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Need Restaurants for Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay

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Friends are coming to town and we will be driving from SFO area down to Monterey Bay. I was wondering if anyone knows any good eats along the way for lunch and somewhere near by the Aquarium area for dinner.

The plan right now is to swing by Santa Cruz for lunch. If there is something worth skipping Santa cruz, I would definitely consider it. The food we would want is probably Californian seafood or Mexican. Another cannot fail option is if there is a really good burger or bar b que spot along the way for lunch. My friends already eat a lot of Asian foods so something different would definitely be preferred.

I am posting this kind of last minute, we will be doing the drive tomorrow already (Saturday).

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  1. Those are outside of the SF Bay Area, discussed on the California board.

    Monterey: http://www.chow.com/search?query=mont...

    Santa Cruz: http://www.chow.com/search?query=%22s...

    1. Salinas is two hours south of SFO traveling on 101 or Hwy 1 and the point where you cut over west to Monterey. If it's BBQ you want, Salinas City Barbeque is very good. Here are the reports,
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/705384

      For a lunch time burger, T & A Cafe *grills* a half-pound, freshly ground Angus burger, $6.50. T & A stands for Tanimura & Antle, the big grower-shipper, and the cafe/truck stop will close for the season next Friday. Default is pink inside, medium-rare, and the short-order cook gets it right every time. Comes with fries, potato salad or green salad, but I suggest paying the upcharge for sweet potato fries. Homemade soups are also very good (duh, they have access to every kind of fresh vegetable), but no soup on Saturdays. And get a locally produced Sparky's Rootbeer. The short drive off Hwy 68 to Spreckels is a pretty little strip of road lined with ancient walnut trees and agricultural fields. Here's the burger,
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/T-A-Ca...

      For Mexican with guests, I'd go to La Casa del Sazon, the branch on Salinas St. (yes, I owe the board a full report). This location is newer, larger, has a full bar, and a parking lot. Specialty is Molcajete. Also good are the grilled fish tacos, caldo de res, albondigas, caldo de pescado, filete de pescado relleno (filet of fish stuffed with vegetables/cheese/shrimp, wrapped in bacon, seasoned and grilled). It's a couple blocks from Old Town, so you can drive your visitors down Main St to point out the old buildings and the Steinbeck center. Here's the half-order size molcajete,
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
      http://www.lacasadelsazon.com/menus.html

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I love CASA Del Sazan! The molcajete. Is fabulous, shrimp tacos excellent, in fact everything I have had there was excellent. Homemade corn tortillas there, too. Warning, gets extremely busy at lunch time during the weekdays, as virtually everyone who works in downtown Salinas seems to eat lunch there.

      2. Love casa del sazon, but I prefer original location at 22 West Romie Lane, Salinas. Coming from Santa Cruz there is the excellent Lemongrass Thai in Moss Landing. For dinner near the Aquarium I like Il Vecchio (Italian) at 110 Central which is right up the street.from the Aquarium.
        Enjoy!