Mountain View: Clarke's Charcoal Broiler - wild cherry shake
It’s the All-American hot dog stand. The type that once dotted California. Probably little has changed since it opened in 1945.
The only change I noticed from the first time I ate at Clarke’s a few decades back was that the trees shading the restaurant were taller.
A sign of the times is that they will no longer make rare burgers. The medium-rare didn’t have the touch of pink requested.
Order the burger at the counter, wait for your number to be called, take the paper-lined red plastic basket to the condiment counter.
Like Clarke’s, the condiment counter isn’t flashy, but it is well-stocked … pumps of catsup and yellow mustard, mayo, jars of Dijon, Worchester sauce, Tabasco, steak sauce, sliced pickles, red & white onions, peppercioni, sliced jalepenos, standard green relish, sweet red relish, iceberg lettuce, cold sauerkraut, horseradish, malt vinegar, garlic salt, seasoned salt and probably a few items I’m not recalling. There are tiny white paper cups to hold mustard, relish and catsup.
The Miller dogs come in two sizes – Jumbo (1/4 lb) and Jr (standard size). The basic hot dog bun is lightly grilled … the charcoal flame-licked frank charred.
The huge serving of fries has irregularly-sized thick fresh cut fries … some of them over four inches long. They are the soft type and a few still have skin.
The best was the wild cherry shake which was made with nice cherry ice cream, not too thick with a pure, clean taste … very enjoyable. It reminded me of the taste of Breyers cherry ice cream, but don’t know the brand used. There are quite a few flavors available including peanut butter.
There are over 20 burgers on the menu … some with variations on cheese … sharp cheddar burger, smoky cheddar burger, Monterrey jack burger, blue cheese burger, Swiss burger.
There are variations on theme … French burger, Teriyaki burger, 49rs burger, guacamole burger, south of the Border burger, Hawaiian burger. Clarke’s encourages you to build your own burger.
I have been told the veggie patty is good. Other sandwiches include chicken, turkey burger, steak, tuna and fried fish. There are pork baby back ribs onion rings and baked potatoes with a selection of toppings.
There is also beer on tap and a few bottled micro-brews. It seems Clarke’s opened a few more restaurants a few years ago that have since closed.
“Jim Blach bought the well-known Mountain View Clarkes in 1975 and has since expanded the franchise to Los Altos, Menlo Park and next month to Cupertino.”
Fortunately the original stand remains … virtually untouched by time.
It’s the type of burger stand that Napa Taylor’s Refresher modeled … upscaling and so gentrifying the concept … that the comparison between the two might seem ludicrous. However, these types of stands are the roots beneath Taylor’s.
The prices seem a tad high to some … a burger and drink will run about $10. However it is made-to-order slow food without the self-conscious pretension.
Voted Best burger in the Mountain View area for about 15 consecutive years. This year they were runner up to Uncle Franks for BBQ … never tried it though.
There are some nice pictures of the stand and food on this site
Nothing is amazing at Clarke’s. It is honest decent food that I enjoyed on the shaded patio on a warm Sunday. Clarke’s is like a lazy summer picnic.
Clarke's Charcoal Broiler
615 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
Clarke's Charcoal Broiler
615 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040
I do like Clarke's, but I wish the fries were a little better.
On another note, Jeffrey's (San Mateo and now in Menlo Park) does Medium Rare that is pink, not that I order it that way, but my friend had a very pink one a couple of weeks ago. I find I like Kirk's (Palo Alto) a little better, but Clarke's has a better feel to it. Jeffrey's is new and clean with great service but is really loud, so out of the three, I like sitting outside at Clarke's the best. The thing is, sometimes I don't really want a 1/3 lb burger. I like something a little bit thicker than an In and Out, and would really love some awesome fries. I kind of dig the old school Peninsula Burger scene (all these places), but wish there was something a little different. Like an In and Out, but with more variety, quarter pound burgers and honest to goodness fries and onion rings to write home about, and possible a decent, real cherry coke. I will be going down to Clarke's for a strawberry shake. Jeffrey's has gotten me back into shakes.
855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301
888 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025
42 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401