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Jul 6, 2010 11:53 AM

Lunch and Dinner while driving from Santa Barbara to Dana Point? Please help...trip is coming up very soo

Would love some recommendations for great places along the way. Thanks!

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  1. Are you taking PCH the whole way down? It is only 3-4 hours on the 5 in light to moderate traffic. I don't know how long you are going to be in Santa Barbara, but I would probably have lunch there at La Super Rica and then plan on being in LA for an early-ish dinner. Driving through Malibu and Santa Monica are nice, but if you are already on the coast in SB and again in Dana Point, I would skip the ride along the coast in LA itself, unless you are dying to see certain things.

    Which areas are you planning to be in when you want to stop for lunch or dinner?

    8 Replies
    1. re: ocshooter

      To be honest, I haven't even thought of how we would drive down there...we'll probably go with ocshooter's suggestion of taking the 5 unless I can be convinced to take the longer route on the PCH... Also, we will be in SB from Sat afternoon until Tues...already planning on La Super Rica for lunch but maybe we'll have to lunch there twice!! Since we'll be in the car most of the day I'd like to go somewhere casual for dinner...We pretty much like all cuisine except I am not a big seafood fan and neither of us care too much for Vietnamese food...other than that we are good with anything.

      1. re: cbcb

        If you are checking out of the hotel and don't need to be checked back in until 8:00, that gives you at least a very leisurely 7 or 8 hours to drive from SB to OC. Of course it is on a Tuesday, so you don't really want to be in the heart of LA at 5:00. For me, that means heading through LA early and enjoying the day in OC, or stopping in LA, spending time, then continuing on to OC after the traffic settles a bit.

        Since you are bookending the trip on the beach, I would skip Santa Monica/Venice and head inland. The Huntington Gardens in Pasadena are absolutely beautiful and well worth a few hours strolling the grounds. They have a Tea Room (make reservations) that offers tea, scones and finger sandwiches for a pretty reasonable price. Not too tough or out of the way, just take the 101 to to 134 to the 210 to Pasadena. The Gardens have a lovely art collection as well. If you get out of SB early, you could have lunch at Julienne's in San Marino and then head to the Gardens. There is a small casual Indian place I like in Pasadena, All India Cafe, that is on the edge of the rejuvenated Old Town.

        All India Cafe
        39 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

        2649 Mission St, San Marino, CA 91108

        1. re: ocshooter

          Just checked out Huntington Gardens...love it and was so excited to have tea there but unfortunately they are closed on Tuesdays! oh well...how far would this be from Dana Point if we wanted to go another day? Any suggestions for a meal by myself while in Dana Point? My husband has a dinner reception on Thur night and I don't have any interest in going (nor do I want to shell out $295 to be able to go to that dinner and a breakfast at the Ritz).

          1. re: cbcb

            Drive up to Laguna Beach! They have the Pageant of the Masters & the Sawdust Festival going on. And it's quite a walkable area (though parking can be a pain).


            There's a great little street (like SB's State Street, but only a block or so long) called Forest Avenue. You have a couple good options there of Zinc Cafe and 230 Forest nestled amongst fun/touristy shops. If you do a search of Laguna Beach, you'll have LOTS of posts w/suggestions.

            1. re: cbcb

              The Huntington Library is a good 1 1/2 hours from Dana Point, but is a beautiful spot.

          2. re: cbcb

            This might get removed or relocated, but if while you're in SB, you might want to try Brophy Brothers on the wharf (not the pier) for great local seafood. It's a nice walk away from the tourist traps filled to the brim with locals for great seafood.

            Also, traffic in the LA/OC area is bad from 15:30 to 18:30.

            But if you happen to be in the LA area in the afternoon, you might high up Quality Seafoods on the Redondo Beach pier (off the 405). You select your own seafood and they'll cook/steam it up for you. Another option, and a CH favourite, is Izakaya Bincho (a search will provide good results).

            I'll concur w/bulavinaka's rec on Santa Monica/Venice. Great visual walking area for out-of-towners.

            When driving down the 5, you might stop at Cream Pan/Japonaise Bakery & Cafe for great Japanese/European style baked goods. They're off the 5 in Tustin.

            While you're in DP, you'll want to b'fast at Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills, another CH favourite for very creative b'fast.

            Brophy Brothers
            1559 Spinnaker Dr, San Buenaventura (Ventura, CA 93001

            Break of Dawn
            24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

            Quality Seafood
            130 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA

            Izakaya Bincho
            112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

            1. re: OCAnn

              Thanks for the advice...we are not big seafood eaters but the bakery is right up my alley and we are already planning on breakfast at Break of Dawn at least once!

              Break of Dawn
              24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

              1. re: OCAnn

                The OP already had one thread up (about places to eat in or near Dana Point) that had been drawing replies. So some overlap between the two threads is starting to occur. To try and head off too much repetition of that type I'll go ahead and link the other thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7185... here. Perhaps future posters on this thread can take a look at the other thread first to see if their planned suggestion has already been given over there?

          3. Poster ocshooter brings up a good point - you might want to give us your approximate route, itinerary, cuisines you might want to try/avoid, price ranges, etc. Some places may or may not be open as well, depending on when you drive through from SB to the OC.

            I don't know if you want to hit up Malibu, but this area is not known for Chow density. There are a few beach-y places that will offer those from outside the SoCal area some places to stop and take in archetype Malibu-ish experiences. Geoffrey's is probably the the most serious of beachside (as in the sand and lapping waves are right there) dining stops. Nobu is for potential celebrity-sighting at a price. Neptune's Net, Malibu Seafood and Bob Morris' Paradise Cove Beach Cafe are more casual and moderately priced. If you have time, and you're driving through Malibu in the evening, Moonshadows is a nice stop for a cocktail while gazing at the Pacific (skip the food - you could do a lot better eating elsewhere).

            Santa Monica/Venice area are pretty thick with good eats. Again - your ideas, desires and time frame would help narrow down the potential ideas that we'd throw at you.

            You could hit up some serious Japanese food if you stop by the South Bay area (Torrance, Gardena, Redondo Beach). This area is about 30-40 minutes north of Orange County. This area straddles the 405.

            I don't know OC well at all, but I'd divert onto the 405 somewhere along the way in order to head into Little Saigon (Westminster/Garden Grove area) for some serious cultural immersion. Universal Man and veteran poster Das Ubergeek would be one of the major sources of info for this area.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bulavinaka

              We'd like to check into the hotel by 8 on Tuesday. THanks!

            2. Camarillo is VERY close by and you may not want a meal but, for a quick break stop at The Bread Basket and get a fabulous sweet treat. http://www.breadbasketcake.com/
              They do make sandwiches too!

              1. taking the 101 to the 405, the trip is only about 150 miles (2 to 2 1/2 hours).

                1 Reply
                1. re: pinpei

                  You let me know the next time you make it from Santa Barbara to Dana Point in 2 1/2 hours. I have a friend who just did Santa Barbara to Irvine and it took him 3 1/2.

                  To keep this on subject: why not have lunch in SB and stop in LA at something like Jitlada? Or, a little further south, Plaza México (it's near the interchange of the 710 and 105 freeways)... you could have early dinner at La Huasteca or at Guelaguetza.

                  5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                  La Huasteca
                  3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262