For roughly three years, on my trips to California, I’ve made regular pilgrimages to a small cafe and truck stop that sits near the border between the inland communities of Chino and Ontario. It’s a small, windowless corner spot with lots of wood paneling, divine carne asada and a zingy homemade salsa dispensed in Heinz ketchup bottles. Belly up to the counter any day of the week and you’re liable to find plenty of local color: dairy farmers, Mexican cowboys dispensing aphorisms and the occasional burnout blabbing loudly about a DUI.
I’m a fan of the place for two reasons. One: congenial co-owner Claudia Reca, who knows most of her customers by name (she’s run the joint for 25 years), and is so badass she can dish out breakfast burritos and tend to the truck scales while maintaining perfectly applied lip liner. Two: The setting. Taylor’s lies in a rural-suburban transition zone where strawberry fields, cattle farms and a handful of state correctional facilities face off against tract housing developments that seem to materialize practically overnight. In fact, it is possible to stand by the restaurant’s main door (which is stenciled with the motto Animals Taste Good) and see cows munching on hay on one side of the street and cookie-cutter condos on another. The old California abutting against the new, in the starkest visual terms.
Taylor’s Cafe (7049 Chino Ave., Chino, Calif.) is open Monday through Saturday, from 6:30am to 10pm. Best bets: the spectacular breakfast burrito, stuffed with eggs, stewed pork, bacon, beans and pan fried potatoes, the huevos rancheros and anything with carne asada. (All photos by C-M.)