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The Turquoise Room – Winslow, Arizona

The fabulous La Posada

The fabulous La Posada

The concept of “fast food” had a far different connotation during the Southwest’s Frontier days than it does today. This is especially true if one traveled via railroad through hundreds of miles of desolate, open country. In the more densely populated and genteel east there were often several cities between most destinations. This allowed for frequent rest and refreshment stops. Passengers rode in relative comfort in Pullman cars with dining cars.

In the wide open west, only twenty minutes were allowed during each of the infrequent stops. Further, the food was as miserable as the travel conditions. According to Keith L. Bryant’s History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, “meat was greasy and usually fried, beans were canned, bacon rancid and coffee was fresh once a week.” No doubt it was gastronomic distress that prompted the following ditty documented on the book Hear the Lonesome Whistle Blow by Dee Brown: “The tea tasted as though it was made from the leaves of sagebrush. The biscuit was made without soda, but with plenty of alkali, harmonizing with the great quantity of alkali dust we had already swallowed.”

The welcoming interior of the Turquoise Room

One man, an English emigrant named Fred Harvey was determined to change the deplorable railroad travel conditions in the west. With a background as a restaurateur and later as a railroad employee, he brought good food at reasonable places served in clean, elegant restaurants to the traveling public throughout the Wild West. Historians agree that he also introduced civility and dignity. The Fred Harvey Company’s expansion included hotels, restaurants and lunchrooms throughout the Southwest (Arizona, California and New Mexico) as well as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and eventually anywhere the Santa Fe railroad system had major terminals including Chicago and Saint Louis.  By the late 1880s a Fred Harvey dining facility existed every 100 miles along the Santa Fe line. Meals at a Harvey establishment epitomized the highest standards for cleanliness and fastidiousness. Fine China, crystal, Irish linens, sumptuous portions and great value were hallmarks of a meal at a Harvey facility.

In the 1920s, the Harvey Company decided to build a major hotel in Winslow, the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Being centrally located, Winslow was thought to be ideally situated for a resort hotel. No expense was spared. Construction costs for grounds and furnishings have been estimated at $2 million or about $40 million in today’s dollars. La Posada, the resting place, was the finest hotel in the Southwest during the railroad era. Today it remains not so much a re-creation of the great railway era, but an accumulation of memories and treasures in the form of exquisite art, history and beauty. Its opulent flow includes arched doorways, hand-painted glass windows, glittering tin chandeliers, Southwestern hand-hewn furniture and whimsical art. It is a magnificent complex, one of the finest hotels in the entire West.

Heirloom Squash Blossoms

Heirloom Squash Blossoms

It is only fitting that a hotel with the grandeur and splendor of La Posada have an elegant area set aside for the finest in dining. That would be the Turquoise room which has been recreated to reflect the ultimate in stylish railroad dining. The Turquoise Room is indeed a fabulous restaurant, viewed by experts as one of the very best in the Four Corners region. The braintrust behind the restaurant is chef and owner John Sharpe, an Englishman like Fred Harvey with a similar commitment to outstanding food and impeccable service.  That commitment was  recognized in 2011 when Sharpe was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as the best chef in the southwest.

Sharpe is committed to using only the finest and freshest ingredients possible, many of them grown locally. An avid gardener, he also grows heirloom vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, including the giant squash blossoms that appear on his menu on occasion. Every once in a while Sharpe also pays tribute to the great days of the Fred Harvey Company with retro dishes from the great railway era, but for the most part his cuisine might best be labeled as regional contemporary Southwestern. An even better label would be fabulous!  Several items are menu mainstays: roast prime rib, grilled steaks, fresh fish, pasta, elk, quail, pork, chicken, lamb and a vegetable platter. Desserts are made in-house on a daily basis.

Porterhouse Steak

The Engineer’s Porterhouse Steak

24 August 2008: Sharpe’s giant squash blossoms are things of beauty! Piped into each beer battered squash flower is a tamale-like concoction of corn meal and two types of cheeses topped with a corn salsa and drizzled with fresh cream. You will savor each bite and mourn the last one. It is one of the best appetizers we’ve had in any Arizona restaurant. An excellent pairing with many Turquoise Room entrees is the Don Juan Sangria cocktail made with red wine, port, sherry, brandy, triple sec and citrus juices served over ice. Sliced oranges, lemons and limes float on the sangria and add to its full-bodied, hearty flavor.

