Road tripping through California? You might be wondering what to eat on highway 395.
Highway 395 runs along California's Eastern Sierra Nevada, and it's the go-to route for Southern Californians heading up to Mammoth Mountain and the easiest way to get from Death Valley to Yosemite.
Despite the fact it goes past several notable spots (including Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States), it's never congested, which means we're always game for a drive to take in its scenic, peaceful charm and stunning landscapes. And, as we've discussed in detail, there are many must-see sites from ghost towns, glacial lakes, hot springs, and more.
Where To Eat On Highway 395
If you're planning a trip down California's backbone, you're probably wondering where and what to eat. While there are a handful of fast-food chains, the best food in this part of California comes from locally-owned mom-and-pop stops, which we're always more than happy to support.
Pretty much everyone will recommend Eric Schat's Bakery in Bishop, but it's just one of the quality options along the route. Check out this list of local restaurants organized by towns from south to north.
Toward the south end of Highway 395, you'll find Lone Pine, also known as the gateway to Mt Whitney and Death Valley. There's much to do and see in Lone Pine, including nearby Manzanar, Alabama Hills rock formations, and the Museum of Western Film. Fuel up for explorations for breakfast or lunch at Alabama Hills Cafe on the 395 near Whitney Portal Road.
Further north, you'll come across the tiny town of Big Pine that's home to Copper Top BBQ. Famous for being the best BBQ in California on Yelp, tourists and locals alike stand in line. Stop by for a taste of California's very own cut, tri-tip, or for some ribs to go. They conveniently vacuum seal most of their BBQ so you can take it to go and reheat it for anything from camping to dinner at your vacation rental. Just make sure you leave room for the classic sides like potato salad and decadent mac and cheese.
The largest town in Inyo County, Bishop has the most food choices outside of Mammoth Lakes. There are beloved spots like Schat's Bakery and classic spots like Whiskey Creek alongside taquerias, Japanese restaurants, and dive bars, making Bishop a great place to stop for a bite to eat and rest.
We recommend trying Schat's Roadhouse for burgers, delicious chicken, and BBQ sandwiches. They also have a full bar and live music on the regular. If you're more in the mood to cook or just looking for a delicious fresh sandwich, Mahogany Smoked Meats has you covered. Mahogany has been in service since 1922 and is nationally famous. They offer quality smoked meats and also have a full deli menu.
Convict Lake might be the easiest to get to of the many alpine lakes in the Eastern Sierra, and it's gorgeous to boot. Located just between Mammoth Lakes and McGee Creek, Convict Lake is surrounded by mountains mirrored in the lake's blue-green water. It's also home to the cozy fine-dining spot that is The Restaurant at Convict Lake Resort. Head here for white tablecloth service and classic dishes like the clay-pot roasted garlic, steak frites, and delicious rainbow trout.
The main resort town along the 395, Mammoth Lakes, is known for skiing in the winter and fishing and hiking in the summer. There are only a couple of chains, so you can easily eat local when in town. While many places cater to families or travelers on a budget, there are a handful of quality local restaurants to check out. Head here to read all our recommendations of where to eat locally in Mammoth Lakes including healthy Elixir Cafe, food truck Bell's Kitchen, and fine dining option, Skadi.
June Lake is an adorable town with breathtaking views, and its lakes, canyons, glacial rocks, and ski resort draw tourists, backpackers, and fishermen worldwide. As you exit the 395, you can take the June Lake Loop to access the town "village," where there is an assortment of options from Mexican food to juice spots.
Head to June Pie Pizza Co. for New York-style pizza made with fresh ingredients cooked in a brick-fired oven. They also have gluten-free and vegan options! Also, stop by the T-bar Social Club — a speakeasy bar located downstairs — for a tasty cocktail or refreshing brew.
Another beloved option is Ohana's 395 Food Truck at June Lake Brewing. Ohanas offers what they've coined "Hawaiian soul food," ranging from loco moco burgers and kalua pig plates to twists like Hawaiian-style tacos and fries. Wash your food down with a beer from adjacent June Lake Brewing while you sit at one of the outdoor picnic tables.
If you turn off the 395 to take the 120 to Tioga Pass, you'll pass the Lee Vining Mobil Station. And, if there's good weather, you'll likely see crowds noshing at the outdoor picnic tables. They've got food at Whoa Nellie Deli, located within the gas station. The menu is vast with breakfast options to pizza, but they're best known for their grilled and BBQ dishes and chili.
At the intersection of Highway 395 and state route 182, you'll come across Bridgeport. It's known for trout streams and lakes, but it is also home to a handful of restaurants. The recently-opened Growler's has quickly won the hearts of locals and travelers alike thanks to their generous portions, excellent service, and fresh food.
Just south of Lake Tahoe, you'll find Walker: a quaint town with a small population and some of the best burgers in California. Stop into Walker Burger for a burger experience like no other. Not only will their homemade burgers and fries take you back to childhood barbeques, but you will also get to enjoy them in Walker's backyard garden.
The newest addition to our list is the recently-opened Coachwhip Cafe. Located between Walker and Highway 89 near the town of Coleville, this lovely spot is currently offering takeout and outdoor dining. Its location means you can dine in the shadow of scenic Centennial Bluff while noshing on homemade, fresh food ranging from a Vietnamese Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fried Cauliflower with Gochujang Ranch and delicious salty fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Chef Liane Herrick runs the spot with her partner, Niko, and they're hospitality is as lovely as the food.
Now That You Know What to Eat on Highway 395, Get to Exploring!
Highway 395 has so much to offer, and now you know that great California state foods and drinks are part of the experience.
With our list of what to eat on Highway 395, you can start planning your trip! Be sure to share your foodie photos and adventures with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social media.
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