Since I grew up in Merced, and I still travel there often, I will post a fairly exhaustive list of my reccomendations in the event you happen to find yourself stuck there. Mex food restaurants are a dime a dozen in Merced, and most of them suck.
No particular order.
1. Pauls Place:
excellent basic american food,
when you want a good ol square meal or
hefty breakfast. They do a lot of business
and their food is always fresh, good steaks
and fish. Stick with the simple stuff.
Really good for breakfast. Good specials
2. DeAngelos Italian restaurant:
Good Italian, but can be pricey.
Good selection of grilled meats,
and decent pastas.
Excellent nightly specials.
3. La Morenita(Livingston ca. & Merced):
Awesome Mex food, but I recommend
you go to the Livingston Location
because it is far superior to than the
Merced one, and their Menu is better.
4. La Grange Tavern(La Grange Ca. 25 min from town):
THE PRIME RIB WILL BLOW YOU AWAY!!!!
It is a great Bar/Grill that
located in the foothills, the place is about
as old as Billy the Kid, popular with Hog riders;
but don't be intimidated. Their Prime
Rib is probably the best I ever had.
The owners get the meat from local cattleman.
Great place to hang out, people watch,
drink some beer and soak up the "Saloon"
5. Maloney's Bar & Grill(canal st. dwtn Merced):
Maloney's has become a great local hangout,
it gets really packed after work on Thurs/Fri
They have excellent Rib-Eye Steak sandwiches,
Burgers, French dip.
6. Cortez Taco Truck:
This taco truck is located on Martin Luther King
in the John's Budget Meats Food Center
parking lot. Great tacos, and cheap.
7. Branding Iron:
Good steakhouse, but can be pricey.
8. Pizza Villa:
Great Pizza, the best in town.
9. Wool Growers(Los Banos):
If you find yourself in Los Banos
istead of Merced then try this place
great Ameri-Basque food.
10. Main St. Cafe:
This place has great
sandwiches and salads for lunch.
It is run by the DeAngelos guys(listed above).
11. Rollen Donuts:
This place blows Krispy Kremes away,
wonderful donuts that taste like
something other than pure sugar.
12. Applebees...JUST KIDDING!
Merced Firehouse Brewpub:
I have not tried their food yet,
so I won't vouch for it, but
their beers are decent, and it has
a nice atmosphere .
MercedNet Internet cafe:
coffee drinks are
mediocre, but ok if you want to
check your email or something.
Carniceria 2 hermanos: (Child & Rst.)
This Mexican meat market serves fresh
cuts of Mex-style meats at excellent prices.
Great idea if you plan to BBQ in the Area.
It is located in the back of a liquor store
on Childs and R st.
Yes, there are two here if you
need a coffee fix .