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Nov 8, 2013 11:28 PM

Where to eat lunch by National Steinbeck Center, Salinas?

I'd like to try a good restaurant that's near the National Steinbeck Center or anywhere near it - could be any type of cuisine. Hope to go on a Sunday in Nov. or December. Would also be in the area to take pics of the "Hat in 3 Stages" adjacent to the Sherwood Hall, Salinas Community Center when it's back - so waiting for that to be available before making the trip over to Salinas from Fremont.

National Steinbeck Center
1 Main St, Salinas

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  1. Casa del Saizon,one of the best mexican restaurants in the area, has a location three blocks from the Steinbeck Center. The Bakery Station is good for sandwiches, Eagle Restaurant for Chinese, and Shogun or Kokoro for Japanese. Popular with the locals Dudleys and Sangs are diners in that area. There is a lot of buzz about a new restaurant named Patria that is also close to where you are visiting. My understanding is that it will open close to Thanksgiving, but check for updates online.

    11 Replies
    1. re: villadeste92

      Thanks! La Casa del Saizon, 438 Salinas St, is 0.5 mi away from the National Steinbeck Ctr a 2 min. drive. I might just walk there to burn a few calories. I've not tried Molcajete Michocano yet & Yelpers say it's the thing to get.

      1. re: hhc

        Be aware that molcajete comes in big servings and is meant to be shared. Here's Dave MP's post on the one at La Casa del Sazon.

        If you go there, I suggest walking. It's so close and from the Steinbeck Center you'll be at one end of Old Town and walk to the other end and a little beyond.

        The place in Old Town that I've been taking out-of-town visitors is Paloma's. I know you don't eat fried foods, well, this is the opportunity to order a top notch chile relleno that's baked, not fried.

        I wanted to mention that Shogun is owned by Michael Black's mother. It's a completely different kind of place than Sebo, obviously, but it's easy to see where he got his love of cooking.

        Sang's is a Chinese-American diner of the kind that has just about died out in San Francisco's Chinatown. Steinbeck ate there, as did my parents when they were youngsters. It's a landmark in its own right.

        If you were here any day but Sunday or Monday, you could have lunch at Steinbeck House.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Hi Melanie
          This is a little off topic but I think that Salinas is getting an Korean fried chicken restaurant. The Flying Chicken has its sign up and it says it is opening soon. Located on North Main a couple blocks north of Laurel.
          Hopefully it will be good!

          1. re: villadeste92

            Fingers crossed! There used to be a not half bad Korean restaurant in the mall years ago. Would be nice to not have to drive to Marina. Please do start a new thread when you have a chance to try it.

        2. re: hhc

          Easy walk. All Melanie's choices are spot on. The Molcajete is a large portion but worth trying as it is something you cannot get at many Mexican restaurants. Enjoy!

          1. re: hhc

            Oh my I love their molcajete ! Have to say, sorry Melanie, I didn't love Paloma's.

                1. re: karenfinan

                  It would be helpful to future readers if you'd add to this thread to let us know what you tried at Paloma's. My mom's not a fan either, but that's mostly because she doesn't want to order the dishes it does well, so we go elsewhere for her.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I'd love to, but I actually don't remember. It wasn't bad, it just didn't wow me, and there are so many other places in Salinas with great Mexican. I think whatever I had the sauce was one note, and lacked complexity. Sorry for the vagueness.

            1. Can't believe it has been more than five years since my visit, but here is my report on La Fogata in Salinas, a few blocks from the Steinbeck Center and a nice walk. Would be great to get updated report:

              1 Reply
              1. re: susancinsf

                I posted a lunch update for La Fogata in March when there was a false rumor that it was going out of business.

              2. Report Back: We tried out La Casa Del Sazon for lunch on Sun 11/24/13. We drove in from Fremont which took about 1.5hr & then we parked near National Steinbeck Center cuz that was where we were heading after lunch. They do have their own free parking lot that holds about 10 cars or so. We went to 438 Salinas St.

                FREE chips & a spicy salsa given. I liked the salsa it's spicy, but not death hot, didn't try the chips.

                FREE iced water if you want them, gotta ask for them.

                Horchata $1.99 - It's in the same huge cup like the water. I tried it, it's sweet, not chalky. Pretty good.

                We shared the Molcajete Michoacano - their specialty $16.99 - It's huge dish with grilled chicken, beef, pork, sausage, cactus, onions, & sauce. I liked the meats ok - just too much of it I think! Rice & beans were fine, beans tasted fresh not from a can. 3 corn or flour tortilla per order, had to get another order of corn tortillas for us to share (extra $1.99).

                Overall, we might go back one day, but try other dishes.

                Separate bathrooms in the back on the left. Credit cards allowed.

                M & Tues 9a-4p
                W-Sun 9a-8p
                Checked out National Steinbeck Center - it's nice, takes minimum 2hrs to see everything, AAA discount w/ card $1 off.

                Walked to Steinbeck's House, will try to eat there one day.

                Coffee at Rollick's Specialty Coffee, 210 Main St, Salinas. I got Mexican mocha which was nice chocolatey w/ cinnamon, B. got black coffee that kept him awake for drive back.

                John Steinbeck Public Library - nice small library, nice to see Snappy the turtle alive & well.

                Hats in Three Stages of Landing - behind Sherwood Hall. Went late so lighting was not great for photos, will visit again one day.

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