Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stepping Back in Time at Emma Jean's

Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe
17143 D Street
Victorville, CA 92394

Driving to Las Vegas is something that everyone in Southern California has probably done numerous times. It is usually about a four hour trip on average. A lot of people are so excited to get to Vegas that they do not want to stop, until they have to get gas, or use the facilities. Driving home from Vegas, depending on how well you did at the tables, or how much you partied, you only want to get home as quickly as possible. Katie and I usually like to take our time getting to Vegas, finding little out of the way restaurants to hit up on our way out there. This trip I was particularly excited to try a spot that has been on my list of restaurants to hit up since the last time we drove out this way last year. We made sure not to miss our exit off the 15 Freeway, and found our way to Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe.

Emma Jean's is another place I had found out about by watching Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives. Guy Fieri and the crew visited back in 2007. They do have funky hours and this place is cash only, so we have not been able to make it here until now. They are closed on Sundays, and only open until 2PM or so the rest of the week. Emma Jean's is about five minutes off of the freeway, kind of in the middle of nowhere, as the following pictures will show you.

Emma Jean's is the oldest standing restaurant in the Victorville area, with continuous service to Route 66 travelers since 1947. The original diner was built using cinder blocks made just south of here, by Bob and Kate Holland. In 1979 the restaurant was bought by a cement driver that ate here since the early days of the restaurant. His wife, Emma Jean, worked here as a waitress, thus he named it after her. The diner is now run by his son, Brian, and his wife Shawna.

From what we could gather during our just before noon visit on a recent Monday, their customers are mainly locals, with a small mix of people that heard about this place on TV. There is a poster of Guy Fieri in the corner, a couple of Route 66 signs hanging on the walls, and the small space is dominated by a counter that takes up the majority of the restaurant. There are about six small tables surrounding the counter, but we grabbed two seats at the end of the counter. Watching the two cooks work in the small area was very entertaining. They worked pretty fast, getting the food out quickly. Brian, who we saw on TV took our order, almost writing down what we wanted before we even said it. He must have known we were going to try what Guy ate here. He's probably seen it a thousand times. So let's see if this place is worth the stop on the way to Sin City.

It was past noon, but they still had some Biscuits and Gravy ($3.75) left, so we were in luck. This was the first thing they made on the show. Brian makes these every morning, at the same table that his Mom showed him how to make these biscuits. The biscuits were surprisingly light and fluffy when we finally broke through to them after digging through all the sausage gravy, not that I minded this very flavorful gravy. It was smooth, only broken up by the large hunks of sausage in there. A great plate to start off with, and a must try when you make it to Emma Jean's.

Katie deviated from getting food from the Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives episode, when she got this Club Sandwich ($7.00). She was pretty happy with this sandwich. It was served traditionally, cut into quarters. The turkey and ham were pretty fresh, and the crisp bacon pushed this club sandwich over the average mark. Katie had a hard time finishing this sandwich, (could have been that pastry that she got at Starbucks that I told her she did not need). This was served with fries, which had a similarity to the french fries that are served at Bob's Big Boy.

The most famous item at Emma Jean's is probably this Brian Burger with Fries ($7.75). For the same price as a value meal at Jack In the Box, you can have your own piece of Americana at Emma Jean's. This burger was delicious. It started with a great cheese bread, which not only provided extra cheese, but a nice crunch as well. The juicy burger was topped with Swiss and American, and an Ortega chili. I was worried that the chili would get lost here, but it did come through in some bites. I used a good amount of their homemade salsa on this burger. The salsa could have used a little more heat, but the consistency of it was just right in my book.

We have had some good luck and some bad luck when it comes to going to restaurants that have been featured on Triple D, and this trip to Emma Jean's would definitely fall into the good luck category. We really enjoyed ourselves at this roadside spot. The food is done the old fashioned way. You could totally imagine they were serving this same meal 60 years ago. This is the kind of joint that time has forgotten, and that's a shame. A place where you are just not a number and sent on your way, but a friend and someone that they really hope comes back. This is classic highway food, served just off the beaten track. We are all in a hurry to get to or from Vegas, but Emma Jean's is definitely worth the slight side trip. We will definitely make the time to come back on our next trip out to the desert.

Out of five sleds, (because as I was writing this review, I learned that the iconic movie Citizen Kane was written in Victorville, and of course that movie featured the most famous sled ever), five being best to zero being worst, Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe gets 3.5 sleds.

Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe does not have a website, but you can find out more about them here:

Holland Burger on Urbanspoon


  1. Biscuits and gravy - yikes, your pic was terrible. You should have put a little Tabasco on it or dusted with pepper to give some contrast. Definitely 'stick to the ribs' dining.

  2. Anonymous/Dad - Thanks for the constructive criticism about the pictures. The biscuits and gravy did not photograph too well, but they were very tasty and did not need anything to accompany them. They were good on their own. Thanks for reading the blog.