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California for two weeks - SF, Napa, Yosemite, and Highway One

I have also posted this on the SF board to get the recommendations for the city but thought it useful to also post that bit here as well as asking for advice in other areas, the SF options hopefully position the other options so we get variety.

We are over in California in early April for our first non-city holiday: five nights in SF to start with then up to Napa/Sonoma, across to Yosemite, then back up the coast through Paso Robles and Monterey. I have been studying the boards lots of useful info, however I would like some advice on whether we have the best balance for our days in town. We are Australian, live in Hong Kong, and have lived in Paris - so Asian and European food isn't really what we want.

Our goal is to discover Mexican food (as we have only had bad to average in the past), get to experience some great modern californian food, and wallow in burger heaven.

Here are the current plans, grateful for any help for the non SF bit particular around Yosemite and places to stop whilst travelling.

Friday – arrive from Hong Kong at 22:00 head into town and aim for a late dinner at Zumi Café, Nopa, or Comstock Saloon. We are staying at the Union Street Inn so hopefully not too far to travel.

Saturday – our B&B provides breakfast and after that head to the farmers market to browse and probably grab some lunch there. That evening head out to Nopalito and also try some bars around the area or head to the Mission district for drinks. May swop this for a more classic burger/steak meal if the Friday dinner option doesn’t work so may substitute Nopi or Zuni Café.

Sunday – head over to Alcatraz to tick off the tourist sights, for lunch we will probably head to a a good coffee place – I have Ritual Roasters, Bi-Rite Creamery, Four Barrels, and Dynamo Donut in my sights: any other recommendations? Later that afternoon head to Oakland for a Mexican crawl around Fruitvale, thanks to Ruth I have Elote fruit cart; La Torta Loca, Marisocos La Costa, El Gordo Taco Truck, Mi Pueblo Food Centre, El Ojo Agua Taco Truck and El Novillo Taco Truck to track down. And thanks to Robert I will aim for beers at The Trappist, Pacific Coast Brewing and Beer Revolution in downtown Oakland.

Monday – mooch around town with no target for lunch, probably aim for another coffee place. We will then head over to Berkley to wander around and have some drinks at Cesar, Trumper Pils and/or Bison Brewery. Dinner at Chez Panisse, then if we are up for it a nightcap at Hotsy Totsy Club.

Tuesday to Thursday - we head out to Sonoma and Napa staying in Glenn Ellen. Clearly I haven’t done well on choosing a hotel in a top food area but the hotel looks better value than other towns. Looks like Girl + the Fig and maybe the Fig Café and Wine Bar could be two of our meals. With the other meals being El Molino and/or Juanita Juanita. Have I got the best from the area around Glenn Ellen, it does seem there are better places but we don’t want to travel far in the evenings. During the day I will take a list of other places recommended in Napa etc and we will make decisions on the fly.

Friday – we head to Yosemite to stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel for a night, I suspect the hotel restaurant is the best bet. On the way I though of stopping in Oakdale as there are reports of a good Mexican. Is this too much of a diversion or are there better bets?

Saturday to Monday we are staying at Fish Camp in a B&B and the options for food don’t seem great so decent rather than great is fine. Any ideas or recommendations, in or around town?

Tuesday - head down to Paso Robles, aim to get there early afternoon and sample some wines. Are their any logical stops on the way, Fresno maybe, or should we plan on an In and Out Burger? I was planning to eat at Thomas Hill Organics but it looks like it closes Tuesday. The next best option would appear to be Artisan. Is this a good choice or are there other options?

Wednesday – a morning at Hearst Castle then head up the coast through Big Sur to stay in Monterrey, or Carmel, hopefully passing Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, Nepenthe or Big Sur Bakery at lunchtime. We plan on going to the Aquarium first thing Thursday, and so thought Monterey was a better bet. Trying to choose between Passion Fish and 1833. Any others are we missing anything better? Probably try to grab a coffee and pastry at Parker Lusseau for breakfast.

Thursday – head back up the coast to Los Gatos for our final blow out at Manresa, I thought a lunch stop in Santa Cruz could work. Any thoughts for there or a better destination – the more scenic the better.

Friday – fly back to Hong Kong at lunchtime.

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  1. Re Yosemite: if price isn't an issue, yes, the hotel restaurant at the Ahwahnee is probably your best bet. Please report back; reports have been very mixed lately and updates are always nice to have. If you are into mixed drinks, try the El Portals at the Ahwahnee bar...

