Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chow Time: Steak Corral

I am not an expert in anything.  A natural penchant for laziness combined with an inherent boredom, leaves me knowing only enough on any given subject to be dangerous.  I do, however, spend an inordinate amount of time seeking out things that replace laziness and boredom with a childlike wonder and unbridled enthusiasm - namely funny parks, perfect hills for rolling down, curious landmarks, neon signs, strange fashions, thrift stores, and delicious/offbeat restaurants.  That's why it's great to know that even wacky tacky super-sleuths like us can be introduced to entirely new culinary experiences.  When we get a tip or recommendation for a new place to go, it is truly a gift from one wacky tacky lover to another.  We have a few friends who hipped us to the the Steak Corral in Whittier, CA, and we finally made the time to go over there and check it out.

Horseshoe bedecked shutters?  Sculptural steer?
I was a happy camper before we even set foot inside the door.

The Steak Corral was a small chain of restaurants that began with its first store in 1961.  The last remaining Steak Corral, opened in 1965, stands on Washington Boulevard in the heart of Whittier and it welcomes customers with the friendly smile and unspoken "Howdy" of a seven-foot-tall, fiberglass cowboy. When I asked if he had a name, I was told, "We call him Bob's Big Boy."  I hate to say it, but I think he might even be cooler than Bob's Big Boy!

He done lassoed himself a prize heifer.

The succulents, the covered patio, the summer sky - I'm ready to move in!

Steak Corral is a semi-counter service joint and the only reason I love the operation is that it is so counterintuitive that it is charming.  Guests are greeted by menu boards hanging from the ceiling and a host/hostess who welcomes them to the restaurant and takes their orders.

With a few exceptions, most of the menu items are incredibly inexpensive.  I mean really, why would anyone go to the Steak Corral for fish, anyhow?  Just for the Halibut, I guess.

Instead of a computerized system or a microphone that conveys the orders to the back of the house, the host hand writes the orders, hands the guest a block of wood, steps behind the Conestoga Wagon salad bar and scurries down to the kitchen where the cooks receive the order and begin preparation.  Meanwhile, guests who choose the salad bar (who at $1.95 wouldn't?) create the salad of their dreams and are met at the end of the wagon train to be charged for their food and beverages.

Mary takes her tray at the chuck wagon!

A longer view of the wagon train

Mary's salad...
One taste of the croutons will put you over the edge; they're deep fried.

Instead of a number, each party is given a block of wood with the name of a 
prominent Western figure.  We were "Doc Holiday."  
I wonder if Doc Holliday would mind the primitive paint job?

Guests then seat themselves in a dining room that is a western wonderland of wacky tacky.

A corner booth

I really love the interior, shingled roofline.

Of course, there are the obligatory long horns...

But these taxidermied longhorns make the consumption of steak a little eerie.

My obsession for light fixtures continues, not just with the interesting
hanging yoke/lantern arrangement...

But also with the stagecoach...

And prairie schooners that were lit from within!

There are two words in the English language that when combined create such a beautiful harmony, their individual definitions are rendered completely meaningless by comparison.  Those words are - if you're ready - Toppings Bar!!!

Why yes, that is a 10 pound vat of butter next to a 10 pound vat of sour cream.
The ice cream scoops beg just one question.
Where are the hot fudge and sprinkles?
Answer, right behind you at the ice cream toppings bar!!!

Other toppings include, but are in nowise limited to, barbecue sauce,
grilled onions and peppers, gravy, cheese sauce, and something called
 "steak relish," which to my refined palate tasted suspiciously like ketchup
and relish mixed together.

After salads have had a moment to settle, the same host/cashier/server trades your wood block for your entree.  Okay, so it was obvious that Steak Corral is not five-star dining, but where else can you get a multi-course meal for two for under $20?

Mary's Hamburger

BBQ Chicken Sandwich
As with most wacky tacky eateries, the ambience outweighs the food and the food is just a fraction of the story.  We were happy to talk to the manager (whose name I failed to get) and hear a little bit about the rest of the Steak Corral story.

