After a day outdoors, sometimes you just need a big ol’ steak. Jack’s Grill (1743 California St., 530/241-9705, www.jacksgrillredding.com , Mon.–Sat. 5–11 p.m., $13–31) can hook you up. This locally owned favorite has been serving steaks for more than 70 years. Don’t expect the ultra-high-end cuts and preparations of big-city steakhouses. Instead, look for tasty and less expensive steaks, ground steak, and skewers. All meals come with soup or salad and baked potato or fries. Jack’s includes a full bar that serves beer, wine, and cocktails.
Want a hearty diner-style meal of noticeably higher quality than your average giant national chain beginning with D? Head straight for the Black Bear Diner (2605 Hilltop Dr., 530/221-7600, www.blackbeardiner.com , open daily). This NorCal chain began in the mountain reaches you’re now visiting, offering classic American dishes made fresh with better ingredients than most similar restaurants. Today, they still do; travelers will go miles out of their way or wait an extra hour for lunch just to eat at Black Bear.
Menus are printed in the style of a local newspaper. Choose from American breakfast classics, salads, sandwiches, chicken and meat entrées, fries and potatoes…the list goes on. Breakfast is served all day, as are the thick (and real) ice cream milkshakes—try the huckleberry flavor. Service is friendly, though the Redding Black Bear Diner can get incredibly crowded on weekends.
In the mood for a hearty Italian meal? Gironda’s Restaurant (1100 Center St., 530/244-7663, www.girondas.com , Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 4:30–10 p.m., Sun. 4:30–9 p.m., $13–25) serves an array of raviolis, pastas, and big Italian-style entrées for lunch and dinner. Choose between dining in the casual-elegant white tablecloth dining room, or ordering take-out to enjoy elsewhere—even at your campsite.
If you’re planning to camp on Lassen  or Shasta , or houseboat on the lake , your cheapest options for groceries lay in Redding . The Grocery Outlet (2235 Churn Creek Rd., 530/221-4209, www.groceryoutlets.com , Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–7 p.m.) sits only a couple of blocks off I-5 for easy access for passers-through. The chain offers lots of prepared foods and frozen items at rock-bottom prices.
For an array of slightly higher-end groceries, head for Safeway (2275 Pine St., 530/247-3030; 1070 E. Cypress Ave, 530/226-5871). With slightly higher prices comes the ultimate convenience: 24-hour shopping, which can be a lifesaver on road trips and camping expeditions.