    Re: Fish Camp: not sure there is much there (nothing that I know of anyway), but if you drive just 14 miles/22 km (about 20 minutes) south on Highway 41, you should be able to find good to very good Mexican options in Oakhurst. (not to be confused with Oakdale, although yes, that might be worth a stop en route from the bay area). My sister liked the albondigas at Casa Veracruz, and they have lots of seafood options (unbelievably, I still haven't made it there!):

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/660868

    El Cid in Oakhurst also gets lots of positive mentions on the board (haven't seen any lately though, so updates would be appreciated)...

    and check out this tip for bbq in Oakhurst, it definitely sounds promising:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815154

    There is also good Japanese food in Oakhurst of all places, but I wouldn't recommend that for someone coming from Hong Kong....

    Fresno is indeed a logical stop between Fish Camp and Paso Robles, particularly for Mexican food. Please don't waste a lunch on In and Out, way overrated, IMO. Check out PolarBear's recent report on Mariscos Colima, or perhaps the Fresno hounds have more recent updates.

    I love the Hush Harbor bakery in Atascadero if you make it there:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/706641

    4 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      I must totally disagree with Susan, If you like cheeseburgers try an In N Out double double animal style, very tasty, double meat double cheese with extra sauce, pickles, grilled onions, etc. most reviews on In N Out in chowhounds are 90% positive.

      1. re: malibumike

        I&OB is not anywhere near being an "artisan" burger but if the op wants to taste one just to say he has, then...

        Polar Bear I think, told of a good burger in Avenal, west of Fresno headed towards Paso Robles. Hand made, in a local joint. PB?

        1. re: toodie jane

          The word "artisan" and "sustainable" have been tossed around here and there to such an extent they seem to no longer mean much. In relation to burgers, Burger King was advertising an "artisan" bun.
          How can a patron state that a restaurant has a sustainable wine list? That phrase has been batted around on this site and others too long.
          ....stepping down from soapbox.

          1. re: toodie jane

            I wouldn't call it artisan, but just a damn good burger without the sticker shock.

            Debbie's Place
            429 Skyline Blvd

      2. I love Glen Ellen, but then I am biased (my father and stepmom live there). It really isn't far to Sonoma for a little more restaurant action. I also happen to like the Fig Cafe (Glen Ellen) very much, much more than the Girl and the Fig (Sonoma), and I wouldn't necessarily eat at both (I'd much rather eat at Fig Cafe twice, and it will be much closer to your hotel in Glen Ellen, probably walking distance. If you are going to drive into Sonoma, there are many more options besides Fig Cafe, including El Molino more than once). Go for El Molino over Juanita/Juanita, without question (and it isn't that much further: Juanita/Juanita is actually on the southern outskirts of GE). If you find yourself up in Santa Rosa, I really enjoyed Willi's Wine Bar, but it is a haul from Glen Ellen. I've never eaten at Olive and Vine in Glen Ellen but it gets very good reports. For snacks or food for the road, the Village Market Grocery in Glen Ellen is excellent. (there is one in Sonoma also).

        You might also want to consider the Fremont Diner, perhaps for breakfast on your way to Yosemite...(although I have to say, my one critique of your itinerary, assuming you haven't been many times, is that I think you've shortchanged yourself on time in Yosemite a bit, so you might just want to get food for the road at the Village Market and make time to Yosemite. It is a long, five hours plus drive from Glen Ellen and one night isn't nearly enough. You will be able to visit the southern part of the park from Fish Camp of course, but most new visitors want to spend more time in the Valley, a 1.25 hours drive from Fish Camp. Bottom line, though, don't worry about the lack of good food around Yosemite/Fish Camp: it will be good enough and you should be distracted enough by the beauty not to care too much...)

        3 Replies
        1. re: susancinsf

          Susan - thanks for the useful advice. Our Yosemite choices were driven more by accommodation choice and price, looks like we will need to drive a bit. Good to hear the scenery is as distracting as we hoped it would be. I tend to think location can make average food memorable so hopefully we won't hit anything too bad. Sounds like the best bet is to set off early from Napa and not plan to stop too long for lunch or at least not detour. Modesto looks to be on the way, any thoughts?

          1. re: PhilD

            Hi..unless you are planning to take 140 into the park (a good choice if the weather is at all threatening: it takes you in at lower altitude and avoids most of the likelihood of snow, not that this has been much of a snow year at all), Modesto is actually out of your way (from the bay area, I think the 120 route is quicker.).

