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driving from the bay area to monterey bay next friday - where do eat along the drive?

my title says it all

driving from sfo to Monterey next Friday -- wondering about any spots along the way not to miss.

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    1. re: Melanie Wong

      dummy me - i actually have not even planned this out yet

      and maybe the wrong place to ask - but what is the most scenic most beautiful one? highway 1 i'd assume?

      1. re: ssainani

        I do this trip at least once a year, latest being two weeks ago. I like PCH on the way south, although the area around Santa Cruz never fails to depress. Half Moon Bay has decent food but I prefer to press on regardless to Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel or wherever your final destination is. After all, we're only talking about two hours transit time. The extra 30 minutes drive from Monterey to Big Sur is pure gold.

        1. re: steve h.

          If you take 1 all the way, it's 2.5 hours without traffic, and Friday of Labor Day weekend, it'll probably be busier than usual.

          I'd probably stop for lunch in Santa Cruz, which like Monterey is discussed on the California board.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Hi Robert,

            I stand by my two-hour driving time from SFO. That's what it took us to drive to Monterey two weeks ago for car week although 2.5 hours is a reasonable estimate. Adding more time because of the holiday makes good sense.

            I wouldn't stop for lunch.


            1. re: steve h.

              The fastest route from SFO to Monterey is two hours without traffic, but if you take the scenic route, that adds at least half an hour.

              Whatever route, I'd stop in Santa Cruz for lunch at a Sri Lankan place and maybe a little wine tasting.

                    1. re: artemis

                      There are two others, Malabar and Pearl of the Ocean (in the former Sri space).

              1. re: steve h.

                Hey steve,

                I agree with you. I wouldn't stop for lunch. Even if starving, I'd probably do some McDs fries drive-thru or something :)

      2. if PCH is your route, then Barbara's Fish Trap is your place. Their tempura fried scallops are outstanding. Located in Princeton, just north of Half Moon Bay.

        1. What arrival time at SFO on this get-away Friday?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Stephanie Wong

            no schedule to follow

            i land at sfo on thursday night and leave monday morning -- so friday is our PCH day. i imagine we will leave early though (9am?)

            1. re: ssainani

              Gayle's Rosticceria and Bakery in Capitola, a few miles below Santa Cruz on Hwy 1, is worth the detour. Fabulous bakery and casual meals to eat in or take for the road. Hope you will try it and like it.

              1. re: anyhow

                Here's a link to the discussion about Gayle's - pro and con - on the California board. Definitely a popular place . . .

          2. I've done the drive often. I would stop at Sam's in Half Moon Bay for a Lobster Roll for breakfast before heading south to Santa Cruz. There, I would eat at Bonny Doon's restaurant for a late lunch. Save room for dinner at Passion Fish in Monterey.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CarrieWas218

              Leave as early as possible to avoid holiday traffic. And really, it's not that long a drive. I'd make a reservation at Fifi's/PacGrove or Bouchee/Carmel for lunch. Fifi's has a soup-and-quiche lunch special that's a bargain, and the quiche is very fine. Bouchee is our favorite of all, we drive down twice a year to stay in the Monterey area and eat ourselves silly.

              If you want something quick to eat, stop at Parker-Lusseau in Monterey (either location; they're close to one another but the Munras Ave. location is larger). Their baked goods are superb; we place an order for quiches, croissants, and pastries when we arrive, then return just before departing to pack everything up in an ice chest to bring back to the East Bay.

              Passionfish is very good, although I found it irritating when we were there that they only had after dinner tea, not coffee. But honestly, we think Bouchee is the best of them all. We are sweetbread and French sauce lovers, and Andre Lemaire (his son Stephen cooks at lunchtime) makes SUPERB food. We were last there in late April and had a lobster salad with black truffle oil that made us both swoon!

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                Passion fish in Monterey, but in Santa Cruz, we like O'Mei unique Chinese food. It's not as good as it used to be, but it's still one of the tastiest in the greater bay area.
                In Half Moon Bay, we like the brunch at Cetrella.

              2. Absolutely go into Parker-Lusseau bakery when you arrive. I've only been to the main baking location on Munras and have talked to the owners each time. They sellout of things in the afternoon, so if you had an idea that you wanted to get something specific (e.g. a tart or some croissants) you should call.


                For a lunch stop along the way, I like Phil's Fish Market. The food is reasonably good, sometimes quite good. Known for their cioppino. Order at the counter and the food is brought to your table, always buzzing with people and kids, access to walking on the beach through the back of the building.


                1 Reply
                1. re: JojoSF

                  On one of our trips in 2011 we ate at both Phil's and at Passionfish, and had cioppino at both. There is no comparison. Phil's is cheap and busy, but another half-hour gets you to a much higher quality array of choices in Monterey/Carmel. My DH was hot to try Phil's after hearing so much about it, and afterwards he was "meh." The fried fish was big portions but clearly frozen; a little greasy. Bread rolls are cheap fluffy white pillows. The cioppino broth was okay but some of the seafood wasn't that fresh. And the place is a mess, dirty tables, food all over the floors. Ick!