If you’ve ever lamented the lack of game gracing menus at restaurants throughout the Southwest, you’ll be thrilled to see several game favorites featured at the Turquoise Room. Better still, some entrees include more than one game favorite. One sure to please entree for the gaming gastronome is the Native Cassoulet with Churro Lamb, Duck Leg and Elk Sausage. Cassoulets are generally rich, slow-cooked bean casseroles containing meats (typically pork, sausage, mutton or goose), but Sharpe takes some liberties with that definition.

Prime Rib au jus

Prime Rib au jus

8 September 2007: Sharpe’s version starts with Tohono O’odham (a Native American tribe formerly known as the Papago who reside primarily in the Sonoran Desert of the Southwest United States and Northwest Mexico) grown tepary (a drought-resistant bean grown in the Southwest) beans cooked with locally raised Churro lamb, chilies and spices. The Turquoise Room’s Churro lamb chop is fork tender and absolutely delicious with nary a hint of gaminess or fat. In fact, the meat is very distinctive for lamb with a subtle wild flavor likely resultant from the Churro breed’s diet of shrubs and herbs in the sparse deserts of the Southwest. This is some of the best lamb I’ve had anywhere!  The duck leg confit is similarly wonderful–a duck leg seasoned and slowly cooked in duck fat. The Turquoise Room’s rendition is sinfully tender and moist with a crispy and golden brown skin.  The spicy smoked elk sausage may surprise you because it actually lives up to its billing. The sausage’s pronounced smokiness quickly gives way to a spiciness that will play a concordant tune on your taste buds. It is slightly coarse as sausage goes, but is tender, moist and delicious.

8 September 2007: Another dinner entree featuring game is aptly named the Wild-Wild-Wild-West Sampler Platter. This entree features grilled quail with prickly pear jalapeno glaze, seared elk medallion with blackcurrant sauce and a cup of chunky venison, buffalo, wild boar and scarlet runner bean chili served with sweet corn tamale and fresh vegetables. Every item on this entree is stellar in its own right, but together they put to shame just about every combination meat platter you can think of.  The seared elk with blackcurrant sauce edges out the grilled quail with prickly pear jalapeno glaze as the best of the lot, but not by much. Both are absolutely delicious, prepared to absolute perfection.

Cream of corn and smooth black bean soup

Cream of corn and smooth black bean soup

24 August 2008: If you’re of a carnivorous bent but don’t necessarily desire an entree with multiple meats, the purist in you might prefer The Engineer’s Porterhouse Steak. This is a one-pound Sterling Silver center-cut Porterhouse you can cut with a dinner knife. That’s how tender it is. It is served with a spicy (perhaps chipotle infused) steak sauce that is actually worth using on this slab of meat.  Prepared to your exacting specifications (medium is my recommendation), it is juicy and delicious on both the larger short loin side and the more tender and flavorful tenderloin side. Some restaurants call this cut of meat the T-Bone, but by any name, it is often a challenge to prepare correctly because of the uneven temperature distribution in preparation. The Turquoise Room obviously has mastered the art of preparing this delicious cut.

24 August 2008: Another fine meat option is the Premium Angus Prime Rib Roast Au Jus served with horseradish cream, a medley of fresh vegetables and a choice of baked potato or red caboose mashed potatoes. This cut is available in an eight-ounce or fourteen-ounce cut. Prime rib is not for the faint of heart. For optimum flavor, it’s best served at about medium rare, a degree of “doneness” which may give the appearance of bloodiness that turns off the queasy diner. Preparing prime rib at anything above medium is sacrilege and detracts from this flavorful slab of meat.  Needless to say, the Turquoise Room knows how to prepare prime rib. Cut into it and the succulent juices (albeit a bit red) flow onto your plate. Bite into it and you’re in heaven. A little bit of marbling goes a long way on this cut of beef and that’s what you’ll get–that and a whole lot of flavor. If you’re an aficionado of prime rib, this one will please you.  You might not be as pleased with the baked potatoes which are on the small side and may not be completely heated all the way through. While most of the potato is tender, some is just a bit tough, an indication of inconsistent baking. Still, you add a little butter and a little sour cream and you’ve got a nice dinner accompaniment.

Double Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle for Two

Double Chocolate Grand Marnier Souffle for Two

24 August 2008: All dinners include your choice of Caesar salad or the restaurant’s signature soup, a cream of corn and smooth black bean soup served side-by-side in one bowl and topped with a red chile signature. As impossible as it may sound, the chef actually managed to keep separate on a bowl two very distinct yet very complementary soups as warming and comforting as the definition “comfort” soup itself. The Caesar salad is magnificent! It includes roasted red peppers, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan crusted tepee of the restaurant’s red chile cracker bread.

