Who knew that you could get decent food in Gila Bend?
For those of you not familiar with the trip from Phoenix to San Diego, Gila Bend is a very small community along the way that most people use to stop for gas and a rest room--essentially a wide spot in the road before you get to I-8. It's also home of Desert Sweet Shrimp. I travel frequently on business to Yuma, AZ, so I'm through Gila Bend pretty regularly.
Today, however, was the first time I hit Gila Bend with my stomach, rather than my gas tank, running on empty. Since my traveling companion and I are not really keen on chains or fast food, we decided to give the Outer Limits Restaurant at the Space Age Lodge a try.
The parking lot was still relatively full when we arrived around 1:30 pm. We were seated very promptly and acknowledged even before we got past the first rack of space themed tkotchkies in the "gift shop," a small collection of display racks.
The decor is space themed, as you can expect, and the place is clean and sunny. My traveling companion usually makes a quick assessment of the salad bar to decide how clean the kitchen might be, and this one passed muster.
After perusing the somewhat limited menu, we decided to pass on the Mexican food (the sign says they serve Mexican and American food) and ordered chicken fried steak and the broaster fried quarter chicken. My companion had the salad bar; I had the vegetable soup.
The salad bar was small, but had the basics and a couple interesting things. There was pasta salad, cole slaw, potato salad, a choice of mixed lettuces or romaine, parmesan cheese, really nice beets, baby corn, and some fruit choices. The ingredients looked fresh and well maintained.
The soup was clearly made there--definitely not canned. There were huge chunks of potato in the rustic soup, and it was a generous serving.
The chicken fried steak was nicely battered and fried, not too greasy. The meat was pretty standard. The red mashed potatoes were a nice surprise since they are listed as "whipped" on the menu. We were both expecting boxed potatoes. My companion ended up asking for both the brown and white gravies on the side, both of which were just fine.
The broasted fried chicken was fantastic--very moist and well seasoned, not greasy at all. The fried crust was crisp and didn't just come off in one piece--it integrated well with the chicken meat. I'm a big fan of this one.
Our server was very attentive and kept our drinks refilled. She even provided me with a diet coke to go at the end.
All in all, it was a very pleasant surprise to find a decent place to eat in Gila Bend. I guess we'll slow down a little more frequently driving through.