Our Northwest

Good cafes remain for I-5 California road trips

Wednesday, May 14, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

I love road trips. And eating on road trips.
   This week I learned that one of my favorite breakfast stops still serves good grub in Weed, Calif.
   My son texted me Monday saying he had safely returned from summiting 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta, and that he was spending the night in Weed. I reminded him of good breakfasts our family enjoyed there at the Hi-Lo Café on long-ago road trips.
   The next morning, he texted me this picture of what I remembered: hearty, home-cooked breakfasts served on big rectangular platters. And thick bacon, served crisp as requested.
   My palate may not be as discerning as yours. For me, a good road-trip meal is all about portions, home-cooked flavor, and value.
   If you drive I-5 back and forth to California, you can enjoy some of our family favorites.

  • Elmer’s. Yes, it’s a chain, but a good one. If you get a hankering for breakfast around Roseburg, Grant’s Pass, or Medford, stop at Elmer’s and order German pancakes. Or you might know them as Baby Dutch pancakes. Same thing. Elmer’s also serves strawberry blintzes, fruit crepes, and more-traditional meat-and-eggs ranch breakfasts.
  • In Redding, we ate great eggs benedict once at Déjà Vu, which was a ways off the freeway in town. Our kids also liked the Black Bear Diner near our motel, which was decent for a chain restaurant.
  • Williams, Calif., is a small town 59 miles northwest of Sacramento. Decades ago we discovered a truck-stop café there called the Top Hat that didn’t look like much, but it served great breakfasts. I’m sad to learn it’s now become the Williams Chinese Restaurant. But from what I’ve heard, it earns rave reviews.
  • The Hot Rod Diner in Turlock (on U.S. 99, not I-5) serves big portions, and killer hash browns. We only ate there once but swore we’d go back.
  • As mentioned above, the Hi-Lo Café in Weed. The placemats used to have interesting historical trivia about the old Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl, which in the 1950s had a chairlift that carried skiers to nearly 10,000 feet. An avalanche wiped it out in 1978.

   Aside from I-5 road trips, other breakfast favorites for us include the Maltby Café, Maltby; Portage Bay Café, Seattle; Brown Bag Café, Kirkland; Cottage Café, Cle Elum; Country Gentleman, Kennewick; Blueberry Hills, Manson; and Wild Huckleberry, Wenatchee.
   If you too seek portions, home-cooked flavor, and value, comment here with your favorite breakfast spots!

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