I have lived in between the central coast and orange county for all my life. (only 34yrs). A co-worker recently asked me advice where to stop on an impromptu road trip he was taking northbound out of LA. One night I quickly put together a list of my favorite stops (mostly restaurants) and roads to take and created a map to follow the stops. I advised him he didn’t need to stop at all these places, but they are great stops along great roads and take his own pace. I figure I could share with you guys... Take it for what it’s worth as I have only great experiences and absolutely no affiliation with the named restaurants.
Link to google map:
Below as it correlates with the map:
A. Los Angeles: The place you want to leave behind!!!
B. Brophys Seafood: My favorite place in SB. Place doesn’t open until 10am and there will be a line out the door by 9:45 on weekends to get the bar seats overlooking the bay. Make sure to get a spot at the bar and overlook the harbor. This is a place for fresh fish, clams, oysters (mostly oyster bar), clam chowder and great Bloody Mary's. (Beware… If you go here first, you might not make any other stops on your trip) You can also walk up state street or around the harbor from here. Other good spots on the pier if you want too.
C. Jalama Beach: Put this place on here because it’s a great drive out there and a nice beach to walk around on. There is a hamburger stand right on the beach with the famous jalama burger. I also think they have cabins which should be available in Winter or during the week. I would call ahead first.
D. Hitching Post (original): Great restaurant (santa maria style BBQ) – I think its better than Hitching post II because its smaller and harder to get to and in a tiny little train stop town.
E. Jocko’s: Great steakhouse- Order the steak sandwich which is a large steak on fried onions and garlic sourdough toast.
F. AJ Spurs: Yes another favorite steak house – Great chili beans and salsa you get as an appetizer and mix together. HUGE PORTIONS!
G. Firestone Walker Brewery: A brewery that also has wine and food. They have tours and the place is pretty big. Call ahead and see when they are open and serving. Again… Don’t plan too much after this stop because the food and beer are heavy. Solvang has a bunch of hotels that are cheap and close by.
H. Hitching Post II: Great restaurant – Filmed movie Sideways here. If you don’t go here, at least take this road and drive through solvang. Cool little “Danish Town” worth looking at and maybe stopping for a quick walk through town.
I. Cold Springs Tavern: Worth a stop for a drink or great food. Usually some crazy items on the menue like venison, wild bore, wild turkey, etc… If anything, take the drive by the place to check it out and you get to go under a really huge span bridge built in the 1960’s. Its off stagecoach road from the 154. Great 10min side trip of the 154.
J. Island Brewery: Kick back little brewery that gives free samples and has great beer. They have a little patio that overlooks the beach and a campground. Bring your own lunch which you can get right up the street at a few different sandwich shops or restaurants. Carpineteria is a cool little town right off the highway and youd never know it was there. (they might sell food there now, its been a while since ive been there)
K. Neptunes Net: Famous stop along PCH for fried food. Just a little stop along the road with good views and a big patio to check it all out. Celebrities stop here too but they sometimes are hard to spot in plain clothes. Dont go on a sunday in the summer after 12pm... Way too crowded!