It Just Ain’t The Same

Yesterday we went to Grand Junction so Amethyst could spend ten or fifteen minutes telling the doc who hacked her heart that she’s doing fine. It’s a long darn trip just for that, but I guess it needs doing when you’ve had your heart hacked. The doc is fun, anyway. She’s a nerdy chick who reminds me of some of the really great technicians I’ve known, and the news that everything is just hunky-dorical made her all kinds of happy. It’s always a good time to be around someone who’s very happy. On the way out, Amethyst told her that if she ever gets to Dinkytown to give a call, and I’ll feed her. I tried to transmit via telepathy “STFU!” but the message got scrambled, I guess, because the next thing out of her mouth was something about tequila-lime chicken.

Afterward we went to a Japanese restaurant that had just closed for that period between lunch and dinner. We weren’t of a mind to sit around in the parking lot waiting for them to reopen, so we ended up at Carl’s Jr. Oh joy. Fast feed. I am not a fan of fast feed. I like burgers and fries and all just fine, but fast feed joints don’t make them like they’re proud of the stuff they’re giving you to jam into your maw. There’s a meat market/custom processing joint here in Dinkytown that makes a damn fine burger with beef they grind themselves, the kind that’s just meat and fat and no pink slime, no fillers, binders, preservatives, food coloring, flavor enhancers, or bits of gravel. I like their burgers. The stuff that comes out of fast feed chains? Nah, I can live without that. Anyway, there we were.

And of course Amethyst pointed out to me that there’s the Green Burrito menu. I said to her, “No, that’s not the Green Burrito menu. That’s the Carl’s Junior menu”. The enormous woman behind the counter looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head and it wasn’t human.

I remember Carl’s Jr. from a long time ago when Carl Karcher’s fourth Carl’s Jr. restaurant was in my hometown, and from time to time you could actually see Carl there. I remember when they got their first chain broiler to replace the previous char-rock broilers they had before — a chain broiler is, well, shucks, the thing you can see in use at Carl’s or Burger King now. A conveyor takes the frozen patties in one side, and dumps the cooked patties out the other. Prior to that, Carl’s Jr. restaurants had plain old char-rock broilers, and the meat was flipped by a guy with a spatula. I thought, when Carl was showing his manager and another employee how to work the chain broiler, that it was a cool contraption. On the next visit when it was in use, I thought they should send the thing back and go back to the old way that produced a better tasting burger.

I also remember the Green Burrito. It was over the county line in Hawaiian Gardens, CA and owned by a guy named Ed something. The food was really very good, then. I don’t recall ever seeing a Hawaiian in Hawaiian Gardens — it’s a barrio. You’ve got to know what you’re doing to sell Mexican food in a barrio, and Ed knew what he was doing. His signature dish was the Big Ed burrito, a great monster of a thing contained in two large flour tortillas as one wouldn’t have had a chance of holding it all. It weighed something like three pounds. They were good, too. I didn’t often get them, but when I was really, really hungry I’d get one and have them cut it in half for me so I could save the second half for the next day. Here’s the original building:



Of course it was called The Green Burrito when I knew it, before Carl’s bought it. Not a big place at all, but it was always busy and with good reason.

It used to be that if you arranged it in advance, you could win $300 for eating three Big Ed burritos in an hour without hurling. I don’t know how anyone could survive that. The gluttons I knew couldn’t eat one without great misery afterward. A skinny girl did it… I don’t need to tell the story because I found a photo that does just fine:


Gawd. If I were to stuff nine pounds of burrito down my gullet I’d have to spend the thousand dollars at the emergency room afterward.

I sat there yesterday at the not the Carl’s Jr. I remembered, being disappointed in the burger, and at the weak and even insulting imitation of the Green Burrito that they’re doing… Damn, that makes me officially old, I think. I heard an order being called out to the kitchen, something about taquitos. They were flautas when Ed owned the joint, as they should be.

I mostly quit going to the Green Burrito not long before I met Amethyst. As I said, Hawaiian Gardens was the barrio, and as I’ve said before, the barrio is not a great place for a pinche gringo like myself to hang around. I was kinda sorta dating a girl who lived there, in Hawaiian Gardens, and the manager of her apartment building taught me how to sprint. By shooting at me. It’s amazing how fast you can run when a fat Mexican in jockey shorts and a bathrobe is popping off at you with a .38 revolver. Later, when I went back to get my car, the LA county sheriff’s department was lying in wait for me. I got my car started and punched it down that street without turning the headlights on, then all of a sudden there was a patrol car with the overhead lights on blocking the street. We almost wrecked, then he hauled me out of the car at gunpoint. Once he satisfied himself and his pig buddies that I didn’t need to be arrested, I asked him what he was going to do about the guy shooting at me. He asked the neighbors if anyone had heard gunshots… of course no one had. 😀 So he told me, “What I’m going to do about it, young man, is to suggest that you never come back into this neighborhood again”.

Sound advice, that was. 

When I got out of the Air Force I found out that someone had bought The Green Burrito and opened more of them. There was one in my home town, all nicely white breaded by being placed in a strip mall next door to a Radio Shack. The menu was the same, though, so I was happy enough to go there every now and then.

It’s nowhere near the same since Carl’s bought it. It’s just… well, crap. I tried something from their menu when we were living in Las Vegas, and it was just crap. It was imitation Mexican, made for gringos. Like Taco Bell. I wonder why Carl Karcher Enterprises bothered to buy out the company, since so few knew the name and the menu was going to go to shit anyway. I guess I’m not much of one for business-like thinking.

According to wikipedia, they’ve stuffed the same menu under the name Red Burrito into Hardee’s. So I guess that means that now people all over the country can be disappointed.

Oh wow, it’s Friday. Time to start another quart of hot sauce! Life is good when you know how to work it. 🙂



One thought on “It Just Ain’t The Same

  1. sistermae

    I don’t care for Carl’s Jr if I am going to have fast food it will be a taco shack of some sorts if possible…I am happy the appointment went well


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