            OTOH, if you do take 140 in the route, your trip down 99 will take you past the town of Atwater, where the place to have a delicious (not particularly fast, but you will want a break) lunch is Jantz Bakery and Cafe. Everything is good, and the pies are NOT to be missed! I am almost certain you won't find pies like those back home....These pies hold their own against pies anywhere. This would be a good time of year for the lemon merangue. All of the varieties are stellar. You can also load up on cookies and baked goods for the trip.

            In Modesto, not too far off the freeway but away from the strip mall madness, you can get a similar meal at Hanna's Kuchenhaus Bakery: they won't have the outstanding pie, but lots of other great breads and baked goods, with a German bent. Might be a bit less crowded than Jantz, which is justifiably famous and popular.

            I haven't found a Mexican restaurant I love in Modesto yet, nor one I love in Merced (my town, which you will also go through on the 140 route), though Maria's Mexican Kitchen on Main Street isn't bad. Best food in Merced is Thai, but I doubt if you want that.

            OTOH, if you do take the 120 route (consult a map), which is probably quicker weather permitting, you can stop for lunch in Oakdale for that Mexican meal, per your earlier post....

            By the way, if for any reason you end up in Mariposa at some point (you will go through it on the way to Yosemite if you take 140, but will miss it on the way to Fresno after) there is a branch of Jantz Bakery there. However, it is take-out only, with only the outstanding baked goods (no lunch items).

            Yosemite is beautiful and uncrowded this year. Take a bit of time to enjoy our foothill areas too, which are also beautiful right now. Green and all of the orchards are in bloom for another week or three... Have fun!

            1. re: susancinsf

              to clarify: Maria's Mexican Kitchen is on Main Street Merced, not Main Street Modesto.

        2. If you stop through Fresno (my area) for Mexican, I suggest Casa Quintero http://www.yelp.com/biz/casa-quintero... It's a small hole in the wall place and the food is pretty great. It's also right off of the 41 highway Ashlan exit so it would be a convenient place to stop coming from Yosemite.

          Another thought, although I cannot personally vouch for it, is Sal's in Selma, CA http://www.yelp.com/biz/sals-mexican-... It's not too far off your route from Yosemite to Paso, and pretty much everyone I know who has been there loves it... I can't believe I haven't made it there yet now that I think about it.

          In Oakhurst, if you want to go all out, Erna's Elderberry House is as good as it gets. http://www.yelp.com/biz/ernas-elderbe...

          I would also suggest doing some research on yelp for Oakhurst and Fresno/central valley places... this area isn't that well represented on Chowhound unfortunately.

          13 Replies
          1. re: juliejulez

            Another thought again... if you get a chance, get some Santa Maria Tri Tip BBQ while in Paso. The best stuff is usually served at gas stations or in a parking lot of a convenience store or something. There's places in Fresno you can get it too that are very good but might make more sense on your trip to get it while you're in Paso. I think that's one thing that's very uniquely Californian. Most other parts of the country hardly even know what Tri Tip is. This place looks to be about right: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sidewalk-deli.... Key is that they cook it in the parking lot :)

            1. re: juliejulez

              Well, there may be more traffic on other sites, but CH has some very reliable posters who do know the best in Fresno, at least IMO.

              I've never been to Erma's, but have heard mixed (though mostly positive) reports from local friends who have. I am not convinced it would really be as good as it gets for someone coming from Hong Kong who is also visiting restaurants in the City as well as Manresa...

              1. re: susancinsf

                Hey I love Chowhound and got a great recommendation for a SF restaurant a few weeks ago for when I was there for one night. But, for Fresno, Yelp has more reviews and feedback from local people, versus people who have just visited which seems to be the case with a lot of the feedback on Chowhound. The search function there is easier to use as well, IMO. When I moved back to Fresno after a number of years in Chicago (I grew up nearby in Visalia) I was surprised at the lack of Fresno and surrounding area threads and reviews here on Chowhound. Much of what you do find on here is old, such as the thread about Casa Veracruz, it is almost 3 years old. It is no longer open to my knowledge.

                There's tons of other great mexican places/taquerias here that I could recommend but they wouldn't really be convenient to a "passing through" traveler, and some are in some pretty shady neighborhoods that I wouldn't necessarily want to send someone to who is not from here :)

                I should have added to my comment about Erna's that it's as good as it gets "for around here" in terms of fine dining. I certainly agree that if you're doing the fine dining thing in San Francisco or Napa, Erna's will probably just be average in comparison.

