Retro Roadhusband called and asked me to remind him of the places where we tried to eat two lunches within minutes of each other when we were in California. How could he forget Tito’s Tacos or Johnnie’s Pastrami? They practically rhyme!
We got a tip from a Retro Roadmap reader about Tito’s so off we went. Even though the cheery sign made me think they were a 1970s restaurant, they’ve actually been here since since 1959. The small parking lot was filled and people were lined up at the windows outside, but we had been hepped to step inside to order.
I’m glad we stepped inside the brown block building, as we didn’t know the menu or the lay of the land at first. But we dove in and with the tips from our Retro Roadmap readers, ordered our lunch “almost” like pros. Here are a few tips we can share with you.
- The menu (as you can see below) is limited, which will make your decision making easier.
- Cash only
- The lines are a bit confusing, but basically, you order from one person then step aside. That same person gets your food order together, then you pay them when they give you your food
- There is seating outside out front on picnic tables, inside, or out back.
We were surprised to see that the tacos were served in a hard crispy shell - American style, and had no idea our order would come overflowing with chips. We weren’t complaining – and were glad that we were told to order extra salsa!
Can you tell that we ordered our tacos With Cheese?
Despite the tacos not being anything that we had been expecting, they were pretty tasty, and the salsa was nice and refreshing. We got 3 tacos to split between the two of us, and had we known about the chips, and how big the tacos were, we might have ordered less. Granted we could have eaten less, but when have we ever been known to do that?
As an aside, if you read the online reviews of Tito’s people seem to love ‘em or hate ‘em – but if you’re in the area and know what to expect, give it a shot and make your own decision! We’d go back again for sure
Tito’s Tacos (WATCH OUT BEFORE YOU CLICK THE LINK- LOUD MUSIC BEGINS IMMEDIATELY, GRRR!!)
OK so we thought we were “eating light” at Tito’s when ordering just 3 tacos to split between the two of us, as the plan was to also go over to Johnnie’s Pastrami to round out our lunch. Well the only thing being rounded out on this trip were our bellies!
Johnnie’s is kitty-corner from Tito’s, and the short walk around the corner wasn’t enough to even make a dent in our appetite.
It’s a dilemma that often happens when we’re Retro Roadmapping – trying to cram in too many places and too many meals in too short a time, so we can report back to you folks to give you options, so you can choose where you’d want to go in the area. Especially on these long distance trips, where we never know when we’ll be back again, we start out with small portions and good intentions, and end up groaning with aching bellies. Ah, the rough life of a Retro Roadmapper! But if I gain a few pounds in order to let you guys know about the neat places to go, so be it. I’m almost at muumuu wearing age anyways
Being balmy California there are a number of seating options at Johnnie’s – inside, outside at the covered tables near the fire pit, or outside underneath the rad retro metal umbrellas. We opted for inside, though the screens were in the windows making for a nice breeze.
Johnnie’s has been a landmark here since 1952, and is also known for being a place to get a late night bite (and a beer!) as they’re open ’til 3:30am.
Plenty of diner style food on the menu, coordinating nicely with the dinery decor inside. They get a thumbs up from Mod Betty for having crinkle cut fries, I’, totally a sucker for those. But with limited time and limited stomach space we got… pastrami! Split the sandwich and still it was massive.
There were complimentary pickles on the table, and a spicy mustard to add a kick to the sandwich, but that was too spicy for me! It was a tasty sandwich, even for me, and I’m not a bit pastrami fan. Though the sandwich specialists may quibble about their fave sandwich joint, I say Johnnie’s is totally Retro Roadmap worthy.
As a funny aside, we can’t have been the first folks who attempted to eat at Tito’s and Johnnie’s in one visit. We were totally outed by our uber-friendly waitress, and at first we had no idea how she knew! Did we have salsa stains on our shirts? The fact that we could barely finish one sandwich between the two of us? Jalapeno breath?!
Nope, Encyclopedia Brown, it all came down to when we had to pay. Like Tito’s, Johnnie’s is Cash Only. Unbeknownst to me when Retro Roadhusband got his change at Tito’s he got a half dollar coin. When he paid the bill (gentlman that he is) at Johnnie’s, he used that fifty cent piece. The waitress said that Tito’s always uses the coins – so we fessed up, and told her that’s why we could not finish our sandwich.
Crazy thing? While we were positively aching because we were so full as we hobbled back to our car, I could totally go for a taco or pastrami sandwich right now!
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