Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - January 11, 2013

Re-inventing a classic

Food truck offers its version of the Parisian burger from Linda's Drive-In

by Daniel DeBolt

Like many local residents, the Zankich family never forgot the Parisian burger served at Mountain View's Linda's Drive-In decades ago, with its special sauce and sourdough bun. When it came time to open their own eatery, what to serve was a no-brainer.

"For years and years and years, my mom would make the sauce up when we would make burgers," Kris Zankich recalled. "We'd have barbecues and people would be like, 'You guys got to open a restaurant.'"

In August that idea became reality when the Gold Rush Eatery food truck was born with Linda's Parisian burger as its signature dish. "With the up-front costs of doing a restaurant, basically we came to the conclusion that the way to do this is with a truck," Zankich said.

Long since demolished, Linda's Drive-In was a Mountain View institution from the 1960s to the 1980s. Located on El Camino Real and Escuela Avenue, it was a favorite hangout for students of Mountain View High School when the campus was still located downtown on Castro Street.

For fans of the Linda's burger, Twitter and Facebook announce the truck's location. On most days during lunchtime it is parked at a corporate office somewhere in Silicon Valley, often in Mountain View or Palo Alto.

Zankich was 12 years old when Linda's was around but he says he remembers the burger's taste well. It had two beef patties, American cheese, a French roll bun (from a Parisian bakery) and "special sauce" made from ketchup, mustard, dried onions, celery seed and pepper. Tater Tots were served on the side.

"It all kind of melts together if you have the right roll," Zankich said. "We played around with it for a while" and ended up using a bakery in San Francisco.

The sauce was a mystery to many fans for years, though purported recipes can now be found online. Zankich says the family learned it from a former employee of Linda's.

"Linda's used to do two small little patties," Zankich said. "I think a juicier burger is better. We use a half-pound of fresh Angus beef" for one big patty. That also means half the room is needed on the stove, an important consideration in a food truck where space is limited.

With a theme inspired by the 49ers, the Parisian burger has been renamed the "Gold Rush burger" on the truck's menu, which also includes pulled-pork and teriyaki tri-tip sandwiches, Tater Tots, onion rings and root beer floats. For those trying to avoid beef, a veggie patty can be substituted in the Gold Rush burger.

The truck can serve 250 people in one lunch, Zankich said, as much as a restaurant can. Upside-down buckets with the 49ers logo are used as tables and chairs.

With Gold Rush Eatery around there are now at least three ways to enjoy this classic Mountain View burger. The Zankich family joins two other local restaurants in attempting to recreate the Parisian burger: Armadillo Willy's in Los Altos and Pezzella's Villa Napoli in Sunnyvale. Both began serving their own versions of the Parisian burger a few years ago.

Gold Rush Eatery posts its food truck locations on Twitter as @Goldrusheatery and may be found on Facebook at facebook.com/goldrush.eatery.

Mountain View Voice staff writer Daniel DeBolt can be emailed at ddebolt@mv-voice.com.

Comments

Posted by Stephanie, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

Linda's did have the best burgers. I got the recipe from a long time friend who bought the recipe when he tried his own restaurant in Sunnyvale which is now gone, his burgers were exactly like the real one;s from Linda's. I've had the one from Armadillo Willy's and they are not even in the running. Did not taste at all like the Lind'as burgers I remember. The store was never demolished, it is still there, it is now a photo place. I live in the state of WA now and when I come back for a visit, I am going to look for this truck and see how great they are.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Linda's was demolished, it used to be a big white building with big windows and a large sign above that said Lindas. It is now Wolf Cameras, which is a whole new building built after Linda's was gone. I drove by that place so many times, but I never stopped to eat there.

The place I used to go for Burgers at the time was The Amber Lantern, on the corner of El Camino and Stanford Avenue, where the Starbuck's Coffee is now, and where previously was Mountain Mikes.

The Amber Lantern and Clarke's in Mountain View were the places that USED TO have the best burgers, ground on premises and flame broiled, they were awesome. I've never since had burgers as good as those places were and do not expect to ever again. I'm not a big burger eater any more anyway.


Posted by Melanie Austin, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:28 am

Best Burgers Ever! Holly Oak Drive former resident of a gorgeous Eichler!


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