After years of running restaurants, the original owner of the Steak Corral chain became more interested in investments and commercial property.  Slowly Steak Corral restaurants began closing with the most recent closure in Covina just a short time ago.  Even though he is no longer interested in the food service game and his children are set to inherit the property on which Steak Corral stands, the owner has, in his will, guaranteed the future of Steak Corral by leaving the restaurant (and provisions for multiple leases) to the manager who has worked there since his high school days.  If not just for the affordable food, the great western atmosphere, and the fiberglass cowboy, I will continue to patronize Steak Corral to support the new family that will perpetuate its five decades of history.

Were we the kind of fatties who also ordered a slice of fresh strawberry pie for dessert?  It is impossible to prove, because there is absolutely no photographic evidence.  I always like to get photographic evidence of funny restroom signs, however.

At first I thought that the washrooms were only for the likes of Elmer Fudd.

Coincidentally, we ran into one of our wacky tacky amigos during our visit to Steak Corral; he was fixin' to get some vittles too. Once you're in the know, it's hard to stay away from this place!  If you're in the general vicinity of Whittier, CA and you feel like rustlin' up some grub, well then get along little doggies and get to Steak Corral.  Be sure to tell them Mr. Tiny sent you.  They won't have a blessed idea what that means, but you should do it anyway.

Steak Corral
11605 Washington Blvd
Whittier, CA

Open 7 days a week!

p.s.  No, I did not make a butter/sour cream hot fudge sundae...but I could have if I wanted to!


Mr. Tiny

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Queen Mary: A Royal Wedding

On Saturday, June 23, we were fortunate enough to be guests at the wedding of our good friends Jesse and Emily.  

The happy couple, Emily and Jesse
Don't they look like the perfect cake toppers?

You probably already know Emily as she and her love letter to old Hollywood, The Silver Screen Affair, have been mentioned numerous times in the annals of wacky tacky.  If you're a lover of classic films and Hollywood glamour, then be sure to check out her blog.  Although, it may be kind of quiet around there for a couple of weeks as they are enjoying a tropical honeymoon.

Emily looked picture perfect in a vintage, 50's,
lace wedding gown and handmade veil.
I love this photo of her, pre-nuptials.

The ceremony was held at a beautiful, historic Catholic church and the reception was in The Queen's Salon on the Queen Mary, a stunning steamliner and one of the premier examples of well-preserved Art Deco in Southern California.

Dappled in the light of the afternoon sun, St. John's
was a beautiful setting for a wedding ceremony.

The getaway car complete with tin cans and "Just Married" banner!

The Queen's Salon aboard the Queen Mary - pretty majestic if you ask me.
You can just barely make out Holly, of The Temperamental Broad, on the right.
I should have been taking a lot more pictures, but I was too busy making a fool
of myself on the dance floor.

Why do I always have to sit at the kids' table?
Mary, Amber, Paul, Jordan, Memo, Ben, and Nicole

I didn't really want to do a feature exclusively on the wedding itself because Emily is a pretty private person and their wedding wasn't so much wacky tacky as it was traditional, elegant, and gracious.  For the record, I like both but I have a hard time behaving like a grown up at either!  So, here are a few snaps of our hijinks aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary featuring the suit that I made Mary for the occasion.

I really have no idea where the inspiration came from on this one except that I love this kooky color combination and sometimes I like to try and challenge myself a little - two days, three pieces, and a  marginal skill set (I have never sewn a proper collar of any kind before).

Apparently I have developed such a reputation for turning
placemats into hats, that everyone immediately assumed
that was the case for this verdant topper.  This was actually a
 vintage hat that I got from a friend a few years ago.

Mr. Tiny & Mary gettin' groovy.
Once I start, I just can't stop.
(photo by Amber U.)

