Iâ€™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 Yakima, Washington.
Greetings from Yakima, Washington
N 46Â° 33.9885′ W 120Â° 28.9558′ Elev. 988 feet
I first visited Minerâ€™s Drive-In shortly after midnight. I presumed theyâ€™d already closed and the lights were just about to be turned off. As it happened the dining room didnâ€™t close until 1:30 a.m. that night; 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Iâ€™d never been here before and was charmed by itâ€™s well-kept funkiness. The place as been here in various forms since it opened in 1948, and is still owned and operated by it namesakes, the Miner family.
I was sort of taken aback by the prices at first. It seemed a little pricey for a hamburger even though theyâ€™re actually priced about the same as Five Guys. There wasnâ€™t much else open so I figured Iâ€™d bite the bullet and see how the burgers were. I ordered a Cheese Burger ($5.85) with everything. Much to my surprise Minersâ€™ burgers are whoppers â€” bigger than a WhopperÂ®!
It seemed to be a half-pound patty, served on a sesame seed bun with two slices of cheese, lettuce and onion, dressed with mayonnaise and a touch of ketchup. Not only are the burgers weighty, theyâ€™re also bigger around than my face. It must be eight inches around. Itâ€™s huge.
The first one I got came with three slices of tomato. The last one, however, didnâ€™t; tomatoes can be added for 75Â¢. Quite frankly I donâ€™t remember if I had them add tomato to the first one or not. Maybe they just screwed up â€¦ or liked my visage. I may have ordered them as I was pretty tired, extremely hungry and incapable of caring.
In retrospect I wish Iâ€™d added tomatoes to the second one because they really enhanced the homeyness of the burger. Although I put some of their 1000 Island Dressing-ish french fry sauce on the second one, it wasnâ€™t quite as good as the first. Still, it was a hell of a meal for the price.
I went back the next day (after the second one) because I wanted to try their Bar-B-Q Beef. I was hoping it would be in the style of the now-defunct Spikeâ€™s Shack of Ritzville, Washington and, hopefully, just as good. Sadly, it wasnâ€™t the nostalgic wet dream of Spikeâ€™s I was hoping for.
By the way, previously unbeknownst to moi Spikeâ€™s is still there but itâ€™s now called â€œSpikeâ€™s Deli & Pizza,â€ and is located inside the Cow Creek Mercantile. I discovered this through the miracle that is the InterTubes. My gut feeling is that it was better before, when it was still in a poorly painted shack at the edge of an unpaved parking lot at the crossroads to There and The Other There (also recognizable as Interstate 80 and US 395). But whoâ€™s to know?
The Bar-B-Q Beef from Minerâ€™s, while quite good, didnâ€™t have the same humble funk and pizzazz as the ones from the early â€˜80s Spikeâ€™s. Minerâ€™s Bar-B-Q Beef ($6.70) consisted of a couple of slices of roast beef, warmed on the griddle, served on one of their mammoth sesame seed buns, with lettuce and onion and, in addition to the requisite barbecue sauce, mayonnaise. Iâ€™m recognizing a Minerâ€™s pattern here: shredded iceberg lettuce, white onion, mayonnaise â€¦.
They cut the sandwich in half and tuck each portion in what looks like coffee filters. I wondered about this at first. After biting into it, however, it made perfect sense. It was a smart move that saved much laundering.
I havenâ€™t quite figured this place out. They must make something that will set my soul afire. I suspect Iâ€™ll find what it is eventually as Iâ€™ll be coming here a lot.
A couple of curious things about the place: One is that it was originally called Minerâ€™s In-N-Out Hamburgers. Minerâ€™s was founded the same year as Inâ€¢Nâ€¢Out Burgers. I wonder if trademark lawsuits ensued? Minerâ€™s dropped the In-N-Out from its signage for whatever reason.
Another is that Minerâ€™s signage used to tout â€œOn A Sesame Seed Bun.â€ Being as Minerâ€™s and McDonaldâ€™s were also both founded in 1948, I wonder: Did they run afoul of Ray Kroc and his legal-minded minions? Minerâ€™s doesnâ€™t flog sesame seed buns anymore.
These and many other questions remain unanswered. Like, Why the hell is Yakima billed as the Palm Springs of Washington? And, Why is it spelled â€œYakimaâ€ while the Native American tribe from which itâ€™s name is derived spell it â€œYakamaâ€? Inquiring minds want to know.
And so we roll.
Minerâ€™s Drive-In, 2415 S. 1st Street, Yakima, Washington
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.