24 August 2008: The restaurant’s desserts are decadent and delightful, none quite as much as the Double Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé for Two. It takes 25 minutes to bake this extravagant treat, but it’s worth the wait. A rich dark chocolate soufflé is baked to order and served with whipped cream, dark chocolate Grand Marnier sauce (poured into a cavity atop the soufflé) and whipped cream. It’s a nice way to finish a meal.

Arizona Green Chile Eggs

Arizona Green Chile Eggs

Portion sizes at the Turquoise Room are generous but you’ll still be tempted to lick your plate so as not to waste a morsel or dribble of your entree or dessert. Fortunately dinner is followed by breakfast only a few hours away and breakfast, though not quite the equal of dinner, is an extraordinary event at this terrific restaurant.

9 September 2007: One of the breakfast entrees that makes it so are the Baked Beef Machaca Chilaquiles–shredded beef machaca with tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices, scrambled with two eggs, smoky red chile tomato sauce, crispy red and blue corn tortilla chips and jalapeno jack cheese. This entree is topped with crema fresca and roasted corn salsa and served with black beans. What a wonderful wake-up call. For most New Mexicans the smoky red chile tomato sauce would barely register on the piquant scale, but that’s okay because this breakfast entree is so replete with flavors competing for the rapt attention of your taste buds. Every ingredient plays on its partner ingredient and the resultant tune is a masterpiece.

Baked Beef Machaca Chilaquiles

Baked Beef Machaca Chilaquiles

9 September 2007: The best part of waking up, however, just might be Arizona Green Chile Eggs– creamy polenta in a pool of green chile, tomatillo sauce topped with two eggs, covered in melted jalapeno jack cheese and garnished with roasted corn salsa and diced fresh tomatoes, black beans and served with warm corn tortillas.  I’m somewhat loathe to credit anything in Arizona that includes salsa or chile, but the Arizona Green Chile Eggs have me issuing an apology to the Grand Canyon State’s use of ingredients New Mexico restaurants do best. This is an outstanding breakfast entree! 

22 June 2014:  Perhaps only in Italy is polenta used on breakfast entrees more than at the Turquoise Room.  Chef Sharpe’s rendition of polenta will remind you it’s so much more than “Italian grits” and can be made more sophisticated and interesting than simple coarse yellow cornmeal.  In addition to the aforementioned Arizona Green Chile Eggs entree, polenta also graces a breakfast entree called The Corn Maiden’s Delight, a bowl of warm yellow corn polenta topped with fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh spinach, two poached eggs, jalapeño jack cheese and fresh roasted corn salsa.  The very best qualities of this dish are showcased in the combination of its individual components, the more the merrier.  Alas, there is so little of the roasted corn salsa (onions, green peppers) that you’ll have to use it sparingly.  My preference would have been to cover the entire dish with this salsa.  All breakfasts save for waffles and pancakes are served your choice of La Posada’s blueberry muffin, bran muffin, cinnamon roll, English muffin or white, wheat or sourdough toast.

The Corn Maiden’s Delight

9 September 2007: Traditionalists might instead order something like the Silver Dollar pancake entree which includes two eggs, three pancakes and your choice of bacon, sausage or ham with spicy green chile breakfast potatoes. Rather than have your pancakes with maple or blueberry syrup, douse them liberally with prickly pear syrup. Prickly pear syrup has a higher fruit to sugar ratio than most syrups which is something you’ve got to appreciate if you don’t want a major sugar rush first thing in the morning.

22 July 2012: The lunch menu includes one of the most unique dishes I’ve seen on a restaurant menu anywhere, piki bread with hopi hummus. It’s a dish you might order for the experience of eating something so authentically Native American and uniquely different, but probaly not because someone has told you it’s a great tasting dish. The most unique aspect of this entree is the piki bread, finely ground blue corn blended with burnt juniper berry ash. Ash, in fact, is texturally what the bread resembles. This bread is crumbly (as in blow away light) and won’t stand up to the lightest portion of the bad-dap-suki, the “Hopi hummus” with which it is served. Hopi hummus is also unique, but its greatest resemblance to hummus is textural.

