Last week my mom flew out to CA and we took a little road trip up the coast from LA to San Francisco.
We flew down to LA on Friday morning, and once we settled into our super cool Moroccan-themed hotel, we went exploring. We decided to walk through downtown to a brewery we heard about, only to wander around in the heat among some of LA's more transient residents* to discover it wasn't opening for another 40 minutes. Oops. Luckily we found some amazing popsicles to help a little with the heat. We walked back in the direction of the hotel, checking out the Grand Central Market for a falafel break and then some ice cream for me, and then walked up the hill to check out the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It was very...metallic. Once back at the hotel we plopped down by the pool for happy hour, in an attempt to revive ourselves enough to make it to dinner. After dinner, since 7 miles obviously wasn't enough, we capped off the day with a walk through the giant neon screens at LA Live.
*I checked the map, and after all my joking that I was going to take her on a tour of Skid Row, I accidentally almost did. Whoops.
Artesana It's literally a tiny box of a storefront that we walked right past the first time. The only other customer was enthusiastically recommending the avocado coconut, so I went with that, while my mom tried the watermelon lemongrass.
Madcapra Square falafel! We split a sandwich and sumac chips, and it was probably some of the best falafel I've had outside of Israel.
McConnell's I think I had my first waffle cone ever. Either that, or I have a crappy memory. Sea Salt Cream & Cookies? I. Am. There.
Faith & Flower So good. My mom actually requested that I recreate their kimchi deviled eggs for the blog.
Saturday was like a bad sitcom where everything goes wrong, but minus the laugh track to let you know its supposed to be funny. Hence, the lack of photos. We walked back to Grand Central Market for breakfast at Eggslut, where I stupidly imagined we would just waltz up to the counter, get a sandwich, eat, and leave, all in about 30 minutes. Ha. The wait put us a full hour behind schedule before we finally got on Highway 1 and headed north. My plan was not to rely on my phone for directions since we only had to head north and keep the ocean on the left, right? So wrong. Now I definitely know that Highway 1 ends somewhere in the vicinity of Oxnard and doesn't pop up again until Santa Barbara (Pro tip: use the damn GPS). Once I realized that I shouldn't be seeing mountains to my left, we headed back west towards the coast and joined the parking lot that was 101.
That episode put us another hour behind schedule, which was kind of a problem since our plan was to go wine tasting once we got to San Luis Obispo. Since wineries tend to close at 5pm, we were in a little bit of a hurry at this point. We decided to head to a winery south of SLO, but after 15 minutes of winding roads taking us ever farther from the highway, we finally arrived....to a sign with the unwelcome info that they were CLOSED FOR A PRIVATE EVENT. After an extended bout of "we're laughing so hard to keep from crying" we turned around and got back on the highway. We finally arrived at a winery after 4pm, leaving us enough time to rush through a tasting, buy some wine, and then immediately head to the next winery down the road. In the end we only went to two wineries, but one of them was pretty good, and my mom seemed to enjoy it, so it all worked out, I guess.
After that, we checked into our motel and discovered that it was literally right next door to the Madonna Inn. If you don't know what that is, definitely look it up. We immediately agreed that it was a must for breakfast, but we were starving so we headed downtown to solve the more immediate problem of dinner.
Eggslut This place is popular and I would recommend getting there early. We did not, and the line was out of control. But we waited with all the hipsters and our sandwiches were awesome. Turns out, they not only satisfy in the moment but will also sustain you straight through a day of driving in circles up the coast.
Granada Bistro This was a yelp find, and it turned out to be fantastic. Bonus: they had the most attractive wait staff I've ever seen.
Our final day began in the kitschiest fashion possible, with breakfast at the Madonna Inn. Then we drove north to Hearst Castle for the rich people version of kitsch (and zebras!). That place is so over the top and I couldn't stop imagining all my art history professors cringing at the haphazard mix of gothic, renaissance and other styles. Also, I would be in the best shape if I had to climb all of those stairs every day. After Hearst Castle, we drove north along the winding highway to Big Sur, 17 Mile Drive and then Monterey. I think that stretch of the coast is really the most stunning part, even if you can't really enjoy the view while you are trying to safely drive it. All of California seemed to be doing the same drive we were, so we skipped most of the scenic stopping points. I didn't get to see any sea otters, but we did spot a few seals sunning themselves.
Copper Cafe It's definitely like walking into a giant copper kettle filled with Barbie's kitchen decor. Even the sugar was pink, and the steakhouse next door had bright pink leather booths. The food was pretty much like Denny's, with better ambiance.
Big Sur Bakery This rustic place is so cute, and we ate a salsa verde pizza I'm dying to recreate at home.
I definitely want to do this drive again! My mom had such a good time she's suggesting another road trip from Seattle to SF. I'll just have to remember to use the GPS for that one.