I am the worst kind of shopper.  I have a very specific idea of what I am looking for before I go out shopping and expect whatever it is to be in the store, happily waiting for me to buy it, at a discounted price.  Needless to say, I spend a lot of time disappointed.  Imagine my surprise when my first attempt to find a chartreuse-y colored fabric, with enough weight to be suitable for a suit and enough drape  to make it feminine, was peeking out of a row of totally dissimilar fabric just waiting for me.  It was the right color, the right price, and there was just enough left on the bolt for my project!!!  That NEVER happens.

The green gloves were bought on a road trip to
Hearst Castle and the red baubles were on loan
from a friend.  Here's Mary wishing that she
didn't have to give them back.

There's room for a dumbbell joke in there somewhere.

I have to stick with the dumbbell jokes; after seeing some
 of the pictures of Mary (including this one with the bride),
she has already been referred to as the Jolly Green Giant!

The free bonus of the evening came when were about to leave the party and ran into a group of friends who just happened to be touring the ship that night.  We ended up joining their tour and I'm almost positive from the looks we were receiving, that guests of the hotel were starting to believe that the Queen Mary was indeed haunted!

Congratulations Emily and Jesse!  It was a particularly beautiful wedding and we really appreciate you allowing us to participate in your special day.  We don't even have to wish it for you, we already know that you'll live happily ever after!  


Mr. Tiny

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Winner Is You!

To my dying day, I will stand resolute in the knowledge that the best and most scientific way to choose a random winner is the old, drawing a name out of a hat method.  Some people rely on computer generated software to handle the task, but how do I know that the writer of that program doesn't play favorites.  Therefore, after a week's worth of your entries, bated breath, and symptoms of IBS born of anxious anticipation, we are proud to announce, without further ado, or the kind of overproduced suspense that is seen all too frequently on modern reality/competition shows, that the grand prize winner of our "100 Follower Giveaway," crushing the hopes and dreams of all the other contestants, is the one and only (insert drum roll sound effects and undue, dramatic lighting changes).......Jennifer!!!!

"A Winner is YOU!!!"

Congratulations Jennifer; as Cole Porter wrote, "You're the top!"

"You're the Top"
words and music by Cole Porter

Please email your info to and we will happily send you your prizes!!!

If I was a less than honest individual, I would have chosen Jennifer solely based on her flattering tribute to wacky tacky:

 "I've been reading your blog for a while and love it! It's hard to narrow down what posts I like the best, but I have to say it's your mini-road trips. It reminds me of the trips I took as a kid. I have to say I find you completely adorable as well! Is it wrong that while I think the purse is amazing, I want to win because I really want the 'Mr Tiny Loves Me' button?!?"

Adorable (a-dor-a-ble) - 1. Delightful, lovable, and charming
2. Worthy of adoration *see Mr. Tiny

However, I am unwavering in my honesty, and therefore I couldn't take into account the fact of how "completely adorable" I am.  I'm sorry, I wanted to, but I just couldn't do it.  An objective hand drew her name from the hat and that my friends, is that.

Thank you to everyone who entered our very first wacky tacky giveaway.  Your patronage and comments are VERY much appreciated.  Here's to a fun summer and many more giveaways to come!


Mr. Tiny

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Signs of the Times: Tastee Freez

Summer is in full swing around these parts and for wacky tacky that means "Gidget" marathons, Beach Party movies, the Surfer Stomp, and delicious Summertime food!  What says Summertime more than Tastee Freez?  I ask you.

I will probably have to renounce my US citizenship for saying this, but I could happily abstain from every Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of my life and be gastronomically satisfied (the food is just a tad overwrought for my delicate palate).  Tacos and Burgers are way more my speed, especially when advertised on a giant, orange, A-frame sign.  I wish more burger joints would embrace the color orange.  When did red and yellow become the sole representation of junk food?  Don't you love the way the orange sign is anchored in the stripes of aqua and white tile?

 I will admit that we didn't stop and eat at this particular Tastee Freez.  We had probably just eaten, otherwise I would've found it impossible to resist whatever $0.99 Special that is peaking out from the sandwich board in the lower, right-hand corner.  Appetite aside, there was no way that we couldn't stop to snap a quick photo of the sign.  I honestly don't even remember where we were; the sign just popped up along the road on one of our meandering adventures through California.  I'm still trying to watch the old waistline (or that place around my equator where a waistline would be if I had one), but every Summer vacation allows for a few moments of indulgence.  Right?  Am I right?  Hello....

