‘Cross country Day 1 – Down the West Coast

    For the past few days we’ve been behind the wheels from dawn to dust, making our way across three time zones. In the first, we happen to stumble upon the best seafood restaurant in Salinas, or so they claim.

    Sitting on a corner lot on Main Street in a peaceful little hometown of John Steinbeck and fewer than 150000 people, Salinas Valley Fish House looks homely attractive with an old-fashioned bistro touch. Little Mom instantly gives an approval nod as she walks into the spacious dining room, seeing fresh flowers on white cloth tables, and Santa hats on the fishes. It opens for lunch only during the week, good thing we drive by on a Friday.

    Despite being in a seafood restaurant in a seaside town, Little Mom fixates on an order of pork chop ($13.95), oak grilled, medium, no condiments. First time I see her liking a pork chop other than her (awesome) own. 🙂

    Mudpie and I also set out for some grilled deals…

    From the sea, a half order of snapper…

    And a half order of calamari steak, which looks exactly the same as the snapper fillet. Mai prefers the squid’s soft yet springy and compact texture to the fish’s flakiness, while both has a lovely smoky touch of the grill.

    Dad branches out of the pack and goes for linguine lightly dressed in a butter garlic sauce with sauteed clam in shell ($13.95). The gentle chewiness pretty much hits the spot.

    About an hour past our usual dinner time and a hopelessly lonely drive through the foggy and mountainous Los Padres National Forest, we reach Santa Clarita, make a few loops and turns to figure out the entrance to the parking lot of La Quinta Inn, and have no strength left to look for a dining exoticus. International House Of Pancakes sounds more appealing than anything else with a big sign visible from the highway.

    This time Little Mom turns around and orders a grilled tilapia, the new addition to IHOP menu. Understandably, it’s just alright. They don’t claim to be an IHOF anyway.

    But she does get overwhelmed by the amount of food, including two crumbly buttery pieces of toasts and a cheesy potato soup, which Dad has to finish instead of his giant big steak omelette.

    The other man in the quartet takes off more healthily on an International Crepe Passport with fresh fruit crepe, two bacon strips, two sausages, and two fried eggs…

    … while the usual meat-eater now opts for a vegetarian plate: four Swedish crepes with lingonberries and lingonberry butter. The crepes here are thicker than those at Millbrae Pancake House, and the butter is not as fruity either, but what counts at that hour is how it satisfies our rumbly tumbly. And it does. All 4 orders for $36.72 and 20 minutes wait.

    Address: Salinas Valley Fish House
    172 Main Street
    Salinas, CA 93901
    (831) 775-0175

    24737 Pico Canyon Rd.
    Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
    (661) 254-1537

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