Grazing along I-8

Fun places to eat on the long haul from Phoenix to San Diego's beaches

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YUMA, AZ

Lutes Casino. The decor features movie and advertising memorabilia, and the menu's big on burgers, hot dogs, and Mexican dishes; the cavernous pool hall and restaurant date back to the 1940s. Old-timers gather daily for dominoes at the front tables.

SPECIALTIES: Potato tacos or the Lutes Special ― a hot dog on top of a cheeseburger.

FROM THE FREEWAY: From the Giss Pkwy. exit, go west about 1/2 mile, then go north about a block on Maiden Lane; look for restaurant parking lot. Front entrance is in the Main St. pedestrian mall. $; 9-8 Mon-Thu, 9-9 Fri-Sat, 10-6 Sun. 221 Main St.; 928/782-2192.


EL CENTRO, CA

La Fonda. The dining room at this family-run eatery sizzles with serape-striped tablecloths and a collection of neon beer signs. The Mexican-style menu maintains a devoted local following, with breakfast served all day and vast combination plates. This is the older of the two La Fonda restaurants in town, with lots of character.

SPECIALTIES: Huevos rancheros or machaca con verdura ― shredded beef with vegetables. If you're adventurous, try the birria de borrego (barbecued lamb) or lengua en mole (tongue in a mole sauce).

FROM THE FREEWAY: Take the Fourth St. exit, go north about 1 1/2 miles to Broadway, then go west two blocks. $; 9-9 Mon-Sat, 9-5 Sun. 548 Broadway St.; 760/353-6450.

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