My dad was stationed in Daggett for a while, and there was a little place called Joy’s outside of Barstow. So here’s the scene: About 1972 or 1973. Mojave Desert. 110º outside. There’s a little structure with nothing nearby, that I can remember. It had a screen door with a wooden frame and one of those long springs to shut it. <creeeeeeek>… <WHOP!whopwhop> Inside, a swamp cooler made it comfortable. There’s a counter, but no booths. I’m spending the Summer with dad, riding motorcycles and swimming in the pool at the airport; and Joy’s is a nice treat. ‘Joy’ made the absolute BEST cheeseburgers on the planet. I’ve no idea what she did. She had a flat grill, and she seasoned the meat out of large shakers. Probably just salt and pepper, but try as I might I’ve never been able to make a burger like Joy’s. A bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayonnaise, beef and cheese. But there was something special about hers. And she made a macaroni and cheese salad I’ve never seen anywhere else. Dad transferred to Lancaster, and Joy closed the diner to take care of her ailing mother. Three and a half decades, and I still remember it.
Another good burger place was Kitty Hawk Café, at Santa Monica Airport. Huge, greasy, ground chuck. MAN, those were good! They closed, and a new place took over. It’s called The Spitfire Grill now. (The writer of the movie The Spitfire Grill had his office above the diner, and he used the name for the story.) They must have cleaned the grill or something, as their burgers weren’t as good as Kitty Hawk Café’s.
There was a café at the airport at California City whose burgers weren’t especially good. Certainly nowhere near as good as Joy’s or Kitty Hawk’s. Heck any number of chain burgers are better. But they tasted like a picnic. Sometimes a ‘picnic burger’ is just the ticket. It burned down, and I never got the chance to go back after it was rebuilt.