Piki Bread with Hopi Hummus:

22 July 2012: Much more traditional is the crispy pork carnitas platter, large pieces of crispy pork with red and green salsas, white tortillas, black beans and sweet corn tamale.  The carnitas are tender tendrils of pork perfectly made for the smallish corn tortillas.  Add a bit of the red or green salsa and you’ve got very good tacos.  The sweet corn tamale is essentially two scoops of a sweetened corn masa without any of the pork.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, one of my favorite items at the Turquoise Room is the Late for the Train Coffee, an organic Turquoise Room blend.  It’s a mellow, rich coffee with a delicate roasted flavor.  Since our first visit to the Turquoise Room in 1997, it’s the only coffee we’ve had at home.

Crispy Pork Carnitas Platter: Large pieces of crispy pork Carnitas, with red and green salsas, white tortillas, black beans and sweet corn tamale

Fred Harvey would undoubtedly be very proud of the La Posada Hotel and the Turquoise Room, its fine, fine-dining restaurant.

The Turqouise Room
303 East 2nd Street (Rte 66)
Winslow, Arizona
(928) 289-4366
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 22 June 2014
1st VISIT: 8 September 2007
# OF VISITS: 6
RATING: 24
COST: $$$ – $$$$
BEST BET: Silver Dollar Pancakes, Baked Beef Machaca Chilaquiles, Arizona Green Chile Eggs, Native Cassoulet with Churro Lamb, Duck Leg and Elk Sausage, Double Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé for Two, Crispy Pork Carnitas Platter, The Corn Maiden’s Delight

Turquoise Room (La Posada Hotel) on Urbanspoon

  • Bruce Schor says:

    My wife and I have made La Posada and the Turquoise Room our stop of choice for lunch on our car trips through Winslow to California.
    We stop there because the food is excellent and the hotel is amongst the most dog friendly we’ve encountered.
    Last June on our trip to LA we made our usual stop for lunch and after letting our 2 poodles out for a run in La Posada’s dog run area we headed for lunch.
    My wife was concerned that the car would be much too hot for the dogs and suggested we should sit out back on the porch in the shade and keep them company while having lunch.
    Our conversation was overheard by a wait staffer there for a break and she suggested we sit in the bar WITH the dogs and have lunch comfortably.
    Talk about dog friendly.
    These remarks may not center on the great food at La Posada but for many of us that travel with our dogs it was truly an oasis of great food and dog friendly to boot.
    Highly recommended!! We’ve never been disappointed in half a dozen visits including a couple of weeks ago for our anniversary.

    March 21, 2010 at 9:01 AM
  • rpl says:

    Regarding this Turqoise Room writeup Gil, you seem to have 2 captions on pictures which state “Baked Beef Machacha Chilaquiles.” The first such picture looks like a Steak and Potato. Perhaps it is miscaptioned?

    July 25, 2012 at 9:36 AM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Thank you, Ross. As always I appreciate your feedback. You’ve been very helpful to me over the years and have an attention to detail that amazes me.

      Gil

      July 25, 2012 at 10:52 AM
  • Sandy Driscoll says:

    Gil ….. You were the friend who suggested I try beautiful La Posada several years ago! Always traveling with my dog and loving good food, it is the perfect halfway place to stay on my LA – Santa Fe drive. La Posada’s rooms are beautiful, and such a bargain for a splendidly restored hotel. I’ve had many meals here, breakfast, lunch & dinner, and the food is always excellent! For those who love to cook, Chef John Sharpe has a terrific cookbook containing many of his Turquoise Room recipes, including the famed Cream of Corn & Black Bean Soup, pictured above.

    July 27, 2012 at 8:22 PM
  • Michelle Meaders says:

    Looks like the menu is even more interesting than the last time we were there! Nice description of the hotel, too. I’d like to add this from their website:
    “The Last Great Railroad Hotel built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway for the Fred Harvey Company.

    Welcome to architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s Southwest masterpiece. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

    Too bad it was built just in time for the Great Depression! You might tell people that it is about an hour by car east of Flagstaff, and not very well signed. You just go into Winslow, find the street along the tracks, and follow it till you get there.

