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Aug 20, 2007 01:21 PM

Red Bluff and Lassen Nat'l Park

We're making a trip this weekend to Lassen, with a brief Friday night stop in Red Bluff. Does anyone have any suggestions in the vicinity? We could stop on the way form SF to Red Bluff, too. We're happy to eat at any range of price (from a deli in a gas station to white tablecloth) and any cuisine. Just trying to find someone who cares about the food they put on a plate! If you know of a decent market up there, we could always picnic.

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    1. Here is my recent report. You probably should count on picnics for at least some of your meals...even if there were more good options, distances are long...

      2 Replies
      1. re: susancinsf

        WOW! Great job with your narrative! It looks like your trip to Lassen was very recent. The NPS website doesn't mention roadworks, so I was going to enter from the south. Do you really think that it's worth it to go all the way around to the north? Any idea of dining options up that way??

        Just one more were the mosquitos??

        (I don't know why your thread wasn't uncovered by my search. One more idiosyncracy of the new chowhound.)

        1. re: JojoSF

          The work was only on weekdays, since you are going on a weekend, it won't be such an issue. If the website didn't mention it, they may be done by now (I was there in mid-July), because it was on the website when I went...Mosquitos are pretty much gone....a good thing, since you will want to picnic (keeping it chow related :-))

      2. One place susaninsf didn't mention is Mill Creek Lodge. Mill Creek is just a couple of miles south off Hwy 36 and the turnoff is a little bit east of the south entrance to the Park. I've had hamburgers there while snowmobiling in the winter. The menu may be more extensive in the summer as this is a cluster of summer cabins.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BN1

          Yes, it is a bit off the main road, and we didn't get there, but worth checking out. I have read reports elsewhere of surly service, but no first hand experience, so would love a report back! Would be interesting to know how they compare with Mineral Lodge...Also, I think they close early for dinner...

        2. In Red Bluff, I’ve had a pretty good dinner at the Green Barn Steakhouse. My wife and her friends ate lunch there last month on their way to Ashland. They reported a very good lunch and may have adopted this as the new Red Bluff stop on their annual trip. Go east on the Hwy 99 exit from I 5 and it’s on the north side of the road before the turnoff for Hwy 36/Lassen Park.

          9 Replies
          1. re: BN1

            We're thinking of stopping at the Sierra Nevada brewery for dinner on the way home. Any opinions about Chico or the brewery restaurant? I'm expecting middling pub food but the guys are curious to see the brewery.

            We're hoping to find a decent Mexican joint along the way, too.

            1. re: JojoSF

              On the way back down from Lake Almanor, I went through Chico last week and visited the SN brewery. Impressive and interesting facility. Definitely worth a stop. If you time it right you can go on one of their tours which are pretty informative. Check their website for tour details.

              Their brewpub restaurant was quite elegant and the food appeared to be good. They have a wood (almond wood, I asked) fired pizza oven and the pizzas -- thin crust -- smelled and looked great. They seemed to have all their beers on tap. It was around 1:30 pm on Friday and the place was packed with a shortish waiting line.

              We did not eat there because we were stuffed on Mexican food: just before going to SN we had stopped at a taco truck near Chico State which had excellent tacos and burritos. This taco truck was called Puerto Vallarta and it was parked in a small parking lot off the main Chico street, Esplanade, west of the college area. If you miss it, Chico has many taco trucks sprinkled around town.

              1. re: JojoSF

                People seem to love this brewery. It's hamburges-only for me if I ever have to return. By "expecting middling pub food", I think you will likely have a good experience. It's a big, good looking restaurant with a nice patio and is wildly popular. The best food in town is the Red Tavern on the Esplande. Fifth Street Steakhouse for steaks and cocktails is popular. Basque Norte on the north end of town on the Esplande has a little different twist on very good food. An ice cream cone at Schubert's, 178 E. 7th St., is a must.

