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I-5 LA to Bay Area. Where to get good coffee and eats?

I'm driving from LA to the Bay Area at the end of the week. The 5 is bleak. Has anyone found good coffee, breakfast, and/or lunch anywhere between here and there? I mean good. Starbucks in Grapevine doesn't count.

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  1. For lunch, I'm thankful for In-N-Out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JAB

      Likewise, though it's a bit surreal driving by that massive feedlot before or after filling my belly with beef.

    2. Unless you are in a tearing hurry, take 99 instead - only about 20 minutes longer on the average, and a far prettier drive. Stop in Kingsburg for Swedish bakery treats, or at Bravo Farms in Traver for good dine food and local produce. Both are touristy but fun and way better than anything on the 5.

      1. I feel for you - I do this drive often to visit my in-laws. I've been wanting to try Noriega's in Bakersfield ever since I heard about it (and even more so, after it won a James Beard Award). Might not be the quickest stop ever, but I suspect it would be memorable:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/din...

        2 Replies
        1. re: jbeaux

          Can't vouch for Noriega's, but I visited Woolgrowers last month and had a great time.

          1. re: jbeaux

            I grew up in Bakersfield, and my last high school reunion was held at Noriega's. Wool Grower's has a more hopping bar scene, but I prefer the food and family style, single seating (at 7 p.m., so get there around six and have a drink to make the cut) approach of Noriega's. Just pace yourself. There are multiple courses, and some are more worth indulging in than others. I love their oxtail stew!

          2. McDonalds has surprisingly good coffee. I don't think there is any good food right along I-5 once you get past Frazier Park.

            I remember having a good meal in Los Banos, which is seven or eight miles off the freeway, but it was a long time ago, and I don't remember the name of the restaurant. Los Pinos in Frazier Park (across from Jack in the Box) serves acceptable Mexican food.

            1. I do the drive about once a month. The time difference between the 5 and 101 is maybe 30-45 minutes. However, the food choices on the 101 as well as the fact that the 101 has some beautiful stretches with rolling hills, versus flat boring hot farmland on the 5 makes me go with the 101 every time. I leave in time to stop in Santa Barbara for lunch. I would reconsider my route if I were you.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jgilbert1000

                I have to agree with you. Also there is a lot of road construction delays on the 5 recently so sometime it can actually take longer. Take the 154 shortcut (from the 101 to the 101) from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos and you shave off anther 15min. The Los Olivos grocery is right off the 154 and a great place to pickup snacks of all sorts. In Santa Barbara we always stop at Santa Barbara Shellfish at the end of the pier for great casual seafood or La Super-Rica for tacos.
                http://www.sbfishhouse.com/shellfish-co/
                http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-super-rica...
                Or we stop in San Luis Obispo for great creole food at Bon Temps. http://www.bontempscreolecafe.com/

                1. re: MissBubbles

                  We locals avoid Highway 154 (San Marcos Pass) day and night even though it is a bit shorter. Waaaaay too many head-on collisions that way.

                  You have commuters, crazies, casino gamblers and wine tasters all out there together, which make a deadly combo on this very lovely highway. Drive it very defensively. And let the tail-gating idiot pass and give them wide berth. It does have some great food stop though: Cold Springs Tavern, Grapalo in Santa Ynez, Los Olivos Market deli.