El Molino Central, Sonoma and the Best Tacos on the 5 Fwy

...from Searanch... driving the 12 the whole way from Santa Rosa to the 5 south. It's a pretty great shortcut in that you can avoid the crappy 80 S. entirely AND the 580 S. which always backs up through Livermore and Hayward.

The best part was the food along the way. While driving through Boyes Hot Springs, a place I'd like to return to for some sulphur bathing, I came across a total BRAKE SCREECHER. The place was so cute I almost got whiplash and though I TRIED to talk myself into just looking them up on the internet later, my car turned itself around and I stopped for an early delicious lunch at EL MOLINO CENTRAL.

Apple Fritters

They grind their own corn for gorgeous, fresh, tortillas that are much bigger than the average size and thus perfect for a larger fish taco. They make their batter with Bohemia beer! Something I have done at home with great results. They make enchiladas with swiss chard, crispy beef brisket tacos (HELLO!) and they feature Blue Bottle coffee with beans from Chiapas which you can have for breakfast with a homemade apple fritter! DIOS MIO.

The place is designed and furnished so adorably, I really really wanted to move in and sleep on the beautifully tiled floor. A treasure. A find. A must visit.

From there I kept driving S. resisting the urge to turn off on the 29 toward Napa for a quickie foodie/wino visit. I passed right by the CARNEROS INN which is a great place to stay and has a great restaurant with all sorts of cool cocktails.

From the 29 turn off, it's about 50 minutes until you get to where the 5 and the 580 meet just S. of Stockton. Here is where I finally managed to find and try the fabled ANTOJITOS MEXICANOS. This is the place my 'I don't really like Mexican food' friend told me about, saying it was the best she'd had. EVER. This is the place that Yelpers rave about and the place that drew a tour bus of 20 Frenchmen all the way from San Francisco!

Owners Carlos and Olga make all their food fresh in the DF style. LOTS of yummy shrimp dishes, authentic tacos and a GREAT chile relleno. The place is friendly and clean. It shares the same building as SUBWAY and you can easily get your food to go if you prefer. The same exit has a wonderful farm fresh fruit and veggie stand where I picked up corn, heirloom tomatoes, cherries and pluots!

Owner/Cocinera Olga

The family that runs the restaurant is very humble and they are loving the fact that people are finding them though they don't know exactly how it's happening since they don't have a website OR a Facebook page! Being next to Subway off the 5 probably doesn't hurt.

Grilled Shrimp Taco with Garlic and Avocado

I snacked on my tasty treats all the way down the 5 and I have to say that it was all delicious. That is always the best part of a road trip for me; discovering new and exciting spots for those crazy, sometimes crunchy delights... TACOS!!!


Sea Ranch, Gualala and other August Tacos Including Tacos from The Gap!

Where did Agosto go? I think it got lost in a house remodeling job I took on as a supervisor. As busy as I was, I still managed to bump into the Gap Promotional Taco Truck Tour. The truck was light blue and had a neon sign that flashed DENIM and TACOS alternately.  Silly? Yes! But fun and a great deal at 2 tacos and a soda for $1.69! What were they promoting? Jeans of course.

I tried the Ahi Tuna Tacos at Rockwell VT on Vermont and loved them. They use actual little mini taco shells instead of wonton shells which was a welcome change.

I made it to Malo to confirm what I already knew which is that I still  LOVE LOVE LOVE that Ground Beef Pickle taco. I don't care what anyone says against it. It's irrational. It's somebody's mama's taco so, there.

I managed to get away for a mini Road Trip to visit some dear family friends who now spend most of their time up in Sea Ranch.

Normally when I visit them, Annie makes her AMAZING Texas-style Ground Beef Tacos. Her secret? Bacon fat and Lawry's mix. They are so damn good. But this time I could tell she didn't feel like cooking so we went to this very nice place for tacos up in Gualala called Laura's Bakery and Taqueria.

Gualala is the tiniest of towns with an Indian heritage and a nice Latin population. There is endless construction, gardening and maintainence needs down at the Sea Ranch and so of course there must be TACOS. Laura's was very authentic, tasty and inexpensive and they have a lovely outdoor patio AND BEER! Victoria Beer even!!! The Carnitas were especially delish.

On the way down from Sea Ranch I passed through Healdsburg. Healdsburg is probably one of the fanciest spots in this area, lots of rich women dressed in white and swanky modern hotels such as http://www.h2hotel.com/

I heard there was lots of Mexi Food in Healdsburg and indeed there was. I walked around the square and spotted at least four before settling on El Sombrero. It came with a recommendation from locals and was right across from the Police Station where I used the bathroom!

I could see that people were loving their burritos and soft tacos. I just HAD to try the hardshell and it was a little funky. Like their chips, the 'crispy' shell seemed to come out of a bag or box. It was odd and not what I hoped for, BUT the filling was so delicious and their hotter red salsa so tasty, I gobbled that thing right up even though I'd had a sizeable ham and cheese croissant at Two Fish Baking Company for breakfast!

I spent the night in Santa Rosa. I had intended to have some fancy tacos and tequilla at La Rosa, but instead I kept passing by the adorable and friendly El Coqui as I was trying to find a parking space. I wasn't feeling trendy but in need of some comfort food I could take back to the hotel so I ventured in, was treated like an old friend and had delicious Puerto Rican food.

Very similar to Cuban but with more spice and heat, the Jabaritos, which was a fried green plantain 'sandwich' with tasty ground beef filling, really hit the spot.  El Coqui has been open for two years and has great happy hours with beer and sangria and a very warm and friendly staff.

Later today I plan to hit up this place on the 5 that my friend Dana told me about called Antojitos Mexicanos. Can't decide if it's a movie opportunity or just a photo opp. We'll find out!