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Aug 24, 2007 03:45 PM

Discovering new places

I posted the following "Finding Hidden Gems" on the Media and News board

It's about a website:

I initially used it to check on two areas in Fresno (93721 and 93701) to see if I have been missing anything and was amazed at all the possibilities that came up. (Click on Restaurants in the left margin).

When I plugged in Salinas, I noticed that farther down in the left margin it listed other places in the area and Chualar caught my eye. I was blown away to find that there were five places with food in this little out of the way burg. More intriguing was the new list provided:

Gonzales, CA
Spreckels, CA
Salinas, CA
Carmel Valley, CA
Soledad, CA
Paicines, CA
Marina, CA
Sand City, CA
Tres Pinos, CA

Since I occasionally take the back roads from Fresno to the Salinas/Monterey area, I checked Paicines and found the Panoche Inn listed as a potential stop along with Blossom Hill Winery that I'd noticed the last time through.

Just north in Tres Pinos are The Inn at Tres Pinos, The Veranda Cafe, the Cantina Grill, and Flapjacks Country Cafe.

While exploring the site there was one glitch that appended a bunch of places that didn't belong geographically, but other than that I appears to have some good potential for sniffing around.

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  1. Have you tried the Panoche Inn? I found a website,

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks for the link, Melanie. I've been looking in the wrong area (Paicines). It's about half way between there and New Idria (envisioning puzzled looks on everyone's face). Easiest access is actually west off of I-5 on the Mercy Hot Springs road (btw Hwy 152 and Avenue 7-Firebaugh exit), which curves south at the springs and dead ends in Panoche Rd. Turning west it is a short distance on the left hand (south) side. Will make a point of stopping next time we travel that deserted stretch of road.

    2. Should have updated to add that the website no longer provides any information about restaurant locations, if it does, I wasn't able to ferret it out.

      1. Four years later . . . the link for myzip is dead. And while Panoche Inn no longer has a website, it still lives.

        When I left Fresno two weeks ago, Mrs. PB sent me off with the caution to have some food and water with me for the drive over the back roads. My touring first took me to Kingsburg to the south, then SW to Hanford, and then I headed homeward to the north on the I5. Thanks to your directions, I chose the road less traveled and exited at Little Panoche Rd. My route is shown here, I did the reverse.

        The first stretch just west of the I5 was desolate shortly after exiting and probably even drier than usual in this low rainfall year. No cars, no livestock, no buildings until I came upon this red barn.

        I stopped briefly at Mercey Hot Springs intending to take a look around. But I only took the one photo from my car and headed out. Cell service for AT&T stopped just a little before I reached this point. Then my GPS crashed and I figured that I best reach the end of this road before nightfall, so pushed on. I didn't find out if there's any food available here.

        I pulled up to the Panoche Inn to a "closed" sign. But the owner heard my car, came out and said that I could come in for a beverage if I needed one. It normally serves some food. He said that it's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Inside, the famous dollar bill covered ceiling had made a fresh start. Everything was taken down in June of this year, to start over again, so it was easy to see the handwriting and messages written on each dollar.

        Panoche Inn is having a rib cook-off today (Oct 19) and a barbecue lunch. The Inn is for sale, so may be changing in the near future. The owner advised that the town of Paicines would be 28 miles along the same road to the northwest, as my next landmark. He told me not to blink or I'd miss it. :)

        I'm wondering if anyone else has been to the Panoche Inn. I was delighted to find a part of California so undeveloped (for now). Here's the wiki for Panoche,,...

        Panoche Inn
        29960 Panoche Rd
        Paicines, CA 95043
        (831) 628-3538
        Cash only

        1 Reply
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Shortly after my very brief visit to Panoche Inn, it started a facebook page. Looks like it hasn't sold yet.

        2. The next wide spot in the road was the community of Paicines at the end of Panoche Road where it intersects with Airline Hwy. I was surprised to find the large industrial plant here for Blossom Hill Winery.

          The town has a post office and a general store. While I didn't have time to stop, I did note signs that the store offers sandwiches and Mexican food.

          Paicines General Store
          12261 Airline Hwy
          Paicines, CA 95043
          (831) 628-3293

          Going south on Airline Hwy will take you to the Pinnacles. I went north to Tres Pinos.

          1. Cell phone service and 4G resumed just north of Paicines after about 50 miles through the valley with no coverage.

            Tres Pinos looked like a big city compared to the compared to the communities to the south with housing developments, retail stores and several restaurants. Even though it's only five miles south of Hollister, which I've visited many times, I have no recollection to being in Tres Pinos.

            Previous mention of the Tres Pinos Inn,

            The church is having a chicken barbecue tomorrow, Oct 20.

            The town is not quite as sleepy as this dozing man in front of the Flapjack's. I thought he might be a statue, but a rumbling big rig passing by woke him up. Breakfast and lunch service, has anyone eaten here?

            Flapjack's Country Cafe
            6881 Airline Hwy
            Tres Pinos, CA 95075
            (831) 628-3499

            I reached the signal light at the San Juan Hwy by sunset.