                  I'd rather pay for quality, and Fifi's cost exactly what our lunch at Phil's did. But it was much, much better (and has been, all three times we've been there in the last two years).

                2. Duarte's in Pescadero is not what it used to be but even now their artichoke soup and green chile soup are really good if over priced.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Andrew H

                    If you're in Pescadero, Arcangeli for the artichoke garlic bread.. baked fresh right in store

                  2. I agree with recommendations for Passionfish - had wonderful gigantic prawns which for people like me who like to suck the shells and head were amazing but I've always had great food there when in the Monterey area. In Half Moon Bay we like Flying Fish Tacos who just moved to larger/cleaner quarters. Occ the tortillas are dry but all in all a satisfactory stop while in HMB. Moss Beach distillery has a deck and provides afghans for snuggling in to as you watch the coast. Okay food, mostly for the view.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cyssf

                      I will add a note to this discussion because if you do a search it comes up for Monterey:

                      We went to Passionfish/Pacific Grove in Nov 2012 and were VERY surprised at the changes on the menu. It is much heartier and robust, with more meat dishes now (and coffee, woohoo!). The salad with baked gorgonzola and curry dressing was surprisingly aggressive in flavors, but perfectly balanced.

                      Meat dishes included a duck confit with honey reduction and a 12-hour lamb breast. But all four of us stuck to seafood, and all four were good, with many interesting Asian flavor touches. Desserts were excellent, and tea, as befits chef-owner Ted Walter's preferences, was marvelous, and properly brewed.

                      This was a great meal but it was very different than the cooking Walter was doing even two years ago. This has been a cold rainy winter and he really "punched up" the dishes from cool elegance to gutsy excitement.

                    2. I have no idea if this place is still open, but for many years a restaurant in downtown Carmel in a motel (of all places) had the best chicken croquettes you'd ever want to eat. The location was just a tad north of the main drag. (Please let me know if it's still in existence.)

                      1. Too late for the original poster, but I wanted to more for others who may make the drive up and down Highway 1 to and from Monterey.

                        A favorite place in Aptos, at the Rio Del Mar exit, is Bittersweet Bistro. Nothing too fancy, but a nice casual bakery/take out in front of a more formal restaurant. Friendly staff. Still salivate from the memory of a chipotle black bean chicken buritto (no rice) that I had for the drive over the mountains awhile back. Jr., my chowhound in training, loves the cookies!

                        Further south on 1 at Moss Landing, two choices, run by the same family. First is the Whole Enchilada complex. Everyone seems to like the restaurant (Whole Enchilada), but I think it's kinda pedestrian. I like the produce stand next door - if you want really fresh produce at ethnic store prices, this is your place. However, do *not* think of this as a yuppie farmers' market kinda place. They have some organics, but a most of the produce is conventional and not even that local.

                        There is also a sandwich store and coffee stand. I've never gotten a sandwich because they are sooooooo slow I give up after standing around for 10-15 minutes. The coffee stand recently changed ownership from Surf City Coffee to Steamin' Hot Coffee. Not great coffee, but great for a warmer-upper or to relax with some snacks from the produce stand.

                        The second place in Moss Landing, Haute Enchilada, is off the highway on the main drag of Moss Landing - Moss Landing Road, of course. It is run by the daughter of the Whole Enchilada family, The food is a little more edgy but good. We usually sit on the patio in the lovely art-filled garden, but the interior has lots of art, too. It's just very dark inside. The baked goods always look good, but we're too full from lunch to try them.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: FurPrincess

                          The last couple of times I've been to the Whole Enchilada they had some interesting daily specials - and I did hear a fair amount of Spanish being spoken by the clientele. Their main menu is standard, but well-prepared (and you get a plastic mermaid for your drink).

                          If,like me, you're goal is to drink at every brew pub in the US, the Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz is a pleasant place in good weather.

                        2. It's kitchy and food is only fair, but will always have a place in my heart --- The Giant Artichoke in Castroville.

                          They have fried artichoke hearts and a variety of other treatments.
                          And a giant sculpture of an artichoke out front. :-)

                          I have not been there in a long time, though, and it appears yelpers are giving it quite high ratings. So maybe the food has improved?


                          1. One great Santa Cruz stop is 'Charley Hong Kongs' @Soquel & Seabright St. Former drive in hot dog joint has been transformed into a Asian street food mecca about 10 years ago. It features a very Santa Cruzian flair in overall style and vibe...that's a good thang. Wonderful noodle dishes (and rice) that can be ordered vegan, vegetarian, or with meat toppings.. All done with substantial servings (huge) and a overall sustainable-green focus.