Outer Limits Space Age Restaurant, Gila Bend, AZ
Who knew that you could get decent food in Gila Bend?
For those of you not familiar with the trip from Phoenix to San Diego, Gila Bend is a very small community along the way that most people use to stop for gas and a rest room--essentially a wide spot in the road before you get to I-8. It's also home of Desert Sweet Shrimp. I travel frequently on business to Yuma, AZ, so I'm through Gila Bend pretty regularly.
Today, however, was the first time I hit Gila Bend with my stomach, rather than my gas tank, running on empty. Since my traveling companion and I are not really keen on chains or fast food, we decided to give the Outer Limits Restaurant at the Space Age Lodge a try.
The parking lot was still relatively full when we arrived around 1:30 pm. We were seated very promptly and acknowledged even before we got past the first rack of space themed tkotchkies in the "gift shop," a small collection of display racks.
The decor is space themed, as you can expect, and the place is clean and sunny. My traveling companion usually makes a quick assessment of the salad bar to decide how clean the kitchen might be, and this one passed muster.
After perusing the somewhat limited menu, we decided to pass on the Mexican food (the sign says they serve Mexican and American food) and ordered chicken fried steak and the broaster fried quarter chicken. My companion had the salad bar; I had the vegetable soup.
The salad bar was small, but had the basics and a couple interesting things. There was pasta salad, cole slaw, potato salad, a choice of mixed lettuces or romaine, parmesan cheese, really nice beets, baby corn, and some fruit choices. The ingredients looked fresh and well maintained.
The soup was clearly made there--definitely not canned. There were huge chunks of potato in the rustic soup, and it was a generous serving.
The chicken fried steak was nicely battered and fried, not too greasy. The meat was pretty standard. The red mashed potatoes were a nice surprise since they are listed as "whipped" on the menu. We were both expecting boxed potatoes. My companion ended up asking for both the brown and white gravies on the side, both of which were just fine.
The broasted fried chicken was fantastic--very moist and well seasoned, not greasy at all. The fried crust was crisp and didn't just come off in one piece--it integrated well with the chicken meat. I'm a big fan of this one.
Our server was very attentive and kept our drinks refilled. She even provided me with a diet coke to go at the end.
All in all, it was a very pleasant surprise to find a decent place to eat in Gila Bend. I guess we'll slow down a little more frequently driving through.
Glad to see the report. I've only known it for breakfast, as that is usually when we drive through. They have all been excellent and the kitsch has always been fun too. I have not been, since the fire, and am glad to hear that they're going nicely.
If you are interested in Mexican Food I would highly suggest Sophia's Mexican Food in Gila Bend. They have the best Machaca burritos I have ever had and their Fajita burrito is to die for (ordered off the menu). I have been a Mexican food buff for years and vouch for this amazing cuisine wholeheartedly.
I usually call in advance of getting there due to everything being made to order. The number is 928-683-6382. They just changed locations (they used to be next to the Dairy Queen) but now they are on the south side of the road on one of maybe 10 corners in town as you drive down I-8.
I have to second the recommendation. I go to Gila Bend regularly for my 'day job' and have been frequenting Sophia's since they were next to the Dairy Queen. I knew I'd scored big when about 6 chips into a dish of salsa, my earwax melted. They improved with the move to the old A&W building. I've eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner there and not had a bad experience. Their carnitas is my reference. You know it's going to be good when you see Air Force, Sheriff, D.P.S., I.C.E., Semi trucks, city workers, and Mexican license plated vehicles in the parking lot all at the same time.
I recently had a great lunch at Sofia's in Gila Bend when I was in the area to check out the Sonoran Desert, and I second the recommendation for the carnitas. They were excellent, and the asada was pretty good too. The service was good, and the dining room was bustling.
I took some pictures and included a detailed report on my blog at http://hungrycanuck.blogspot.com if you're interested.
I give Sofia's a big thumbs up as well. The green chile plate (made with beef) was absolutely perfect. The meat was shredded in a tangy and slightly spicy green sauce. Great balance. The carnitas, as other posters have said, is outstanding as well. The table salsa is fiery. While we didn't order standard gringo stuff, I saw a plate of the ground beef tacos go by and they looked outstanding as well. I can't imagine that you could get better food in Gila Bend. You need to try it, Alice.
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