Eating Along Highway 99

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Last week I decided to drive 6 hours to Davis, CA to adopt a new puppy.  Of course any road trip involves careful planning around food.  Here’s are some of my highlights from the drive up Highway 99.

Dewars in Bakersfield

Photo Courtesy: Disney Food Blog

My first stop was at Dewars, a candy shop in Bakersfield.  This was a Jonathan Gold recommendation – on an episode of Good Food, he mentioned a few spots in Bakersfield.  One thing stuck in my mind: nut chews from Dewars.  It’s part tootsie roll, part salt water taffy, part Bit-o-Honey (which I think is totally underrated, but that’s another story).  They have some wacky flavors (peanut butter and jelly, spumoni), which are pretty good.  But I advise you to stick with the originals.  My assorted bag of chews really helped me get to my next destination.

Superior Dairy in Hanford, CA

Superior Dairy Products

Banana Split - Superior Dairy Products - Hanford, CA

At a pit stop in Fresno, I met a guy who works for Foster Farms chickens.  After our brief conversation about industrial agriculture, he suggested I stop in Hanford, CA, his hometown.  Specifically, Superior Dairy.  It’s an old-fashioned ice cream parlor serving incredible fresh flavors – peach ice cream, handmade strawberry sauce with real strawberries, and a banana split to die for.  If it weren’t for the long lines of families on their cell phones, I would have thought I was in Mayberry, Pleasantville, or any other 50’s-era main street.  While you’re eating your giant cone, take a walk in the park across the street and ponder the surprising architecture of the town.

H & W Drive-In in Merced, CA

Photo Courtesy of Bill L. on Yelp
Photo Courtesy: Hollie T. on Yelp

I’ve never been to a drive-in restaurant.  I mean a real drive in where you sit in your car while you order and eat.  Keeping with the independently-owned theme, I decided to hit H & W in Merced.  It’s a bit rundown from the outside.  But that all goes away when you get your burger wrapped in white paper and the ice-cold homemade rootbeer.  The day I went, it was surprisingly cool for the Central Valley, so I opted to eat at their outdoor picnic tables.  Oh, and the waffle-cut fries are pretty tasty too.

Don Pepe’s Taqueria in Fresno

Don Pepe's Taqueria, Fresno

Don Pepe's Taqueria, Fresno
On the way home I stopped for lunch at Don Pepe’s in Fresno.  This hole-in-the-wall was jammed.  Yelp told me to order the shrimp tacos so I ordered – one spicy and one regular.  The tacos were rolled Tijuana-style (like a cone) and were filled with beans (!), rice, guacamole and incredibly tender shrimp.  The spicy version had a red salsa too.  Since I had another 3 hours to drive, I didn’t partake in their “the works” beers: bottles of beer with lime, salt, hot sauce and topped with a shrimp.  The wait was a little long but it was worth it.

And, in case you’re interested, my new dog is Buddy, a 6-month old pit bull mix.