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Apr 5, 2011 10:32 PM

Driving from LA to SF on 101, where to stop?

I know there are posts like this all the time, but I didn't seem to find exactly what I was looking for so I thought I'd try starting a thread. (Links to helpful threads would also be greatly appreciated)

I'm driving up from LA back up to SF (home) on a weekday on 101. Trying to get back within a day (no hotels) but not in that much of a hurry. I'd love suggestions on places to stop for food and/or food finds. (or actually good places to stop in general...)

Major foodie with no real dislikes. I will be travelling alone though, so nice restaurants/bars aren't really the kind of thing I'm looking for.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. did you do a search? Pick your towns, search them and read So Much information! This will be helpful to you way beyond just getting the name of a place and the town. You'll get tips on the locale, timing, seasonal offerings, etc. that will make it an adventure instead of a drive (6 or 7 hours with pitstops for gas only)

    Listing what time of day, what meals, in which likely location will get you more information.

    Barring doing the research yourself, pick some chow types and ask for specifics. Otherwise, you may not get much response.

    I'll give you my standard: Doc Burstein's Super premium ice cream in Arroyo Grande.

    1 Reply
    1. re: toodie jane

      I guess I wasn't sure which towns to stop in either. Thanks, I'll do some more searching.

    2. Well if you haven't driven this route before, 101 is a two lanes each direction, freeway for most of the route. Other spots, there's cross traffic so drive with awareness. It is such a scenic area, the central coast, we could have you driving all over for chow unless we know a little more...

      Depending on where you're starting from, and at what time, will you have eaten a meal aready, how much time to you have to dally in stopping spots (you said you're not in much of a hurry), etc., it's hard to know where to start. The route up through Ventura County is covered on the LA Board. If you search the Calif board for 'Carpinteria', 'Santa Barbara' 'Santa Ynez Valley' 'Santa Maria' 'Nipomo' 'Arroyo Grande' 'Pismo Beach' San Luis Obispo' 'Paso Robles' 'Salinas Valley' 'Salinas'--you'll come up with scads of threads, each with different types of chow being discussed. Then scoll down past the bottom of the posts to the area with "related threads" and you'll find lots more thread choices about any given spot being discussed. Mind the dates, but even some old ones have updated postings.

      then the rest of your trip will be covered onthe Bay Area board....

      Santa Barbara has some great taco places, some very nice downtown dining, a beautiful intimate harbor with some seafood places and the gorgeous Shoreline Park (google map it) for leg stretching, a cool little pie shop in Goleta, Santa Ynez Valley is known for wine tasting and Danish bakery treats in Solvang, Santa Maria is home to weekend fundraising BBQ's of Tri Tip known as Santa Maria Style BBQ (not smoking, grilling) Nipomo is home to Jocko's retro steak house, Arroyo Grande has Doc Burnsteins ice cream, Pismo has clam chowder, pizza, Thai, Italian, San Luis Obispo has a neat downtown and a great Farmers Market on Thurs evening, Paso Robles is Wine Country--over 220 wineries--with a cool old fashioned downtown park with great restaurants around the neighborhood, Salinas Valley is mostly little agricultural towns each with a few good Mexican restaurants and
      bakeries, and finally Salinas which has fabulous taco trucks and Mexican delis almost everywhere, among other treats.

      Does that spark your curiosity at all? Ultra scenic area, the Central Coast, especially in Spring, so charge your camera batteries, that way you can take chow pictures and post them here!

      Happy hunting

      8 Replies
      1. re: toodie jane

        Thank you x100000! hahaha I haven't driven 101 before, I figured it'd more fun to go up 101 than 5 since I'm going alone.
        I'll likely be looking for lunch, dinner, and snack stops. Bay Area leg of the trip is no biggie, since that's home.
        You've given me some great ideas. And I'll definitely do some more digging. Thanks again!

        1. re: chaseshadows

          I usually stop at Neptune's Net on the 101 in Malibu. They have a huge selection of fried seafood... not much of a foodie place, but the atmosphere is fun and the view is great.

            1. re: mkleeh

              Do you mean La Super Rica on Milpas?

              La Super Rica
              622 N Milpas St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

              1. re: PolarBear

                Got to be precise here in Santa Barbara as it could be: Super Cuca's tacos or La Superica tacos. Both good choices, but very different.

                Super Cuca's
                626 W Micheltorena St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

                1. re: PolarBear

                  +1 for La Super Rica, with a side trip to McConnell's for some ice cream afterward.

