Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Jul 7, 2008 08:33 PM


DH and myself are planning a roadtrip along the Cali Coast at the end of the month...
We will fly into LAX and stay in Santa Monica for 2 days. Then we will drive up pacific highway to SF. We will stay just outside SF for 3 days.
We would def want to check out either Ramen or Pho in LA and we would like to go to Boulevard for Lunch... Probably will stop at Madonna Inn....
The rest of the trip is completely open, I've heard of Santa Maria BBQ, should we go for it? maybe a breakfast n Solvang? I've heard Big Sur is completely closed due to the fires....
Please help! Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Highway 1 is closed now.

    If still closed at the time of your trip, you will continue up 101 past SLO and Paso Robles through the Salinas River Valley. Lovely farm country. Many good taquerias at almost any town. At Salinas, cut over to the coast and up through Watsonville, Aptos, and Santa Cruz before heading up the final leg to Half Moon Bay and finally SF. Search any of these town names on this California board for LOTS of chowtips.

    SF will be covered on the SF Bay Area board.

    You should post on the LA board for your pho/ramen questions--it covers up the coast through Ventura, I believe.

    See recent Melanie Wong reports on Greenfield, halfway between SLO and Santa Cruz for some good eats. Ms Wong has also reported extensively on the Salinas area, so seach that city on this board, using the function above. There are some great fruit & veg stands in the area just above Salinas, and you can still cut over to the coast on Highway 52 (Hecker Pass Rd) from Gilroy, if that interests you.

    Get a good detailed map so you can plan some alternatives.

    If you want SMSBBQ, then try Rancho Nipomo, just past Santa Maria River Bridge north of Santa Maria proper. Take the Highway 166 exit, go left under the freeway, and straight ahead past the junction with the west frontage road. They also do fantastic traditional southern-style slow-smoked BBQ as well as burgers and some Mexican entrees. Casual.

    3 Replies
    1. re: toodie jane

      As of Sun 7/13, Hiway 1 is now open with speed advisories. There is still fire traffic on the road, but most merchants are now open and waiting for business to come back. If you have patience, consider taking the coast route rather than 101 inland.

      Support the local Fire Brigade by buying a t-shirt at he Big Sure Fire Station, (or in Carmel Valley Village on Lower Carmel Vally Rd.) and stop for chow anywhere. Spend some money. These folks need support as they work to clean up their homesites and community. Be cautious and kind.

      1. re: toodie jane

        thanx for the great news Toodie! we will definitely support the locals as much as we can! we haven't booked any accommodation or anything between santa monica and SF because of the whole situation, we weren't sure where we could go and where it will be closed....

    2. Go to the bar at legendary McLintocks in Pismo Beach, just off the freeway but a tricky exit to find (map it) and order their steak pieces appetizer and their cheesy potato skillet - one serving of each is plenty for two. The bar is funky and the food is good and you beat the crowds, the wait and the prices. Great midway stop.

      1. Please Please Please, do not, under any circumstances, try to find a decent meal in Solvang. You will experience frustration far beyond the beyond.

        However! The Black Cat in Cambria is excellent. I am not sure how the road closures will affect the SLO area, but Cambria is an great little food town. The Bluebird Motel offers super clean, and affordable accommodations.


        1. If your want to try Santa Maria style, Jocko's is a good choice. Long waits though. I am sure you know but just in case Santa Maria style specializes in Tri-Tip cooked to temp. Beans on the side.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lukenavarro

            Jocko's does not start up the wood fired bbq till evening service. Both they and Far Western serve good steaks, but not sure they are known for SMSBBQ.

          2. Are you planning to follow Hwy 1 or 101? Segments of both comprise the Pacific Coast Highway along the Central Coast.

            It's been years since I've been there, but I'd always enjoyed the Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe for a great steak and local color. If you are travelling on Hwy 1 (as opposed to Hwy 101) thru the Santa Maria Valley you can't miss it. One of the scenes in a Gumpy Old Men sequel was filmed there. Not sure if they offer SMSBBQ tri-tip. Maybe someone else can chime in here because you'll not want to miss the tri-tip and Santa Maria beans.


            1 Reply
            1. re: samse

              we were definitely planning on taking the 1 as much as possible, and glad to hear from Toodie Jane it's open again!
              we don't have a day by day itinerary, because we both haven't been there for a very long time (for hubby it has been 24 years and for me it has been 13 years) so we are not sure where to spend more time, so we will kind of go as we like...
              hynny loved grumpy old men, so good tip there, thanx!