What are your favorite Summertime treats?  Whatever they are, and wherever you are (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least), I hope you find occasion to enjoy them on a beautiful, sunny day!

Also, be sure to sign up for our giveaway, entries will be accepted through Sunday, June 24!


Mr. Tiny

Sunday, June 17, 2012

100!!! It's GIVEAWAY Time!

The Banshee wailed, "You've got 100 Followers!!!"  Who, me???

Zowee!!!  100 followers - I never thought I'd see the day!  I have to teach myself that putting too much energy into comparison is never a good thing.  It can be a little discouraging seeing other blogs that have hundreds, even thousands, of followers and wondering if anybody out there even knows that this blog exists.  Having said that, I am really grateful that even one person would be interested in what I have to say!  I hope that wacky tacky makes for some worthwhile reading or at least for a quick diversion from work or school.  My heartfelt gratitude goes out to everybody for reading, with a special thanks to Retro Sandie for being our 100th follower!

"Thanks" - Bing Crosby

I don't know about you, but I think the auspiciousness of the occasion calls for our very first GIVEAWAY!!!

I always wondered if there was a place for a blog like wacky tacky.  It includes fashion, but it certainly isn't a fashion blog.  It covers vintage roadside attractions, but it certainly isn't a roadside blog.  It features some crazy arts & crafts, but I certainly wouldn't classify it as a crafting blog.  It showcases the amazing interiors of some awesome houses, but it certainly isn't competing with Architectural Digest.  We have book, movie, and restaurant reviews.  We have thrift store scores and musical interludes.  We even highlight killer parks and wacky tacky icons. What in the heck is this blog?  Is it even real?

Probably not.  Real blogs have real giveaways with real rules about reposting, twittering, double reposting your twitterings in triplicate, and tweeting your repost in the comments section of your best friend's second most popular post about cats riding unicorns.  Frankly, that is too much for me to think about.  Three rules I will give you, great rules and small, but break just one and get nothing at all!

Rules for entry:

1. Follow this blog (new followers are definitely welcome)
2. Tell at least one friend about our blog (honor system)
3. Tell me one thing (in the comments section) that (a)you truly love about me, this blog, or both,
    and (b)one thing that you think could be improved about me, this blog, or both; this will   
    count as your entry.

To prime the proverbial pump, I will get you started with a few examples:

"Oh, Mr. Tiny, I love it when you wear a blue shirt because it really brings out your eyes."

- or -

"This blog has changed my life in the following ways:  I had never laughed before I found your blog.  In fact, I thought I was incapable of human emotion before I read your treatise on date shakes.  And don't get me started on your coverage of bowling alleys.  I have forsaken my traditional Episcopalian upbringing to worship at the shrine of wacky tacky."

- or -

"This blog is better than being abandoned in the woods...but only by a little."

"I think your blog is great BUT it could stand a solid dose of something more - Mr. Tiny in a bathing suit."

- or -

"I have been doing some serious thinking about the state of your blog;  I would love to see more peanut puppet shows."

- or -

"Don't change a thing, except maybe get braces.  Your grill is jacked up!"

Now for the good stuff - up for grabs is this handmade basket purse created by Mr. Tiny and a set of four collectable pinbacks made exclusively for followers of wacky tacky.  It was a bit difficult finding just the right thing to giveaway because while my audience is diverse, it is probably 93.7% female.  So, in the event that a male entrant wins the giveaway, I figured he can give the purse to his wife, girlfriend, coworker, mail carrier, dental hygienist, or female relative, and then wear the pins proudly on his lapel.

I think it strikes a wacky tacky note.
With the vintage burlap and millinery adornments, cheery gingham ribbon
 and lining, and oversized capacity, you'll be all set for some summertime.
I've subsequently realized that this is not the purse's most flattering angle,
but it has gotten too late to take a photo without the flash, so, there you go.