                My family's all time favorite Mexican food is Betty's Mexican Restaurant on Hwy 99 in Live Oak, which is just north of Yuba City. Only the Hollenbeck burrito at El Tepeyac in East LA or Pancho's on the beach in Mazatlan can compete in our minds.

                1. re: BN1

                  I think that if we miss Betty's on this trip, I'm making a trip back just for that. Any favorite dish at Betty's? Also, is Basque Norte a typical family-style basque menu?

                  1. re: JojoSF

                    Basque Norte is just a regular restaurant with Basque type foods. For instance, I usually order the "steak and quail".

                    1. re: BN1

                      note: BN has closed. We had several good lamb dinners there. Rather ordinary tradtional sides, but the lamb was always cooked to perfection.

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        I just heard The Albatross closed too...but has reopened as ??
                        I haven't been that far north in awhile...

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Basque Norte is NOT closed. It is closed on Monday and Tuseday nights, I believe, but could not confirm. I drove by the restaurant tonight and I have hardly ever seen the huge parking lot that full. There was a big noen sign that said OPEN, so it wasn't a private party. I'm sorry I took so long to reply, but I wanted to be sure before I posted.

                          That said, my wife and I had the best meal yet tonight at the Red Tavern. We had the Warm Leek and Sunchoke Salad with soft poached egg, crispy serrano ham and preserved lemon-chive dressing; the Wild Prawn and Bay Scallop Gratin with green garlic, artichokes, spicy yellow wax peppers and sourdough crostini; the Roasted Organic Half Chicken with crispy duck fat potatoes, creamed spinach, ‘candied’ carrots and meyer lemon jus; the Garlic Crusted Lamb Sirloin with corona bean ‘cassoulet’, braised escarole and pistachio gremolata and a meyer lemon pudding which was really a small soufflé for desert. For our wine, we enjoyed a nice Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. The braised escarole is the best greens I've tasted yet. All this for $100 before tax and tip; you just can't match this in the larger urban areas.

                          1. re: BN1

                            Thanks so much! We tried to do a drive through last weekend, but once we'd hit groceries...we couldn't waste much time. We had the fur-kid with us...uncrated! Eeek!

              2. I'm back!

                We had a great weekend, perfect weather, few people. The road works are essentially done.

                We started out by being wimps and eating in Oakland before leaving. That put us in Red Bluff by 11 pm. We stayed at a new Hampton Inn that had a decent motel breakfast of yogurt, fruit, eggs with ham and cheese, pastries, biscuits. Nothing that you would want to pay for or drive to, but reib-sticking for a hiking day. (Comfortable beds there, too.)

                We camped and cooked on our own in Lassen. The Summit Lake sites allow you to collect fallen logs, so we had enough to cook our ribs, corn, etc.

                On the return, we went to Sierra Nevada in Chico. We actually had a much better meal than expected (low expectations??) We had a pizza with garlic cloves, mushrooms, basil and pinenuts that was quite good. Also, standard but good salad with candied pecans, blue cheese, microgreens. Sausage appetizer was huge, 3 different grilled sausage with very tasty homemade kraut and caramelized onions (probably the most appreciated dish, although one person might find it too much, we shared.) Burger was good but perhaps the least enjoyed of all the dishes. Beer sampler was a 2 oz poor of each of the 16 draughts available for (I think) $11.

                After, we stopped at Al's Burgers for a thick shake. Highly recommended. Located on the Esplanade. We had three: vanilla, blackberry and mint. All excellent.

                As you can imagine, it was the only food we needed until the next evening!

                1 Reply
                1. re: JojoSF

                  If you go to Chester or Lake Almanor, you must eat at Gambonis Penisula Grill. It seems to me that it has been passed over in a few forums as too expensive and I have to tell you that it was one of the finest dinners we have ever eaten. The pricing is cheap when you see the culinary expierience you get at the grill. We were blown away that such a great chef and such great ingreidients can be found in such a remote location. It is truly a restaurant not to be missed, when in the area. The Bidwell House was an excellent B&B as well, with a great breakfast. Again, so surprising to find this kind of quality so far from civilazation.