the long road to long beach
April 8, 2010 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Road-Trip-Restaurant-Recommendation-Filter: My wife and I will be traveling from Oakland, CA to Long Beach, CA this Saturday. We plan on leaving kind of early and taking our time. My wife is pregnant so we anticipate a lot of bathroom stops. We'll be taking I-5 for most of the trip. My family lives in the Central Valley so I'm familiar with the first part of the trip, but anything on I-5 south of Harris Ranch is new to me.

1) Can anyone recommend fun or interesting places to stop for lunch? Nothing big and crazy (but feel free to suggest big and crazy because I'm easily tempted) but something other than the usual In-n-Out Burger (which is our usual road trip burger stop) would be nice. I don't mind if it's a little bit out of the way, but I'd prefer not to wander too far off our primary line of travel. Just any kind of place that would be good/different. *Bonus points if you can suggest a fun place similar to Casa De Fruta where we can pull over for a bathroom break and walk around a bit.

2) Specific to Long Beach. Any dinner recommendations would be great. I've been to the Long Beach area before, but always with a friend who knew the area. We're going to be staying near the State University in Long Beach. Any kind of cuisine will do. What I'm looking for is a good neighborhood restaurant that you would recommend to a friend. That said, I'm kind of in the mood for pizza, so if you know a good, higher quality pizza place, that would work, too.

Also, to complicate things, my wife LOVES ice cream. So if you can recommend a place where we can get a nice dinner then walk up the street for a nice scoop of ice cream in an area we can walk around enjoying said ice cream, well, then you'd be my personal hero and every time I hear that "Wind Beneath my Wings" song, I'll be thinking of you.
posted by phelixshu to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
Dude, there's nothing on I-5 but Denny's and McDonalds. If you have time, take the 1 / 101.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:47 AM on April 8, 2010

Enriques on PCH is probably the best Mexican in town. Not far from LBSU.

Belmont Shore -- or "Second Street" -- is three-quarters of a mile of boutiques, restaurants, pubs, bars, coffee-houses and so on. No ice cream, but two kinds of frozen yogurt. A popular place to stroll. Papalucci's on the western end of Second Street is said to have good pizza (I always get paisano on rigatoni, instead, and garlic rolls. Lots of garlic rolls.).
posted by notyou at 12:03 PM on April 8, 2010

2nd Street/Belmont Shore in Long Beach is a nice area to get a bite to eat, then walk around a little. To me, it's got a very "college" (drunk frat guys) vibe though, particularly weekend nights (on an average day, it's noticeably less so... more beachy, folksy). I've only been there a couple of times (due to aforementioned ambience), a few years ago now, but it feels to me like it fits a lot of what you asked for.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:03 PM on April 8, 2010

Harris Ranch itself has some pretty fantastic lunch options, if you are into beef. The fancy dining room has good food, but for lunch we always went to the country kitchen all the way at the end of the hall. In fact, whenever we drive to LA from the Bay Area, we make it a point to stop there.

(My favorite is the French dip sandwich. I'm craving one even now!)
posted by chatongriffes at 12:04 PM on April 8, 2010

And I agree with CPB. You have to go on the 101, because then you can go to Andersen's.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:08 PM on April 8, 2010

No matter how much you like beef, Harris Ranch smells bad enough to turn your stomach from miles away. Anything that forces you to turn the recirculate on in the car shouldn't be a lunch stop.

I think a better plan would be to do the drive at night so your wife can sleep and you only need to stop once to refuel. Otherwise do what CPB and so_gracefully suggest and take 101.
posted by foodgeek at 12:21 PM on April 8, 2010

There is an Andersen's along the I-5 but i'm not really feeling it.

Normally I would take the 101 but it's not an option because we're briefly meeting up with some family along the way to exchange some stuff.

I had hoped that there would be some-sort-of-fantastic-land beyond Harris Ranch...Sadly, it appears to not be so and there is only Bakersfield.
posted by phelixshu at 12:32 PM on April 8, 2010

Yes, but Bakersfield is home to Buck Owens' Crystal Palace.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:54 PM on April 8, 2010

Open Sesame in Belmont Shore has amazing Lebanese food. There is a Haagen-Dazs on 2nd St. as well, which is conveniently located on the way to one of my favorite walking spots in the South Bay--Naples. Check the map to see if its walkable for you guys, or if you need to drive part of the way. Naples has lots of man-made canals (with gondolas) and beautiful houses/gardens and is perfect for a leisurely stroll.

But yeah, there isn't much south of Harris Ranch.
posted by corey flood at 1:05 PM on April 8, 2010

Sorry Corey Flood (and Mrs. phelixshu), but that Haagen-Dazs is long gone.
posted by notyou at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2010

On trips to and from Redding, I've always taken the Five between LA and Sacramento and usually the Five from Sacramento on, but sometimes I'll drive the 99 instead, just for the heck of it. It adds a bit of time, but the farming communities along the way are interesting.

Depending on where you're meeting your family, maybe the 99 is an option for you.

There really isn't much to recommend about the Five other than don't stop.
posted by notyou at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2010

I printed this out the last time I did L.A. to S.F. Lists nearly everything between here and there.

Also, the Andersen's Pea Soup in Santa Nella is great!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 1:57 PM on April 8, 2010

Sorry Corey Flood (and Mrs. phelixshu), but that Haagen-Dazs is long gone.

Curse you, Google Maps! Open Sesame and Naples are still a good bet, though.
posted by corey flood at 2:42 PM on April 8, 2010

I was just about to 2nd Harris Ranch, but saw your wife is pregnant. If she's still in the 'scent is my super power' stage of pregnancy, seal up your windows and race past. Otherwise, there's damn good food there (for meat eaters.)
posted by Space Kitty at 3:06 PM on April 8, 2010

Even 99 is better than 5 if you plan on eating. Los Banos a9Wool Growers) (take 198 across Pacheco Pass or east off I5) and Bakersfield have Basque restaurants. The Vinyard restaurant in Madera is pretty good. Fresno has a large selection, though I think the Armenian restaurants that were once a major attraction there are gone. Kingsburg, just south of Fresno. has a Swedish heritage with a couple of restaurants that might interest you. Balersfield, in addition to Basque (Noriega's, Benji's and others)has a good variety. Basque is my favorite, as you might be able to tell.
posted by path at 8:32 PM on April 8, 2010

A great place on Pine Ave. in Long Beach is George's Greek cafe... Lots of love for their salads and saganaki appetizer (cheese and olives set on fire at the table!) Another favorite is Natraj in Belmont Shore for indian food.. try the Chicken Tikka Masala and Vegetable Malai.. mmm!

For dessert head over to Yogurtland also in Belmont Shore... self serve yogurt (tons of flavors) with unlimited toppings (from fresh fruit to cap'n crunch to crushed almonds, etc) and its pay by weight. Very good value and DELICIOUS.

A tip for visiting Belmont Shore though... parking can be a bit difficult.. when we go, we parallel on the nearby residential streets and walk. There is metered parking on the main street too.

Have a good time here! :)
posted by p1nkdaisy at 9:34 PM on April 8, 2010

Thank you all for the Long Beach Suggestions. It looks like we're going to hit up Belmont Shore and just see what happens.

And since there is NOTHING on I5 we have made some changes and will be taking the 101 because we are familiar with it and there are plenty of things to do.

posted by phelixshu at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2010

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