Near Interstate 80
Defininately stop at one of the Basque restaurants...We prefer Bil'toki's for the salad dressing, and the variety of dishes when you opt for chef's choice, and the amazing beef tongue that usually comes as first course. The Star is quite good, too. All three are located behind the Stockmen's Casino.
In Winnamucca, the Martin Hotel has great Basque, fun atmosphere. Ormechea's in Winnemucca was underwhelming when we ate there recently.
We've had some surprisingly good meals - especially burgers and breakfasts - at the small casino throughout Nevada, just look for lots of dusty trucks with Nevada pin-stripes in the parking lot.
Well, about 8-9 hours from SFO is Elko, Nevada - a good stopping spot, and home to some amazing Basque food. I would suggest an overnight here, with dinner at the Star Hotel. Of course you may need to stock up with some snacks for the trip acorss the desert. Maybe a stop at Ikeda's in Auburn for all their homemade salsas, dried fruits, baked goods, and roasted nuts! Have a great time.
Consider breakfast/lunch Jakes's Restaurant in the Silverado Casino in Fernley, Nevada. The casino appears to be a locals' low-key scene. Breakfast is served until 2 p.m. so it can be an economical breakfast/lunch. A plus for Californians is that it's a smoke-free oasis in Nevada.
Easy on/off access from I-80 (interchange of I-80 & US 95), about 1/2 block east on the right at Newlands Drive . A super Wal-Mart is across the street and a Scolari's supermarket for made-to-order deli sandwiches and other snacks and beverages is in the next block. There's a Chevron station next door to the casino but cheaper gas is available a bit further east over the railroad tracks through the traffic circle and to the right on Main Street (US 50). We usually stop at the 7-Eleven/Citgo.
Larry and I make this stop on our annual drive to ski in Utah. So the above was current as of February 22, 2008.