Chowing in Victorville
For reasons that I'll won't get into here, my work as a technology journalist brought me to the seemingly remote outpost of Victorville, Calif. this week. For those of you who aren't familiar with this dispatch of desert, just north of the Cajon Pass, lies this city that reminds me of Salinas, if only Salinas had its agricultural fields replaced with miles and miles of desert, and its houses with a combination of one-story buildings, and a smattering of new cookie cutter housing developments, with a view of nothing but sand and yucca plants.
So the question remains, where/what did I eat?
After researching the archives of Chowhound, I found two places that seemed worth exploring, and even blazed a trail of my own.
Seeing as I'd only had breakfast, and wanted to watch Game 1 of the World Series undisturbed in my hotel room -- and that Casa Delicias closes at 6 pm -- I figured I'd best head out there somewhat early, like around 4 pm. By the time I arrived, I wasn't even sure that the place was still open. The marquee was missing letters and there was no obvious activity around the empty parking lot, save the freight trains rolling down the tracks. The public phone had been ripped from its metallic shell. This wasn't a good sign.
I approached the front door, and was greeted by a clean, albeit small, lunch counter (pictured). Three kids (maybe 12 years old?) were lounging at one of the tables, just sort of hanging out and drinking sodas. One inquired as to the quality of the "wet burrito," in English. Hrm. Maybe this place wasn't quite as authentic as I had expected. The menu was very extensive, with pretty much every assortment of Mexican and Mexican-American food imaginable. But I came for tamales, specifically a pair of the chicken and beef variety. Of course, I couldn't turn down an al pastor burrito. Oh, and a Negro Modelo. Total damage? $12.23.
Upon my return to my luxurious accomodations (Days Inn, just off I-15, in Victorville), I spread my bounty upon the beadspread. I was pleasantly surprised to have been given no less than five containers of salsa, but a bit miffed that my paper bag didn't include a single napkin. The tamales -- a previous Chowhound poster called them "the best tamales I have ever had" -- were definitely respectable. There wasn't enough spicyness as I tend to prefer, but the meat was tender and filling.
The burrito, on the other hand, was downright disappointing. Maybe because my standard, the al pastor at El Ojo de Agua in Oakland's Fruitvale district, is so damn hard to beat. First, it came wrapped in foil, and then wrapped again in wax paper, which I had to remove in order to even attempt to eat it. The tortilla was loose, and the pastor sauce was soaking out and through the tortilla. Also, I was bummed about the presence of refried beans instead of whole beans. Also, I'd just downed two tamales and half a beer, so maybe my disposition wasn't quite right.
While I was waiting for my food, I was impressed that the Casa sold homemade tortillas, and masa by the pound.
I stopped in for breakfast at the recommendation of another 'hound, and was a bit dissappointed. I had the Western skillet, which was a very average three-egg scramble with (frozen?) hash browns, diced ham, cheese and bell peppers. With two glasses of OJ, my total was just over $10.
This was my pleasant surprise so far. I happened to be in a shopping center to buy some toothpaste, and parked in front of this sandwich place. I expected it to be just another very boring lunch counter type joint that only exists because there aren't many other options around. Nearly every table was full, and by the time I got my sandwich, there were six more people lined up.
I ordered the McGoo's, a hot roast beef sandwich, and hopped in my car. By the time I sat down to eat it, I was excited about the Swiss cheese and Ortega chilies on a French roll, along with alfalfa sprouts, red onions, and tomatoes. The sprouts are supposed to be optional, but I got them without asking, which was fine by me. The flavors were right, but by the time I ate it (maybe 15 minutes after they handed it to me), it wasn't hot at all, and I didn't taste the chiles. If I were to order it again (and I would), I'd have them lose the mayo and double the chiles. This was a very solid sandwich, and priced right, at $4.75. The best thing about it was that it had a sharp pickle spear to go along with it, perhaps not the crispiest ever, but pretty good nonetheless.
9436 Hesperia Rd, Hesperia, CA 92345
14196 Amargosa Rd, Victorville, CA 92392
15329 Palmdale Rd, J Victorville, CA
Well I live in the high desert for the past 20 years. I agree with your critiques. I didn't care for Casa Delicias. What is the big fuss? It's okay but not great. Went once 8 years ago.
Brass Pickle, of course the best sandwich place around. I love it. It's a local favorite too.
Rusty's : Haven't tried it. My suggestion is to take a drive to Lucerne Valley (pronounces LUCerne) and try the historic China House. It is fresh Chinese and is beyond compare. The restaurant draws vacationers driving down Big Bear or die hard Mr. Woo's customers. Very friendly and great people. Across from the Shell Station.
By the way, the trees are Joshuas not Yuccas