Between Salem and Sacramento, almost any road that intersects I-5 and has an off ramp, also has dining options that appeal to travelers' need to get back on the road in a hurry. Summertime travelers don't even want to get out of their running cars and turn off the AC during the daytime for fear that the sun would cook the contents of their car like a solar powered oven. So we have these towns that exist around gas station poll signs, familiar fast food chains and bathrooms open to customers only. If your lucky, you don't need to ask for the key to pee. I've discovered in my travels between here and California that at least the fast food part of these trips can be avoided if you know where to go. Pack some sandwiches, snacks and fill a cooler with bottled water and ice. That should be enough to get you to at least one town that's free of mega chains. Dunsmuir California is a small town of around 2000 people located at the top of the state. Drive time from Salem is about five hours. Perched along a steep portion of the Sacramento River canyon, this railroad town is a charming place to take a break and offers a good local dining for tourists. One drive around the small town I saw at least four restaurants that looked appealing from the outside. From fine dining to breakfast cafes, Dunsmuir is an oasis of local food and breathtaking views.
We ate at a little Italian place along the main street called Pizza Factory. The spaghetti and meatballs was alright. Baked to serve, it was covered in mozzarella cheese and steaming hot. It was a very enjoyable meal in a place sheltered from the noise of the highway and surrounded by a silent green forest of pine trees. The temperature up there was much cooler than Sacramento too, 80 degrees. Dunsmuir alsoboasts having the worlds greatest water and a fountain along the street sprayed nonstop tempting tourists to try. I would have to say that it may have been the best I've ever had. So I filled up my empty water bottles right there along the street.