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Sep 4, 2012 10:09 AM

Bike trip - recommendations

Hi everyone,

In a few days, some friends and I will begin a long bike ride from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, through Pacifica, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Ragged Point, Morro Bay, Santa Maria, Solvang, and Santa Barbara.

It's taken me hours to read up on all these different places on the Chowhound boards. We are from Toronto; I imagine we will be looking for very fresh food, in adequate portions (given our mode of transportation!), mostly brasserie/bistro instead of extremely formal or expensive. Where possible, I'm sure we would prefer places which reflect the local colour or feature some kind of beautiful view.

Some places that stood out to me as I've been reading include:

- Phils Fish Market; Central Texan BBQ
- Saturn Cafe; Linda's on Seabright
- Campagno's Deli
- Wild Plum Cafe
- Restaurant 1833
- Big Sur Bakery
- Nepenthe
- Giuseppe's Express
- La Bicyclette
- Shawn's (Morro)
- Windows on the Water
- Paula Pancakes; Los Olivos; Panino; Hitching Post; Red Barn
- The Tamale Shop

I am not as worried about finding good places in San Francisco or Santa Barbara as we'll have some time on both ends of our journey, but can anyone chime in on anything we should not miss on our trip? It would be good to know which places definitely require a reservation. We may be somewhat at the mercy of our bike route.

Thanks, in advance!

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  1. Pismo Beach (between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara where HIghway 1 and Highway 101 meet) has many very good, down-home casual spots - We especially like Mo's BBQ Philty Phil ribs, but there is also Splash for clam chowder as well as Doc Bernstein's Icecream and HotLix salt water taffy in dozens of flavors for quick energy boosts. A little detour out to the pier San Luis Bay is also a great coastal experience.

    If your legs are up to it, taking Highway 154 over San Marcos Pass into Santa Barbara instead of along the coast on Highway 101 takes you past Cold Spring Tavern on Stage Coach Road which is a legendary "biker" stop (motor, not pedal) and a beautiful highway to traverse anyway - caution - narrow and speedy. This was the historic pass used by the Missionaries and later stage coach and horse travellers, hence this historic half-way tavern still in operation. Lovely country.

    1 Reply
    1. re: glbtrtr

      Thanks for this! I believe we already planned on taking that route into Santa Barbara and it's good to know what's available. I will make sure we keep our eye out for the spots you mentioned at Pismo Beach. We are so excited!

    2. When you get to SB, the local University (Univ of Calif at SB - UCSB) is a very bike intensive campus and you can get all sort of bike help if you need it at this point in the small little enclave next to the University called Isla Vista - which has lots of casual student restaurants .... and bike and repair shops.

      1. From north to south:

        Santa Cruz:
        Aquarius restaurant in the Dream Inn, good food great view of Monterey Bay and the SC wharf.
        Cafe Brasil - breakfast, brunch on Mission
        Gabriella Cafe on Cedar, small, very good bistro/brasserie type
        Bonny Doon Cafe in the newly rising "wine ghetto" of West SC
        Oswald on Soquel and Front for probably the best (and priciest) fine dining

        A few miles south in Capitola take the cable car down to Shadowbrook for a cocktail or glass of wine on the river deck, skip the food.

        Moss Landing Cafe and even Sea Harvest I think are getting more love on the board than Phil's Fish Mkt.

        If you hit Marina around breakfast time on a weekend don't miss Tico's at 330 Reservation Rd

        Sand Bar 'n Grill on Wharf #2, Lou Lou's Griddle in the Middle for breakfast a few door down

        at this point you'll probably want to hug the water around the peninsula, through the Del Monte Forest, and Carmel.

        Passionfish in Pacific Grove for dinner.

        19th Hole at Pebble Beach for great views, lunch, glass of wine

        Carmel - Christopher's has been getting a lot of love, Mundaka for tapas

        Cambria - Black Cat Cafe, Wild Ginger

        Cayucos - Hoppe's or the more formal Cass House

        Morro Bay - Taco Temple (for their specials, not everyday Mexican fare), Beach House Bistro, Bay Cafe (inside the State Park and nice back road route over to Montana de Oro, then back through Los Osos to SLO rather than Hwy 1)

        Avila - Pete is no longer at the Pierside, we were a little disappointed last visit, get some fresh oysters from the little place at the base of the pier and find a scenic place to shuck

        Shell Beach/Pismo Beach
        Breakfast - Seaside Cafe and Bakery, Zorro's is pretty popular
        Ventana has a great view for lunch or dinner
        Lido in the Dolphin Bay Resort for fine dining
        Thai Talay puts out some nice dishes

        In Arroyo Grande don't miss the ice cream at Doc Berstein's

        It sounds at this point you'll be following 101 down to 154, if that's the case I believe after Santa Maria you're only hope might be American Flatbread in Los Alamos until you reach Los Olivos and begin the climb up and over San Marcos Pass.

        Have a great trip and please do report back.



        2 Replies
        1. re: PolarBear

          Thanks again, Dave. I will definitely report back on our findings! I hope we get to try at least a few of these places...

          1. re: InToronto

            The 101 between Buellton and Santa Barbara is the more cycle friendly route- than Hwy 154. There are spots on the 154 where the bike lane just dissapears- heavily traveld. The views are goreous on both routes! You can stop at El Capitan Counry Mart for a nice lunch- 20 miles outside of Santa Barbara.

            I can hardly wait to read your report! Good Luck

        2. Cycling advice to travelers. Pick up or view on line the Santa Barbara County Bicycle maps.
          Most long distance travelers will avoid 154 as it is heavily traveled with poor shoulders in place and steep. Highway 1 through SLO County is better and a good route through SB County.
          Visit a bike shop in SLO and get a map or visit the Bicycle Coalition.[

          1. The Bench, a new place on the Monterey Peninsula, looks like it would be hard to beat.