Cafe Aroma (Idyllwild)

We had heard about Cafe Aroma well before we ever made it up to Idyllwild for a quick weekend getaway in May of 2013.  Articles in various magazines and newspapers had touted its exquisite food served in a friendly neighborhood setting that could put Boston’s “Cheers!” setting to shame.  (Apparently, residents further afoot in Hemet, Palm Springs and beyond make regular trips up the mountain simply to enjoy special event nights here nestled amidst the woods.)

Now, a lauded reputation such as this sometimes worries us.  Can a spot really live up to its hype?  In the case of Cafe Aroma, happily, the answer is yes!  In fact, we loved this cozy indoor/ outdoor dining and artspace so much that we ended up returning a second time within two days of each other.  (If you’ve been following the Set of Drifters for awhile, you know that’s virtually unheard of when it comes to our personal travel ethos.)

Let’s start with first impressions.  Located on the northern end of town on a quiet stretch of North Circle Drive opposite Strawberry Creek, Cafe Aroma quickly emerges as the epicenter of what is hip and happening in Idyllwild.  Though don’t let that sway you into thinking the restaurant is in any way up its own arse.  While upscale footstuffs and cocktails are the focus of Frank Ferro’s ever-changing menu, the versatile ”social club” still has one foot deeply rooted in its surrounding pinetop wilderness.  (Inside, management has even devoted a precious corner of real estate to local hero Casey Abrams, the season 10 finalist from American Idol who grew up in town; we won’t hold it against them.) 

We were sat outside on the deck at dusk, just under a heat lamp between the “library dining room” and the main house that also features a performance space and kitchen.  This was a great spot to truly catch the overall pulse of Cafe Aroma, and even as night fell hard, we were kept toasty by tableside blankets imported from Mexico.

After taking potentially too much advantage of a trio of home baked breads, we anticipated the arrival of our cocktails.  In truth, these were probably the only downside to our meal.  As local permits limit booze intake to keep mountain roads safe, our drinks were simply pretty shells of what you might find poolside down in Palm Springs.  (Expect to double up on the relatively cheap martinis, or just skip them altogether for a glass of wine or beer.)

Taken in with a side of swinging jazz courtesy a trio performing that Friday night, our pumpkin curry soup and gorgonzola pear salad appetizers were simply perfect.  Though at Cafe Aroma, it was the main entrees that really sung.  The double portabella raviolis and shrimp jalapeno pesto fettuccine were choices from a well-appointed menu that you’d be best to repeat on your own.  Dessert took the form of homemade ice cream (blueberry with chocolate drizzle for Doug and basil for Brady) - the sweetest end to a perfect meal.

After taking a pit-stop in their duo of hilarious restrooms (try to check out both if you can), we somehow managed to hobble home back up the hill to Ward’s Cabin (see “digs” for more information) while still dreaming of the food!

Two days later, with one meal left before our departure back to Los Angeles, we returned for breakfast.  Apparently, locals pop in on an almost daily basis to sample excellent coffees brewed from Wild Rock beans custom-roasted for the bistro.  We dared to try the infamous Penne & Eggs and “Pizza in the Morning,” a ridiculous 7” omelet pie adorned with Italian sausage, parsley and roma tomatoes.  Served with toasted hash browns, both dishes were so decadent that one portion could have been shared for two.  Since it was Mother’s Day, Cafe Aroma was even more bustling than usual and we loved earwigging on the locals’ conversations from each side of our table.  Still, service was excellent - and though harried - performed with a smile.

As the reviews had stated beforehand, Cafe Aroma is, indeed, the best in Idyllwild, so don’t miss it.  Make your reservation Sunday through Thursday from 7:00 AM until 9:00 PM and Friday and Saturday from 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM.

Cafe Aroma - 54750 North Circle Drive, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-   5212

Arne’s Famous Æbleskiver at Solvang Restaurant (Solvang)

Tasting local fare is usually one of the most pleasurable activities when traveling abroad.  But surprise, there are opportunities for you to “go outside the culinary box” even close to home!  While strolling along the aptly named Copenhagen Street during our visit to the Scandinavian enclave of Solvang (see “sights”), we noticed quite a few dining options set to tempt our tastebuds.  Yet, while many of the eateries featured menus rich in Danish tradition, only the “Solvang Restaurant” showcased a fully automated mechanism in its window that was busy mixing batter and frying up a storm!  (Nice work on the visual merchandising there folks!)

