I surprised myself last year by going back to America for a four-week road trip with 2 mates. It wasn’t my first time in America, I’d actually been for a six-week trip half a decade ago and thought that was it for me. However the lure of actually driving through America combined with hanging with two of the most chill guys I’ve ever known was irresistible!
On the way our journey took us to Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Mammoth Lakes, Las Vegas, Monument Valley, Chicago, Boston and New York.
We didn’t drive the entire way, America is too insanely large to cover in only four weeks and as much as I wanted to drive along Route 66, I found out you actually can’t drive the entire way anymore!
I was a terrible blogger along the way, I took no notice of restaurant names, never wrote down any dishes or prices, ate at any random restaurant with a decent rating on Yelp and took photos of anything that took my fancy. It was four weeks of eating, drinking and messing around with friends and it was brilliant.
If I wrote about every restaurant and every stop on the trip I’d be writing for months, so instead I’m just showing off a few of my highlights.
I think its safe to say that Los Angeles isn’t on most people’s top 10 places to visit, getting around without a car is pretty much impossible but as we were all coming from different parts of the world it was simply easier to meet up in Los Angeles before starting our trip.
Plus, you have access to Disneyland and Universal Studios!
Driving in America is unlike anything I’ve seen in Sydney. Until you’ve driven on a 12 lane highway, gone down a 4 story underpass, turned left into the left lane of a 6 lane road (not recommended), you haven’t driven in America.
Thankfully I met up with A in Sydney, 14 arduous hours later we were in LA picking up the car and risking limbs and lives on our way to our hotel. While M was freaking out about traffic, I amused myself by taking photos of restaurants with dirty puns in their names.
Of course, my first meal in America had to be a hotdog. I am delighted to say it was delightfully average. Soon after this we were united with D
There were at least a dozen restaurants I wanted to visit in LA, sadly my luck was against me as Son of a Gun was filled up, Ink Sack (of Michael Voltaggio fame!) opened the day after we left and sadly we were never in the same areas as Red Medicine.
However, all was made better with the Pulled Pork Sandwich at Food Fair by Diego (7825 Beverly Blvd, Mid-City West, LA, CA 90036). For the insanely cheap $9 we were presented with plates of pulled pork heaped high enough that it was easily the size of my first.
I immediately burnt myself with the hot hot juice running down my arm and called the night a great success.
We actually rearranged our itinerary to make sure that our visits to Disneyland and Universal Studios landed on weekdays. Our planning was a massive success, the parks were practically empty and the longest we ever had to wait for a ride was 5 minutes!
I don’t even like Toffee Apples, but I have to admit the Mickey Mouse Toffee Apples were hella cute! (The Halloween themed ones are because… it was October during this trip! Oops, a little late).
I know Teresa seems to go on about Yelp in all of her US posts, the truth is simple. Yelp is awesome.
On our way up to San Luis Obispo, the boys declared they were starving and a quick Yelp search found us the hole-in-the-wall mexican joint, Romanti-Ezer (701 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93190). Half of me wanted to go there just for the awesome sounding name, but the other half went for the Ole Mole Burrito, possibly the largest burrito I’ve ever seen gracing a plate.
Swimming in a plate of burning hot sauce, drowning in a layer of melted cheese all hiding beans, pork, rice, onions and basically everything you’d want after a late night of drinking. Amazeballs, and all for $8!
San Luis Obispo
Nothing will ever top Madonna Inn (100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405). It’s easily one of the strangest and unique hotels I’ve ever had the opportunity to stay in.
Every single room is decked out in a different theme (American Beauty, Time of Your Life, etc!), and the decorations extended all the way into the lobby, bar and restaurant. It’s jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring, and really the best way to fully appreciate it all is by either staying there, or checking out the impressive list of room features.
The only thing that impressed me more than the decorations, were the display cabinets filled with coconut dusted 5″ cream cakes.
As the drive from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco was only four hours long, we took a little detour to the coast to visit Morro Bay.
