Destinations: Alice's Restaurant, California


  • alice's restaurant - norton sign

    Photo by Pamela Biery
  • alice's restaurant
    A visit to Alice’s Restaurant is always a treat. Cool bikes, fancy cars, outstanding food and real people — what more could you want?
    Photo by Pamela Biery

  • alice's restaurant - norton sign
  • alice's restaurant

Alice’s Restaurant is situated at the crest of a hill, high above Silicon Valley, where state Routes 35 and 84 meet. Dedicated to motorcyclists, Alice’s menu features burgers like the Kawasaki (green chilies and jack cheese) and breakfast specials like the Ducati (French toast, eggs and bacon). But it is Alice’s deep motorcycle history and routine convergence of bikers that makes this restaurant so unique.

It was really just coincidence that brought me to Alice’s Restaurant. New to the Santa Cruz area, I noticed what looked like a perfect loop ride along Highway 1, through the rolling hills by Pescadero and up to Skyline Boulevard with a fine return on Route 9 through the redwoods. The map was right — this is a great scenic route without repeating a single mile, and is easily accessed from Routes 84, 35 or 92.

The day opened up to sunshine on rolling hills after cold fog along Highway 1, and was proving to be an incredible ride looking over my man’s shoulder on a classic BMW R90 airhead. What the map didn’t clue us in on was that at the peak, after a fine series of twisties, we would pull up beside Alice’s Restaurant, which had two parking lots packed with every kind of bike and rider imaginable. Harleys, Beemers and an eye-popping array of just about everything in between, along with a handful of amazing cars — think Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe, Tesla and Spyker.

By bike, the super-winding Old La Honda Road is a fine stretch of challenging roadway from either Woodside or the coast up to the summit at Skyline Boulevard. We came in from Highway 1, passing through Pescadero and Harley Farms Goat Dairy, winding through rolling hills and by Apple Jacks Inn in La Honda. Coming out at the intersection of Route 35 and 84, we felt a bit like cartoon characters, wanting to rub our eyes to make sure the scene was real. We had, by luck, happened upon the roadside classic of the region, Alice’s Restaurant where a burger is not just a sandwich, garlic fries are serious business, and food takes a sideline to the amazing array of bikes and cars out front. Just a few miles above Silicon Valley and an easy day ride from San Francisco, it’s no wonder these windy roads see more bikes than cars on the weekends.

Alice’s Restaurant (where, apparently, you really can get just about anything you want) was purchased in 2002 by locals James and Andy Kerr. Alice’s was built around 1900 as a general store and was converted to a restaurant in the 1940s. It became Alice’s Restaurant in 1961, named for owner Alice Taylor.

All the food on Alice’s menu is made from scratch and everyone sits family style, sharing tables to accommodate the steady flow of diners. It’s a fun place to rub shoulders with venture capitalists from nearby Silicon Valley and cross-country riders from just about anywhere. We met a group of guys riding from Alaska to the Moto GP races at Laguna Seca and an auto worker and his wife on tour from Virginia.

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