California Pit Stops

Point Dume in Malibu
When I was younger, I was desperate for some independence. I revolted against my world, my parents; I roared for space.

But my parents, unable to trust me with what I needed, instead, did what they had been taught and tightened the reins even more.

I moved out when I was 18. The distance helped. I had more physical freedom. Our relationship improved. But the balance of control was still off.

It kept being off. And this year, push came to shove. I force-claimed a breather.

It was hard. And confusing.

I had never come this far. And I didn’t know they were capable of staying away.

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. . . . It is not until much later, as the skin sags, and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the water of their lives. –Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

While I figured out what to do with the space that was finally given to me, the space between us filled itself.

I kept thinking about the road trips we used to do. The places they had taken me to.

And I realized something that I never thought about before: that I get my love for travel and food from them.

More precisely, it’s because of my parents that I not only like road trips, but also the hunt for those restaurants along the way that specialize in that one dish.

Those pit stops that are worth a road trip alone.

I came across a few of those places on my trips to California. And if my parents had been American, I’m sure they would’ve known about them, taken me there.

We would stop here.

Cali Pit Stops Worth a Road Trip

🥐 Ham and Cheese Morning Bun at Neighbor Bakehouse, San Francisco

🍞 Artichoke Garlic Herb Bread at Arcangeli Grocery Co., Pescadero

🍩 Donuts at Slo Donut Co., San Luis Obispo

🥩 Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich at Firestone Grill, San Luis Obispo

🌯 Breakfast Burrito at Lily’s Cafe & Pastries, Malibu

🌮 Ceviche and tacos at Oscars Mexican Seafood, San Diego


The Girl With The Blueprint, a city guide that I set up a few years ago, is based on this idea of going to a place for that one dish or drink it does best in town. I remember some people thinking that was such a weird criteria. One guy asked me, “But what if I don’t like soup?”

Unexpectedly, I now live in Singapore where it’s normal for restaurants to focus their attention on a single dish. In the two years that I’ve been living here, I’ve never heard anyone say: “Oh, everything is good on this menu.”