Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Jun 16, 2009 06:26 PM

California Roadtrip Restaurants

Hi all, a friend and I are making a long awaited road-trip from Napa to San Diego, stopping where ever, whenever along the way to see and eat everything in sight. Both of us have a huge appreciation for good food, regardless of how much it costs, and if anything, enjoy cheap, hole-in-the-walls as much or more than your typical 5 star place. As an example, in NYC I probably got more enjoyment out of the $1 dumplings at dirty, cheap Jessica's Dumplings in Chinatown than I did from Momofuku Ko. Given our current financial situations, we most likely won't be stopping at the French Laundry type places (as if we could get a table), but would consider one or two nice meals over our 10 day trip. What we really want to know is what places are so amazing or so famous that we should pull off of the PCH, or even make a 30 minute detour to try. The only place we won't really spend time in is San Fran, since we've both been multiple times. So far I've heard Bovolo and the Hopmonk Tavern in Napa are great, but we're looking for suggestions everywhere. If you know of a great place, whether it be street food, a taqueria, or anything else, please let me know! Thanks!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. yes, you should repost on the SF and LA boards.

      In Encinitas (N. SD County), two must stop places are Kaito for the real, authentic sushi deal and Yu Me Ya for izakaya and sake bar. Kaito is on Encinitas Blvd, about 5 minutes east of Hwy 101 and Yu Me Ya is on Hwy 101.

      For breakfast/brunch, The Naked Cafe in Solana Beach, just off Hwy 101 is very good.

    2. Here are some places that IMO are among the best for fast and easy stops for low cost / great food.

      For a cup of coffee and a great sugar rush by Sticky buns
      Old West Cinnamon Rolls
      861 Dolliver St
      Pismo Beach, CA 93449
      (805) 773-1428

      For some great sandwiches and a loaf of the best Jalapeño cheese bread on earth stop at House of Bread.
      House of Bread
      858 Higuera Street
      San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

      The Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch has flame broiled chicken. I ask that the chicken be well done or else it may be a little too juicy. There is something very very special about the combined flavors of their chicken plate with chips and that salsa they make.

      For pancakes go to Sambos -- nuff said.

      For fish and chips go to Harbor Fish Café. This is a classic beach hut fish house with some very fresh fish in a excellent batter fried in very clean oil. Another thing that makes this place so great is you can have one, two or three slices of fish and substitute the fries for some of their very good slaw or chowder. Better yet, try them all. The prices are a little higher here but the food is very good and the beach is right there..The fish taco is about $11 but it is very large and filling.

      Harbor Fish Café.
      3179 Carlsbad Blvd
      (between Oak Ave & Pine Ave)
      Carlsbad, CA 92008
      (760) 729-4161

      For breakfast lunch or dinner go to Juanitas Taco Shop in Encinitas. The breakfast burrito is just a simple egg, cheese and potato but it is so good because of the potato. For a little extra they will add ham. If you add the ham ask them to fry it crispy. Many menu items are good here. The shredded beef hard shell taco is very good and comes with lots of cheese. The “rolled tacos” should be tried also. The machaca and egg burrito is another one they do right. Put that green salsa on everything.

      Juanitas Taco Shop
      290 N Coast Highway 101
      (at C St)
      Encinitas, CA 92024
      (760) 943-9612

      1 Reply
      1. re: JeetJet

        Before stopping at Juanitas Taco Shop for stop at Panikin for some coffee.

        Panikin Coffee
        510 N Coast Highway 101
        (between Athena St & Basil St)
        Encinitas, CA 92024

        (760) 436-0033

      2. Monterey Seafood: Sandbar and Grill, Municipal Pier (mussels, sand dabs, calamari) casual, local. Massaro and Santos, Coast Guard Pier. Both have sites to check.

        Carmel: Highlands Inn (4 miles S) Drinks and apps at sunset...Great view. Dementra (sp?) downtown, Carmel Med/Greek food. Both places have sites.

        Big Sur: Nepenthe, ambrosia burger & breath taking view. $$$ Post Ranch, more jawdropping views and $$$$.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gail

          I agree Nepenthe was awesome - patio lunch with fantastic view. i had goat cheese and nuts with a big glass of red much nicer than the burgers.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Folks, we ask everyone to recommend places appropriate for the California board, which covers the state outside the SF Bay and LA regions.

            thehamburglar has also posted this question on the Los Angeles and San Francisco boards.

            For the SF Bay region (which covers the counties that touch the SF Bay), please follow this link

            For L.A. / Orange / Ventura / San Bernadino Counties, please follow here: