lime. For $2.15.

                        I know it sounds lame, but I don't know the name. I've past this place 100's of times over the years and only recently started to drop in for snacks. Years ago it was Speedy Burgers.

                        Right next the gas station at the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Santa Rosa St. 3 blocks north of 101.

                    2. please let us know what you found....