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Mar 15, 2012 01:05 PM

Great places to grab lunch/dinner on the road from LAX to Palm Springs on I-10

My husband and I are going to be taking our first trip to Palm Springs, California next Friday and will be flying into LAX and then driving to Palm Springs.

That being said, I know about 45 mins after we get on the road from LAX, we'll be starving.

Anyone have suggestions for great eats along the way? We love to try new places (ie. not chains), especially great roadside restaurants.

We've never done this trip before, so any and all suggestions are welcome for delicious things to try without deviating too far from the road.

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  1. 45 minutes via the 10 will get you to somewhere near Claremont (do yourself a favor and go 105->605->10, not 405->10, unless you're feeling masochistic.) If you like craft beers and gourmet burgers/sides/salads, Eureka! and Back Abbey are solid choices and not too far north from the 10. You can look up other Claremont threads for additional suggestions. It's a pedestrian-friendly college town, so you can take a pleasant stroll after dinner to let the beers settle and stretch the legs after too many hours in transit...

    Another idea would be to take the 60 east instead (usually slightly faster than 10) and get some outstanding Chinese food in the Rowland Heights/Walnut area. I'm not as up-to-date as some other LA Chowhounders on what's best there now, but searching this board for those cities will bring up some good suggestions from the experts.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bradbury

      I second Back Abbey. The duck fat fries are amazing! Drop by Bert & Rocky's for ice cream after dinner. It's a quick walk up the street. You'll love it!

      1. re: attran99

        Back Abbey sounds great! I'll definitely think about that one. Thanks!

        1. re: cabrown

          Yes me too! My friend use to go their and told me that it is great!

    2. How about stopping at that mecca of Chinese food called the San Gabriel Valley which is on your way? There is practically something for any hankering - from dumplings to noodles to sit down feasts - just do a search on the board if this interests you.

      3 Replies
      1. re: annie

        A splendid idea though, as I noted above, it might be best to hit the Chinese restaurants in the southeast SGV (Walnut, Rowland Heights, etc.) rather than the Monterey Park / San Gabriel "ground zero". If I'm reading the original post correctly, they'll be arriving early afternoon on a Friday, in which case it's probably best to get oneself east of the 605 as soon as possible...

        1. re: Bradbury

          We're actually not huge Chinese food fans, but I'll look into them and see what's around. Thanks for the suggestion!

          1. re: cabrown

            Might want to put in the original post next time instead of "all suggestions are welcome".

            One of the biggest hits East of 605, enroute to Palm Spring, is a little ramen shop called Fujin: But hey, if you don't like Chinese, you probably don't like ramen. Cest la vie.

      2. If you can get on the road by 2:30-3pm at the latest, take the 105 to the 110 north - with two of you, you can stay in the carpool lane the whole way. You might encounter some traffic getting from the 110 north to the 10 east, but that time of day it shouldn't be too bad yet. Then, all along the 10 you have a lot of easy access - easy on and off the freeway - Chinese restaurants starting at about Atlantic Ave. in Monterey Park / Alhambra and continuing for many miles on both sides of the freeway. There are just too many to recommend one in particular unless I know what you are looking for. One of my favorites for a quick lunch is J&J Shanghai at 301 W. Valley Blvd. in San Gabriel. It has among the very best XLB (juicy pork dumplings - soup dumplings if you are from NYC) in the area. Exit the freeway at New - go north to Valley, turn right it's on the left at the back of a stripmall. Or exit the freeway at Del Mar, go north, turn left on Valley and it's the second stripmall on your right - the first one past the Hilton.

        19 Replies
        1. re: estone888

          Our flight actually won't be landing until 345, so the earliest we'd be getting on the road will probably be 430 or so after picking up our rental car.

          I'll take a look at the suggestions - thanks!

          1. re: cabrown

            At that time of day on a Friday, you may be better off eating in the airport area and waiting out traffic. Maybe some one here will report on a open traffic time slot.,

            1. re: subal

              Two great casual places near the airport that are frequent bring-alongs for me when I pick up new folks in town are:

              Johnnie's Pastrami - a great over-stuffed sandwich place, serving only three things of note, in my opinion: huge pastrami on rye, huge corned beef on rye, and thick-cut fries.

              Dinah's Family restaurant, just north of LAX near the Howard Hughes center - the best Chicken and Waffles anywhere. Leagues above Roscoe's or just about anywhere else I've ever had them. I've never eaten anything else there, and I wouldn't (except maybe to add eggs to the chicken and waffles). The single best execution of a west coast standard that I know.

              1. re: EricDC

                Thanks EricDC! We're probably still going to hold off on eating till we're on the road for a little bit, but I'll definitely make note of those in case we do decide to eat near the airport.

                1. re: cabrown

                  Please take the traffic warnings seriously. At 4:30 on a Friday evening, with rain in the forecast, you will probably have the option of taking two hours to eat dinner near the airport, or sitting in your car for two hours wondering why you're not moving. Miracles can occur, and this may not happen, but odds are it will.

                  1. re: ebethsdad

                    Will do. Thank you - it looks like it's sunny at this point for next weekend though...

                    1. re: cabrown

                      40% chance of rain on Of course its a week away so who knows? Hope you have a great trip.

