Restaurants & Bars 2

Yosemite, Oakhurst, Fish Camp, Lee Vinings and Mammoth

Steve Drucker | Jun 28, 2012 07:57 AM

Our three days in Yosemite began from Fresno.

Oakhurst. Our first stop was breakfast at Pete's on Father's Day morning. I can't recommend Pete's enough. It's a classic well run Greek diner that's CA inflected. You order at the counter, then the food is run out to your table. Behind the counter is the kitchen. The whole operation runs like a swiss clock. Of three pancake breakfasts on the trip (the other two at the Westin Mammoth and Bagelmania in Las Vegas) DDD reported this the best. The bacon was vg quality. My breakfast burrito was exemplary. Highly recommended, would gladly return.

Fish Camp. In Fish Camp we stayed at the Big Creek Inn, a quiet, clean yet sumptuous in its simplicity lodging that in all honesty was equal to--or because of the incredibly helpful innkeepers--even better than our heretofore favorite West Coast coop the Meridien in San Francisco. At their suggestion we ate one night at the Narrow Gauge Inn which served us a relaxed supper although we were still a little full from Pete's! The second night we dined al fresco with supplies from the Fresno Deli--hummes, eggplant with tomatoes, dolmeh, olives and Bulgarian feta etc.

Yosemite Valley. Our compromise with the extravagant lodging prices of the venerable Ahwahnee was to have reserved for a weekday lunch--highly advised as the wait without a reservation exceeded two hours. An appetizer of fried calamari was thickly breaded, freezer burnt and tough--an inauspicious start. Two salads, a spring mix/mixed green and caesar were fine. We liked that the caesar came automatically with a ramekin of anchovies. Grilled salmon was perhaps a bit too mustardy in its glaze but otherwise good as was its rice pilaf. Flat iron steak exceeded expectations. Cooked as ordered its peppercorn sauce was demi-glace based rather than green peppercorn/cream based and was certainly better than it had to be. It came with garlic laced thin cut french fries. A sampler of gelato was ok. Several bottles of Ahwahnee Amber from Mammoth Brewing Company made it a bit of challenge driving back to The Big Creek Inn but we made it. Would we return? Well, it's the Ahwahnee. There are no other 'dining' choices in Yosemite Valley. I frankly expected much worse. So yes, on that basis I would return but would skip the calamari and mixed green salad.

Lee Vinings. Our last day in Yosemite found us driving up over Tioga Pass down into Lee Vinings where we stopped at the Whoa Nelly Deli in the Mobil Station. A great deal has been written about this place, little of which I believed. Boy was I mistaken. This place is terrific. Platters of Buffalo meatloaf and rib pork chops in sour cherry sauce (not sweet!) accompanied by crisp green brocollini with garlic and a daytime substitution of good eggy potato salad for the night time mashed potatoes and a couple of 20 oz glasses of draft beer were altogether a steal. We timed our day to have our main meal here early in the afternoon and it was not a mistake. Would return happily.

Mammoth. We reserved at the Westin with a special rate for 'BrKST FOR 2 INCLUDED'. At check in we were informed that it was a continental breakfast, specifically a pastry and a cup of coffee and that a full breakfast was an additional $7. Extensive words and discussion and presentation of confirmation emails failed to persuade the hotel to follow through on their rate commitment. As a result check-in in was lengthy and unpleasant. About 30 minutes after getting up to the room the front desk called to tell us we had been granted a 'one time complementary' breakfast upgrade and that we should order anything we liked. Ironically, breakfast (for a hotel) turned out to be reasonably priced at $14 and extremely good. Would recommend, except for the bait and switch room rate (which now, several days later, has been completely removed from their offerings as if it had never existed--so I guess we did some good in the end). Following the advice in previous CH threads, we didn't try to 'dine' in Mammoth, rather we caught the end of Happy Hour at Slocums. Slocums fish tacos were a steal. Very substantial with a big piece of Pacific cod, some shredded cabbage and dressing that was first cousin to thousand island on a 4" (i.e. large) corn tortilla. Would return for the fish tacos and a couple of drafts, but not for the charcuterie nor for the 1/4 lb. cheeseburger. Dessert was Its-its from Vons.

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