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SF to San Luis Obispo eats

Anyone have any recommendations for the trip down Highway 1 from SF to SLO? I'd appreciate any recommendations - any great restaurants, snacks, foodie places - anything would help.

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  1. Dear Southern Californian.It's Highway 1 up here not PCH. What time are you leaving and from where? The San Francisco Bay Board will only get you to to Pescadero and beyond that is the California Board. Which meals do you want in the Bay Area?

    6 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      I'm even worse than a Southern Californian. I'm Texan! Sorry, Highway 1 from now on. We'll be leaving SF in the morning and plan to stay in SLO Friday night and then heading back to SF on Saturday. We will be spending most of our time/meals in SF so any bay area recommendations from you would be greatly appreciated.

      1. re: PattiPH

        Texan, note that it's a long drive (longer than it looks on paper), and the stretch through Big Sur is mostly windy two-lane road clinging to a cliff above the ocean -- probably not the kind of driving you're used to in Texas. Not that you shouldn't do it -- it's pretty spectacular -- but plan accordingly. Personally, I'd pick up some goodies in SF and then take some breaks along the way to sit on the beach and nosh.

        ETA: According to Google maps it's 254 miles/5 hours and 14 minutes -- that time estimate sounds wildly optimistic to me!

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Thank you for the information - we thought it'd be about a 4 hour drive so it's already a lot longer than we had anticipated. My husband hasn't done this route since childhood and he's pretty adamant we do it but I'll be sure and warn him about what you said. I like the idea of picking up some goodies in SF and taking breaks. Any foodie/gourmet shops you can recommend for helping me pack a snack basket?

          1. re: PattiPH

            post about picnic items on the SF board...

            1. re: PattiPH

              That drive will take 7-8 hours. Traffic will be very slow at times depending on weather conditions. After a certain point there is no way to cut over to Hwy 101 at which point you are stuck on the road. Rethink the trip or allow for more time.

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              I drove from Cambria to Marina (north of Monterey), which is half the distance of the OP's planned travel, in August up Hwy 1 for the first time in a long time. I prefer that direction, driving on the inside lane instead of hanging off the edge of the cliff. It took nearly 3 hours on a monday morning and we left early before traffic was heavy. Note that in some spots, there's only ONE lane due to road construction. I think we had three, perhaps four places where we had to stop and wait for traffic coming the opposite way to pass. I was sorry that we couldn't take the time to stop and take in the scenery, as we pass that way so seldom.

              Our one stop on Hwy 1 was at Big Sur Bakery. My mother was fussing that I'd pulled over, as she was afraid we'd be late for our appointment. But after she tasted the sampling of pastries I'd purchased, she understood why I made time.

              Big Sur Bakery
              47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

        2. Not sure if it is still there, or still good, but the last time I made that trip Nepenthe in Big Sur was a most enjoyable hang. Stunning views and solid food and drink.

          4 Replies
          1. re: GroovinGourmet

            Nepenthe is still an awesome lunch spot.

            1. re: GroovinGourmet

              A place with views that awesome should have worse food. *the* thing is sunset at Nepenthe; if you can swing that into your schedule, you won't regret it. Apologies if Nepenthe is not on the SF board. I think I have to swing down on that road next week, too.

              1. re: bbulkow


                Nepenthe webcam

              2. re: GroovinGourmet

                Nepenthe has extraordinary otherworldly views. The food is expensive for what it is, if it was really, really good. But it is only mediocre, at best.

              3. On the way back another restaurant with views for dinner, probably Peruvian is in short supply around your home,is La Costanera which is on our board.

                La Costanera
                8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                1. It would be best if you resubmit this request specifically for the San Francisco part of your trip. It seems everyone got caught up in the drive down the "PCH" and with one exception forgot about San Francisco Bay Area causing the board switch.

                  1. I think if you are aware of the time it may take- you will be so glad you made the effort! Be prepared for fog/chilly! We love the area around Davenport- which is N of Santa Cruz. Farms and a great spot to stop- a bakery/breakfast joint- there isn't really much else there....and thats the best part.
                    Have a wonderful drive!

                    1. Pedal to the metal, with allowances for slow moving two lane road traffic, I'd say 6 to 7 hours from SF to SLO on the Coast Road ,as it's known in the Big Sur ( or, Highway 1...)

                      If your time is that short, unless you're visiting relatives in SLO, cut the trip short and overnight on the Monterey Penninsula, then return to SF.

                      If you're committed to overnighting in SLO, then perhaps make one of the legs of the journey on Highway 101-- THAT would be a 4-hour trip. That route would be leave The City on 280, run down the spine of the Penninsula to 85, then head south and east through the Santa Clara Valley to meet up with 101 at the south end of San Jose. From there it's about 3 to 3 1/2 hours to SLO, depending on speed. The road is fairly open, just watch for the black-and-white Crown Victorias and pursuit Mustangs, at interchanges and offramps if you are pushing your speed. Posted max freeway speeds are 65, except for a stretch between King City and San Miguel where it is 70 mph. Speeds along Highway 1 willl be 65 through Santa Cruz metro area, but actual speed likely to be 45. The rest of the road is two lane; these parts of Highway 1 posted at 55 but likely to be actual 30 to 45 mph on this heavlily driven tourist route. 25 max between Carmel and San Simeon along the cliffs.

