Whoa Nellie Deli at the Tioga Mobile Gas Station, Hwy 120 and 395. I got this tip from this board, a message written in 2002. So I convinced our group of 12 to drive from Mammoth Lakes to this place for dinner. But it was tough with 11 people saying, "Gas Station?" and myself not too convinced.
We arrived on a hot sunday late afternoon, and indeed it was a working gas station. Outside there was a lawn area with picknic tables. We entered pass the CHP officers and Harley mommas and pappas, into a regular gas station mini-mart selling cheesy gifts. At the back of the mini-mart was the restaurant. The first sign of something different was the large menu overhead. I don't have the paper menu with me, but there are items you certainly don't see at any gas station mini-mart, items like lobster taquitos, T-bone steak, baby back ribs, grilled duck, halibut, etc., etc.
The drill is simple. You line up and order at the counter. Then you wait in front of the kitchen window for you name to be called. When you get your food you can sit either inside or outside. The food came out fast and furious. So be prepared least someone else took yours.
And the food, well!!! It's not high end gourmet, but damn they are very good. Among the 12 of us we ordered fish tacos, lobster taquitos, green salad, halibut, T-bone steak, pork tenderloin, baby back ribs, seared Ahi tuna, and the duck special (probably a couple of other dishes I don't remember). The portions were huge. The duck was a half duck. The salad was this wonderful bed of green with mango chudney. The halibut was this wonderful large piece of perfectly grilled fish, served with mash potatos and spaghetti squash. Even the cheeseburger was a half pound of Angus beef.
And the prices were more than reasonable. I don't think there was anything over $20, even the duck special. Me and my wife had the fish tacos, lobster taquitos, green salad, and drinks. And it was $27 total.
Complaints? Just a very few. I wish the fish in the tacos were grilled, not fried. They don't provide bread. But the portions are huge, so there really is no need.
So if you are within 50 miles of Lee Vining, you've got to go to this place. They also serve breakfast and lunch. I saw on the menu some very fine sounding sandwiches. Unfortunately we only have time for one meal. But I can see how some people will go back time and again.
They have a web site. The chef's name is Matt Toomey. That's all I can think of right now. But next time I am driving down 395 or coming out of Tioga Pass, I have a place for dinner (or breakfast or lunch).