I will be upfront, I am a fan erring slightly on rabid of In-N-Out Burger. I don’t know what they put in those bad boy burgers, but I flip for them. During a very dark time in my life, I went to In-N-Out about 3-4x a week thanks to its easy walking distance from our first apartment in Mountain View. At the time, I had no friends in the area, no car and the main drag of Mountain View (a small town about 10 minutes from Stanford University/Palo Alto) pretty much shut down at 9pm. The Partner was during his residency and unless he was home for the evening, cooking for one seemed sad and lonely. So I would walk the 7 minutes down the road to In-N-Out and order a cheese burger, fries and a shake. Surprisingly, I didn’t balloon up like a puffer fish during that year, but I did come to respect what good company The Partner was over meals and that I had an unhealthy love affair with America’s favorite food product.
Flash forward 6 years and I have fallen in love again with a burger joint for similar reasons. Gott’s Roadside is a food institution in St. Helena and one of the few places to get food after 8pm in the town. I won’t call it cheap or fast, but it does hit the metaphorical spot after a long day of doing problem sets and reading why we all will be getting cancer thanks to the pesticides used in modern farming. Gott’s or Taylor’s Automatic as some of the local’s still call it (you can read about the whole name fiasco here) is the idealistic vision of what a road side burger stand should be. It’s cute, quaint, has a walk-up window, manicured back lawns and serves up pretty good burgers and fries.
The catch? I seriously think I may need to take out another student loan since a burger, fries and soda will easily set you back $13-18 bucks. If you substitute their world-class shakes for the soda you are now looking closer to $20-21 PER PERSON.
Yes, people, $21 bucks for a road side burger meal! This is what I have to deal with now that I live in the idealistic town of St. Helena. Overpriced burgers that take 20 minutes to be made. To that last point, I won’t wax too hard on it since good food does take time to be produced. Besides, you need about that long to recoup from the sticker shock of your meal as otherwise you make choke on your first bite.
All kidding aside, when my burger and fries did arrive, it was a tasty, salt and gooey experience set off by moist and flavorful meat, fresh lettuce, onions & tomatoes on a nicely toasted bun. The fries were crisp and salty, a perfect golden brown hue ready to be shoveled a handful at a time into my eager mouth. Overall, the burger was good ….. as it should be for $16 bucks.
Fortunately, I had fantastic dinner mates in the form of four lovely ladies from my cohort at the CIA. We met at Gott’s to review our second writing journal entries. It was a good time and I appreciated meeting them outside of class. They each are really unique women who seriously love food. To that end, it was inspiring to listen to them talk about their part-time jobs in their restaurant they all work.
So in the end, if you are looking for the perfect piece of road side America in the form of a burger, happen to be in St. Helena and need a good greasy burger to combat a wine hangover, hit up Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet. It won’t replace In-N-Out but for the time I am in St. Helena, it will do in a pinch.
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574