                      So, what's on the chowdar along Highway 101 route? Little Saigon just north of the junction of 101 and 85, monster fruit stands along the Gilroy 101 corridor, outstanding Mexican street food via lunch wagons & cafes in all of the Salinas Valley ag towns: Salinas, Gonzales, Soledad, King City; fabulous casual wine country dining around Paso Robles/Templeton, and once to SLO, many many choices.

                      Just search those town names on the Calif. Board 'search' and lots of tips will come up. Here's my tip for breakfast on Saturday, before 9:00: Bon Temps Creole Cafe on Olive street, just off Santa Rosa St where it crosses over 101, sort of midtown SLO. Get breakfast early as all the good places clog up past 9 or 9:30 with table-hogs.

                      Wishing you a good trip and good weather, the coast can have very dense fog, so bring layers, and extra camera batteries. We've had some offshore winds lately, and the views are west towards forever. Supposed to be in the 80's this and next weekend in SLO, but the coast is always 'iffy'.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: toodie jane

                        toodie jane, are there any specific places you'd recommend in King City? I usually drive through King City whenever I'm in the area, but have no idea which cafes would be a good places to stop.

                        I'd make a pit stop at Taco Temple when nearing Morro Bay. Also like eating fried fish & bbqed oysters on the patio at Tognazzini's Too (the casual resto attached to the fish market part of Tognazzini's).

                        Agree that Nepenthe is a good place to stop for lunch, although I haven't eaten there for years. That being said, my California cousin had a good lunch at Nepenthe this past week. http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/

                        I aso enjoyed a nice lunch on the patio at Tarpy's Roadhouse near Monterey last year. http://www.tarpys.com/

                        Tarpy's Roadhouse
                        2999 Salinas Hwy, Monterey, CA 93940

                        Tognazzini's Dockside Restaurant
                        1245 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442

                        Taco Temple
                        2680 Main St, Morro Bay, CA 93442

                        Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

                        1. re: prima

                          in KC, on North Broadway there are several Mexican cafes. I like El Lugarcito for the shrimp tostadas--simple but delicious. Kitty-corner is a great place with exellent variety meat tacos and other items. Great Lengua and carnitas, but also buche etc.

                          El Lugarcito Restaurant
                          128 Broadway St, King City, CA 93930

                          1. re: toodie jane

                            Thanks so much, toodie jane. Hope to try El Lugarcito next time I'm in KC!

                            El Lugarcito Restaurant
                            128 Broadway St, King City, CA 93930

                        2. re: toodie jane

                          Thank you (and everyone!) for the awesome tips! We've decided to go only as far south as Carmel, staying the night in Marina. How does that sound? I think we can take our time this way and make more stops. We will definitely be trying some of the suggestions here - Big Sur Bakery, etc. I'll look up these towns you mentioned and be sure we check them out. I'll report back. Thanks, again, everyone - huge help in deciding our route!

                          Big Sur Bakery
                          47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

                          1. re: PattiPH

                            Note that only going as far as Carmel, you'll miss Point Lobos and Big Sur (and the Bakery). The coast line south of Carmel down to San Simeon has the most dramatic scenery and is the real reason to take Hwy 1. Not that many standouts foodwise though. The stops north of Carmel are pretty but cannot compare. At a minimum, you should drive down to Big Sur, also because during the late fall and winter it will be sunny and clear there when other parts of the coast are socked in with fog. You can make up the time by skipping Hwy 1 north of Castroville and taking the faster freeways, then cut over to the coast. On your return drive to SF, take Hwy 1 northbound on Saturday when city dwellers will be driving south in the opposite direction. You can stop north of Davenport at Swanton Berry Farm for strawberry treats.

                            Swanton Berry Farm
                            25 Swanton Rd, Davenport, CA 95017

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Point Lobos is maybe 15 minutes south of Carmel- right? A must see!!!

                              1. re: OldJalamaMama

                                Point Lobos is a great place for a picnic. There are several picnic areas but they get filled early. For supplies, you can stop either at Whole Foods in Monterey (in Del Monte shopping center - Munras exit off Hwy 1) or at the deli in downtown Carmel - I'm blanking on the name right now - across from Devendorf Park on Ocean Ave. The Cheese Shop in Carmel Plaza (across the street from the park) has a great selection of cheese and wine. There are also some coffee places on Ocean Ave for dessert items, and the Cottage Sweet shop for candy (truffles, bagged taffy and misc chocolates).

                                1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                  Just saw the link that was in my message - that's not the one I was referring to (I don't know how that happened). The Del Monte Shopping Center is NOT in Seaside. I just removed the link.

                        3. I agree with all the comments about Hwy 1. It'll take longer than expected, and I would also recommend going south to north. Lots of places. For lunch: Taco Temple in Morro Bay, Main Street Grill in Cambria for their tri-tip sandwich. Best though, is Sebastian's in the old San Simeon settlement....across the road from the Hearst Castle entrance....not the motel strip.

                          Taco Temple
                          2680 Main St, Morro Bay, CA 93442

                          Main Street Grill
                          603 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428