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Planning a trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon.

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Aug 9, 2010
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I’m planning a trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon during the Christmas and New Year break.

I already made hotel reservations and got tickets for ‘O’ at the Cirque du Soleil.

However, I wonder if you may recommend any good restaurant between San Francisco and Las Vegas.
It’s a 600 miles journey, so I would like to take it easy to enjoy the trip and arrive relax at destination.

Also from San Francisco, to get to the Hwy 5, would you recommend
- using Hwy 580 and the Altamont pass, or
- using the Hwy 152 and the Pacheco Pass?


Do you have any recommendation of good restaurants in Las Vegas?

I would like to avoid the ‘ding’ ‘ding’ ‘ding’ noise as must as possible.
I noticed for example the Japanese restaurant called Raku-grill, a couple of miles west of the trip,
but since I would stay for a week, I’m open to any recommendations.


About the Grand Canyon, it’s a 300 miles trip. I will stay at the Grand Canyon Village,
but I would be interested knowing any recommendations of good restaurants along the way,
even up to Flagstaff or Williams.
 
From SF, I will recommend taking 580 as that way the route is all freeway. 152 can get backed up on busy travel weeks and has several choke points.

For restaurants between SF and Vegas, the only thing that comes to my mind is Harris Ranch. I-5 is really boring and there isn't much to do or eat in that segment. Not sure if you are planning to stay overnight in SoCal as that will open up a lot of restaurant options.

My favorite places to eat in Vegas include Cut, Gordon Ramsey, Freebird, B&B, Carnevino, Bouchon, Javier, Wolfgang Puck, Momfocku. Also try the buffets. I like the Cosmopolitan one
 
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I’m planning a trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon during the Christmas and New Year break.

I already made hotel reservations and got tickets for ‘O’ at the Cirque du Soleil.

However, I wonder if you may recommend any good restaurant between San Francisco and Las Vegas.
It’s a 600 miles journey, so I would like to take it easy to enjoy the trip and arrive relax at destination.

Also from San Francisco, to get to the Hwy 5, would you recommend
- using Hwy 580 and the Altamont pass, or
- using the Hwy 152 and the Pacheco Pass?


Do you have any recommendation of good restaurants in Las Vegas?

I would like to avoid the ‘ding’ ‘ding’ ‘ding’ noise as must as possible.
I noticed for example the Japanese restaurant called Raku-grill, a couple of miles west of the trip,
but since I would stay for a week, I’m open to any recommendations.


About the Grand Canyon, it’s a 300 miles trip. I will stay at the Grand Canyon Village,
but I would be interested knowing any recommendations of good restaurants along the way,
even up to Flagstaff or Williams.

Would suggest staying at Nobu in Caesars at least one night (arranging a room with a Strip view) and dining at the steakhouse just adjacent those elevators. No ding ding ding, stellar service, and likewise tasty vittles.

For something a tad more eclectic, you can’t go wrong with Battista’s Hole in the Wall. Behind the Flamingo, so technically off strip. It is... an experience with surprisingly good food and a lot of it.

The Grand Canyon this time of year? Strikingly beautiful I bet. Dining at El Tovar I hope.
 
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For something different (but not sexy or exotic) you might try eating in Bakersfield at Woolgrowers. This is a family-owned Basque restaurant that serves its meals family style, so you get to mix and mingle with everyone at your table. Plenty of food and camaraderie if that is something you enjoy. There is also a Woolgrowers in Los Banos, but I have never eaten there, and I do not believe that the two restaurants are owned by the same individuals.

I suspect that the restaurant at the El Tovar Hotel in GC would be magnificent [oops, I see where someone beat me to the punch on that one!]--at least it was a zillion years ago when my folks and I stayed and ate there. You could also ride a locomotive from Williams to the South Rim and back. You would have to check the schedule for departure times and dates. Might be sorta fun!

Depending upon your departure location, time of day, and day of the week, Altamont Pass is usually faster than Pacheco Pass.
 
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Best conditions for the Canyon are in winter, I stayed there 4 days last year over XMas, lots of snow and a full on inversion..
 

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I’m planning a trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon during the Christmas and New Year break.

I already made hotel reservations and got tickets for ‘O’ at the Cirque du Soleil.

However, I wonder if you may recommend any good restaurant between San Francisco and Las Vegas.
It’s a 600 miles journey, so I would like to take it easy to enjoy the trip and arrive relax at destination.

Also from San Francisco, to get to the Hwy 5, would you recommend
- using Hwy 580 and the Altamont pass, or
- using the Hwy 152 and the Pacheco Pass?

152 can be very busy so since you're intent on going over to I-5 anyway, you may as well take 580 to get there.

There's not a lot on I-5 but once you start heading east on 58 there is a bit more. In Mojave there is a great little place called Stoken' Donuts, in a tiny building which used to be Mojave's public library. They are a deli as well, not just donuts.