                I would also like to agree with your above comment about just getting something quick to eat up by Yosemite so you can use as much time as possible in the park versus spending it in a restaurant eating :)

                1. re: juliejulez

                  I am with you on the search function...and your statement that Casa Veracruz might not be there anymore made me sad, since I really did intend to check it out one of these days (time flies). My own search turns up no additional info, although I do see that there is a Casa Velasco in Oakhurst; I wonder if Janet was confused about the name?

                  Regardless, El Cid is definitely there and going strong and would be a good option for the OP to check out. (right on the main drag coming from Fish Camp).

                  I do hope you will add to the content here at Chowhound by telling us about some of those other 'great Mexican' places you mention...and please don't let the neighborhood stop you from reporting: honestly, there really isn't anywhere in Fresno that I'd hesitate to send a visitor, (and certainly not in Oakhurst! :-)) and in any case those of us who live here would also appreciate the intel!

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    Well my favorite place in town in Salsa's in Old Town Clovis. http://www.yelp.com/biz/salsas-mexica... I wouldn't hesitate to send anybody there, it's just out of the way for someone coming down from Yosemite. Everything I've had there has been super delicious. The owners are a family and are the ones in the kitchen cooking. They just moved to a bigger spot on Clovis Ave next to Di Ciccos. The Casa Quintero place I suggested is my second favorite. There's a bunch of other places I'd still like to try... I've only been back in town a little over a year :) In Visalia I really like Colima and El Mejor.

                    I can stomach some pretty ghetto neighborhoods but most of the good places are not somewhere I'd want to send someone from out of town. For my favorite thing in the world, legit tacos (no lettuce or cheese on them, blech!), Tacos Tijuana is pretty great, especially late at night. I would not send an out of towner here though. I've never had a problem at any hour even though there's A LOT of shady people around (and I've been there at various times of day/night), but a friend of mine witnessed a drive-by shooting right outside in the evening while eating here. It's definitely not a "tourist friendly" neighborhood. I honestly wouldn't even go if I was alone. http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-and-mar... Also La Elegante in Chinatown is delicious http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-elegante-t... but again, I'm not sure I'd send an out of towner there after dark. During the day it's probably fine. Not sure how late they stay open though, never been at night, they might close early like most places downtown do. Also Lola's Rico Taco http://www.yelp.com/biz/lolas-rico-ta..., it's a walk-up window with some tables outside so definitely not somewhere you'd really want to go after dark in that neighborhood, but deliciousss. It's also painted bright pink which is fun.

                    Ugh now I want some tacos.....

                    You are probably correct about Casa Velasco/Veracruz...I could have sworn I saw a Casa Veracruz up there years ago but maybe I'm thinking of Velasco too!!

                  2. re: juliejulez

                    Thanks for sticking with Yelp and not adding to the already long line ups at places that all us locals have promoted here over the years.

                    1. re: PolarBear

                      I'm not sure I get your meaning? Was that a "get off chowhound and stick with Yelp then"? If so that's not very nice :( I'm a fairly newer user to Chowhound, but have been using Yelp for a long time so maybe that's why I prefer Yelp especially for it's easy to use search feature. I didn't move back to this area until Dec of 2010 so I'm still always looking for new recommendations of places to try, especially for anything that's more of a regional specialty (ie Mexican and tri-tip BBQ).

                      So, I see above in Susan's post that you recommend Mariscos Colima (I wasn't able to locate your actual review, maybe you can provide a link?). I have not been there. Which location do you recommend?

                      1. re: juliejulez

                        "I was surprised at the lack of Fresno and surrounding area threads and reviews here on Chowhound..."

                        No jj, you are more than welcome here but having, along with numerous others, posted extensively over the past 10 years on every little hidden gem we can find, your comment just rubbed the wrong way.

                        You are correct the CH search function leaves much to be desired, most of us use Google with "chowhound" as part of the descriptor.

                        Regarding Mariscos Colimas, they've evolved, I still love the original open air place on the NW corner of Clinton and Chestnut, but here's my favorite of the new ventures:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/807819

                        Wasnt' that impressed with the one at Kings Canyon and Clovis, Tulare St. and First was better but I'd stick with the other two.

                        Sal's at Fresno and Alluvial means I don't have to drive to Selma for a Fancy or Karl's Special burrito, or the braised ribs (which is all we order at either place).

