I wasn’t quite sure I would be able to eat anything healthy while on the road to and from CA. When I’m in my own territory I never eat anywhere that has a drive-thru. Okay, Braum’s is the exception because it also has a market where I buy milk and ice cream. But I don’t eat “fast food” and we don’t normally eat in a restaurant more than once every three or four months.
I didn’t want us to eat in expensive restaurants, especially not for lunch, which also needed to be a relatively quick stop. And of course we would be eating in a different town for each meal, so familiar names seemed like the best options. At least I know the general menu of the chain restaurants, and while all of them are very generous with salt and fat, some are better than others. Then there is of course the issue of being a pescetarian. So…Denny’s (lots of veggie options), Carl’s Jr. (bean burrito), Taco Bell (bean burrito), Golden Corral (veggies and fish), Iron Skillet (salad bar), and Subway (veggie sub) were our dining choices. All close to the highway, easy to locate, mostly consistent, and not too expensive.
Little did I know that eating three meals a day would be such an adventure or that we would have so many stories to tell!! LOL
First of all, our breakfasts were always eaten at the hotels, where I discovered that there are several approaches to cooking scrambled eggs and not all of them are good! Biscuits held in warming pans always taste stale. Other people are crazy about waffles! And children do not like to eat early. They are often cranky and whiny and spill stuff everywhere. Some people have no qualms about being seen barefooted and in their pajamas. Some people eat standing up, even if there is a table. Others apparently don’t plan on eating for the rest of the day so they make sure to eat a “hearty” breakfast. BTW, we ate one breakfast in a construction zone, complete with yellow tape, because the hotel lobby was being remodeled. And our best breakfast is always (three trips) at the Quality Inn in Barstow, CA because it’s served at an actual restaurant attached to the hotel.
Denny’s has the most varied menu and consistent cooking, but they also provided us with some of the most “interesting” dining experiences I’ve ever had. I’m not going to name locations, but at one restaurant our waitress excused herself after bringing our drinks, explaining that she had an emergency at home. Before we finished our meal she had returned with her child, who was relegated to a corner booth with some books and food. At another our waitress actually fell, broke a lot of glassware, cut her hand, and stayed in the back room for about fifteen minutes. Then she returned to work with a bandaged hand covered by a glove! We encountered a “cook in training” who argued with the manager about his lack of consistency in making pancakes. He made a veggie skillet for me…without the broccoli…and instead put it on Gary’s steak skillet. A young waitress at one location didn’t even know there was a veggie skillet on the menu and she returned to our table to ask me if I meant omelet. I had to show her the skillet on the menu. At another we barely got any attention at all because our waitress was fascinated by the couple next to us, visiting from London. She stood at their table and talked whenever she got the chance.
Carl’s Jr. is Gary’s choice for burgers. They also have burritos…at some locations. Turns out we picked one that didn’t, but there was a Subway in the same location, with a shared dining area, so it turned out okay. I really hate Subway, but one veggie sub didn’t hurt me. I also don’t like Taco Bell, hadn’t eaten there in about twenty years, and it will be okay if I never eat there again.
We ate at one Golden Corral and I enjoyed a big salad, veggies, and fish. Unfortunately our entertainment for the evening was a very irate customer who insisted that the chocolate fountain should not have been turned off and cleaned thirty minutes before closing and loudly berated several employees about it. There were also more children running, knocking things over, and generally misbehaving than I have ever seen before at GC. Four different groups had to be chastised by the staff.
Iron Skillet is a restaurant chain attached to TA travel centers. Gary was very pleased with their food when he was driving a truck, so when we arrived at our destination and saw their sign we decided to try them. Their salad bar was excellent, complete with chilled plates and a wide variety of add-ons.
In case you are a pescetarian and ever stranded in Nacona, TX where the only obvious place to eat is the DQ, order the chicken salad. The chicken is added to the top and can be easily removed to give to your husband. One of the staff members is about 90 years old and she will come out to your table and talk to you while she cleans. She will also ask you to leave your trash on the table…job security!
Thankfully in CA we were treated to my daughter’s excellent cooking (she learned from her grandmother, not me) and we also ate at some wonderful restaurants that she recommended. I ate the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, an excellent scallop salad, a great egg salad sub, spinach enchiladas, and portabella ravioli. I also had cinnamon coffee, which was delightful. (BTW, I lost three pounds while vacationing.)
Gary and I sampled clam chowder at the wharf in Monterey and he took these photos of the meals on display.