The drive to Las Vegas, a classic trip, would not be complete without the traditional pit stop on Route 66 in Barstow, California. As a high-desert native, I know from the countless “Where are you from?” questions that Barstow is a notorious location. Not only is its existence remembered as that place you refuel on your way to Vegas, but it’s also called “the armpit of California.” But with all the notoriety (made without much insider knowledge) aside, this place is a tasty underarm. And even though it can be easy to succumb to the suggestion of hitting up the easy choice (Barstow is home to one of the last original Del Tacos), moving your pit stop to one of Barstow’s best eateries might make the final hours to Nevada that much better. As a desert rat myself, I am here to give you the inside scoop on some of Barstow’s best hidden gems.
DiNapoli’s Firehouse Italian Eatery
Family owned for 14 years, DiNapoli’s holds the lucrative position of being the only Italian joint in all of Barstow. This monopoly on the market has no effect on the quality of taste. The flavors are just as rich as if they were deep in competition. The menu has a plethora of options like subs, pastas, salads, dinner entrees and, most importantly, pizza. DiNapoli’s boast their old-style, traditional, hand-tossed pizza: the classic thin pizza with a thick-edged crust. Prices are fair, especially for the large portion sizes. And don’t forget to get the DiNapoli’s special homemade “bocci ball” bread that is to die for! Although there is another location in Apple Valley, for your Vegas rendezvous, you can head to the Barstow location located at 1358 E Main St., Barstow, CA.
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Contact Info: (760) 256-1094
Idle Spurs Steakhouse
Idle Spurs is the oasis of this desert land — a sort of celebrity amongst steakhouses, as it has been featured on the travel channel. The 40-year-old business boasts premium ingredients, friendly service and unique décor that all create a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Even with its higher prices, Idle Spurs remains one of Southern California’s high desert favorites. This restaurant is most likely popular due to its ability to satisfy customers repeatedly and create an inviting, irresistible atmosphere. The Spurs’ menu is quite extensive, from burgers to seafood and other meats in between. If you’re hankering for an ever-classic dish, I recommend the famous spur burger for the down-to-earth eater, and for the more elite, the Idle Spurs center cut is always a favorite entree. Stop in at their location at 690 Old Highway 58, Barstow, CA.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Contact Info: (760) 256-8888
Plata’s Authentic Mexican Food
It does not get any more local than Plata’s. If you truly want to experience the essence of Barstow, you must stop here. There are three locations in Barstow owned by Sal and Martha (who is one of the original owners since 1976). The menu boasts a classic selection of Mexican cuisine, but they are most famous for their local favorites: burritos. The bean and cheese burrito, an authentic SoCal staple, is a true winner with the customers. The restaurant serves complimentary chips and salsa with just enough kick to keep you wanting more. Any one of the three locations is a must-make stop, so head in to grab your burrito at either 1401 Irwin Rd., 1521 Main St., or 919 Armory Rd., Barstow, CA.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Contact Info: (760) 256-5596 (Irwin Rd. location)