    July 28, 2012 at 10:43 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Always reassuring to read about dining consistency. My eastern Sis and companions delighted to stumble upon La Posada about 8ish(?) years ago for its Yummies and ambiance and, when passing out tourist info, I make it a point to send travelers into town to enjoy this statue set in front of a Trompe l’oeil backdrop that you see (after the ad) herein http://tinyurl.com/kobm6cj at about the 1 minute mark. Given that most tourists who are ‘driving’ (LOL) are “of an age” whereby they might appreciate that song, and lest you haven’t been, I make Gallup’s El Rancho Hotel a must see for its 40-50 autographed pics of ol movie star-power guests http://historicelranchohotel.com/virtual_tour.cfm (click #4, then move mouse (R,L,U,D) while holding down L button)while their dining room has been good in the past. Per also getting One’s Kicks on Ol Route 66, loop through Holbrook for the iconic Wigwam Motel of ‘that’ era. http://tinyurl.com/knlwbw7 (click a pic to expand.) (Oh the agony of those towns: Grants-Milan during a Dust-fly-up, St. Joseph, downtown Flag, Williams, Peach Springs, snaking up/down El Cajon pass, etc. let alone the single lanes per the construction of I-40!

    June 23, 2014 at 10:23 AM
    • Sandy Driscoll says:

      @BOTVLOR

      I’m a major rte 66 aficionado, and actually stayed in one of the Holbrook Wigwams 3 years ago. It was an unforgettable experience! Now I need to check out the Blue Swallow Motel!
      I’ve made some fun discoveries, mostly by driving past those signs on old Rte 66 that say ‘no outlet’. One of my favorites was an old abandoned motel, complete with torn curtains, open suitcases, clothes, shoes, etc. Took a little off road hike but it was worth it. Sadly, the following year I drove by and it had been demolished and the area sanitized. Proof positive that we need to make these sojourns when we can!

      June 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM
  • Sandy Driscoll says:

    This splendid hotel and restaurant should be on everyone’s ‘not to be missed’ list! Thanks to you, Gil, I never miss an opportunity to stay overnight on my LA-Santa Fe road trips. It’s an all encompassing fabulous experience….from the beautiful (and reasonably priced) hotel rooms, to the fabulous architecture and ambiance of the entire hotel. As Michelle (above comment) says, it is the masterpiece of famed architect, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who also had a hand in designing the lovely La Fonda hotel in Santa Fe, only at La Posada she had a hand in designing everything, from the building, gardens, and even down to the uniforms worn by the waitresses! Food is always fabulous and served in a stunning SW style room. I hope more of your readers go for the entire unforgettable experience……stay a night, enjoy the live classical guitarist outside the dining room while you have a perfect dinner (and breakfast the following morning)…..and don’t forget a self guided tour of the public rooms and art. The gift shop offers interesting and high quality things, too! http://www.laposada.org

    June 23, 2014 at 10:48 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Whoa Sandy! [Pardon, but I cannot tell from expanding your (gr)avatar a little if you be a challenging male doggie or an Alpha female on the look-out!]
    Be that as it may, Guuurr8 to hear that there is such a thing as a Rte 66 Aficionado herein! While not in that realm, Lo that I only have fuzzy images now-a-days. Please…as you didn’t indicate elsewise…take pictures of your off-road adventures. So sad that “back when” we didn’t have the cameras of today…Take a pic: Choose Save or Delete…versus the hassle of buying film and then having to develop film of days gone by, but being a thousand miles away to do a retake of a fuzzy pic!..LOL.
    My Google search for images of the twisty El Cajon Pass got zilch…what a sight it was circa ’70 crawling through construction dust of a dirt road(?) trying to keep the redglow of tail lights ahead while listening to KOB-AM being bounced off the stratosphere after dark over the roar of behemouth earth moving equipment! Looking at it today, Younguns must jaw “Ya, so?” if even that…”Duh! isn’t that how its always been?”
    ~ Only as you see fit: Anything on Farm and Table as an expansion of La Parada on Pre-’37 4th? Any thoughts/feelings about the re-opening of 4th’s 66 between Central and Tijeras?
    Nowhere else that I recall along ‘the way’ and partly why I’m in ABQ: cresting Rt. 66 as being on Central eastbound and seeing those glittery lights!!! EEEcheeWahwa!
    - Hope ya have more eateries to share.

    June 23, 2014 at 2:46 PM
    • Sandy Driscoll says:

      I live in Los Angeles, so don’t have a clue what you’re referring to with those street names. Yes, I do photograph everything……….literally. Gil can vouch for that as he’s seen many of my photos. Email me (with your name) at dobefoto@aol.com and I’ll forward some Rte 66 photos to you!

      June 23, 2014 at 4:46 PM
  • hannah says:

    Hey Botvo!

    I’ll catch you here since you’re likely to be looking…wanted to say EEEcheeWahwa and thanks to you for your strong recommend of House of Cards! Edward and I have been enjoying S1 on Netflix. What a tour de force of sleazy DC hijinks!

