...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.
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!
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!!!