                        Don Pepe's at Gettysburg and Blackstone, any of the half dozen shrimp dishes, al pastor tortas or tacos carved off the spit, great lengua, etc, etc.

                        La Placita on Kings Canyon and Maple for menudo and other muy autentico comidas.

                        El Toro Cafe NE Cedar and Shields (Fountain Way) for fish tacos.

                        Zamora's on Fresno btw Belmont and Olive, best chile verde and most everything else.

                        Others worth a look: Cafe Leon, Country Fare, Guadalajara, Taco Rapido, Julia's.

                        These are just the old standbys, have to admit I haven't kept up lately with any new entries into the mix. Happy reading.

                        Cheers,

                        Dave

                    2. re: juliejulez

                      My favourite hole-in-the-wall Mexican in Fresno is the Michuacana Meat Market on the corner of Belmont and N. Van Ness. Not really a restaurant so much as a market that sells burritos, but they have one of the best carne asada burritos I've had in the area. I always have to ask for double tortillas because they stuff them so full! And yeah, it's in kind of a sketchy area (right across the street from a methadone clinic, I believe), and perhaps too far out of the way for someone just visiting, but it is on the corner of 2 fairly major streets and for $3.50 apiece, their burritos are hard to beat. More of a lunch place, though, since they close early and their only seating is outdoors. If I'm being honest, I prefer to eat good food in one of Fresno's ghetto-ish neighbourhoods than be surrounded by the malls and housing developments in the "nice" areas.

                      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                        Only been once but have to agree, it's hard to beat. There's a similar type market across from Rooselvelt HS on the NE corner of Tulare and Barton that puts out really nice food to go. Sorry, blanking on the name at the moment.

                        Just stumbled across one I hadn't heard of, small restaurant SW of Dakota and N. Hughes, called Valentin's. Supposedly great chile rellenos.

                        1. re: PolarBear

                          I think I almost went into Valentin's one Sunday when the restaurant we had wanted to go to was closed and we were wandering around trying to find somewhere to eat dinner. We decided against it, I think, because we had had Mexican the night before. Next time I'll go in and order the chile rellenos!

                          I looked up the place on Tulare and Barton and it looks like it's called El Toro Tortilleria. The google street view looks really familiar, too, like I've ridden by on the bus.

                          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                            Ah yes, one of the 3, ET Cafe, ET Tambien (RIP) and the market. I'll make a point of checking them out also.

                  3. PhilD, if El Cid in Oakhurst fits into your lunch sked, I think you would enjoy it and it's on your way. Good chips, ask for all three homemade salsas. Think basic Mexican; tacos, enchiladas, etc. Avoid the fish tacos. Margaritas are good too and I'm particular.
                    Ask to be seated on the glassed-in porch.
                    Just a comment on 1833. I haven't been there yet, but wow is it getting rave reviews. Also, best new restaurant in the finals for a James Beard award. Can't be too shabby.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Gail

                      HAVE FUN IN YOSEMITE! We stay in Fish Camp every year, in every weather....we eat out only at Bass Lake- for burgers. We love the Raleys and the other grocery across the street. I love the options for those who can make the best of cheese, bread, take away and though we have a kitchen at our place...we usually enjoy unwrapping because, as stated above- GET OUTSIDE AND ENJOY. El Cid for drinks, if you must...

                      1. re: OldJalamaMama

                        Good point, nothing wrong with picnicking for lunch *and* dinner....gives you more time in the park!

                        Although, meant to mention that the last meal I had at the Wawona Lodge Dining Room wasn't bad at all, and service was very good (surprisingly so): this was about a year ago. They do bbqs on the Wawona lawn some weekends (though perhaps not this time of year?) and it is a lot closer to Fish Camp than Yosemite Valley, so definitely an option on the way back to Fish Camp from a day in the park.

                        Also, while I think somewhere like El Cid will be fine, please don't eat there and think you are 'discovering' Mexican food per the original request. El Molino will hit closer to the mark for that...and while you are at it, check out some of the Mexican groceries and carnicerias in Sonoma County....Boyes Hot Springs, just north of Sonoma between Sonoma and Glen Ellen, is a great place to poke around...

