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Nov 14, 2007 05:42 PM

Lunch Between LA and Monterey?

Hi all,
Can you help a fellow New York Chowhounder who is taking the family on a Thanksgiving week trip to California? We're spending Sat-Mon. in LA (American Music Awards! Woot!), and then making the drive up 101 and PCH to the Monterey area.

Our goal is to leave LA around 10am on Tuesday and make our way up the coast to take in the views, etc. Here's the question: Where to have lunch? Ideally, this would be a place with good eats, a great view, and be fairly kid friendly (We'll have an 8 year old and 11 year old with us).

Since we are leaving around 10am, i guess we're looking for something around three or four hours north of LA on that road.

Suggestions anyone? Thanks in advance, and let me know if you're coming East!

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  1. try checking the LA Times archives if you like tacos, etc. they had a terrific article on the "best" taco shops on your route.

    1. You could try Spyglass in Pismo Beach, that would be about 4 hours north of LA. Take the Spyglass exit off 101, turn left. You'll see it straight ahead. The food is not stellar, but the burgers are decent enough, and the views are to die for. Easy on and off the fwy, too. Sit outside if it's a nice day.

      If you want to go upscale a notch (if there is such a thing in that neck of the woods), go north a few hundred feet to Marisol at the Cliffs Hotel.

      1. Me and my BH tried the Big Sky Cafe in San Luis Obispo for breakfast on our recent Napa vactaion. They also serve lunch and dinner. It was featured on Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels. Can't vouch for the lunch and dinner menu but breakfast was really good. You can visit their website and see if it's a place you might like to try. Click on 'digpics' for large views that we took of the inside and outside.

        Lunch menu...

        1. If you leave around 10 am, you should be by Santa Barbara around 12:30pm. A great place for lunch is the S.B. Shellfish Company. Great, super-fresh seafood and chowders. It's right on the pier (free parking). Very low-key ambiance (basically several stoves with giant pots surrounded by counters where you sit). If the weather is nice, you can eat outside.

          Another choice: If you leave LA and can make it for fours hours without eating you'll be near Pismo Beach where once again you can have excellent clam or oyster chowders at the Splash Cafe, right by the pier in Pismo. (They also have burgers, calamari, etc., but clam chowder is what they are rightfully known for.) It's inexpensive and very popular, with long lines but they move fast. They also have a branch in San Luis Obispo but the one in Pismo is better.

          Santa Barbara Shellfish Company
          230 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

          1 Reply
          1. re: svL

            Thanks Everyone!

            We'll definitely try one of these spots, they all sound great. Just depends what kind of progress we make and when the kids get hungry (when AREN'T they hungry!?).

            I'll let you know how we made out when I get back.

          2. If you are in the Pismo Beach area at "lunchtime" I have to weigh in: Splash cafe is ok foodwise, but no views and is fairly touristy.

            That said, I have a remedy! Good food, right on (actually OVER) the water, with plenty of easily accessible beach for the young-uns to bleed off some pent-up energy. I'd rec making the short drive out to Avila Beach from 101, just as the freeway turns inland away from the ocean. Avila Beach is just 3 miles up the coast from Pismo, but it has a wonderful small-town ambiance that is a great anitidote for windshield-itis.

            Take the Avila Beach Drive exit from 101 (just as you turn downhill and away from the ocean view), proceed about 5 minutes out to Avila Beach's Harford Pier (3rd pier out) Keep driving past the golf course, and along Harford Drive to the Port San Luis parking lot. Park and walk out the pier to Pete's Pieside Cafe. Fish with a Mexican flair is their specialty (F&C, fish tacos, enchiladas, etc.) Sodas and beer to drink. Pete buys his fish right off the boats--so it is always fresh. The chips are red potatoes and are soooo good. Excellent freshly-made tartar sauce. Nice funky patio ambiance with somewhat time-worn tables, but who cares? Great friendly staff and you'll be dining with locals.

            If you prefer a bit more casual/modern atmosphere, Downtown Avila Beach has been rebuilt from funky 30's beach town to a more modern version, but still a lovely laid-back town. There are several places to eat in Avila Beach proper, winetasting, too. (but Pete's is hands down my favorite.) The Old Custom House and Avila Grocery are given fair reports by locals. Beach is right across the pedestrian promenade from shops/cafes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: toodie jane

              I've eaten several times at Pete's and like it a lot, but keep in mind that their patio is outdoors and the weather doesn't always cooperate in late November. They do have a couple of small tables inside, in front of their fish display case, but it's really cramped
              and not good for lunch in there.

              1. re: svL

                yes, there is no roof. On a clear day, you need to be bundled up, but it's al fresco at it's finest! If it is inclement, you could retreat to your parked car. That food comes out of the kitchen H-O-T! Weather is slated to be clear and mild (68-70) for T-day week.