To be honest, the interiors of the Solvang Restaurant did not live up to the inviting display that first attracted us inside.  (If you are are going to attempt quaint Scandinavian kitsch, then just go all the way!)  Still, the food from the vast menu more than made up for any lack in the restaurant’s ambiance.  We opted for traditional lunch items, including a mighty plate of meatballs, but it was the Danish dessert of Æbleskiver that sent us into Scando heaven!  Æbleskiver is kind of like a large donut hole made from pancake batter that is fried and then covered in powdered sugar!  Delicious lingonberry or raspberry compote is drizzled over the top to complete the flavor sensation.  Perhaps not for those with hardened arteries, we loved this dish so much, we pondered why the “Danish Days” festival had not been dubbed "Æbleskiver Days."  Heavier promotion of the delicacy probably would have drawn even more people in to the odd little town!

Breakfast and lunch are served from 6:00 AM until 3:00 PM Monday through Friday with the eatery offering slightly extended hours until 5:00 PM on the weekends.  Solvang Restaurant also features a storefront that allows you to buy any number of Scandinavian or Danish treats.  You can even buy the contents to make Æbleskiver at home!

Set of Drifters tip:  While waiting for our lunch to arrive, we opened up the local reader and came upon an advertisement for a performance by Grinn & Barrett!  Quite possibly the most cleverly named comedy act ever, Katherine Grinn & Mitchell Barrett perform in and around Solvang regularly!  Check out their website and look for them when visiting Solvang!

Solvang Restaurant - 1672 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, CA  93463, (800) 654-0541,

Grinn & Barrett -

The Crab Cooker (Newport Beach)

Dee-lishhhhhhhhh-USSSSSSS!  That’s all you really need to know. Actually, you do need to know more but we’ll get to that in a bit. 

Quirky and commendable, Newport Beach’s Crab Cooker has been serving up fresh seafood from its Balboa Peninsula location ever since 1951.  Housed inside a former Bank of America building now painted bright red to match the eatery’s logo, the Crab Cooker is worth a visit if you’ve found yourself tucked behind the “Orange Curtain” for a day of fun in the sun.  (See “Corona Del Mar State Beach” in “sights” for more information).  Though if you’re hot for frills, go somewhere else.  Paper plates and water available only at request are your toll-pays to some of the best clam chowder we have ever tasted.  And let’s not forget about those double-baked potato cakes laced with cheese; they’re almost worth the trip all on their own!

As for the main dishes, look no further than the open-view grill where skewers of fresh shrimp and scallops are consistently in rotation.  Our mouths water at the thought of it even months after our April 2013 visit.  Set of Drifters tip:  The Crab Cooker also features its own fresh fish market at the front of the restaurant, perfect for picking up some sea goodies on the way out for dinner.  Yummy.

What is that thing on the ceiling?  Yes, part of The Crab Cooker’s charm lies in its ludicrous decor which incorporates, among other oddities, a multitude of vintage signs, artwork and photos alongside a giant stuffed shark proudly caught in the area some decades back!  We also loved the oversized fake crab escaping a large pot of boiling water suspended from the ceiling.  Yep, our kind of place.

The Crab Cooker is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM.  (The fish market opens one hour earlier every day.)  Even when The Crab Cooker is busy, which is most days, the service is quick so don’t be scared off when there is a line.  You can bet your bottom dollar it won’t last long.  Set of Drifters tip:  Not staying at the beach?  A second location in Tustin has also opened to similar rave reviews.

The Crab Cooker (Newport Beach) - 2200 Newport Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA  92663, (949) 673-0100 and The Crab Cooker (Tustin) - 17260 East 17th Street,    Tustin, CA  92680, (714) 573-1077

Gold Rush Steak House & Copper Coffee Shop at the Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo)

Hungry for kitsch?  Look no further than the Madonna Inn’s pièce de résistance, the Gold Rush Steak House!  Here, you’ll get kitsch in spades... and hearts, diamonds and clubs!  We checked out the indulgent establishment on occasion of yet another of Doug’s many 34th birthdays.  The management even gave him his very own "Happy Birthday" balloon so that he would not feel left out amongst the other young teenage girls celebrating their special days!  (Set of Drifters tip:  Ask to get a balloon if you are also celebrating your anniversary!)

