Hi there, new poster checking in. A quick search of my general location reveals threads bemoaning the general lack of good food in the AV. I thought I would check in and recommend some of my AV gems and hopefully seek other great places and people. :)
Mexican: For taqueria-style dining, I recommend Sammy's on Sierra Hwy, housed in a former Del Taco (my Mom worked in that particular location in the 70s). The house special is the Carlos burrito, a smothered style burrito. I have not sampled it myself, but use the bean and cheese burrito as my yardstick of Mexican fast food. Go on Wednesdays or Saturdays when the tortillas are fresh. The salsa verde is to die for and is handmade, and the beans are laden with lard like the Good Lord intended. Sammy himself is sometimes in on the weekend but has mostly turned the operation over to his family. The drinks are a little overpriced; however 10 bucks gets my husband and I two B&C burritos and 4 carne asada tacos (and is the only meal I need all day).
I read an earlier LA area thread lamenting the "LA style" carne asada burritos with beans and rice; I'm sorry SD folks but that's how they serve 'em at Sammy's, too. Very delicious, half of one fills me up. My only complaint about Sammy's is no Negro Modela, and the occasional spottiness of the food quality. Again, go later in the week, and grab a Tecate or a Corona instead.
For sit down Mexican, El Toreo is decent but once again I point the AV foodie to Sierra Hwy. to Nico's. Really folks - the hookers won't bite, unless you pay 'em. ;) Good eats and cheap cheap cheap! The Rusten House (K and 20th W) used to be the family standard but seems like it hasn't stood the test of time the past few times I've visited.
For Japanese I recommend Big Tuna in Palmdale, located in the Trader Joe's shopping center on 10th W. The sushi is excellent; I recommend the crunch roll (tempura shrimp in a California roll with eel sauce) and the veggie roll. On the dinner menu, about $15 will snag you a bento box with tempura, sashimi, nigiri, rice, salad and a potsticker, with miso soup before hand and a scoop of ice cream after. The service is always spectacular, with around a dozen waitstaff working a room of no more than 60 (best guess). Things get rowdy on Saturday night around 9-10 PM at the bar, so drink some sake and be ready for antics by your itamae!
I hear great things about Miso's in Lancaster as well, but the Big Tuna ain't broke, so I haven't fixed it. However, the opinions I have heard come from sources I trust. I keep meaning to go there but I would feel so disloyal to the mighty Tuna.
For sandwiches and the like, take a trip to Littlerock and head to the Valley Hungarian Sausage & Meat place on Pearblossom. Great pastrami, and I always pick up some fresh homemade andouille while I am there to make my great big pot of jambalaya. All sorts of meats, sausages, cheeses, spices (great paprika to be had here!) and other miscellany are up for grabs. If you're the two-wheeling type, it's the perfect stop after a long day in the canyons and on the dam. Old standard Charlie Brown's is up the street for date shakes and jerky.
As far as Thai goes though I despair of finding a decent place. Thai Garden (now Salatip Thai on K and 20th W) always had great food but very poor service. Thai Cafe on Palmdale Blvd. (by Sizzler) had pretty much the same story - great food, terrible service. Any recs for Thai would be greatly appreciated.
There was already a thread on Korea Kitchen, I will only add that I've loved the food and the service has always been stellar.
Sadly Italian in the area seems to suffer, with old standbys Gino's/Barone's not good for much else beside pizza - sadly, I have to resort to chains for my Italian cravings (I prefer Johnny Carino's over Olive Garden, however). If anyone knows of better Italian in the AV, I'd love a rec.!
Hope to hear from some desert denizens!