Our Epic Trip through Four Chowhound Regions (California Board Edition)
Recently a friend and I underwent a roughly 7-day long, 2000-mile excursion around California and Oregon sandwiched around the Labor Day holiday. While the trip was more focused on getting in the sights (a rather ambitious attempt, as we found out), we were going to try our darndest to get in some chowy goodness along the way. I had asked for some advice on a few boards for potential suspects and wanted to report back.
As we found out, timing (and hunger) is a little hard to figure out sometimes, so potential places fell by the wayside, and some places were guesses and/or bows to convenience (or sheer tiredness).
We started off and finished up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but we ended up at a few places in the far northern reaches of California during our travels.
Day 2 (Sunday)
Esperanza's Tamales, Redding – This was one of those nice surprise finds we made. We had stopped by the Sundial Bridge to get some pictures and walk the surroundings; on the way back, we noticed that a small farmer's market was just getting going. Among the vendors was Esperanza’s Tamales, who based on some later research currently sells only at venues like farmers markets.
Since we wanted to eat and go anyway to have plenty of time to get and tour the Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, this looked like a potentially tasty way of doing so.
We picked out one tamale at $2 each - my partner grabbed the chicken edition and I stuck with the veggie version (cheese and spinach) and we sampled each other’s – they both nice little spicy kick to them even without the sauce that was added on top; those tamales plus the assorted supplies we had brought along with us fueled our hiking quite nicely that afternoon.
Day 6 (Thursday)
Good Harvest Café, Crescent City – we had intended on dropping by some Southern Oregon coast places before we bunked down in Crescent City for the night, but we just plain didn’t have an appetite built up before we back in the Golden State again.
I hadn’t really done much research for Crescent City, and we weren’t impressed by the exterior of the nearby Beachcomber Restaurant nearby our hotel (despite the discount coupon given to us by the front desk staff.) Thankfully, my friend spotted this place on the way into town as we were trying to get the lay of the land, so we doubled back to check out their offerings.
I went with the sushi grade tuna done medium rare and it proved fine; my friend opted for the fish tacos and it seemed like a better version than the pub grub variety I had ordered in metro Portland. My friend also sampled an Eel River IPA and found it somewhat ordinary compared to other similar beers.
Prices might be considered a bit pricey on most of the main entrée items - the sandwiches seemed to be a much better deal. Also, the interior and vibe was a little bit kitschy, from the stuffed animal heads to the little booklet on the tables that not only spelled out their philosophy about trying to be healthful with their cooking but also had sections containing everything from punny jokes, inspirational stories, and ads for local business, but overall the Good Harvest Cafe worked for us (at the very least, we’re tempted to try their breakfast the next time were up that way.)
Day 7 (Friday)
Continental Bakery and Dutch Brothers Coffee, Crescent City – again, we went the pastry route as we wanted to grab a quick bite to eat to make it through the Redwoods and possible heavy highway traffic (which actually didn’t surface.) We had heard from a staff member of Good Harvest that this place had been somewhat erratic in terms of their operations of late, but they were open and had a decent crowd building when we got there (maybe they had a change of ownership recently, based on some recent reviews on Yelp?)
We probably would’ve gone with the apple fritter if the thing wasn’t the size of a hubcap (my arteries I think hardened a couple degrees at first glance.) Despite the insistence of those inside that the fritter was all that, we settled on the more sensibly-sized strudel (I went for apple, she went for raspberry). This was pretty good, sweet with all sorts of oozy fruit filling, and sometimes that’s what you need for driving long miles on the road.
As coffee was still just getting brewed, we opted for the Dutch Bros. Coffee down the street for our java – I’d always seen these places during my travels into Oregon prior (I’ve done a couple of running races there) so we figured might as well. As it was, the coffee was merely okay, though it was interesting how at this location, at least, they used an extra cup to keep your coffee hot rather than a cardboard cozy. Not sure if that’s the case with other locations, but it worked quite well to keep your coffee hot.
ETA: In case you wanted to read the rest of this journey's ventures, here are the other related posts
SF Bay Area
Good Harvest Cafe
700 Northcrest Dr Ste A, Crescent City, CA 95531
503 L St, Crescent City, CA 95531