"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.