While the main attraction at the Gold Rush is probably its steaks - these things were ginormous, yet so delicious that we were forced to eat them whole - it’s the glitzy decor that steals the scene.   Every pink centimeter is swathed in roses, wisteria, and grape clusters of Christmas lights.  Cherubs watch over you from every hidden corner; an elaborate service window into the kitchen reveals that nothing is left untouched - or ungilded!  And they are not kidding with those signature cake slices either, easily a good 9 inches in height!  It all left us to ponder...  Was the decor inspired by the gorgeous pink cake frosting, or was it the other way around?

Ahhh, too many Vodka Collins suggest a need to visit the restrooms downstairs.  (They’re located just beyond a rather impressive wine and cheese shop that would undoubtedly do better business if it were located on the main level!)  And in case you were wondering, yes, like the Madonna Inn’s many funky hotel rooms (see “digs”), the public bathrooms also include eccentric water features; the urinal trough is simply a large waterfall and the sinks, large oyster shell basins!

The adjoining ballroom of the Gold Rush features wedding reception-ilk DJs on Sunday nights and other bands throughout the week.  (Just perfect for your upcoming “Sweet Sixteen” party, no?)  On the night that we visited we were lucky (?) to witness the "swing band" that performs every Saturday.  The dancefloor was rarely empty as the band was a surprise hit with all age groups!   Oh, the memories!

The following morning we found ourselves hungry yet again - go figure.  It was the perfect time to hit up the Copper Coffee Shop, Madonna Inn’s “every-day” counterpart to the over-the-top Gold Rush!  No surprise, the coffee shop was just as flowery (and floury) as the steakhouse, complete with supple vinyl booths that featured charmingly naive murals of native Californians meeting the explorers of the 1840s.  Breakfast foods in a kitschy abode on a Sunday morning?  We’re so there! 

While most of the crowd is comprised of wedding party members trying to fend off their morning hangovers, the coffee shop also serves as a normal stop-off for truckers from the highway.  (It’s somewhat hard to image that a place that showcases weird animatronic dolls that dangle from swings in the middle of a canopy of silk flowers can be utilitarian in any way!)

The illustrious Gold Rush Steak House is open Monday through Saturday from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM, and 4:00 PM until 10:00 PM on Sundays, while the Copper Coffee Shop keeps its doors unlocked from 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM daily.  Make sure to take home some baked goods from here.  Despite the added calories, you will not regret it!

Set of Drifters tip:
  If visiting the Gold Rush or Copper Coffee Shop, make sure to spend a few moments in the Madonna’s Inn’s gift shop which offers some nice photo books that tell the story of Alex and Phyllis Madonna’s baubled dreams.  Much of the other merchandise, however, seems better suited for members of the “Red Hat Society.”

Charmed by the gaudy milk and clear glass goblets that feature prominently inside the Gold Rush?  They are for sale here if so inclined.  Overall, our guess is that nightly receipts are well-grounded with Madonna Inn postcard sales alone!

Gold Rush Steak House/ Coffee Shop - 100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA  93405, (805) 784-2433

Gastrognome (Idyllwild)

To be honest, gnomes sorta freak us out... particularly if they’re the ceramic types who frequent someone’s front pansy garden.  That being said, while in Idyllwild, the Southern California mountain-top retreat that looms quietly over Palm Springs, you’d be best to get with the program.  Here, these little nature spirits abound and, as you might expect, are actually celebrated.  Look no further than “Gastrognome,” the charming eatery that has been feeding locals and visitors alike for over 30 years!

Located in the center of Idyllwild village, Gastrognome is known for offering a fine dining experience in a rustic cabin-like setting.  Entering in from under the vintage sign, the main room features several alpine style chandeliers and a grand stone fireplace bedecked with woodland creatures and - you guessed it - gnomes!  (How many can you count?”)  It’s the perfect setting for “dining in” on a cold, albeit romantic, evening; don’t forget the snowshoes!

A secondary room to the left provides overflow seating centered on an additional wood-burning fireplace.  While we imagine this might make for a nice breakfast spot, the space overall feels cramped.  Good thing it leads onto a cute vintage bar that we imagine must see some local swingers’ action from time-to-time! 

Since it was actually quite lovely on the May 2013 day that we visited “the Gnome,” we chose to sit al fresco beside the restaurants cat mascot!  ‘Twas a little breezy to say the least, but with such a pretty backdrop looking out to Lily Rock, you should take the same opportunity if weather permits.  Set of Drifters tip:  Looking to get buzzed?  Why not play our special “Gastrognome Imbibers Game?”  Every time to see a gaggle of “PCT” hikers emerging from the forest to cross Ridge View Drive, take a swig of that Franziskaner Weissbier.  What’s a “PCT” hiker?  Check out “Humber Park” in “sights” for more information.

