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eating on the way from LA to SF on the 5

we're heading up to SF this afternoon. we always stop at the various rest stops on the way for snacks and try to make the best time but i inevitably find myself wishing i knew of someplace good near the highway. are there any such finds? thanks!!

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  1. Casa de Fruta!

    It's basically a dried fruit and nut stand turned roadside attraction. You can also try the Harris ranch for very, very fresh beef. Last time I went, it was less than spectacular. For some reason, I always end up at In n' Out during this drive.

    Casa De Fruta
    10021 Pacheco Pass Hwy, Hollister, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: ericyu711

      CDF would require going west on Hwy 152 over Pacheco Pass about 25 mi, then dealing with the 156/152 interchange fiasco, 15 miles of two lane through Gilroy to 101 N. Not sure I'd want to deal with that during Friday drivetime, not for CDF in any event.

      1. re: PolarBear

        Would you even rec the CDF restaurant PB? Last time I was there, it seemed like pretty standard coffee-shop fare. No better or worse than Denny's.

        1. re: mikec

          No I wouldn't Mike, even though I can't recall the last time we made a stop there, your last visit's impression confirms my long standing aversion.

          If you need something in that immediate area there's a new place called the Cedar House (can't recall the former name something ... berry or maybe started with a B, been there forever) just about a mile south of the 152/156 interchange on the way to Hollister. Four family members stopped in not long ago and all gave it 8 thumbs up for the food and drinks, they did complain a little about the $10 bloody marys, but said they were very good. Don't know that I'd go out of my way heading west given the traffic situation there at the moment, but northbound on the way back to I-5 and the valley would work out smoothly.

    2. i haven't been there so i don't know how close it is to the freeway, but based on what i've heard about the place, "taylor's" might be a good burger alternative to in 'n out.

      Gott's Roadside
      933 Main St, Saint Helena, CA 94574

      6 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        St. Helena is not on the way from LA to San Francisco, nor is it anywhere close to I-5.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Exactly, but it is a great place for a burger, shake and fries!

          1. re: foodnmusic

            Actually, I'm not impressed with Taylor's and live close enough that I can go there often . . . but don't.

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            oops...sorry about that. i'm great with southern california, but a little geographically ignorant when it comes to anywhere north of malibu.

            my apologies.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Hey, no prob ghg, many of us up here in NoCA feel the same way about anything south of Santa Barbara.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                No worries, and my apologies if I sounded harsh. Given the buzz, Taylor's is worth checking out when you're up here and you can decide for yourself.

          3. In N Out burger and the restaurant at Harris Ranch about half way up are your best bets, unless you would prefer Jack in the Box instead of InO.

            3 Replies
            1. re: carter

              so in other words, nothing much, huh? disappointing but not surprising. thanks for the responses!

              1. re: kazhound

                Anderson's Pea Soup near Gustine/Santa Nella is just off the I-5. You are getting pretty close to the Bay Area by that point. Its not great but okay. The pea soup is a bit watery in my opinion but tastes okay.

                1. re: RBCal

                  I had to be in the area for business a couple of weeks ago and thought I would eat at Pea Soup Anderson's since it was the only place in town. but after I read the health report (and they failed the health inspection), I decided against it. Might want to try someplace else.

            2. Titas Pupuseria & Restaurant
              380 Front St
              Buttonwillow, CA 93206
              (661) 764-9351

              Salvadoran food, cheap and good. Its about 1/3 the way to SF from LA.

              2 Replies
              1. re: RBCal

                Is this place across the street from McDonalds?
                Familar with Mexican & Peruvian But What to order?

                1. re: RBCal

                  we wound up going to Tita's (the one down the road was closed but the one across from McDonald's was open) and it was really really good. we loved the papusas and the cantaloupe agua fresca. it was cheap and delicious - thanks for the rec! we even stopped there on the way home too.

                2. Nothing worth stopping for along I-5. Pack a lunch or wait for 1 hour at the Kettleman In-N-Out.

                  1. I had a great pair of tacos on Russell St and Nees Ave a few miles due east of I-5, just outside of Firebaugh, CA

                    1. Too late for the original 'short fuse' OP posting, but...

                      The definitive topic on this subject is http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429931 .

                      Debbie's Place in Avenal sounds good for burgers.
                      Next trip I'm following cfarivar to Huron to track down Chris Meat Market for Mexican.
                      Los Banos has a few good options.
                      Wolfsen's Meats in Gustine is well known for sausages and sandwiches.
                      Antojitos Mexicanos at the Westley offramp is decent Mexican.

                      At this point you're close enough to SF and you shouldn't be hungry :-).

                      1. Honestly if you're looking for good food up along the 5, you're going to be disappointed. I'd get something tasty in LA that keeps well in an icebox and just buy something to drink when you're ready to grub. And I'd pass on Casa de Fruta - way off the beaten path, and Pacheco Pass during rush hour is one of the most dangerous/congested highways in the state (if not the country).

                        1. I travel the Central Valley for my work and most of the dining establishments along the major freeways are expectedly geared toward the non-repeat business of the "let's just stop here traveler." So I have found that going a few miles off the freeway gives you the best shot at finding decent grub. The restaurants are patronized (and answerable to) the locals and generally reflect the tastes of the ethnic groups who have settled in the area. For the LA-SF I-5 run, I would recommend planning a stop at Los Banos, which is only a few miles east of the freeway on Hwy. 152. Some of the spots on the main drag where I have had good experiences are the M & M Italian Restaurant, Olinda's Restaurant, Cutija's Taco Shop and Eddie's Famous Cafe. The best spot in town, if you have the time for some fine dining, is Espanas, and for the adventurous, there is the Woolgrowers Basque restaurant in the downtown (H Street) area. Be warned this is a throwback to the family style dining for Basque sheepherders, but it is a hoot if you haven't tried it. I've also had good meals at Las Palmas Restaurant on 9th Street.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: fresnohotspot

                            I should note that the M & M Italian Restaurant is a new establishment (not a fancy location), but I was impressed by their honest staff and the quality of their ingredients, and I think they can only get better. ( I recommend the chicken picatta).

                            1. re: fresnohotspot

                              Where is the M and M restaurant? I will be in Los Banos soon and woulld like to give it a try. I love chicken picatta!

                              1. re: dimsumgirl

                                M & M is in a strip mall at 225 7th Street, 209-827-1666. Just turn north on 7th off of the main drag, Pacheco Blvd. (Hwy. 152) Good eating!

                          2. a quick "dining on I-5" board search revealed this thread with many good replies:


                            let us know what you find, please!