Once you get to Barstow on 58 there is Idle Spurs Steakhouse, a classic steakhouse that is as old-school western as it gets. Not western as a 'theme', but actually western, with a hodgepodge building (with lounge) that grew over decades. I once stopped for dinner and saw a horse hitched to the railing out front. Its owner had ridden up from Victorville and was kickin' it at the bar inside.
Also in Barstow, Jenny's is a pretty good Mexican place, and there is a new American/Mexican diner restaurant called Roy's Cafe, which is patterned after the classic (and long-closed) Roy's Cafe in Amboy (with miniature version of the Roy's neon sign). I've heard Lola's Kitchen is also good but I haven't eaten there myself.

In Baker is the Mad Greek. it's good but can be a bit of a touristy madhouse.


Do you have any recommendation of good restaurants in Las Vegas?

I would like to avoid the ‘ding’ ‘ding’ ‘ding’ noise as must as possible.
I noticed for example the Japanese restaurant called Raku-grill, a couple of miles west of the trip,
but since I would stay for a week, I’m open to any recommendations.

I live in Vegas so I avoid the strip at all costs; I'm sure others will have good recommends for those highfalutin', celebrity chef-branded on-strip places.
Just as an aside: as Tesla owners the folks here may be used to more expensive fare than myself who merely has a Model 3 reservation, so when I say something is expensive, I mean for us average folks that can't drop a hundred grand for a car. Adjust for your personal situation accordingly. ;)

West side:
On S. Durango there is Naked Fish's Sushi, a really good (and expensive) place. Last time I was there I picked out a live shrimp whose back half was then prepared one way, and the front half another (tempura battered if I recall, head and everything.)
On Rainbow Blvd. at Flamingo Rd. is Forte, which has some good eastern European food. They've been on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, if you know that Guy Fieri show.
At 95 & Jones there is the Four Kegs, a sports bar with some restaurant seating which makes a pretty killer Stromboli and fried mushrooms. They've been on DDD as well, one of the very first shows I think (Guy went to college here in Vegas.)
On Charleston west of Durango is Patisserie Manon, a French bakery and bistro. Everything I've ever had there has been amazing - bread, pastries, cakes, desserts, a huge assortment of macarons, tremendous flavored quiche (ham & cheese, for instance).
Up in the far northwest near my house there is Retro Bakery, which does cupcakes and sometimes cookies. They're great folks and they make some awesome buttercream-laden cupcakes. Keep in mind if you head up this way for Mt. Charleston or summat.
Down in Chinatown on Spring Mountain Rd. near Decatur there is Ronald's Donuts, which has a pretty stellar reputation.
Also in the northwest, east of the US 95/215 beltway interchange is Bob Taylor's Ranch House. It's a steakhouse in the old-west mode, like Idle Spurs in Barstow. They might be the oldest restaurant in the valley, dating to 1955. When they opened it was an actual ranch, and there was literally nothing for miles around. You had to drive out a dirt road to get there. Today they are right next to a freeway. Crazy.

central/east/Henderson:
South of downtown, at Oakey just off LV Blvd. sits Luv-It Frozen Custard, a Vegas institution which has been around for over 40 years. For all your frozen custard needs.
All over town is a Vegas-based sandwich chain called Capriotti's. They are franchised in other places as well nowadays but they absolutely pervade Vegas as they have been here some 30 years. Their signature sandwich is the Bobbie - Thanksgiving on a sub, with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. It's pretty awesome.
Also pervading Vegas, but to an even greater extent, is Roberto's Taco Shop. Many open 24 hours. It's your late-night greasy guilty munchies destination.
Blueberry Hill is a small family restaurant chain currently consisting of 4 locations - they have good breakfast/diner food. Consider them an alternative to the same old Denny's or IHOP.
Dutch Bros. is a drive-thru coffee place that you may have heard of - I don't know if they're in the Bay Area yet but they are from southern Oregon and have been expanding in recent years. They have one location in Vegas, on Tropicana east of Eastern.
Another coffee place, sit-down non-chain, is called Bad Owl Coffee. They are in Henderson at Eastern & Horizon Ridge. They are Harry Potter-themed, pretty cool.
For good New Mexican fare, Carlito's Burritos is at Sunset & Green Valley Pkwy. They are full-bore New Mexico - they bring in Hatch chiles in season for customers to buy in 30 pound sacks, roasting them out front. Remember: the official New Mexico state question is "red or green?", and the answer is 'Christmas.'

If you make it out to Boulder City, The Coffee Cup is a pretty darn good breakfast joint, been there for decades.

About the Grand Canyon, it’s a 300 miles trip. I will stay at the Grand Canyon Village,
but I would be interested knowing any recommendations of good restaurants along the way,
even up to Flagstaff or Williams.

On the way from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, there is plenty to see and do on Route 66. Do yourself a favor and take that road from Kingman to Seligman, and skip I-40. Stop by the Powerhouse visitor center in Kingman, Grand Canyon Caverns, Giganticus Headicus at Antares Point, the Hackberry General Store, etc.

