Sorry, another I-5 and Hwy 99 question!
I'm leaving L.A. Monday morning for a week-long trip to San Francisco/Napa, and researching the boards, you guys have convinced me to try Hwy 99. I'll travel on I-5 one way and Hwy 99 the other way. I figure I'll need a rest somewhere between Bakersfield and Fresno off 99 and its equivalent off the I-5.
From the I-5, I usually stop at Harris Ranch, but would like to try something different. I've read the boards and am intrigued by Buttonwillow's pupusas at Tita's Restaurant and Willow Ranch BBQ.
Here's what I'm looking for:
Mexican, burgers/diner food, or BBQ.
No food trucks please. I'd like a place with tables inside and with clean bathrooms.
Casual, I don't care if I order at a counter or waitstaff takes my order from a table.
I'd like to spend no more than an hour, and price is not an issue.
Close to the highway--within a mile or two from the offramp.
Four miles north of Kingsburg is Selma, home of the original Sal's Mexican Food. They are best known for their Fancy Burrito, and my favorite, the Karl's Special Burrito, made from the meat of their excellent slow braised ribs. Just a few short blocks off the 2nd Ave exit on 99.
Skip Willow Ranch. I tried their brisket and it seemed like it was oven-baked, with no perceptible smoke flavor and a cloyingly sweet sauce. They claimed to use a "wood fired smoker", and referred to "deep-pit" elsewhere on the menu, but it didn't even taste like real BBQ to me.
Kingsburg on 99 is a delight - the town with the Swedish Coffee pot water tower you can see from the freeway - Dala Horse Restaurant serves swedish pancakes before 11am and Swedish plate lunches after that, plus has some Swedish food supplies - lignonberry jam and the large rounds of hard tack.
Tout Sweet in Stockton is another nice deli/bakery with tables stop - a few blocks off 99. http://www.tootsweetsbakerycafe.com/
Toot Suite is closer to I5 than 99 (March Lane exit off 5), and out of the way if going to SF. From Stockton to SF, you have to go south on 5 first and then cut across on 205 to the 580 to go back north to SF via 880 or 580 and the Bay Bridge.
Otherwise, agree that Toot Suite is a good place to stop.