With the holidays coming up, you're likely to find me in the Central Valley visiting friends and family, as well as a few dives.
The Modesto area, in particular, has its fair share of dives that, if not supported, would fall to the restaurant chains that predominate the area. These dives include the taco trucks on Crows Landing Road, the funky ethnic dives and donut shops on Yosemite, and tons of burger joints and drive-ins that date back to the 1950s and 60s.
Or an original A&W with rollerskate-wearing teenage carhop service.
One of my favorite dives is a place on Scenic Road called Scenic Drive-In.
If you have to ask "what's so scenic about this place?", look no further than down the street where there's a huge cemetary. Knowing this, someone with poor taste in humor might pose the question about where the meat for Scenic Drive-In's burgers comes from, and that someone, obviously, is me.
However, I'll refrain, since bad jokes about the dead and cannabalism only has so much mileage – and I'm saving the really gross stuff for the holiday dinner table.
Like Beep's Burger in San Francisco, this place is strictly a drive-in where you walk up to the window, hear someone ask if they can help you (you usually can't see them through the window), place your order, and then wait to be called. Unlike Beep's, Scenic has a small, covered area to the side with thrashed wooden picnic tables where you can eat or wait to hear your name called out on a loud speaker that's so distorted and full of feedback, it makes Lou Reed's seminal classic, Metal Machine Music, sound like a Queen midi file.
However, once called, you won't be sorry.
Scenic's main contender in the burger TKO fight is a heavyweight named the Knock Out Burger. For $5.00 you get a grilled burger with cheese, bacon, avocado...shit, you can read the sign.
Sure, I know a lot of folks make big claims about their burgers and I'm sure you're use to seeing all kinds of weird combinations. I have faith that you, my readers, are just as jaded and cynical as I am, so it's good to know we're on the same page.
This burger is the bomb. Words cannot describe how good it is. The burger and cheese (you know what I'm talking about), the lettuce, the avocado putting a little high-calorie creaminess to it, the hotness of the jalapeno peppers (muy caliente), and the bacon – enough said.
With Scenic Drive-In in the area, it is unconscionable to eat at McDonalds, Wendy's, or (yes) even In-N-Out.
In-N-Out? Momma said Knock YOU Out.
I'm gonna Knock you Out.
I'll be counting the days until I see this place again.