                  1. re: djquinnc

                    #15 La Superica and a Brazillian Coffee Chip chaser - my idea of heaven. And a boat load of dairy fat. Which is why it is sooo good. At least living here, we can walk between the two spots and end up with net zero calories!

          1. re: toodie jane

            Finally got to Jocko's for the first time last year. Highly recommended. Best steak I've had in eons. They only fire up the grill at dinner time, so probably not as good for lunch.

          2. If in the mood for a hearty good breakfast and a heavenly airy homemade biscuit the size of a grapefruit, then try out Hoover's Beef Palace in Templeton, ca. They also serve lunch fare ,but the breakfast and buscuit and gravy is awesome!
            Place is not much for ambiance, kinda jocko's like in decor. Kitchy ranch

            Hoover's Beef Palace Restaurant
            401 N Main St, Templeton, CA 93465

            3 Replies
            1. re: foodiecurious

              2nd! I'm not much on breakfast gravy, but Hoover's is the exception. I always go down 101 to LA to avoid the food wasteland of I-5 and for breakfast at Hoover's. My route is dinner at Passionfish, overnight in Paso Robles, breakfast at Hoover's, check out a winery or two, then cruise into LA on Hwy 1 along the coast by Malibu. I find this a very easy trip and my nerves aren't on edge like they are after the drive on the Interstate.

              701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

              1. re: BN1

                It is more the impact of sensory deprivation that unglues me on I-5. Always take Highway 99 when there is a choice between those two. 101 is the best of all for its foodie offerings and sheer variety of scenery the entire route.

                1. re: glbtrtr

                  I think driving the 5 through the Central Valley is one of the most potentially dangerous drives I've personally done - the other is the drive along the 15 between SoCal and Las Vegas. As you mention, the sensory deprivation is bad, but coupled with the speeds and the mindset of many Highway 5 drivers (make time at all costs), I won't be driving on this section of 5 given other options.

                  We had a nice breakfast on the back patio at Del Monte Cafe in SLO. It's on the outskirts of the Downtown area, and we found it to be a nice place to gas off after completing the stretch from LA to this part of the coast.


            2. for breakfasts, we always go to Domingo's Cafe in Goleta. it's a classic small town diner with a definite regional influence to its menu. if we're in the Paso Robles area around lunchtime, we go to Papi's, a tacqueria with an above average variety and salsa bar -- the gorditas are very good, though from observation through the years the burritos and tortas might be as popular as anything else there.

              840 13th St Ste C, Paso Robles, CA 93446

              1 Reply
              1. re: moto

                Thanks for the local tip on Domingo's. Never been there myself but it does sound very chow-worthy. Any place that gets great praise for hash-browns gets me very interested:

              2. I ended up not making very many stops for one reason or another but I had a lot of very good food.
                For lunch, I stopped at Zookers in Carpinteria. It's not too far off the freeway and the service was great. I had an heirloom tomato grilled cheese with goat cheese and smoked mozzarella, which was a special that day. It came with ceasar salad, blue corn tortilla chips, and pita chips. It was a little pricey for $12 but it was made perfectly and the different cheese married perfectly with the tomatoes. I thought it was worth it for a perfectly executed sandwich. Also, I sat outside and it was just beautiful. Most of their other food is very reasonably priced.
                My next stop was Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream lab in Arroyo Grande based on a toodie jane's recommendation. I had the motor oil ice cream, which was dark chocolate and kahlua ice cream with fudge. Very good. It's a very cute looking place. They have lots of special events too. Later that night there was going to be all you can eat ice cream. $5 per person for a a group of predetermined flavors.
                I stopped at Pismo Beach, not really to eat, but I stopped at the Hotlix store to look around and ended up getting a few things. (nothing with bugs though)
                My final stop was for dinner. I stopped at Salinas City BBQ in Salinas. Now this was a little ways off the freeway, in a very unassuming part of town. But I was pleasantly surprised. I had the tri tip dinner which came with 1/3 lb of tri tip, 2 sides, and garlic bread. It was only $9.95. It was really good. The sides were good. The meat was deliciously tender and smoky. I know there were a lot of other opportunities for good BBQ along the way but my schedule just didn't allow me to eat at those places. But Salinas City BBQ was so good, even though it's a little far off the freeway.

                Zookers Restaurant
                5404 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria, CA 93013