Have you ever been hungry for a good meal only to drive up to the restaurant and decide you’d rather go hungry than step inside? Then you probably missed out on some really great food experiences. Not everyone has the gift of hospitality when it comes to a colorful tablecloth and fresh flowers on the table, but they just might have the magic of NorCal cuisine.
Here are a few that you should never drive on by. As a matter of fact, park that vehicle and step inside. You’ll be glad you did.
1. H & W Drive-In, Merced
Oh My Heck! A pastrami burger with an onion ring thrown in there for good measure. I'd eat that for breakfast! Avocado burgers, zucchini fries..and the best homemade root beer around. Drive up, walk up or enjoy the carhop service.
121 W 16th St
Merced, CA 95340
2. Daily Bagel Cafe
Homemade bagels and donuts on site. You can watch them baking in the back. There are LOTS of favorites here, but the bomb seems to be hands-down the BLT bagel sandwich.
40061 Mission Blvd
Fremont, CA 94539
3. Rockin B's Burger Company, Modesto
Let me introduce you. "Bleu Cheese Burger and Garlic Fries, meet your destiny."
This place doesn't skimp and doesn't use frozen meat. They're keepin' it real here, too. Customers write reviews and the owners put them up on the walls. So go and read what you need to order. Then bring your friends!
222 Mchenry Ave
Modesto, CA 95354
4. China City Restaurant, Cameron Park
Open SIX DAYS a week. And, it's a good thing, too. We LOVE CHINA CITY Restaurant! What you see here is Orange Chicken and Fried Rice. Yum! My personal favorite? General Chicken. To. Die. For. If you find yourself heading up Highway 50 to Lake Tahoe stop here. It's about 90 minutes before Big Blue.
4100 Cameron Park Dr
Cameron Park, CA 95682
5. India Oven, Sacramento
Looking for a hot, steaming dish of Chicken Tikka Biryani? How about some ahmazing lamb curry? This is your place, people! Lunchtime buffet 11:30pm - 3pm daily.
3511 Truxel Rd
Sacramento, CA 95834
6. Yak's on the 5, Dunsmuir
With over 500 reviews on Yelp, this place is a true gem. Dunsmuir may be just a tiny spot on the map but they know how to do BIG food well. Craft brewed beers, garlic fries, jalapeño burgers...need I say more?
4917 Dunsmuir Ave
Dunsmuir, CA 96025
7. Dine N' Dash Pub & Grill, Colfax
Yes, I know this place is a teensy weensy bit nicer than a hole in the wall - but I had to slide this one in. Shrimp Mango looks great. There are lots of great reviews going around about this place. And since most of us don't think "Colfax" when we think "great meal," I had to bend the rules.
1516 S Canyon Way
Colfax, CA 95713
8. Poppa Joe's, Ferndale
The locals come here daily, so you know it's good. Breakfasts are a thing here. Homemade jams and pumpkin pancakes. They're one of the oldest cafés in California, according to the locals. This soup is calling my name!
409 Main St
Ferndale, CA 95536
9. The Rock House, Paradise
Drive for a while along scenic Highway 70 and you'll realize it's slim pickin's when it comes to restaurants. This gem used to be here 20 yrs ago and was known for its prime rib dinners. TODAY the owners are remodeling and refurbishing it. Come by for a coffee and some tasty breakfast sandwiches. Or come a little later and enjoy beer and wine alongside your pizza.
11865 Hwy 70
Yankee Hill, CA 95965
10. Wassayaks, Mount Shasta
This place seems to be quite the hit with LOTS of folks around here. This veggie breakfast burrito with avocado was a spiritual experience according to one customer. Enjoy a hot Mexican coffee as you dine in or carry out and enjoy on the road. You choose. Either way, you win here.
333 N. Mt Shasta Blvd
Mount Shasta, CA 96067
11. Chuck's Hamburgers, Stockton
Traditional American fare right here. Chuck's Hamburgers sells pizza and pancakes, too. Open seven days a week and serving all meals all day--there's some giddy-up in their sizes and the rave reviews keep people coming back for more. Have you been here? What was YOUR favorite dish?
5939 Pacific Ave
Stockton, CA 95207
12. Haps Original Steaks & Seafood, Pleasanton
Hap's is located in adorable downtown Pleasanton. This would be their mouth-watering rib eye steak. Mashed potatoes and mac n' cheese on the side. We hear the mac n' cheese is amazing. With hundreds of restaurants in P-Town, it's tough to rank high around here. Hap's ranked NUMERO UNO.
122 W Neal St
Pleasanton, CA 94566
Save this list and find yourself your local hole in the wall next time you’re itching for a meal out. Make sure to tell us all about it. And, while you’re at it…where is YOUR favorite restaurant that doesn’t look like much, but knocks the food out of the park?