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May 13, 2013 10:55 AM

a Toronto Chowhound's trip report: Lost Hills, Morro Bay, Monterey, Salinas, Lodi, Stockton, Lockeford, Dublin

Here's a rundown of where we ate:
Jalapeno and bacon burger at the Lost Hills' Carls Jr, on 46 after we exited the I5. This was my first visit to Carls Jr, and it was fine for what it was.

lunch at Tognazzini's Dockside in Morro Bay. I ordered the fried clams and Mexican shrimp cocktail (ketchupy), and my friends ordered Oysters Rockefeller (very heavy on the cheese), bbqed oysters, a burger, the scallop bisque (quite heavy with cream). On another visit to Morro Bay in May 2011, I had ordered the fish tacos and fried seafood platter at the more casual Tognazzini's Dockside Too, and I think I'd order seafood platter or fish tacos next time I visit either restaurant.

dinner at Domenico's in Monterey
We were still full from Tognazzini's, but decided to check out Domenico's for the cioppino. We shared a grilled artichoke, and ordered a cioppino and a bouillabaise for the table. Generous servings, and prices were quite reasonable, at $28/ cioppino or bouillabaise. Fish in the bouillabaise was a little overcooked. Decent for a wharf restaurant.

breakfast at the Monterey Crepe Company
While it wasn't a French-style crepe, our crepe hit the spot. We ordered the Monterey Special, with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, spinach (baby spinach left raw inside the crepe, which is ok with me, even if it isn't how it might be done in France or in French restaurants) and Monterey Jack. Decent cappuccino, and friendly service.

Carmel- We didn't eat in Carmel, but we did purchase some of Lula's Monterey sea salt caramels at the Carmel Trading Company, which were delicious. I wish I'd bought more to bring home

lunch at Elli's in Salinas Ordered fried artichokes for the table, which came with 3 sauces. I split a taco salad with chicken. Extremely generous portions, friendly servers. I also liked the nojito, a mojito-inspired mocktail.
Decent American-style coffee shop food. http://www.ellisgreatamericanrestaura...

Lodi- we bought apricots and cherries, and tried some wines at the Michael David winery. I'm a novice in terms of my knowledge of wine, but I liked the 2010 Cinsault at Michael David, and we picked up a few bottles.

dinner at Ciao Bella in Stockton. Again, very generous portions. Eggplant parm was quite good. I'd split a main on a future visit.

breakfast at the Inn at Locke House in Lockeford, which was included as part of the B & B. The breakfast of the day was waffles with maple syrup. Neat place to stay, and nice homestyle breakfast.

dinner at China Village in Dublin
We shared Wor Won Ton soup (something that isn't common in eastern Canada), Mongolian beef, salt and pepper shrimp, chicken chow mein and combination fried rice. This place serves great Chinese American food. With good Chinese Canadian food being harder to find where I live lately, this place really hit the spot.

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  1. Thanks for reporting back, Prima. I'm rather curious regarding how you arrived at your selections for the places you ate in central CA?

    I ask, since it appears that you posted requests on the LA and SF boards, but not on the CA board. Had you done so I'm sure you would have received several more chow worthy options for each area that you visited.

    Should you make a return visit be sure and post ahead of time on this board and the hounds will make sure you dine well.



    1 Reply
    1. re: PolarBear

      Hi Dave,
      This trip was planned around people I wanted to visit, rather than around the restaurants I wanted to visit, and most of the restaurants were chosen by the people I was visiting.

      We went to Tognazzini's because they offer BBQ Oysters and Oysters Rockefeller, and the friend we were visiting wanted to take us out for oysters. If I was on my own in Morro Bay, I would probably head to Taco Temple.

      I realize a place like Passionfish is more interesting foodwise than Domenico's.I was travelling with someone who wanted Cioppino for dinner, and our hotel was a short walk from the wharf, so we went with Domenico's. I bumped the Monterey/Cioppino/Sand Dab thread on the California board on May 5th. I am happy we did choose Domenico's, since we had a chance to watch the sea lions play in the wharf. I liked the grilled artichoke, which I hope to replicate at home.

      We ate at Carls' Jr on Hwy 46 and at the Monterey Crepe Company in Monterey because they happened to be nearby when we were peckish and looking for a quick, economical 20 minute meal.


    2. Thanks for your trip report!

      I feel I need to add that Elli's is far more than a coffee shop. It has a full-blown tequila lounge, wood burning oven for making Neapolitan style pizzas, uses organic/local ingredients as much as possible, and makes the bread and desserts in-house. Yes, the set up is like a diner, but the food is an homage to all the influences on American style cooking.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks for the clarification re: Elli's, Melanie ;-)

        The desserts looked great, in the dessert case. Too bad we were too full to consider dessert.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I miss reading you on the So. Cal / San Diego board.

        2. Thanks for the report, You had a very interesting road trip into the middle of California which is not on any obvious tourist map, but you do see the working engine part of California agriculture with the swing you made.

          Reminds me of some of the trips I have carefully planned out ahead of time, and then we end up doing some of the easiest and touristy things of them all just because that is where we ended up. That is when it is always IHOP swedish pancakes fall-back time. Keep that in mind when you are down in these lower 48.

          1 Reply
          1. re: glbtrtr

            Any time I travel to California, I seem to be lucky if I manage to try even a couple places on my trip's wishlist :-)

            It's good to have a list, in case I'm the one who gets to choose the restaurant, but I'm pretty flexible, especially if my Californian friends and family have local favourites. I mostly want to eat Mexican food, seafood and artichokes when I'm in CA, but I've noticed our CA family and friends usually want to take us out for Italian food or steak.

            I'll keep IHOP in mind next time we need a fall-back. Chevy's has been our fall-back on past trips, and we ended up at California Pizza Kitchen as a fall-back in Santa Monica on this last visit. :-)

          2. a Toronto Chowhound's trip report: Part Deux

            I returned to some of the same places, so I thought I'd add my trip report to the same thread.

            We dined at Farm Cafe at the Michael David Winery, and enjoyed the tortilla soup, and the daily special of tri-tip and Delta Asparagus sandwiches. I hadn't had tri-tip before, and I'm sure I'll try some other versions next time I see it on other menus in California.

            We returned to Elli's for lunch. This time, I tried the Mini Chinese Chicken salad ($10.99, and still generous enough to fill me up, served with a thick slice of garlic cheese bread), and my friends enjoyed a very generous tuna melt, and chicken enchiladas (4) with green sauce, rice and black beans. Friendly service, generous portions.

            Lost Hills
            We tried Jack in the Box for the first time, to see how it compares to the other fastfood options at Lost Hills. I think I liked my Junior Jack burger a little better than the burger I ordered across the road at Carls Jr last year. I'd read the threads about Buttonwillow, but we didn't have the time to seek out better food off the I5 on this trip.

            Rim Talay for dinner. This place was recommended by a friend. We enjoyed the tom yum, fresh rolls, green papaya salad and island curry (red curry with pineapple). Friendly service, popular place.

            1 Reply
            1. re: prima

              Thanks for the report. Note that the places we've talked about in Buttonwillow are right there at the exits and truck stops on I5, not a detour into town. So hope you will check it out next time.

            2. Those caramels from lula's are soooooo wonderful! I often buy them as a hostess gift and for friends (and a bag for myself of course :)