There you have it.  It's as easy as one, two, three.  Follow wacky tacky, tell a friend about wacky tacky, and leave a comment about wacky tacky.  The winner will be chosen at random at an arbitrary time (7:03pm PST) after an arbitrary period of entry (one week) and will be announced in an upcoming blog post.  Odds of winning are entirely dependent on the number of entries.  The giveaway is open to wacky tacky followers anywhere in the world as long as they have an address recognized by the USPS.

Thanks Again!
You've made Mr. Tiny very happy!

Cheers & Good Luck!

Mr. Tiny

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chow Time: Ramon's Cactus Patch

Ramon's Cactus Patch is a family run restaurant that has been serving the people of Ontario and the surrounding environs for 75 years - that is a long time by any standard.  Given its age, one might expect time-honored recipes rich in flavor and authenticity.  That is not quite the case at Ramon's; it is more the kind of eatery where the garnish is iceberg and the queso, Velveeta.  I am not an authority on Mexican food and I certainly couldn't describe the culinary variances from state to state, but I must say that Ramon's seems more reflective of Depression-era practicality and economy rather than the genuine flavors of old Mexico.

The Cactus Patch

I know, that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but stay with me.  The food may be more like the kind that my abuelita (of Swiss extraction by way of East Canton, Ohio) used to make, but that isn't to say that the food isn't tasty.  I particularly liked the chips and salsa.  We actually went to Ramon's based on the hearty testimonials of two friends, both of whom grew up in the area, and one of whom had parents eating there the very night we went.  I think nostalgia played a big part in their recommendation as the online reviews vary greatly and are particularly favorable when the source is a patron who was "raised on Ramon's."  As is the case with most wacky tacky eateries, the food is only a small portion of the appeal and from the looks of it, everything was coming up succulents at the Cactus Patch!

Ramon's Cactus Patch is housed in, of all the things, a house!!
 The homey appeal was definitely there and the staff was warm and inviting.

Originally opened in 1937 in downtown Ontario's Orange Hotel, Ramon's Cactus Patch found its current home in 1962.  We stepped through the front door and immediately I noticed that the interior was nothing but wall-to-wall wacky tacky works of art; Ramon's was already becoming a hit in my book!

But had me at glitter ceiling!!!

Further evidence that RCP was once a residence is the
beautiful Living Room that is used for additional dining
space.  Don't you love the fireplace and the exposed
 beams?  That, plus a commercial kitchen...I'm ready to move in!

If you needed any more proof that RCP was a home, go wash your hands in the restroom.
It is still fully outfitted with a bathtub.  Just in case you were overcome with the mad desire
 to strip down and get clean, the management has covered the tub to keep you from
 embarrassing yourself in public.

I love that "Common decency" supercedes "State law."
I wish the people I work with would get decent!!!
 Fortunately, I'm not in the food service industry.

Now that our hands were clean, we could get down to the grubbin'.

Bob and the RCP menu.  He was so happy with the chicken taco he ordered,
 that I missed the opportunity to get a picture.  Apparently, the beef taco is
 a burger patty in a taco shell - I didn't find that out until after we had ordered!!!

Cheese Enchilada

Combo Burrito


I really liked the dishes - not so much the food, as the actual serving pieces

RCP really did feel like going to grandma's for dinner.
It definitely had a timeless quality to it, which is reflected in this clock
 that read 1:50 and I know we were there at about 7:30!

In the end, I really liked Ramon's Cactus Patch.  I love places that have served a community for so long that they have become institutions and rich sources of nostalgia.  Again, the food was definitely not the best I've ever tasted, but it did a body good to sit in a home and enjoy the same hearty food that has been faithfully served to generations of happy families.  If you're ever in the area, you should stop in and grab a bite - especially if you've got a hankering for some Velveeta!

Ramon's Cactus Patch
647 W California St
Ontario, CA

Cheers & Buen Provecho!

Mr. Tiny