                    2. re: ebethsdad

                      I came here to recommend Babita (excellent high-end Mexican) in the San Gabriel Valley but ebethsdad is right about the traffic. Rain or shine, it will be terrible at that hour. You would be wise to make a pit stop in one of the nearby beach cities (Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach), take a short walk on the beach and have an early dinner there before getting on the road.

                    3. re: cabrown

                      to try to drive east at 4;30 on a friday afternoon will be an exercise in masochism.
                      eat near the airport and wait out the traffic.
                      lots of good choices were mentioned here.

                    4. re: EricDC

                      In case you decide to wait out the traffic, Pann's near LAX is an LA (and CH) institution:


                      They're best known for their biscuits with gravy and their fried chicken. The patty melt has some die-hard Chow fans.

                      Nearby is also the iconic Randy's Donuts:


                      1. re: EricDC

                        I would not consider Johnnies, Dinah's or Panns to be "great eats". A step above average fair, but not exactly a treat. Sorry, I'm a snob.

                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                          completely concur with you foodiemahoodie.

                        2. re: EricDC

                          Add one more vote to eating around LAX area instead of hitting the road at that time. I live on the Westside and head east frequently for Friday night events. I either hit the road early or late depending on event time.

                          I'd weigh in against Dinah's or Johnny's. I think both places have gone severely downhill over the years. For a diner, I'd second the Pann's reco from Bulavinaka.

                          Near Johnny's is a gem, Metro Diner. Don't let the location of being a part of a motel fool you. It's run by two Serbian brothers who run a very hospitable place with some great Serbian dishes. Prices are inexpensive, great value for the high quality of food. A small decently curated beer and wine list also at affordable prices. You can sit and linger as long as you want.

                          Or possibly Coni's seafood for some amazing Sinoloan style seafood dishes. But you may want to check for their hours. Recent reports sound like they've closed some nights as they're working through some logistical issues. But if they are open, they're right off the 105, easy off and on. Again, don't let the location fool you, they have great food.

                          The Manhattan Beach recos are also solid. But confirm what route you want to take and if you do decide to sit out traffic, you'll get a lot more recommendations.

                          1. re: Jase

                            What does one order at Metro Diner?

                            1. re: kevin

                              The ajar sauce they serve with the bread is tasty.

                              Appetizers, I love their burrata with sweet peppers and the grilled mushroom salad. The mozzarela is amazingly fresh. The grilled mushroom is a mix of several varieties cooked great over a bed of very fresh mixed greens. The best testament I can to these two dishes is to say that I'm normally a guy that likes having some kind of meat with any meal if possible. I can have just these two items for a meal and be perfectly satisfied.

                              For entrees, our favorites are the chevapchichi, goulash and schnitzel. The lamb shank with parparpdelle is also pretty good. We always joke that the chevapchichi is like a deconstructed hamburger. It's about a dozen spiced ground beef cylinders about the size of breakfast links served with diced raw onions, perfectly fried cubed potatoes and tomato slices.

                              The schnitzel is always fried right, crisp coating, no greasiness. Goulash very hearty.

                              The website is pretty comprehensive and has lots of photos.

                            2. re: Jase

                              Coni'Seafood has reopened.
                              the power company repaired the line.
                              had a late lunch there today

                            3. re: EricDC

                              dinah's has gone horribly downhill in the last few years.
                              i used to be a regular there.
                              won't even walk in the place anymore.

                            4. re: subal

                              At 4:30 on a Friday? Nightmare. At that hour it could take an easy extra hour. Most likely two hours (extra). Not worth it.

                              You can make it up to Venice/Santa Monica and eat there (a plethora of choices), then wait 'til the traffic die down. Or head straight toward the beach and down to Manhattan Beach and hit MB Post. Great, creative food, casual setting, serious chef with excellent credentials. And wait for traffic to die down.

                            5. re: cabrown

                              Landing at 1545 and picking up your rental puts you somewhere around 1630-1700 at best. Traffic in just about any direction out from LAX at that time/day will be bad. 45 minutes on any local freeway at that time will put you only a handful of miles down the road. I'd heed the advice of other posters and wait out the traffic while dining around the general South Bay/LAX area.

                              Manhattan Beach Post is well within striking distance from LAX. I haven't been, but poster wienermobile has a strong rep for solid recs, and this place is probably at or near the top of his current list. Here's his OP:


                              The Manhattan Beach area is about 10-15 minutes south of LAX at that time of day via Sepulveda or Highland. MB Post starts serving dinner at 1700. Once your done, you can hop on the 405-North to the 105-East and so on. Palm Springs will be about a two-hour drive.


                          2. I always stop @ In-n-Out Burger on the way to Palm Springs. The one in Baldwin Park has the company store too.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sparkareno

                              There is one just North of LAX.

                            2. It is a great drive once you get passed ontario, and once you pass ontario you will find tons of mom and pop joints and most of them are great. There is this great place called Farmhouse the 10fwy (BanningArea) and it looks like a big barn, the food is good and it is a cool experience. Maybe on the way back you cant stop a Guasti homestyle cafe, this place is so good, but they are strictly a breakfast place... they are in Chino.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: octate

                                Funny - I was going to recommend the Farmhouse too! (for what it is, it's good) But, I agree, given the time frame, I'd think seriously local to LAX, wait til at least 7:30 PM, and then venture out.