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Sundae in the Park

California, Southern: LA County South to Mexico

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Victorville; Ontario

Still talking to myself, hope it's useful.

In Victorville, there is a great Middle Easten place called Ala' Al-Deen. It seems to be family run and the building itself is quite run-down (needs a new roof! or a newly painted roof or something), but the food is good and apportioned generously. The eggplant dip is very yogurty and almost unrecognizable as eggplant, but is tangy and refreshing. Actually, that would be a good way to describe our whole meal. We shared a small mixed platter which included eggplant and hummus dips, tabouleh and arabic salad, a pile of (unremarkable, but warmed) pita bread, asorted meats, a grilled tomato and onion, and some rice. We topped it off with an order of (relatively) light and crunchy felafel and had a feast for 2. The desserts ($1 baklava pieces) looked wonderful but we didn't have any room.

In Ontario, there is a new Thai place in the Mountainview area called Lucky Elephant Thai. It is one of the prettiest Thai restaurants I've ever seen, with tons of wooden scrollwork and purple and gold decorations everywhere (not as garish as it sounds). The food is fine and they were out of eggplant (??!!) during our visit. They use dried rice noodles, which are thinner than the fresh noodles I'm accustomed to. The staff are extremely welcoming and attentive. I'm not sure it warrants seeking out, but it's certainly not a bad way to pass an evening if you're in the neighborhood and don't feel like visiting one of the zilions of chain restaurants nearby, and they may improve as they gain experience.

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Ontario

@ Home Thai Fusion Bistro is oddly named and a bit difficult to find, tucked into the side plaza next to the Kohl's, but it is a great place to catch a meal before/after a flight into Ontario airport.  I've been twice now and the wok cooking was terrific both times.  We've had a few fried rices and noodles, plus the vegetable medley (both times) and red curry with duck.  All are large portions of very good food, and anything wok-fried is pretty much perfect.  The plates are attractively presented, the restaurant is slightly sleeker than your average Thai-strip mall joint, and the staff are young and friendly. I'll be stopping by anytime I need to eat anywhere in its vicinity.

 

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Back to the high desert and we return with news!

Victorville

In Victorville, there is a great Middle Easten place called Ala' Al-Deen. It seems to be family run and the building itself is quite run-down (needs a new roof! or a newly painted roof or something), but the food is good and apportioned generously. The eggplant dip is very yogurty and almost unrecognizable as eggplant, but is tangy and refreshing. Actually, that would be a good way to describe our whole meal. We shared a small mixed platter which included eggplant and hummus dips, tabouleh and arabic salad, a pile of (unremarkable, but warmed) pita bread, asorted meats, a grilled tomato and onion, and some rice. We topped it off with an order of (relatively) light and crunchy felafel and had a feast for 2. The desserts ($1 baklava pieces) looked wonderful but we didn't have any room.

Victorville

Went back to Ala' Al-Deen a couple times last week while we were in town and were stuffed and happy both times. Got the large family meal plus felafel to have leftovers and enjoyed every bite, that night and beyond. We discussed the meats and decided that the chicken is the most surprising (because moist, flavorful chicken kabobs aren't that easy to come by) though all three (also lamb kabobs and kubideh) are excellent.The pita is still just a bag of (warmed) pita from the store, but the baklava is very good! Mostly honey and nuts, sandwiched by two layers of flaky pastry. The family working there is wonderfully warm and so welcoming of small children, for which we were grateful.

Renee Allen's Mac-n-Cheese is an unexpected delight in a ...not-good location. It doesn't look like much - just a stand, really, inside the bus station - but they fry your picks to order and have GREAT sides. The pork chops were big and juicy though the chicken was severely under-seasoned, but the sides we tried - yams, string beans, mac and cheese, collards, beans - all were soul food perfection. I could have doubled, nay tripled our order of sides and skipped the fried stuff (though not my husband. He really liked his chops), they were so good. Probably best for call ahead and take out.

Well Being Tofu House was another pleasant surprise in the desert. Lunch plates are a very good value and we tried the galbi, potstickers, and jap chae. Hefty portions of correctly seasoned and wok-fried food, prettily arranged on plate around a fluffy pile of lightly dressed salad, plus a decent (5-6) assortment of pickles and kim chee for pan chan. Service was friendly if a little slow (though we came in at an off hour) and we saw several folks come in for the meat-soon du boo combos. We actually tried to go back when we were swinging back through town and were sad that they closed for a few hours in the middle of the day.

Totally random but if you are looking for entertainment, the Scandia Fun Center is a pretty great place to kill a few hours. They have a well-kept mini golf course with fun hazards, a few crappy arcade games, water bumper cars, a batting cage, and the sky screamer - this is basically a really fast ferris wheel for 2 groups (only one long "arm" with seats on both ends) that goes both backwards and forwards and affords a lovely desert view at the apex. Looks totally sketchy but after seeing it in operation for years we finally bit the bullet and went up. $9 a ride and worth it - before eating.

Barstow

If you ask around town, you'll get the same puzzling recommendation over and over - go to Del Taco. The three locations in town are the original stores #1, 2, and 3 of the chain, so are pretty much a local legend. Apparently the owners still live in town and oversee operations, and I witnessed the lunch crush myself, so I will say that there is a good chance that the food is fresher than normal at other locations because of the high turnover. But their main claim to fame - that the fillings are inordinately generous at all three in-town stores - just means that you'll get more Del Taco. Which, while filling and fast, I simply don't get the appeal.

Instead, if you are perhaps on the way to Vegas and need some food, make a stop at Cafe Las Papusas! This is a repurposed house at the end of a road by the railroad tracks. Yes, I might be leery after dark but the staff are very welcoming and the food is excellent!! Stick with the Salvadoran specialties like the papusas and tamales, which have fresh, toothsome outsides and tasty, chunky (one had vegetables as well as meat! It was surprising but good), fillings (we had chicken and pork of both). We also liked the savory and dessert empanadas. They have steamed and fried yucca and chicharrones, which were fine but unremarkable so we wished that we had saved room for more papusas and tamales instead. The cheesecake is bready and dry so not recommended.  The tamales are made with very fine cornmeal so are very smooth and tender onsite, but would probably be gummy once cooled. The papusas, however, travel and reheat very well.

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