August 20th, 2006: Travels With Joe, Part One
"They've nailed me! I'm trapped in some stinking desert crossroads called Baker. I don't have much time. The fu**ers are closing in. They'll hunt me down like a beast!"
- Raoul Duke, "Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas"
OK, I'll admit it: I'm a Chowhound. I like to eat and I like eating a lot. Luckilly, I've got this fantastic metabolism that's kept me in the 185-pound range since I was in High School. And growing up as the son of a restauranteer didn't help to curb my voracious appetite any.
Therefore, I've decided to make a few Pirate Cove Blog entries that focus on one of the most fundamental, yet enjoyable aspects of life: FOOD.
Now, I could simply make a list of the kinds of food I enjoy... cheeseburgers, pizza, fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, king crab, and Chinese Food... but instead, I've chosen to take you to a few select locations that, with any luck, you'll have the opportunity to experience first hand someday. And where better to start than somewhere that's close to Pirate Cove's home town of Las Vegas? I'm speaking, of course, about that Mecca of the desert, that haven for the weary traveler: The Mad Greek of Baker, California.
The Mad Greek is easy enough to locate, whether you're traveling East towards Las Vegas, or limping West, back to Los Angeles... just look for one of the approximately 780 billboards they've erected along the side of I-15.
"The Mad Greek! 20 Miles!" they scream.
"Try Our WORLD FAMOUS Strawberry Shakes!" they suggest.
"Only 10 More Miles Until The Mad Greek!" they shriek!
Then you see: "You Just Missed The Exit For The Mad Greek. Better Luck In Vegas."
Speaking of those strawberry shakes, even if you hate strawberries, you owe yourself to try one. It's like having the thickest, most delectable Slurpee you've ever laid eyes on delivered straight to your table. And the rest of the food ain't bad either! In Pirate Cove, I made Brian the customer who ate himself sick. In reality, that's my job. The "pastrami burger" that's mentioned in the comic strip is actually called "The Onassis Burger" on the menu. It's a cheeseburger smothered in pastrami, mustard, a huge wedge of tomato, pickles, and lettuce. The french fries they serve are a perfect blend of crispy outside and mealy inside. The fried mushrooms are golden brown on the outside, moist on the inside, and are served with a light ranch dressing, complimented with dill.
Being a Greek restaurant, you'd expect them to have worthwhile Greek food on the menu, too... and they don't let down. I don't know what they put in them, but their Gyros are quite possibly the best I've ever eaten. And there's something pretty special about their dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice), too. I've never quite been able to put my finger on it... they've just got this tang to 'em that I've never really tasted anyplace else. And that's actually my one complaint: how come I have to drive all the way to the Mad Greek to get such great dolmades???
The atmosphere is also worth noting. If you're into people-watching, Baker is a Shangri-La. You'll run into all sorts out there... from bikers to truckdrivers to mom & pop in the family truckster, the veranda at The Mad Greek serves as a perfect people-watching HQ. So long as you don't mind the non-stop bouzouki music, that is. And the color blue. There's a LOT of blue & white in The Mad Greek's decor.
Before leaving Baker behind, however, be sure to stop in at Alien Fresh Jerky and pick up a pack of sweet & sour beef jerky. It's just up the road. You can't miss it. Look for the rocket ship. But avoid the clam jerky. It's as hideous as it sounds.
That's all for today's entry; I'll be back soon to discuss the REAL reason the four days of the San Diego Comic Con are my favorite four days of the year!