I was raised in Victorville and the rare post about options in the high desert seem to need a little update so I thought I might make some suggestions to the poor desert trapped chowhound.
Japanese/Sushi restaurant on 7th street (the main street through town) just South of the Fairgrounds This place is one of my favorite restaurants. I always sit at the sushi bar and always order omakase and have never been disappointed. I have seen others order off the menu and I silently think they would be happier if they let the sushi chef decide. The High Desert, I am sure, is not the best option for sushi but I would gladly reccommend to even experienced sushi lovers. I particularly like nigiri sushi and have been offered a range of options. The last time I was in (last week) one of the nigiri options I received was a seared kobe beef slice served in this style and it was delicious grilled beefy taste but with the texture as soft as raw fish. Perfect with the wasabi and rice. The other offerings I had included tuna and mackerel. The mackerel was either very fresh or something because it had no unpleasant oily taste. It was great. There were lots of other delicious offerings last time I was there notable examples were: Several small (3 inch) whole fish dried or fried crispy outside but with a chewy texture eaten whole, uni which tasted great (this is my second time eating uni and it tasted fresh like the sea), a salad for lack of a better term made with fried strips of fish skin with other vegatable offerings (one of the previous times I had fried fish skin squares that were delicious, not fishy, crispy and tasty), I have had a huge range of interesting kinds of fish, squid octopus and haven't ever had anything offered that I didn't think was great. For your reference I don't love every sushi for sushi sake, I won't abide the Costco sushi tray, or any number of other sushi offerings available in the high desert (all of the others I have tried I won't be back to). I feel like when I am eating at Tatsuki I am getting an authentic high version of sushi that would rival most other sushi in California and I hope to find out for sure but I don't get to LA often enough and even less to sushi when I am there (wish me a raise). I feel urgent about Tatsuki too since I don't feel like enough of the locals appreciate the gem that they have and some day I will go to find it closed down. So I can't urge you enough to go when you get the chance to subsidize my experience at least. I might add that the prices are very reasonable too.
Thai Restaurant on Main Street in Hesperia. I have eaten Thai in cities all over the US and have been eating it for ten years and this place holds its own against the best of them. Mind you it in no Lotus of Siam, no regional cuisine prepared with authenticity as the ultimate goal. The menu consists of the familiar items but every item from the menu I have had there is a very good version. I have had the green curry, the pineapple curry, the basil duck, basil fried rice, pineapple fried rice, pad thai, papaya salad, all of the items in the appetizer menu and scores of other items and they are reliably nice clean well prepared versions of each of the offerings. I must recommend the mango sticky rice. It is a simple nice dessert of ripe mango sliced along side perfectly cooked long grains of jasmine rice in a sweet sticky syrup and garnished with toasted sesame seeds. I had never had sesame seeds on mango sticky rice but it adds a toasted nutty flavor that elevates this sticky rice to one of my all time best dishes.
Just South of Main Street in Hesperia on Hesperia Road (there is no simple turn you have to take side roads to get onto Hesperia Road from Main Street) but it is worth it because the tamales here have always been and are still excellent. There is not alot of room for eating in house but a table usually opens up quickly. If you are on a quest to find the perfect tamale this is worth the trek because these tamales may well be the best you can get anywhere around.
Just east of the freeway on Amargosa Road in the Shopping Center with the giant Vallarta SuperMercado and the Movie Theater there are a few places where you can get good food without having to break down and eat at the Chains just up the street by the Mall. If you are just driving through at dinner time and don't want to go far from the freeway this place is perfect. You can get on and off the freeway and back just as easliy as the chain places you can see but you won't have to wait 45 minutes to be seated and you can have food that you won't have forgotten eating the next day. This shopping center boasts La Fonda which has great seafoood dishes and when you order the rice and beans get lard based frijoles with tasy cheese melted on top and a freshly fried, glistening with grease, chicharone perched on top. The food doesn't come across as greasy or heavy just tasty authentic Mexican food with soul. The Vallarta supermarket also boasts a food court that can impress the average mexican food consumer with the variety and versions of the dishes offered. Plus the butcher case, cheese departments, and bakery are all great assets to the high desert community. Also in this shopping center is a gelato place that looks great but I haven't eaten at yet but I encourage anyone who knows gelato to try and report back. All of this to get to Pho Van. If one trip is any indication the food here is great. I made my kids order what I wanted and tried several dishes so I could get a better idea but the food was great. My pho had all of the characteristics mentioned on this board for good Pho, tasty rich broth, all of the accompaniments, good noodles and meat the was perfectly cooked just beyond raw. I had a version with tendons and tripe and my kids even liked it though I waited till after I had their opinions before I let them know what it was. They also have a large menu of boba drinks and I have to admit I think I enjoyed them more than my kids (what is wrong with them?)
One last recommendation but I am already planning a follow up post since my patience with typing this out is shorter tham my recommendations list but...
You can eat at one of the generic chain Italian food restaurants with food frozen and shipped from some central warehouse or you can sacrifice and drive the distance for some truly satisfying Italian food on Hwy 18 in Apple Valley. It is a few miles out but it is worth the extra few minutes. The entrance to this restaurant boasts a nice little deli to keep you drooling over tasty meats and cheeses while you wait and when you are seated you can sample some of the wares with your appetizers. The food is good wholesome red sauce Italian. You get large portions of food the chains could never accomplish in a comfortable atmosphere. And you can feel good that your money isn't going to some mega corporation intent on homogenizing the tastes of the consumer.
I hope to post some more soon.
Until them this should get you started.
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