Autobahn appetite!
August 8, 2010 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Calling all frequent Portland-Seattle drivers: where are your favorite places to pull off I-5 and eat?

I used to drive it alone and just get it over with as fast as possible, but now with a family (and some of the especially horrific traffic lately between Tacoma & Olympia), sometimes we just need to stop and take a break. We can't stand fast food, with the lone, occasional exception of Burgerville in Centralia; yam fries! So I thought I'd check with the community to see if there are any gems we're missing along the way. Bonus points if it's not far off the freeway. Thanks!
posted by sapere aude to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: La Tarasca in Centralia. Fantastic Mexican.
posted by kindall at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You're very close to my favorite place on that drive! As much as I love Burgerville, the place to go in Centralia is Bill & Beas Drive-In -

Awesome, cheap, old fashioned burgers and shakes. Granted, I guess that does count as fast-food, but I promise it is delicious!
posted by alaijmw at 3:50 PM on August 8, 2010

Best answer: The Country Cousin in Centralia is worth visiting for the Yak Burger.
posted by mmdei at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pay attention to alaijmw - I was trying to remember the name of that place! The milkshakes are awesomeness in a cup.
posted by dbmcd at 5:06 PM on August 8, 2010

I'm with mmdei - Country Cousin!
posted by ErikaB at 6:47 PM on August 8, 2010

Best answer: No joke, I read your post while at a standstill on I-5 a few miles south of Olympia. Ugh.

I usually stop for lunch at a McMenamin's pub, either Olympic Club Pub in Centralia or Spar Cafe in Olympia. Worth a visit to check out the restored historic buildings - the Olympic Club Pub is particularly interesting.
posted by prinado at 7:46 PM on August 8, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry to hear it, prinado. That holdup was killing me on our last trip. Kudos to everyone so far, I appreciate the suggestions, especially for good Mexican food. I should add that I'm probably more interested in places around the Olympia/Tacoma area; that's where the kiddo's nap usually ends and we start getting desperate to either get home or to get off the road and out of the car for a while. Everything so far sounds great, though. Who would have guessed Centralia would be such a hotspot?
posted by sapere aude at 8:22 PM on August 8, 2010

Best answer: Downtown Olympia is pretty close to the freeway. I like Little Da Nang for Vietnamese. It's also right next to the Heritage Park Fountain, which is great for kids during the summer! There are numerous Thai places downtown: Thai Pavilion is a good one but not too fancy; appropriate for a stop off the highway. Quality Burrito has classy Mexican, really good, but the service isn't always so fast. Old School makes a damn fine thin crust pizza. The Reef serves diner-like food, but made with high quality ingredients. They recently reopened after a bad kitchen fire and are well loved by Olympians. Wagner's Bakery has a deli and wide selection of pastries and sweets. I've never eaten a meal there, but some of the pastries are quite good. Meconi's has a mighty fine Italian sub as far as the West coast goes. It's close to the highway exit. These are all places where you could eat for around $10/person or less. If you are interested in nicer places too, or have specific cuisine preferences, let me know and I will go into more detail!
posted by scose at 9:37 PM on August 8, 2010

I love the burgers at Norma's right off exit 114 in Nisqually. They also have a smaller location on Martin Way, between exits 109 and 111. Although, I feel I should warn you that the place is decorated in a bizarrely conservative way (American flags everywhere, framed pictures of Reagan on the wall, etc.), though this hasn't been reflected in the service, in my experience.

If you like German food, I highly recommend Oskar's Deli in Lacey. It's a tiny little place in the Fred Meyer parking lot, off exit 108 (Sleater Kinney Rd), but it's got some great sausages and sandwiches and the potato salad is killer.

I also second Kindall's suggestion of La Tarasca. Most excellent food.
posted by fryman at 10:06 AM on August 9, 2010

Also, if you like barbecue, I cannot recommed Southbay enough, in downtown Olympia (exit 105, left onto Legion Way). Killer food and great sides. If you want a meal to kick you over the barrel, this is the place.
posted by fryman at 10:17 AM on August 9, 2010

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