To readers of John Steinbeck, author of East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Red Pony, the city of Salinas, California, might seem mighty familiar. The surrounding area still largely resembles the landscape from his books, and the National Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas is a testament to his work. But if your foray into Steinbeck Country leaves you hungry, a restaurant in the author’s childhood home can provide some sustenance.
In a glorious Queen Anne–style house, volunteers from the local Valley Guild run the Steinbeck House Restaurant. The house, both Steinbeck’s birthplace and childhood home, is cozily decorated like a vintage tearoom, with tablecloths and china on the tables scattered throughout the rooms of the house. Originally, the Valley Guild “shared a common interest in gourmet cooking and wanted to showcase Salinas Valley produce,” and the group has also maintained the historical house since the restaurant opened in 1974.
The restaurant generally serves lunch, with dinner served the first Friday of the month. The rather vintage, French-inflected menu changes every few days, with updated schedules posted on their website. Recent menus have included poulet de broccoli, beef stroganoff, and Gabilan soup (a reference to the nearby Gabilan mountains). If none of those appeal, taco salads and fajitas are always available, and a range of simpler sandwiches can also be taken to go. Desserts range from crème brûlée to Steinbeck Brownie Pie. There’s also regular Saturday afternoon teas, for those who want some scones with their Steinbeck.
Know Before You Go
The Steinbeck House is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Check the website for the dates of special themed teas and the Friday dinners.