Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dying in Barstow

Place: Del Taco
Lunch: 2 Barstow Tacos (no tomato), grilled chicken burrito (no lettuce, no tomato), Coke

I had a dream last year where my badly decomposing body was found in a seedy Barstow motel room.  I was watching the scene from above, as if I were hovering like a ghost.  There were police detectives.  The floor was covered in discarded taco wrappers.  Wrappers from Barstow Tacos.

Ed Hackbarh managed the Barstow outpost of Glen Bell's Taco Tia chain.  When Bell left Taco Tia to start another chain with new partners (no, not Taco Bell, that came later), Hackbarth bought the little walk-up stand and re-branded it under his own Del Taco banner.  It was actually the second Del Taco.  Hackbarth opened the first in Yermo.

The Barstow store sill exists at 401 N 1st Ave (the Yermo building does too, though it's no longer a Del Taco), and although Hackbarth sold the chain years ago, he and his family are still franchisees.  They own and operate Barstow's three Del Tacos.  They tacked on a dining room to the walk-up stand and in 2015 extended the dining room to the front of the lot and added indoor restrooms to the building for the first time in its history.  The exterior has a whole new facade and looks totally modern, but the original bones are still in there.

I like to road trip down here when in Vegas.  Why, when there's already Del Taco stores all over the Vegas area?  Because the Barstow stores are not only historic, they make better tacos.

The big key is the taco meat, which is apparently Glen Bell's original recipe.  It's much milder.  And there's far more of it in the shell.  More like a Taco Time taco than a Del Taco.  The national chain recently rolled out a new signature taco called "The Del Taco", allegedly inspired by these.  They don't work. Partly because too much lettuce, partly because of Del Taco's far more heavily seasoned meat.

Anyway, I just love the things.  And I'm not alone.  A lot of people make a Barstow Taco pit stop when traveling between Los Angeles and Vegas.  The store by the interstate is the chain's busiest location.

Been a good trip.  I've gotten most of what I wanted to get done accomplished.

I could easily become a desert rat.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Papaya King

Place: Papaya King
Lunch: C&C Dog, King's Tots, Strawberry Fields (tropical drink)

A New York City staple since the 1930's, Papaya King is a combination hot dog stand and papaya juice/smoothie stand.  The original store is still there, supplemented by two more locations in NYC and Brooklyn.  The fourth?  Right here in Las Vegas, which has quite the growing collection of out-of-market outposts of hot dog chains.  Still need a Skyline Chili, though.  Sure it's not making the headlines the Vegas debut of Chick-Fil-A is which, bizarrely, will probably go down as the biggest business debut in the valley this year.  The first two locations opened a couple of weeks ago and are just printing money.

The official address is 4503 Paradise Rd, but it's not really on Paradise.  It's in a shopping center at the corner of Paradise and Harmon, and Papaya King fronts Harmon a good half block from Paradise.  It's right across the street from the Hard Rock, right where KISS Mini Golf used to be before it moved to the old Village Seafood Buffet space at Rio.  You wanted the best, you got the best.  The hottest dog in the world, Papaya KIIIIING!!!.

Anyway, it's right down the street from where I stay when in town, and right on the route to the Pinball Hall of Fame.  SO convenient.

They've been open since November, but everything today looks like a grand opening, which they're referring to as some sort of customer royalty thingy.  The staff is SUPER friendly, maybe because this is all new and they're not jaded yet.  Balloons throughout the dining room and a live DJ in the parking lot.  Smiling Counter Guy talked me through the special, which was something to do with buy two dogs get one free, I think.  I sort of got brain locked.  So I said "I'm going to go with what I read on the website menu."  I ordered what I had intended, but got upsized on the drink because they were selling the 32oz for 32 cents.  I suck at being a diabetic.

The "C&C" in the C&C dog is Chili and Cheddar sauce.  Perfectly decent dog.  The chili is a bean chili, which really shouldn't be used as a hot dog topping.  A thick beanless chili topping always works better.  Same on the King's Tots, which are tater tots topped with the same chili and cheese sauce as well as fried onion petals.  Good tots, same complaint about the chili.

The Strawberry Fields drink tastes kind of like Strawberry Quik but juicy, not milky.  I'd have it again.

I'm sure I'll be a regular visitor when in town.  The people are too nice and it's too convenient not to go there.

Saw The Lego Batman Movie afterward and played some pinball.  Going to the live Night Vale show tonight.

Pretty good Vegas day overall.