Forced by paying clients to drive the LA-Fresno (and return) on the I-5 and 99, in the rain and snow, good eats was (were?) looking bleak. On the Chains Board I reported on the free Denny's breakfast. Since my prime directive was to get from Point "A" to Point "B," as quickly as possible, I flew by many little joints which you can see only after you've passed the most convenient offramp. Had I not been on a mission I would have doubled back several times. Once you start down the Hill there are so many Mexican/Spanish places (not surprising considering the ag nature of the area) that you almost would want to spend a day or two eating your way through the area.
Now to the meat - By all means try Flying "J" Truck Stops. There are at least 4 that we saw. I think they're called Truck Centers. You can get your showers, your lounge, your motel room, your cell calling, a haircut, a massage (extras unknown), and whatever you'd expect from a top class truck stop. Needless to say, we endulged in none of the above, but headed straight to the restaurant (called, I think, somebody's kitchen) . I guess they do it 24/7, because on the way up they had this buffet, and on the way back (a different location) they had the same basic buffet. A hell of a way to drive for a great bargain, but for $8.00 the buffet (essentially breakfast) is scrambled eggs (looked a bit overcooked), sausage, bacon, biscuts (great) country gravey (some of the best I've seen out of the South), hash browns, breakfast pizza (?), refried beans, salsa, Spanish rice, toast, muffins, bagels (pretoasted so probably not so great) and other things I forget because we didn't get the buffet. However, there also is one of the best salad bars (included in the $8.00) you'd see in the middle of nowhere, plus chilled plated AND desserts. Coffee included. This is a swell bargain and they comped me a biscut and gravey - I'd almost pay $8 just for a plate of biscuts and gravey (I wonder how their ham steaks are...).
What we did get was (1) corned beef hash with 3 easy poached eggs, well done hash browns, english muffin ($8.00) and (2) ""California" omlette, swiss, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, peppers, and well done hash browns ($7.00). The poached eggs were easy and runny, but obviously cooked in forms so that the whites were a little tough. We expected the 4x4 pre formed potato hash browns (like we got at Denny's) but no, these were the real deal, actually shredded and browned to a crispy crunch (in both locations). My experience with truck stops told me that I'd get better than a slice of the canned corned beef, and boy was I surprised. They must sell a ton of their corned beef sandwiches (which I'll try next trip - not too soon, I hope) because the beef was moist, flavorful and most certainly not out of a can or package; it must turn over often. The muffins were nice and crispy but we should have ordered them dry because up there in dairy country there ain't no shortage of sweet butter.
The omlette was fine for Mrs. Swift ( bot woefully overcooked for me) and the portion was so large that she took half home (the temperature outside helped).
To recap, we passed a bunch of places that I love to try, but for a go to place I'd do Flying "J".
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