An Ode to the Roadside Diner

One thing must be assumed when stopping into a roadside diner for a meal. It’s usually about one of two things — the uniquely American experience, or the convenience. With rare exception, you are not likely in for great dining.

So it was on a Sunday early afternoon on one of America’s most beautiful highways — U.S. 395, which winds from the high Joshua Tree-dotted Mojave desert along the eastern Sierras, past the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48, miscellaneous charming frontier towns, dazzling Mono Lake, the stunning ghost town of Bodie, to Nevada and the eastern flank of Lake Tahoe and on to Oregon. We had just emerged from a long 20-mph southbound slog through blizzard-like whiteout conditions, descending toward home from a ski vacation in Mammoth, and were starved. More

The Gringo Taco

Growing up in suburban Los Angeles in the latter part of the 20th century, they were one of my favorite foods. If you grew up here too, you’ll know what I mean (unless you’re family was actually Mexican). They were ubiquitous. You loved it when your mom made them, and if you were staying the night at a friend’s house and you asked what his mom was cooking for dinner, you were ecstatic if he said that magic word: “tacos.” But not just any tacos, gringo tacos.

The gringo taco, updated

That’s not what they were called at the time, of course. They were just tacos. But having put a lot of time, travel and taste between myself and those halcyon days, I see them for what they really were. More