As for the food, we opted for basic lunch stapes:  a good old-fashioned burger topped with gorgonzola, and the “Gnome’s Dip,” a delectable sandwich consisting of thinly sliced pan-fried sirloin with grilled onions on a french roll!  Too good!  Certainly by the end of our meal, we were ready to work off some calories by joining those aforementioned hikers.  Geez, these gnomes sure know how to cook!

The Gastrognome is open daily at 10:00 AM, serving breakfast items until 1:00 PM and lunch options until 4:00 PM.  Dinner follows thereafter with considerably more elegant cuisine options available.  If you’re in the mood for tournedos of beef or calamari almandine, you’ve come to the right place, though expect pricing to escalate accordingly. 

Gastrognome - 54381 Ridge View Drive, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-5055

Pea Soup Andersen's (multiple locations)

Thanks to many a summer vacation crammed in the family car while driving up and down California’s long stretches of highway, the landmark windmills of Pea Soup Andersen's soon became familiar beacons.  These handsome wooden structures often became signposts that signaled the termination (or beginning) of a restless backseat journey.  The restaurant chain began in 1924 in the small town of Buellton, CA (about 45 miles north of Santa Barbara on Highway 101), the dream project of Anton and Juliette Andersen who came to California from Denmark and France (by way of New York). 

Anton and Juliette’s first establishment was dubbed “Andersen’s Electric Cafe” in honor of their electric stove, a first in the community.  But it was Juliette’s recipe for yep, you guessed it, split-pea soup that really put the couple on the map.  Now, you might think that split-pea soup would have a somewhat limited appeal.  Luckily, the original restaurant - and soon-to-be-added hotel - was in close proximity to San Simeon’s Heart Castle.  The spot’s lodging and particularly Juliette’s soup soon garnered attention thanks to interest from the magazine’s magnate’s friends and associates.

Later in the 1930’s, Anton and Juliette’s son Robert helped the proprietors to substantiate their restaurant with a series of now instantly recognizable billboard images that still grace California’s roadways today.  Using a Forbell cartoon from Judge magazine as their base, the billboard eventually spawned a post WWII contest to name the two comic chefs who stand over a chute of peas ripe for “splitting”... with a huge chisel!  Combined with the windmill architecture, the two landmarks make for once kitschy roadside stopover!

Not into split-pea soup?  Have no fear, it is not all green and murky here.  Pea Soup Andersen's, the official name of which is actually Andersen’s Pea Soup, serves up a complete menu of American fare on their old-school laminated menus, each of which is sticker than the last.  Please note that the food and service levels are not the attraction here.  We waited for much too long for a cold open-face steak sandwich that would have been tastier if popped out hastily from a Denny’s kitchen.  Still, the tremendously charming vintage interiors, delicious baked goods and bizarre gift shop (steer penis canes, anyone?) make this one a stop worth planning for!

Andersen’s Pea Soup celebrated their 75th Anniversary on June 13, 1999, and it seems they are well on their way to making it to their 100th in 2024!  The Buellton operation includes a hotel; see website below for more information.

Andersen's Pea Soup (Gustine) - 12411 South Hwy 33, Gustine, CA 95322-9734, (209) 826-1685

Andersen's Pea Soup (Buellton) - 376 Avenue of the Flags, Buellton, California 93427, (805) 688-5581,

Madlon’s Restaurant (Big Bear City)

While tooling around town during a ski weekend in Big Bear, we happened upon a peculiar looking building that resembled the dwarf cottage from Grimm’s famed fairy tale Snow White.  Since much of the Big Bear area retains a certain Bavarian flair, the Black Forest “cozy cottage” architecture was not entirely surprising, though the commitment to which it was presented here was admirable, easily drawing us off the road to take a look.  Little did we know that the quaint “single family home” was actually Madlon’s, noted as one of the best fine dinging establishments in town!

Madlon’s Restraurant was born in 1995, and in the 15+ years since, has enjoyed a favorable reputation with locals and visitors alike, thanks to its impressive seasonal menu that is heavy on French tradition.  Owners Cheslie and Robert Orr, both Le Cordon Blue trained chefs, truly know what they are doing when it comes to taste and preparation, as witnessed by some of the best omelet and French Toast dishes these “Set of Drifters” have ever tasted!

