When we bought our house here in Mammoth Lakes, the owner was nice enough to leave us a note explaining various aspects about the house and community. Where to get the propane refilled. What size snowblower they used. Also on the list was some “inexpensive” places to eat. Let’s all just be honest that “inexpensive” is a bit relative. To the previous owner, dropping $50 with-tip for two adult and two kids meals qualified as inexpensive.
To me, inexpensive dining basically means the place in town with the lowest cost that serves good-enough food with sanitation standards that will keep me from getting sick. A rung above that is “a nice place”, and the next rung are mysterious restaurants that I drive past and wonder about the people inside. The lives they live. The clothing they wear. Do they live birth their children? Do they have ten fingers and ten toes? Mysterious people.
So it is with much joy that I announce what qualifies as inexpensive to me: Mammoth Lake’s Latin Market. With 71 Yelp reviews and a 4.5 star rating, the place is hardly an undiscovered gem. In point of fact the only issue I’ve really had so far is the wait: when it’s busy you can expect a good 15 minutes to get a burrito going.
Lunch for our family of four, with two free drinks for the adults, as $16: that’s on my inexpensive list. Better: the food rocks.
Mexican culture really kicks the shit out of white-people culture in a few key areas and food is definitely one of them. As an aside, that’s basically what America is supposed to be: taking the best parts of our various immigrant cultures and hopefully leaving the junk behind. We’re like a big gold pan, taking the shiny stuff out of the river and tossing the gravel back in.
You walk into the front counter and order off the taped-to-the-wood menus. You pay (cash or card), get a little ticket, and take it to the back, handing it off to the kitchen staff. On your sides you’ll notice the salsa, beans, and cooked onion/greens area where you can douse your food with all kinds of good stuff.
In defense of the high (over?) priced eateries in Mammoth, they usually are quite good. We went to the Mammoth Brewery on our first night here and although the ~$60 tab spooked me out a bit the food really was quite awesome.
So for the visitor to Mammoth, spending big-ish bucks at nice places is probably part of the whole exclusive-mountain-getaway-experience. But for those of us living up here, it’s nice to have some places to go that won’t bankrupt you and that can be hit up routinely.
As a bonus, the Latin Market also has basic groceries. So if the Vons is mobbed (a whole story to itself) you can buzz the 7:00am-8:30pm daily store and load up on plenty of ingredients that you can use to fashion yourself a fine meal.
And did I mention the food tastes great too? They could triple the prices and move to the potemkin village nearby and all those fancy folks dropping serious coin would rave about it.