The following is a 100% real, 100% authentic review. Dadtography was not compensated in any way for this review.
Imagine a place that satisfies the palate with every delicious bite you take. Pea Soup Andersen’s has been a delight for travelers driving through Central California for decades. The original location opened in Buellton, CA on June 13, 1924 and quickly became known for its fantastic pea soup recipe. Seeing success, the Anderson family opened other locations as their business grew from a small café into something larger. While other locations (there used to be a location in Solvang, CA) have come and gone, only the Buellton and Santa Nella, CA locations remain. We have stopped at the Santa Nella location on nearly every road trip my family has taken down to California since I was a young kid. Nothing lifts my spirits more than after hours of driving past farmlands and seeing that familiar windmill shaped building looming in the distance.
Pea Soup Andersen’s also sells canned versions of their soups in grocery stores but it’s not the same as going to their actual restaurant. What is so special about this place that I make an effort to stop here every time I’m on the route that passes by it? Read on faithful soup lovers!
Pea Soup Andersen’s
12411 California 33
Gustine, CA 95322
What to See?
Pea Soup Andersen’s is quite an interesting location to see. Once their business took off, the Andersen’s built their new locations with a Scandinavian feel to them. This is apparent as you arrive at the location and see a building shaped like an old Danish lodge complete with a windmill. Be sure to take a customary tourist picture at the billboard-like sign of the mascots Hap-pea and Pea-wee (Their heads have been cut out so that you face can stand in instead) before going inside.
There is no denying the theme of the place once you go inside. The walls are made of wood and all the employees are dressed like they have stepped out of space and time to serve you. Walk past the store (you can pick up your Pea Soup Andersen’s souvenirs on the way out) and head to the main attraction of the place: the restaurant section.
What to Eat?
You’ve journeyed a long way to get to this point and now it’s finally here. Grab a seat and check the menu out. Like any restaurant, they have all sorts of food. You can get whatever you want from sandwiches to omelets. All of their food is very delicious but without a doubt, the main feature is the pea soup. The soup here is made fresh that day unlike the canned soup you have likely seen in your grocery store. You can order pea soup with practically any entrée (they even offer it with breakfast!) or as its own meal. My personal favorite option is ordering the soup in a bread bowl. It’s delicious and a hearty meal that gives you the energy you need to keep driving down the road.
What’s the Cultural Value?
Pea Soup Andersen’s is a classic example of living the American dream to the fullest. It represents more than just soup. This place shows what happens when you put your mind towards something special. It’s been nearly 90 years since their doors first opened and the business is still going with no end in sight. This business has been a landmark for countless generations of road trips for good reason. In my opinion it’s one of the best places to explore the heart of what California represents.
Recommended Place to Stay
There is a Best Western conveniently located on the other side of the parking lot from the restaurant. Besides its outside appearance being similar to its neighboring business, the interior is typical of a standard roadside hotel. The last time we stayed there I was a small child so I’m not sure how they are doing now but we always see cars parked there so people are clearly still staying.
How Is the Overall Rating?
This is one of those places you need to stop at if you have the time while driving down I-5. Their soup is a roadside legend that shouldn’t’ be missed out on. Be sure to grab a can of their soup while you’re there. (The cans sold on site cost significantly less than they do in a grocery store!) This place has so much character that experiencing it at least once should be on any road trippers bucket list. Pea Soup Andersen’s scores a 4/5 because there isn’t much of a revisit value unless you really like pea soup as much as I do.