Kingman's downtown is experiencing a resurgence of late, with many new stores and restaurants (even a wine bar and brew pubs), mixing with some older ones that have been around awhile. I have personally visited and would recommend (all in or near old downtown):
Calico's - classic American
Mr D'z Route 66 Diner - 50's style retro diner
Floyd & Company - Pizza & BBQ
Beale Street Brews - great coffee and other drinks
El Palacio - Mexican
Rutherford's 66 Family Diner - the name says it all

Along 66 east of Peach Springs, Grand Canyon Caverns is a nice tourist stop with cavern tours, and I hear their restaurant has some very good pie.

Further east in Seligman:
I enjoyed Westside Lilo's - good diner fare with a smattering of German, such as bratwurst and schnitzel.
You owe it to yourself to visit Delgadillo's Snow Cap - an old school drive-in cobbled together from scrap, this place is world famous to Route 66 roadies and the walls are covered with stickers and business cards of fans from across the globe. Even if you don't need lunch, grab a shake or an ice cream cone. Juan Delgadillo was a prankster and his family carries on the tradition. Down the block, Juan's brother Angel runs a gift shop with his wife and family, in what used to be Angel's barber shop. He, along with many others, is responsible for starting the resurgence of Route 66 as an idea, a highway on which to see America, bringing tourists from all over the world to help save his town. If you've ever seen the Pixar movie Cars - Seligman, more than any other town, is Radiator Springs.

Ash Fork has seen better days, but as far as places to eat I have had Lulu Belle's BBQ, and it was very good.

In Williams we tend to just stop for drinks, and there's a place on 66 that seems to be different every time we come through. It is currently called Brewed Awakenings. Also in Williams, Rod's Steakhouse has been around a long time, with a classic sign, and I know many roadies who have eaten there though I have not as of yet.

Ending in Flagstaff, downtown is pretty hopping with a lot of shops and restaurants. The Grand Canyon Cafe has recently been refurbished under new owners (the previous owners retired after 40-some years). We also often stop in at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ which does some good chicken katsu, boba, and all your Hawaiian plate lunch standards. East of downtown, Salsa Brava is a great Mexican place (and another early DDD alum).

Wow, that was way longer than I had expected it to be when I started!
 
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Wow! Thank you so much already for all the detailed and useful information!!!

I still have about a month before my trip so I will have time to examine all the various suggestions.
Depending of the traffic condition, weather, and the location where I will be around lunch or dinner time I have now many choices.

I was certainly considering taking a break half way between San Francisco and Las Vegas, so the Harris Ranch or the Woolgrowers Basque restaurant in Bakersfield for example, seem already very appropriate.

About Las Vegas, since I will have a car this time, this will allow me avoiding the busy trip. Thank you for indicating so many places.
I will certainly visit some of the Japanese Izakaya style locations.
Thank you also for the suggestions around the trip, as I plan making some local stroll.

Going to The Grand Canyon, using Hwy 66 is definitively a good idea for finding a nice rest.

I’m crossing my finger now hopping getting a clement weather at that time of the year…
 
have you considered going on Hwy 395? It is a bit longer but generally very scenic and not too much traffic. Go 50 east and if you are lucky Hwy 89 is open. Charge in Topaz Lake, Mammoth, Lone Pines. Drive through Death Valley - it's beautiful, charge in Beatty. I do not know about lodging along the way.
 
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have you considered going on Hwy 395? It is a bit longer but generally very scenic and not too much traffic.
Go 50 east and if you are lucky Hwy 89 is open.
Charge in Topaz Lake, Mammoth, Lone Pines. Drive through Death Valley - it's beautiful, charge in Beatty.
I do not know about lodging along the way.

I was considering going to Yosemite, Mono Lake, and Death Valley, but I wonder if I would be able to cross the Sierra Nevada in winter?

Do you think that passing by South Lake Tahoe area and then joining Hwy 395 then would be possible during winter time?
 
I was considering going to Yosemite, Mono Lake, and Death Valley, but I wonder if I would be able to cross the Sierra Nevada in winter?

Do you think that passing by South Lake Tahoe area and then joining Hwy 395 then would be possible during winter time?

Well, Tioga Road has been closed for about two weeks now, all the way from Crane Flat to about 5 miles west of the US395/SR120 junction at Lee Vining. It is uncertain this late in the season if the Park Service will reopen the road for such a short window before winter really hits.

But SR89 has been reopened over Monitor Pass. It is only about an eight mile detour north from its terminus at US395 to the Topaz Lake/Gardnerville Supercharger. US395 is an awesome drive!

To answer your question, US50 is kept open year 'round with limited closures during extreme blizzard conditions. It reopens rapidly if the State decides to shut it down. US50 will eventually dump you on US395 just south of Carson City, Nevada. There is also a nifty mountain road (NV 207, I think) that goes up and over Kingsbury Grade that will join up with US395 north of Minden, Nevada.

If you choose to bypass South Shore at Meyers and take SR89 south, that road is open year-round. However, south of Markleeville near the junction of SR4, CalTrans closes Monitor Pass for the winter after the first real heavy snowfall. Then you would be forced to travel north on SR88 into Nevada and join up with US395 in Minden.

Just be sure to have the proper tires on your car and carry chains if need be.
 
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