    Also, agreed re: that night view cresting Rte 66 facing E on W Central is one of the most spectacular ever. Makes your heart swell near to bursting!

    June 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    H&E: Glad to hear Y’all have found HoC ‘enchanting’. I can’t ever recall a movie of Spacey’s where I’ve found him likeable. His performances call forth disdain to the hilt! Casting Claire as his wife was superb!

    The problem I have with these types of Netflix series is there being a tendency to swallow ‘em whole, i.e. in one sitting, and leaving you empty for such a long time between Seasons! Lest you do not know, there will be a Season 3.

    Don’t forget House of Cards, The Trilogy per the original British version…for dessert!

    June 24, 2014 at 4:06 PM
  • Bruce says:

    Enjoyed our stay at the La Posada – really enjoyed the Turquoise Room for breakfast on Sunday morning.

    If you are zooming along on I40, in a hurry to get to your destination – DO yourself a BIG favor and slow down, exit onto business 40 through Winslow and take the time for a meal.
    Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel it’s worth a stop.
    My wife had the Corn Maidens Delight with a side of green chili potato’s and I had the Arizona Green Chili Eggs.
    Best breakfast I’ve ever had in Winslow, best in Arizona, best in the US! Probably best in the world – but I still need to check a few more places out just to be sure!

    July 29, 2014 at 11:02 AM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      I hear tell, Bruce, that it’s possible to take Amtrak to Winslow where it stops directly in back of La Posada. That would certainly alleviate the aggravation of driving one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in America.

      Did you happen to catch the recent Huffington Post declaring The Habit Burger Grill as America’s best burger from a chain? Our first meal in Santa Barbara last month was a burger from The Habit. We liked it much more than we’ve liked In-N-Out Burger, but not nearly as much as the Fatburger. My California friends consider it heretical that I don’t worship at the doors of In-N-Out Burger. Frankly I prefer a LotaBurger.

      July 29, 2014 at 12:13 PM
  • Bruce says:

    Gil, I did see the article and I am a fan of the Habit and In and Out or In and Wait as it was often referred to 20 years ago. It was primarily a drive in before indoor seating areas expanded. Tried LotaBurger a couple of times and wasn’t bowled over. I love the Buckhorn Burger and Sparky’s is at the top of my list. We try to stop every time we go through Hatch.

    July 29, 2014 at 4:37 PM
  • Sandy Driscoll says:

    OK………as a longtime resident (since 1965) of LA and lover of this blog, I have to chime in here. When I first moved to LA, Tommy’s
    was the infamous burger spot. I tried it, and actually thought it was pretty good. I was young and my culinary tastes hadn’t reached their peak.

    People here call it “Ptomaine Tommy’s” and for good reason. A few months ago, I tried it again and tossed most of it out. Yuck! Really awful slimy chili. I don’t know anyone here who has good taste in food who would consider stopping there. That said, there’s stilll a long line at their stand all hours of the day and night.
    Go figure!

    July 29, 2014 at 5:01 PM
  • If you want a Red Chile Burger, go to LRHH says:

    If you want a tasty burger with red chile (what Texas style chile wishes it was), try Little Red Hamburger Hut on Mountain, not too far from Old Town. A bit expensive, but pretty darn good.

    July 30, 2014 at 8:52 AM
  • Edward Sung says:

    Well, I can’t in good conscience defend Tommy’s on culinary grounds, but I will say that the Tommy Burger has held a special place in my heart since childhood, when I visited L.A. in the late 70s and my Uncle Steve took me to Tommy’s (the Rampart location, natch).

    What can I tell you. Fine dining this is not. You get your big sloppy burger, fish some jalapeño peppers out of a metal prep bin full of dead fruit flies, go across the street to lean against the long shelf/table, and go to town. The chili I’m fairly certain hasn’t ever actually been replaced — I personally think they just keep adding more chili to the pot — and that’s what makes it special.

    It’s not what anyone in their right mind would call a high quality repast, but it’s one of those so-bad-it’s-good experiences that every foodie has somewhere in their eating history.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got your In-n-Out burger. These burgers are definitely polarizing and I can totally understand not being bowled over by them. The selling point of In-n-Out is freshness — fresh ground beef, fresh lettuce and tomato, freshly-cut french fries. It’s basically the angel to Tommy’s devil, the only burger that Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”) will let his kids eat. It doesn’t mean In-n-Out is necessarily a tastier burger, but it is a good example of that style just as Tommy’s is a good example of a dive burger bar.

    August 1, 2014 at 3:20 AM

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