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Great meals in Merced?

I have family visiting from Holland, and part of their American Adventure will take them to Yosemite. They will be traveling through Merced and asked for recs. Having not been there, I am hoping the Chowhound gang can help me out! They love it all, and especially craving Mexican, as they can't get decent Mexican food in Holland. Breakfast, lunch and dinner recs are really appreciated! Thanks in advance.

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  1. J&R tacos 437 W Main St. Order the Gringa w/ extra sauce or the plate w/ beef,ham,bacon cheese, can't remember the name, they'll know what your talking about.Tell them Jeff from Visalia sent you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kaoticfoodie

      Thanks KF - any good taco trucks/dives in the area as well? J&R looks good, but their site seems a bit gringa (no offense). My family grew up in NM and has a true love of Mexican and New Mexican. Many thanks!

    2. alas, the Mexican food at Merced isn't the best, though for someone from Holland it might satisfy the craving. Here is a report I did back a few months ago:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/567275

      J and R tacos is only ok, IMO, but I'd say that about a lot of the places here.

      If El Grullense on 16th St is open when they get here (last time I checked the sign still said 'coming soon'. I'd try that.

      For taco trucks, try the one in Planada: right on Highway 140 and right on their way to Yosemite! (about ten miles or a bit less east of Merced).

      Best place for breakfast I've found in town is the Cinema Cafe.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600074

      Best food overall in the area might be Savoury's in Mariposa (on their way to Yosemite also).

      Where are they coming from? If by any chance from Sacramento, tell them that a stop at Alebrijes Bistro in Lodi is a must do:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618542

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      Alebrijes Mexican Bistro
      1301 W Lockeford St Ste D, Lodi, CA 95242

      Cinema Cafe
      661 W Main St, Merced, CA 95340

      2 Replies
      1. re: susancinsf

        Thanks for the breakfast rec @ Cinema Cafe - will definitely pass that along. A good American breakfast is impossible to get in Holland. I have already recommended the taco truck (another experience the Dutch will not have enjoyed!), and we'll look for El Grullense of 16th. My family will be traveling the second week of June, coming from San Francisco. Also saw a couple great little places in Mariposa as well. Thanks Susan!

        1. re: susancinsf

          Susan I don't know what you've had at J&R but the pastor is awesome.I look foreward to driving North just so I can stop in for a Ginga or the Alambra plate.I come from the Central Valley so I cook and eat alot of mexican food and highly recommend anyone driving through the area to try it ,you won't be dissapointed.The only exception -the chips.

        2. I had followed Susan's recommendation for breakfast and tried Jantz Cafe and Bakery a few miles up the road from Merced in Atwater and loved it. It's run by Mennonites and the bakery is excellent. Let's face it U.S. bakeries generally suck compared to Europe and maybe they'll want something close to European quality. These seem to use first rate ingredients in their stuff.
          Is it still open, Susan?

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          Jantz Cafe & Bakery
          987 Bellevue Rd, Atwater, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: SteveTimko

            oh yes, Jantz is around and thriving (and has been for a long time). In fact, we had a health fair at work yesterday and the raffle prizes included $20 certificates for lunch at Jantz! A co-worker won, so we agreed a drive up there is in order soon....(about 15 minutes drive from most of Merced). For the OP: if they have peach pie, it is a must order! (and on Wednesday, they have a free slice of pie with a sandwhich. So, if you hate mob scenes, go another day of the week! :-))

            1. re: susancinsf

              Oh peach pie, you sold me. Yes, great european bakeries are plentiful in Holland, BUT there are no pies, that is pure Americana. They will love it! Thanks for the rec.

          2. Try Florencio's in the Promenade (Mexican)
            Try Piano Cafe in El Portal Plaza (American)
            Try Sam Cafe near 99 and MLK Jr. (Thai)
            -J

            5 Replies
            1. re: jmatter1

              Piano Cafe looks like a great stop for my family - thanks Jmatter1. Also, looking at Salvador's (Sal's) in Mariposa looks like a better bet for Mexican than in Merced. Thoughts anyone?

                1. re: PolarBear

                  It's Greg again from Mariposa, well Kosovo right now. I second the choice for Sal's, either the truck or his restaurant on Hwy 140 (left side across from the Red Fox on the way thru to Yosemite). Great food and friendly people. Any meal is served, I especially like thier breakfasts. I don't know how business has been since he moved, the old place was packed for breakfast and lunch.
                  Happy Burger across the street diagonally is always good for general fare and good burgers.

                  1. re: GregH1965

                    PolarBear & Greg - great recs, thanks. I have passed all the CH foods recommendations along to my family - my only regret is I will not be joining them. No Sal's or Happy Burger for me. *weep* I will demand they take pics!

              1. re: jmatter1

                I tried Florencio's for the second time recently, and once again, thought the food was mediocre. Apart from that, they had the music blasting, even after we asked if they could turn it down. On our way out, we noticed that lots of people were eating outside on the patio, even though it was really too hot of a day for that. I'm quite sure the music had something to do with it (inside was empty despite being blessedly cool). And again, the server reeked of perfume. I told hubby that the food would have to be a whole lot better than it is before I could be persuaded to give it a third try.

              2. Ramons Tacos is hands down the best taco truck on highway 140 on the way to yosemite from Merced. Try the tacos de asada con todo (beef with green sauce, grilled onions, and avocado) or a Torta con al pastor (juice pork in a mexican style sandwich). Dont forget to enter the market for a Jarritos (real mexican soda) ! Ramons has been around for a long time and is located on southwest corner of Highway 140 and Plainsburg in Planda, Ca.

                If you are looking for Dinner then head to DeAngelos. Fine italian eats with good service. Its a little pricy for the menu but ive heard they have a new menu in the Bar/Belinis area with good food at good prices. They cook pizzas out in the bar area, M-F 5-7pm the pizza beer combo cant fail. $12 pitcher and pizza combo! They are located on Main street in merced, ca