Most High Desert residents know that Barstow was the home of the first Del Taco restaurant, but what they may not realize is that the very first Del Taco wasn’t in Barstow Proper. The very first Del Taco was founded in Yermo in 1964. This was when Arrowhead trail (also known as U.S. route 91) was the main road to Las Vegas. During that time, Yermo was home to multiple gas stations, motels, and restaurants.
When interstate 15 opened in 1968, the town of Yermo was bypassed and, like many small towns across America, a large number of the businesses which relied on the patronage of travelers closed. The first Del Taco was one of those businesses, but while Del Taco closed, another business rose in its place. On the site of the original Del Taco stands the Burger Den.
The building continues to be true to its start and bears a faded and peeling wooden sign on the roof with the old Del Taco logo. The menu continues to carry burgers and fries along with Mexican food, but that’s where the similarities end. Burger Den offers a far more varied menu which includes carne asada, taquitos, steak sandwiches, and a hot wing combo as well as several family meal specials. These specials allow you to feed a family of 4 for $20.00 plus tax.On our recent visit, we spoke to Richard, the 25 year old who has been running the restaurant with his mother since his father’s sudden death a few years ago. He shared with us his commitment to continuing his father’s business legacy. He and his mother were warm, friendly, and very gracious hosts. We enjoyed chatting with them.
The restaurant’s appearance is really a piece of history, and it’s exactly what one would have found on a road trip during the 1960’s. The only difference being the addition of a drive up window. Like burger joints from its era, there’s a walk up window where you place your order and al fresco dining on picnic benches under shelters that provide shade from the summer heat. While the dining isn’t glamorous, the view of the calico mountains to the north is spectacular, as is the view of the desert. Dining at the Burger Den is like a trip back in time. It’s a piece of Americana.
As for the food, I had the carne asada burrito which was filled with perfectly seasoned, tender chunks of beef, beans, and rice as well as fresh cilantro. Their hot sauce was delicious, too. Spicy, but with an enticing combination of flavors. My companion on this visit loves their burgers and fries. Serving sizes are generous and the prices are great. The milkshakes, made the old fashioned way, are cool, creamy, and delicious. Their shakes are also a favorite with the locals, and we encourage you to try the cookies and cream shake. It’s wonderful. Of course, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are delicious, too.
The next time you are passing Yermo on your way to, or from, Las Vegas, on I-15, take the Yermo Road exit and stop at the Burger Den. The staff are genuinely friendly, and the food is delicious.
The Burger Den is located at 38434 Yermo Road in the town of Yermo. At this time, they don’t accept credit or debit cards, so bring some cash to pay for your meal. Closed Sunday.
Additional Info: They do have a restroom for customers, but since it’s an old school burger shack design, the bathroom is not clearly marked, and you will have to ask for the key.