I love that area. Yeah, it’s touristy but that’s because it’s beautiful.
It’s been forever since we were in SLO but loved it. Lots of fun shops…and I’m not even into shopping (but, of course, all the shops have the prices on their merchandise - LOL!)
So if you are not going to bother with Paso Robles for wine tasting, then I would say stop at Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove and skip the scenic route (straight up the 101 until you get there). That stop to rest for the evening will be scenic enough and laid back for a lot of activities and you can find decent mid tier (though a bit pricey) restaurants in the area. Nice romantic stroll just checking out the art galleries/shops in downtown Carmel…the coffee is no good around the area though. Look at Yelp for ideas and pick based on pictures what interests you, you may get slightly better values in Monterey (certain parts) e.g. modern gastropubs, Carmel prices tend to be higher.
In SF, I highly recommend you start looking for reservations for La Ciccia if you can muster it (opentable), something unique and interesting enough that is non Michelin but very solid. They have a very solid wine list (mostly Italian) but you’ll get good value/performance with the Sardinian selections (e.g. Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva)
If you will be in SF on a Saturday, visit the Ferry Building Farmers Market, quite festive and lots of things to look at and little things to eat. Sorrel is another non Michelin Ca/French inspired/high end Italian restaurant that I absolutely enjoy (though some may not like it as much for other reasons) although the acoustics are not the greatest (same with the dim lighting) but the pastas are fantastic, as with the small plates (entrees can vary)…and the food is freakin brilliant with the right sake (BYO unfortunately). You can also look at Resy SF for other restaurants (and opentable) for ideas.
I like everything in this post! Especially the…
…part. Will do!
Highway 1 from SLO to Monterey is one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
101 is … not as bad as I-5.
Our favorite place to stay is San Luis Obispo. Thursday evening farmers market downtown is great, so much good food and music.
If traveling on a Saturday, we usually stop at the Santa Barbara Old Town farmers market, the produce is wonderful and you can get strawberries, pistachios and beef jerky for your road trip.
I’ve done that drive many times, in both directions. Carmel and Cambria are worthy stops, and for some reason I really like Morro Bay. Solvang is cute and has great old-fashioned midwestern-style food: thin pancakes, schnitzels, fried pastries.
It almost doesn’t matter which little town you stop at, the California coast is beautiful, as are the hills that run alongside. Big Sur is the most beautiful stretch, to me.
The Michelin-starred places definitely don’t reflect the local food scene all that well. For somebody coming from LA I’d recommend:
For lunch and treats in Carmel I suggest Carmel Belle inside Doud Craft Studios. Cute little lunch place with very good salads and sandwiches. They have great pretzels down the street at Carmel Bakery & Coffee Shop.
**Especially during this time of year!
If you can afford the extra few hours you will be rewarded with world-class beauty.
Also: During a recent stayover in Morro Bay we were looking for a bakery on an early morning. We stopped by La Parisienne.
Armed with all of my @Chowseeker1999-fueled high expectations of croissants, I entered the bakery.
It was about 7am and the cases were full with delicious-looking, and most definitely homemade pastries.
The woman behind the cases, who I guessed is the/an owner, assured me that everything was fresh and baked on site.
I ordered a croissant and some other stuff.
The croissant was fresh and amazing! Flaky but also luscious and buttery.
And only about $2.50!
I went back and ordered two more croissants for the next day.
I will definitely be stopping there any time I pass through.
Yank Sing over Dragon Beaux?
Yank Sing takes and honors reservations and the Rincon branch has free parking.
Reports on Dragon Beaux haven’t been impressive enough for me to schlep all the way out there.
DB takes reservations: Reservations
As far as schlepping, can you spell 38-Geary
I’ve read nothing but great stuff on it.
Yes, Dragon Beaux is definitely on my list. “Schlepping”? Where is it?
Love this post @Bookwich. SLO is edging to the top of the list.
But now I’m torn about which route to take! Maybe we could do 101 part of the way then do a stretch on Hwy 1? I’m also starting to wake up about something else… high-up, winding roads? I can tell you’re a gal who wouldn’t be bothered by this. But I don’t do well with winding, twisty (bad experience as a child). How dangerous is it? Because it won’t be beautiful if my husband has to concentrate on not crashing and his wife’s palms are sweaty and her knuckles are white.
It’s on Geary at 21st St. SF has numbered avenues in one part of town and numbered streets in another. The Mission District has the #d streets
The 38 Geary is a city bus that runs from the Embarcadero (all the way downtown) almost to the ocean. And to gild the lily at the Embarcadero is the Ferry Building with Hog Island Oysters and other food delights
i had another great meal at liholiho yacht club recently, lots of really creative seafood dishes to share and large meat dishes for the man. and because hawaiian food is big in sf.
hog island or swan, because oysters
dragon beaux, pork belly
la ciccia, oyster stew and spaghetti with bottarga
ppq, dungeness and garlic noodles
Some of the beautiful parts of Hwy 1 are pretty high-up and winding (Big Sur area in particular), but the scenery is spectacular. I like SLO, but it’s pretty hard to beat the Monterey Peninsula for the combo of beauty and (as stated pretty accurately by @beefnoguy above), decent mid-tier restaurants. Here’s a link to my Monterey post from a couple of years ago – I doubt much has changed:
For San Francisco, we love Sam’s Grill, a very old-school place with waiters that came with the building. Simple fresh-fish preps. It’s in the financial district, and only open Mon–Fri. For a similar place that’s also open Sat. night (but good luck getting a table), there’s Tadich Grill, which is even older. And yes, definitely Ferry Plaza on Saturday morning. My vote is for crabcakes or breakfast at the Hayes Street Grill stand, or a grilled cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. My daughter loves the porchetta at Roli Roti. Go early to avoid the crowds.
Also, we like (and I may get laughed at for this) Brandy Ho’s, up off Kearny & Pacific at the edge of Chinatown. A bit of a dive, but good food. We go for the smoked ham w/garlic, and the onion pancakes. In fact, I’ve just defrosted a bag of the smoked ham and garlic from a previous trip, and that’s lunch today. The ham is really smoky. We’ll see how it survived the freezer.
Dragon Beaux, like other Koi Palace-related properties, takes reservations but (as they sort of warn you on their web site) that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have a long wait.
Yank Sing honors reservations by having a table ready.
That pork belly is so, so great.
At Hog Island in the Ferry Building, it was a nice day last May and we sat on the back patio enjoying all the views. And slurped oysters and drank sparkling rose’. Mmm.
Curious how they do that. Do they tell customers that they have to leave?