The interiors of the cottage are quaint, though not as whimsical as you might expect when compared to the facade of the restaurant.  Still, they help to further raise the bar of the overall quality of the establishment.  (And speaking of quality, check out that Wine List!  Though we were simply having breakfast at Madlon’s before a day on the slopes, the vintages represented here were inspiring to say the least!)

There was one drawback however... the extraordinarily slow service.  While it's true that the restaurant’s population grew throughout the duration of our morning breakfast, Madlon’s simply does not have that many tables or booths to begin with!  Our friendly waiter did his best to satiate us as we waited for the food to come out of the kitchen, yet it got to the point where his constant presence just reminded us more of how hungry we were!  Could have been simply an off-morning...  We still highly recommend this place as a nice counterpoint to the more rustic “hungry-man” options in town.

The hours of operation for Madlon’s Restaurant may change seasonally so call ahead, or check with your hotel, to make sure the place is open before just popping in.  During the high season (December through Mid-April), the restaurant is open Wednesdays and Thursdays for dinner from 4:30 PM until 9:00 PM and Fridays through Mondays from 8:00 AM until 3:00 PM for breakfast and lunch, and again from 4:30 PM until 9:00 PM for dinner.  (Reservations for dinner are recommended.)

Madlon’s Restaurant - 829 West Big Bear Boulevard, Big Bear City, CA  92314, (909) 585-3762

Natural Sisters Cafe (Joshua Tree)

After a spacey visit to “Giant Rock” in September of 2011 (see “sights”), our crew of five was starving!  Upon recommendation from our new friends at the Integratron, we ventured the longer than expected journey to nearby Joshua Tree, a village that acts as the portal to the famed National Park of the same name.  Here, every health food store, cafe or junk shop teems with young trekkers making passage into, or from, the wild wilderness of Joshua tree!

Your "Set of Drifters" chose the Natural Sisters Cafe as our late afternoon lunch option, a decision that proved (literally) fruitful... and a bit ironic.  The same couple who participated in our impromptu private “meeting of the minds” sound bath at the Integratron showed up only five minutes after us!

Menu offerings at Natural Sisters are pretty basic with barely more than 12 different scenarios available at any given time.  But what the menu lacks in variety, it more than makes up for in terms of quality, freshness and taste!  While the dudes in our group all opted for slight variations on the curried vegetable wrap, the lasses chose gigantic veggie burgers that featured buns almost large enough to hide under!  Lunch specials come with a side of watermelon and a salad or a bag of chips, adding value to an already affordable - and enjoyable experience!  And did we mention the smoothies?  No sandwich or yummy breakfast treat is complete without one.  We absolutely goosed on the “Agave Berry Bliss” and the “Killer Bee Papaya Delight,” concocted from - among other things - peaches and bananas and bee pollen!

Natural Sisters is open daily from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM.  Thanks to its designation by locals as one of the bestest in town, seating at Natural Sisters is at a premium!  (The afternoon we visited, the place was jumping even at 4:00 PM!)  If the few tables outside are also occupied, you just may have to take this one to go as you will not want to miss the quality on offer here!

Natural Sisters Cafe - 61695-B 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA  92252, (760) 366-3600 ‎

Asian delights in Idyllwild?

Before leaving on our 2013 weekend getaway to Idyllwild, the artsy small town nestled at the base of San Jacinto Wilderness, your Set of Drifters had to perform a little advance research on its culinary scene.  You see, with only about 2 ½ days in town, not to mention that long climb up the mountain (see “essentials”), every meal had to count.

Now to be perfectly honest, we weren’t expecting much:  perhaps a burger/ pizza joint here, an Italian restaurant there and, assuredly, some woodsy all-purpose grill in the middle of town dripping in deer antlers.  And thus, when we eventually discovered such Idyllwild gems as Cafe Aroma and the Gastrognome (see above), we were pleasantly surprised, and excited, to sample their quality.

Equally unexpected, was variety.  Aside from a handful of the above mentioned staples, Idyllwild also harbors two Mexican restaurants, a few healthy outposts serving vegetarian dishes - and even a Chinese and Korean/ sushi restaurant!

Since we’re suckers for sashimi ‘n such, we were particularly interested in the last spot, named in honor of its elevation as the Mile High Cafe.  Reviews promised some rather tasty bento specials and fresh Korean staples, though we were skeptical.  Korean sushi?  Hmmmm.  And, pray tell, just how do they get all those ingredients up there on a regular basis?

Turns out, we needn’t worry.  Sure, the decor inside is nothing to write home about.  (There is a piano in the middle of the room, but little else.)  At the Mile High Club, it’s all about the food.

