Eat to Ride or Ride to Eat?
Ether way, these culinary destinations are worth the trip!
|The South Coast BMW Riding Club doing what they do best. Photo By Lisa Catarineau|
Many motorcyclists ride to places to enjoy spectacular scenery, challenging roads and time with close friends. Surprisingly, it seems a great bunch of riders simply ride somewhere to eat.
One shouldn’t be too surprised by this reality. We all need to eat. It just comes down to some who "Eat to Ride" and others who "Ride to Eat."
The importance of this topic, could not be overstated to the South Coast BMW Riders Club or South Coasters. For them and any other palate inspired rider, it becomes prudent to list some excellent dining opportunities along some great motorcycle riding destinations.
Everyone is familiar with places like Newcomb’s Ranch, The Rock Store Café, Neptune’s Net and Hell’s Kitchen.
While these places have their own merits and reasons to visit, everyone knows them.
The criterion for this collection of dining destinations is specific. The café or restaurant must be on or just off a Southern California motorcycle enthusiast’s road. There must be something unique or truly noteworthy that makes it special. The cost including a non-alcoholic drink should not exceed $20USD per person. The food needs to be excellent to way above average. Finally, the location must be able to handle a group of motorcyclists without breaking a sweat or calling the authorities.
Jeremy’s On The Hill – Julian, CA
Jeremy’s On The Hill is a place that inspires a story like this. Located just outside of Julian and close to Palomar Mountain, Jeremy’s On The Hill makes an excellent lunch spot for those with tastes beyond Burger King. Chef Jeremy Manley is a Cordon Bleu Graduate.
Manley is a firm believer in locally sourced ingredients and routinely changes the menu as certain fruits and vegetables are in season. Locally produced Bison and Pork make for some tasty and delectable dishes and are some of Manley’s best-loved offerings. Stop for pie where you will but if you desire an excellent meal at a very reasonable price, look no further.
Big Horn Bar & Grill – Borrego Springs, CA
Borrego Springs has become quite the ghost town in recent years. Many cafés and restaurants have closed or move to more lucrative locations. Despite the dim outlook, there a few culinary highlights to Borrego Springs.
After a great day of riding S-22 through Anza Borrego and getting an interesting photo with the sculptures in the desert, stop at Big Horn Bar & Grill for an above average dining experience. Some favorites include the ribs with sweet potato fries, the spicy grilled chicken sandwich. If you’re feeling ravenous, try the seared rib-eye steak. All of these meals are well prepared and cost under $15USD.
Big Horn Bar and Grill even brings in fresh apple pie from the Julian Pie Company. Big Horn Grill is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays and is open from 2pm-9pm M, Th-F and 11am-9pm on weekends.
Deer Lodge – Ojai, CA
North of Ojai is some spectacular riding. Many action shots featured in moto magazines are shot there for its exotic scenery and extremely light traffic. Savvy riders know the Deer Lodge is one of the best places to enjoy a meal before continuing.
Deer Lodge works closely with local growers and producers to bring fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to your table.
Favorites to order include the free-range BBQ chicken, the wild Pacific cedar plank salmon, and the buffalo burger (bison).
On weekends, Deer Lodge is a favorite with stop for motorcyclists and typically features live music.
Monday through Thursday, Deer Lodge is open after 3 pm. On Friday lunch is served at 11 am. Saturdays and Sundays, Brunch begins at 9:30 am.
Mt. Baldy Lodge – Mt. Baldy, CA
The village of Mt. Baldy is a rustic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city to the south. It’s situated at an apex of two fun moto-friendly roads. Many more casual riders love the ride up Mt.Baldy Road. It’s an easy road with many beautiful vistas. The road is ideal for those who enjoy a slower and more scenic ride. Conversely, Mt. Baldy is reachable from Glendora Ridge Road, which is abranch of Glendora Mountain Road. Glendora Mountain Road or GMR for short is a favorite among sportbikes. It’s an extremely technical canyon offering many twists, turns, and plentiful excitement. Regardless of which route suits your riding style, Mt. Baldy Lodge is a great place to enjoy a meal. A favorite is the Steak Sandwich, made to order and very savory. Monday-Friday Mt. Baldy Lodge is open at 11 am. Saturday and Sunday, hours are from 9a to midnight and 11 pm, respectively. Additionally, Mt. Baldy Lodge offers lovely cabins for the night. It’s a great place to overnight with your partner and enjoy the clean, brisk, mountain air.
Malibu Kitchen – Malibu, CA
Running the Malibu Alps, as coined by Chris Weir, is a wonderful way to enjoy some great SoCal Motorcycling. Often, finding a great place to eat is far more difficult. There are certainly expensive offerings like Nobu and Gladstone’s if you’re trying to impress someone. Duke’s is an affordable and notable place with moto-friendly valets, so it’s equally worthy of a visit.
Serving up Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses along with some excellent in-house offerings on freshly baked bread, Malibu Kitchen is the best. For me, it’s the rare roast beef on a French roll with provolone cheese that gets me every time. Located close to Pepperdine University and many celebrity residences, it is a common place for locals to enjoy. It’s in the Malibu Country Mart at PCH and Cross Creek, behind the Shell Station. It’s not far from Malibu Canyon Road. It is also rare when one doesn’t recognize someone also enjoying lunch in the outdoor seating area. A few steps down is a Starbucks where one can get amped up with coffee to run Latigo Canyon, Mulholland, and Stunt Road six more times before calling it a day.
|John Kenji Hawley and Jim Foreman enjoying lunch at Gastrognome in Idyllwild, CA|
CA-243 or the Palms to Pines Highway is a treasure for experienced motorcyclists. This lightly traveled road is chock full of great corners, elevation changes, and vistas. The hidden beauty is that one can take it as hard or as mellow as one wants without being disappointed.
Situated in the middle of Idyllwild’s village, Gastrognome is an above-par European style café with excellent lunch offering. Motorcycle parking, right in front, and outdoor seating make this mile-high café and culinary delight. Favorites are the Raspberry Chicken Sandwich and the Rainbow Trout Filet Almondine.
The town is charming to walk through and is very motorcycle friendly. A nice gelato or coffee (or both) is a great treat before heading out. From Idyllwild, one can easily reach Palm Desert via CA-74 or Anzo Borrego mentioned earlier.
The Lookout - Lake Elsinore, CA
Surprisingly good food at the top of Ortega Highway's crescendo.
Old Place - Cornell, CA
Right on Mulholland Highway, east of the Rock Store. No Freezers means everything's fresh and tasty. It's a lively place with a great atmosphere.
Willie Boys Saloon and Dance Hall - Morongo Valley, CA
Willie Boys is a perfect destination after a great day riding Joshua Tree National Park. It's also something delightfully different from the glam and pretension of Palm Springs.
Yellow Vase - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
A taste of European elegance can be found at Yellow Vase. Several locations are in the south bay, but this on is my favorite on Rancho Palos Verdes Drive West. Overlooking the ocean and Catalina Island, this place is a magnificent place to enjoy great coffee drinks and light lunch offerings.
Throughout Southern California, there are numerous cafés and dining destination along some favorite roads. Some of these may already be your favorites. Others will be new. Yet more may still be waiting to be discovered. Whatever your motivation, Make Life a Ride.
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