Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boron Vacation Part 1: Domingo's Mexican & Seafood Restaurant

For those of you driving from the Bay Area to Las Vegas (or LA to Mammoth), Domingo's in Boron off of Highways 58/395 is a perfect place to stop along the way for a quick bite to eat.

I arrive in Boron late at night. I wonder if I'm lost. The town has one main drag-- Twenty Mule Team Road. It is deserted. It is a virtual ghost town. It is the epitome of sketchy. I don't see any moving cars in either direction. Desolation.

As I inch closer to the "center" of town, I see lights coming from a building and a bunch of cars parked in front of it. Life! I've arrived at Domingo's.

The little town of Boron is twenty minutes from Edwards Air Force Base. The base is used not only as a landing site for the space shuttle, but has been the site of thousands of test flights. Generals, pilots, and astronauts all dine at Domingo's. The walls of the restaurant are filled with air and space memorabilia. Autographs from the likes of Chuck Yeager and a portrait of astronauts in orange spacesuits and sombreros entertain the customers. Astronauts often call in their orders to Domingo's just before they land back on earth.

For a weeknight in the middle of nowhere, I'm surprised that this place is almost packed. Everyone is having a good time. It's like an Applebee's commercial, but with sincerity and good food.

I plop down in a booth. The party of three in the booth next to me are downing huge margaritas and a platter of $1 oysters. My waiter approaches me matter-of-factly and shakes my hand as if we are about to conduct a business transaction. That's never happened to me before.

I ask my man for a recommendation and he ordered chicken enchiladas suizas for me. Perfect. The soup comes out first. It's topped with a huge mound of white and yellow cheese. There's too much. None of the cheese has melted into the lukewarm soup. The ingredients-- potatoes, carrots, and celery, are so-so. It's a bit watery. Soup is not their forte.

But then comes the entree. Two enchiladas with rice and beans. Ingredients-wise, it's exactly what you get at chains like Chevy's, but this is so much better. The chicken was amazing. They taste like fresh, backyard grown chickens. Maybe a bit long in the tooth, shaggy looking, and not too plump. It's definitely not one of those genetic mutants with a chem lab full of juice that you get from Tyson or some other industrial farm.

I have only had chicken this good twice. Once was when my friend took me to his Central Valley home. His mother was a migrant worker without a large food budget. The only food she could offer me was a small scoop of rice with a few thin shreds of chicken on top. The other experience was at a long-distance bus stop somewhere near Villahermosa, Mexico. There was a buffet spread for the bus passengers and there was rice and pathetic looking chicken. They were so full of flavor.

As I scarf down my meal, a man in a shirt and skinny tie approach me and shake my hand. It's the jefe, Domingo himself. He is by far the most successful small business owner in town. He is repeatedly the town's honorary mayor for raising the most money for charity. He is a good man. He too asks me how I'm enjoying my meal. I reply.

I won't say this is the best Mexican meal I've ever had, but it's pretty darn good. Remember, if you're ever on Highway 58 (or Highway 395 near Kramer's Junction for that matter), stop by Domingo's. I guarantee it's the only Mexican restaurant in the world that is decorated with pictures of experimental jets and spacecraft.

Photo source.

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