Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve told you about the two main destinations of our California road trip – LA and San Francisco. In this last road trip recap (*le sigh*), I want to share some of what we saw while passing through, including Santa Barbara, Big Sur (!!!), Carmel and Yosemite.
My dream mode of transportation – spotted in Santa Barbara
This being my first time on the west coast, eating at In-N-Out Burger was among my top priorities. This burger chain is often the subject of cult-like praise, bordering on obsession, and I’ve heard it being compared to Shake Shack on several occasions. Unfortunately, it did not live up to its expectations. The burger patties were dry, the lettuce and tomatoes tasteless, and the fries limp – nothing at all like Shake Shack’s juicy, charred burgers and crispy, heavenly fries. In-N-Out is more like Burger King, if anything. I think the reason people romanticize this chain is because it’s symbolic of the California lifestyle. And yes, eating burgers outdoors on a sunny day, surrounded by palm trees, has its charm, and certainly elevates any food experience. Or maybe I’m just spoiled – whatever.
Watching out for hooligans/posing for tourist photos
Driving through Big Sur on California’s Highway 1 was one of the most beautiful and exciting experiences I’ve ever had. The combination of glistening ocean water, bright blue skies and winding mountainside road – and over 90 miles of it all! – is nothing short of breathtaking. Everyone should experience it at least once in their lives.
On our way north, we drove by a place called Carmel. Carmel is a small, Mediterranean village-like city, full of shops, galleries and restaurants. If you are ever driving through the California coast, I highly recommend checking it out.
We stopped in at La Bicyclette for lunch. This beyond-charming Mediterranean restaurant is probably the closest you can get to feeling like you’re at the French riviera stateside.
Their menu changes regularly to make use of the bounty of local produce. We started with a red and golden beet salad, and moved on to the wood-fired mushroom pizza, made with mozzarella, caramelized onion puree and local mushrooms. The pizza was surprisingly light, but very, very satisfying – perfect for a summertime lunch (especially with that glass of chilled rosé).
Somewhere near Hearst castle
Hills on hills on hills
When we asked the innkeeper of the place we stayed at in Yosemite for dinner recommendations in the area, she suggested the restaurant in Hotel Charlotte. Located in a Victorian-style home in Groveland, CA, this place is a real gem and probably the kind of restaurant only a local would be able to recommend (well, except for me recommending it to you now). They serve small, seasonal plates that are meant to be shared, as well as a great selection of local beer and wine. We shared two salads – arugula, and watermelon-basil – and the braised beef poutine. It’s a great place to unwind after a long day of hiking and sightseeing.
Until next time, America!