I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Lemoore, California.

Greetings from Lemoore, California
N 35° 18.0434’ W 119° 46.067’ Elev. 233 ft.

This is nuts!

Once again I was directed to a restaurant I would never have found in a million years were it not for a recommendation by a guy in a shipping office. And the place is nuts!

If you can tell me where I can get an 8 oz. T-bone steak, three eggs, home fries, and coffee for, say, five bucks, I’d love to hear about it. I’ll wait.

If you told me such a place existed I’d say either it’s some crappy casino special or the food is inedible garbage or, much more likely, you’re nuts! But such a place exists. It’s called Ethel Reds Chophouse, and the food is great!

Ethel Reds is tucked away in a corner of Lemoore only locals, lodgers at the motels across the street or the lost would visit. And all of their 3-egg breakfasts — Ham, Bacon, Sausage, Chorizo, Linguica, and the aforementioned T-bone — are $5. Five bucks! They also offer five kinds of omelettes.

The rest of their lunch and dinner fare are likewise insanely priced. It’s nuts!

I wasn’t that hungry when I went in for breakfast and was totally blown away when I saw the prices. Although I probably should’ve ordered the T-bone (I’m not that much of a steak guy), I ordered the ham, mostly because the lady who took my order said it was more fun. She was probably nuts.

The ham was a grilled bone-in slice, not too salty, with a nice smoky flavor. The eggs were perfectly cooked and the home fries were big chunks of potatoes with a few bits of onion and green bell pepper mixed in. The toast appeared to be half of a giant biscuit that was toasted on the griddle. All of it was seriously great. It was so much food that I couldn’t finish it all.

Next time I go — there will be a next time! — I’m definitely going to go in hungry and get the T-bone. I saw one on a guy’s plate as I was leaving — he couldn’t finish it — and it looked absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious. In fact, I think I’ll go in extra hungry and get an order of homemade onion rings ($1.59), too. What the hell? At these prices ….

Ethel Reds is a really casual place. And the way they take the breakfast and lunch orders is kind of cool, and very smart: You order at a counter and pay when you first walk in, grab your silverware and then go find a seat. When your order is ready the server brings it out, calls your number and you flag them down. It’s a highly efficient system that eliminates the need for menus, extra trips for the servers, and the opportunity for people to dine-and-dash during busy/hectic times.

As I was about to leave, while taking pictures of the menu board, a guy struck up a conversation with me. When he learned what I did for a living he said something that I’d never, ever heard anyone say before: “Thank you for delivering to us.” I was so dumbstruck that I didn’t know what to say. I was truly touched and impressed by this because here was a guy who truly “gets it.” He understood that there is very little anyone eats, drinks or owns that a bunch of schmucks like yours truly didn’t deliver. Like they say, “If you bought it, a truck brought it.” That’s why I’d like to now say to that guy, “You’re very welcome.”

I’ve picked up 44,319.4 lbs. loads of Pizza Hut cheese many times in Lemoore. It kind of bums me out that after all these years I’ve only now learned of Ethel Reds. Previously I was always kind of bummed out by the scarcity of decent food available to me in this gleaming San Joaquin Valley megalopolis. But no more!

I later thanked the guy who recommended Ethel Reds. When I remarked about the prices — “They’re nuts!” — he told me that the reason behind them is pure vengeance.

Years ago, he said, the owner of Ethel Reds did some remodeling without the proper permits and was turned in by the owner of the restaurant across the street. In retribution, Ethel Reds started offering all this great food at these insanely low prices.

Judging by the pronounced paucity of patrons across the street the revenge pricing appears to be working like a charm. There was indeed a discernible dearth of diners there; at first I thought it was closed. Perhaps being a restaurateur and a wannabe Code Enforcement Officer isn’t really a good mix business-wise. In fact, you might say “It’s nuts!”

And so we roll.

Ethel Reds Chophouse, 850 East D St., Lemoore, California

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

About The Author

Tio Wally

Tio Wally is pilot emeritus of the 75-foot, 40-ton land yacht SS Me So Hungry. Now a committed landlubber, he reports on food wherever he is whenever his fancy strikes.

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