                        oh, and I realized I am still jet lagged from my own very recent trip to Asia: the drink at the Ahwahnee Bar is an El Capitan. Touristy, and fun. :-)

                    2. And just a few more random thoughts for the Paso/Monterey/Santa Cruz leg:

                      I assume you have reservations for Hearst Castle. If not, get them yesterday, particularly with your schedule that day. (available on line). You can expect tours to sell out, particularly since it will be spring break for a lot of schools. Remember that you need to allocate time before and after your tour (about 20 to 30 mins) for the shuttle bus....so the tour may take longer than you think. If you are hungry after, check out the sandwiches at Sebastian's General Store very close by in San Simeon. Very good food, a nice beach to enjoy them on, or take for the road, and ignore the bit of attitude you may get from the servers...

                      I haven't been to 1833 and it is getting excellent reports, but given that you are interested in wine, I think you should give serious consideration to Passionfish.

                      If you do decide to have a full breakfast in Monterey, or perhaps lunch after the Aquarium, consider Tico's in Marina: the owners are of Mexican descent though it isn't just Mexican (I'd call it Mexican/Californian, with excellent huevos rancheros and eggs benedict):

                      http://www.ticosbreakfast-lunch.com/T...

                      However, since you are looking for places to stop in Santa Cruz and are also on a burger hunt, you should definitely consider "Burger" in Santa Cruz. Here is a good mention, and a great thread about Santa Cruz generally:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725645

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Took Mom to brunch at Tico's in Marin 2 weeks ago. She had a half order of French toast (2 pieces) with fruit salad. The fruit salad was very good for this time of year - sweet strawberries, pineapple, and ripe melon are what I recall, but there was more. I forget what I ordered instead of my usual crab cake benedict -- maybe a chorizo omelet with their potatoes, good not outstanding, hence the brain fade.

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          It's been a few years since I did the Hearst tours, but they had a very nice setup for making Santa Maria tri-tip sandwiches right in the main building.

                          1. re: 512window

                            We were in Paso recently on a Tues. and Artisan was closed for lunch. We tried Panolivo across the street and were very happy with our meal there. Loved the Beef Bourgouginon there and Apricot Croissants for dessert. El Cid in Oakhurst has very good Mexican food. My new fave for Mexican food in this area is in Prather at Velasco's if you ever in the area, definitely stop by. In Santa Cruz, Hoffman's Bistro and Aquarius @ The Dream Inn are both excellent. We dined at The Crow's Nest for dinner with a group of 9 and a few of us were disappointed with our Mahi Mahi there.

                            Restaurant 1833 is one not to miss in Monterey. We have dined there twice now and have been very happy with everything about this place. Make advance reservations on www.opentable.com :)

                            1. re: 512window

                              512window: yes, this was the case when I was last there also, and while I didn't taste them, they looked good. IIRC they used the Hearst Ranch beef, which is grass-fed.

                              1. re: 512window

                                I just wish people would stop calling steam tray-warmed tri tip sandwiches "Santa Maria BBQ", cause they ain't. It's warmed over tri tip. Big Diff. These sandwiches are so dry, and the meat is ghastly--like shoe leather.

                                SMSBBQ is served HOT right off the outdoor oak fired pit BBQ, JUICY and RARE, with a knife and fork. The bread is only for sopping juices off the plate. It's all about the meat!

                                There is a Kiosk in the gift shop building at Hearst Castle is for promoting Hearst Ranch's meat, wine and logo merchandise. If beef sandwiches are served at the snack bar, they are not SMSBBQ, but just tri tip sandwiches. Unless they are pulling whole roasts off the grill, and slicing them to order, with garlic bread on the side.

                                1. re: toodie jane

                                  I didn't mean to imply they were in my reply, just that they did have sandwiches there that look good. That said, I have some type of vague recollection of a grill there. It wasn't just a steam table.

                                  Still would just call them tri tip sandwiches, agreed, and, as I said, I certainly never tasted them. However, I do prefer grass fed beef and it is an alternative to be aware of if one is in the area with limited time and hungry, as options are limited. They could well be a good alternative to the Sebastian General Store, and if one is heading north and doesn't want to backtrack I am not sure there are a lot of other choices for quite a few miles.

                              2. re: susancinsf

                                In Paso, I've always liked Los Robles Cafe on Spring. Great green chile omelette for breakfast. Generally good Mexican food. Al Pastor, if memory serves, is a specialty also.

                                Of course, this isn't Artisan or Thomas Hill, but good for informal dining.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  I just wanted to add our praise for Sebastian's in San Simeon for lunch - but if you have lunch there, plan on a very late or very light dinner that night. Their sandwiches are delicious, and huge! DH and I will definitely split next time.