I'll put in a 'plug' for Longboard's Burgers in Pismo Beach (Wadsworth exit northbound, just after you cross the bridge on 101 in downtown Pismo.)
I'd rec the more custom of their burgers. I've tried the California (?) and the Baja, both were excellent. Juicy meat, fresh, fresh condiments, decent buns, great fries. Good milkshakes. Good chice of beers for the non-driver. The basic plain burger was only just so-so. They also do chicken and fish sand's from fish steaks. Haven't tried those yet.
Spyglass Liqours--sorry--De Paolo and Sons Deli--has a chi chi assortment of deli items, breads, huge wine selection AND Dr Bob's ice cream if you want to stop at the nearby clifftop park and watch the surfers and stretch your legs. Pricey, but fun to browse through for a driving break.
If you are up for a bit of a side trip (10 minutes each way) I'd rec stopping in Avila Beach out at the far pier (keep going and do not turn into AB proper). Walk out to the end of the pier and get an order of Fish & Chips at Pete's. Fish done right and red potato fries that melt in your mouth. Other fish menu items have a south of hte border flair, with beers to match.
If you need a good coffee, stop in AB on your way back to 101 at Joe Mama's, at the east end of the esplanade. They feature a Clover brewer and usually about 5 or 6 varietals to choose from. Last one I had cost me $1.50 for a small. Very good.
Hipsters at the counter. Clear out the earwax.
Tognazzini's Dockside in Morro Bay on the north end of the Embarcadero serves very good F&C too. A very nice outdoor patio over the water.
Heads UP: there is no appreciable chowish food past Cambria till you get to Big Sur proper. Forget Lucia and Ragged point. Big Sur Bakery is casual and wonderful. Nepenthe's food is eh? but the view is delicious.
Please give us a post on your adventure.
re: toodie jane
Good reminder about Pismo Beach - and to add the venerable Mo's BBQ with its ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, in downtown.
Plus taking the Baywood Park cut off to get to Highway One from Highway 101, south of San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay gives you the little Noi's Thai take out stand in this oddly charming little seaside town called the "Poor Man's Carmel". I have never been to the Thai place but it seems to get friendly reviews on this forum. Sadly the nice garden restaurant in Baywood Park is again closed, but there is a small outdoor cafe and also a larger Mexican restaurant there as well - no reviews for either from me. But I have always wanted to try the Thai place.
Recently had the walk-away crab cocktail from the fish market on the Avila Beach Pier which was pretty bad (mainly *shaved* crab fluff stuff and the sauce was the only flavor - big disappointment), but the pier and the history of this site well makes it worth the detour. Thanks for the restaurant recs on this pier. A nicely remote and funky place to spend some time and be overwhelmed by the huge barking sea lions that also call it home - you can descend stairs from the wharf and be eye to eye with them - all 2000 pounds or so of them.
If this drive wants to be true to Highway One all the way to Carmel, then taking it through Guadalupe, north of Santa Barbara and La Simpatia for their chile rellenos, thanks to chowhounder Jalamamama, is well worth the detour from Highway 101.
All this makes me want to take another road trip in my own back yard again.
Too bad about the crab cocktail from the fish market, nice guys there- PETES PIERSIDE on the Port San Luis Pier is worth the 10 minute drive from the 101- you can bet your crab enchilada on it. Delicious and homemade food, and with a stop at Avila Barn on the way back to the freeway- you are set with fruit and baked munchies for the rest of the drive!!!
Yes- nothing past Cambria- plan accordingly. Enjoy!
Ooops, it was the Port San Luis pier where we had the yucky crab cocktail. The is the one at the end of the road where you can drive out on the pier and it has the old two story building in the middle with the "Inn" sign on it? We got them in the fish market there on the pier, which looked like a pretty good place to get the real things fresh from the water that moment.
Sorry Avila Pier - I was not there - please retract my comments about walk away crab cocktails on the Avila Pier.
I have never purchased fish from the market, but we always check in to see what they have- and the guys are always friendly. We have bought salmon jerky, or some type of jerky there- who doesn't love jerky...This is the market under the two story INN place.
Petes is the eat outside place 3/4's of the way down the pier. They have a small inside fish market- nothing special the last time we were there. Just fresh fish. Very good, filling delicious food here.
I don't think the Avila Pier- is that what it is called?- has any food. We never stop in the town- just breeze on by. I had a hard time buying simple items last vist, seemed like I walked forever for a sandwich- and then paid top dollar for a subpar item.
I can highly reccomend Patriot Sport Fishing on the Port San Luis Pier, if that is your thing.
What route are you taking?
If it is Highway 101 via Santa Barbara - if you are take the San Marcos Pass cut off which actually saves you time - Highway 154 in Santa Barbara that later connects you back to Highway 101 - and then on the San Marcos Pass once you just get beyond the top but before the bridge is "Stagecoach Road" off to your left - and then wander a bit down the road to Cold Springs Tavern for delightful historic spot and a local treasure.
Depending on when you leave, you could be there in time for lunch. http://www.coldspringtavern.com/ Their chili is really, really good - even if you might not be a fan of chili.
Or before you get to Santa Barbara there is the wonderfully sited Shoals Restaurant in the Cliff House Hotel in La Conchita outside Ventura, about half way to Santa Barbara. The ocean front setting with the palm trees really makes you think you took a detour to Hawai'i.
If you come up Highway 5 from OC and cut across from Santa Clarita using Highway 126 fSanta Paula has some interesting stops downtown like the historic Glen Tavern, some small family run Mexican restaurants, and a very unique elegant little place called Hozy's that is down in a pretty riverside industrial area. Old Town Ventura on Main Street has lots of new restaurants without the prices of Santa Barbara, but lots of unique choices.