We started with a seared ahi salad, handsomely packed with gobo, daikon, masago, and avocado, before indulging in a number of rolls.  The Dynamite, a baked scallops/ crab meat/ tuna and salmon combo with sauce on top, deserves special mention and should be one of your top choices as well.  Elsewhere, Mile High menu highlights include traditional Korean dishes like galbi and spicy pork bulgogi and even Japanese udon matched with any number of proteins.

Not interested in all things Asian?  No problem; Chef Damien Yawmen has also included an assortment of burgers, sandwiches and grilled chicken dishes on his menu, making this restaurant a favorite for travelers and locals alike.  Set of Drifters tip:  We also hear Mile High’s weekday breakfast deals are a steal.  With all plates under $5 USD, it’ll be hard to beat this bang for your buck.

Family-run Mile High Cafe serves up its surprisingly fresh fabulousness Monday through Thursday from 7:00 AM until 4:00PM, Friday and Saturday from 7:00 AM until 9:00 PM and Sundays from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM.

Now where the Mile High lacks in ambiance, Idyllwild’s Hidden Village picks up the slack.  Full disclosure here:  Your Set of Drifters are not what you would call avid fans of traditional Chinese food (outside of dim sum perhaps).  That being said, we are fond of visiting Chinese restaurants that seem trapped in some past within the confines of a small town.  Eng’s Tea House in Brady’s hometown of Lake Zurich, IL was one such place, and Hidden Village is certainly another.

You can’t miss the place.  Towering into trees along Cedar Street, this two-story red and white property looks majestic - and out of place - at the same time.  Guests can choose to dine outside in the shadow of the pines, and Hidden Village’s two giant Foo dog statues, or inside, where the gold and red decor seems at least three decades old.  (Not surprisingly, that’s exactly the way we like it.)

Notable dishes on the never-ending menu include “cracking crystal noodles,” a crunchy vermicelli oddity topped with diced pork and vegetables that sizzles while you eat it - and the tender “champagne fish filet,” sautéed in a white wine sauce.  This one virtually melts on your tongue!

Sure, we’ve had better Chinese elsewhere, but rarely dressed in such vintage Oriental kitsch.  Heck, if Dolly Parton recommends a place - as evidenced by the photo on the mantle in the main room - you know it can’t be half bad.  Hidden Village is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 AM until 9:00 PM.  If you’ve already hit up Cafe Aroma, the Mile High and Gastrognome, make this your next stop.

Mile High Cafe - 26600 California 243, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-2008,

Hidden Village - 25840 Cedar Street, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-2712

Peggy Sue's 50’s Diner (Yermo)

What happens at Peggy Sue's stays at Peggy Sue's... just kidding.  If you are hankerin' for a pit-stop on your way to Las Vegas from California on that loooooong stretch of Highway 15, place your bets on Peggy Sue's 50’s Diner!  Shadowed by the nearby Calico Mountains, this 1950’s themed diner is certainly a cute place to stop and a notable alternative to crappy road food options like McDonald’s or Taco Bell!

Peggy Sue and her partner-in-crime “Champ” came to the Barstow area in 1981 and set to work on restoring an old roadside diner to its former glory.  The despot, as you see it today, reopened in 1987, and it has been attracting locals, Las Vegas addicts and truck drivers ever since.

Aside from a menu that adheres, not surprisingly, to standard “American diner” faire, Peggy Sue’s outpost also features a duck pond, a traditional “5 & 10” gift shop and a “Diner-Saur Park” out back for the kids!  (You won’t find that at your local T&A Truck Stop!)  Throughout the property, Peggy Sue’s veritable treasure trove of kitschy Elvis and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia will keep you well entertained as you wait for your eggs, bacon and flapjacks!  (Peggy Sue and Champ once worked in a movie studio, and it is from there that their collection of old memorabilia hails.)  Ditties from the ‘50s further set the stage for a meal that will undoubtedly take you and your friends back decades.

Peggy Sue's 50’s Diner is open daily from 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM.  “In the mood” for an authentic milkshake or malt?  The Soda Fountain/ Ice Cream Parlor, complete with nine counter stools, has you covered!

Peggy Sue's 50’s Diner - 35654 West Yermo Road, Yermo, CA 92398, (760) 254-3370

We also recommend:

230 Forest Avenue Restaurant & Bar - 230 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA  92651, (949) 494-2545,

Thai & Peru Restaurant - 583 East Main Street, Ventura, CA  93001, (805) 643-0583,