It’s the epitome of a tourist town, but in the middle of the day on a Thursday it felt like we were the only people in town.
On The Road Again
C’mon, you didn’t really think I could go on a road trip in America and not go to In-n-Out? At a ridiculously cheap $3.40 for the burger, we opted for the Cheeseburger meal which came with chips and a drink (hello chocolate shake!) for the equally insane $6.59 (incl. tax).
After arriving in San Francisco we amused ourselves by being the biggest tourists in the world.
But onto more important things, the food!
D was like man possessed, his need to have chowder was overpowering! We found ourselves at Bistro Boudin (39 Pier#213, San Francisco, CA 94133-1045) instead my eyes immediately went to the Crab and Corn Bisque while D opted for the Cham Chower. Infinitely comforting, the main appeal is being able to tear apart your bowl once you’re done!
Worn out after a week of non-stop travelling, we venture to Japantown for some Umeshuu (Japanese Plum Wine) and takeaway sushi. If I could only have 1 type of alcohol for the rest of my life, it would be Umeshuu.
A day trip out to the University of California, Berkeley for the 2nd annual Fall Free For All saw us attending a free talk by none other than the lovely Jane Lynch of Glee fame, but also saw us snuggled up at Raleigh’s (2438 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704) for jugs of Cider, Spicy Chicken Wings and best of all… shuffleboard.
A turns out to be a shuffleboard shark, I’m not far behind him once I’ve had a few practice runs and we’ve determined that D is absolutely useless at shuffleboard.
Mexican Food in California is hands down amazing. The prices low enough I have to double-check to see if I’m reading them correctly, the variety is never-ending and the food is simple and delicious. It’s utterly spoiled me for Mexican food and I haven’t been able to eat it since coming back to Sydney.
We’re staying at a tech incubator while in San Fran, it’s geeky and brilliant but the best part is its proximity to Mission St, the mecca of Mexican food. A local recommendation leads us to Taqueria Los Coyotes (3036 16th St, Mission, San Francisco, 94103) where between the 3 of us we have Beef, and Fish tacos, deep-fried Pork Super Burrito, marinated Pork Nachos, 2 cokes and a Sol for the grand total of $27. Love it.
It might seem like a strange dish to order at the Cheesecake Factory, but my #1 go-to dish is the Luau Salad. Chicken tossed with vegetables and layered with crisp wonton wafers, all drenched in vinaigrette, it’s a taste sensation and all I could think about for day.
Obviously because this lunch is looking way too healthy with a salad, I opt for the heart-attack inducing Blue Cheese B.L.T. Burger, I’m a big fan of Blue Cheese but even I was a little worried about it being overpowering but the power of bacon wins out in the end!
And of course we ended our meal with a slice of cheesecake, you can’t go to the Cheesecake factory without trying the cheesecake!
Despite the fact that our first morning in San Francisco is a Saturday, I force the boys to come with me to Tartine (600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110) for breakfast. With the brunch crowd out in full force it’s a wait of about 15 minutes before we even come close to the doors but the first sight of the cake stuffed counters is enough to send me into a dizzy of indecision.
Gruyère is my fatal cheese weakness, the texture and nuttiness are an unbeatable mix for me. So when I see it listed as one of the ingredients in the Croque Monsieur it’s an instant order for me. The photo is ridiculously deceiving, the serving I receive after 10 minutes of waiting is easily 25cm long and 10cm wide. It’s a beast of a breakfast.
Because we’re gluttons, we stopped by Tartine one last time on our way out-of-town to pick up a box of Ham & Cheese Croissants and Chocolate Croissants, I never thought I’d have a croissant that would beat out the Jamon Croissant of MoVida Aqui & Terraza (Melbourne) fame but I have seen the croissant god and it lives at Tartine.
Sorry, this was obviously before I perfected my jump kick skills in Malaysia!
Tons more to come! (Napa Valley, Mammoth Lakes, Las Vegas, Monument Valley, Chicago, Boston and New York.)