Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chow Time: Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a tie to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to
   refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time for peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no
     man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of

In verse 13, I am pretty sure The Bible is referring exclusively to hamburgers.  I know I have bored you witless with my references to a strange diet that I have been keeping for the last ten months.  At every opportunity I have bemoaned the fact (mostly in the Chow Time posts) that wherever we were, I was there just for the history and ambience and therefore, wasn't partaking of the culinary excellence with which I had surrounded myself.  That all came to a screeching halt last Saturday.

This past weekend we went on an epic, one-day, road adventure with our pals Bob & Amber.  Into our day we packed so much time for sewing, laughing, dancing, embracing, gathering of stones, and plucking up that which was planted that I have to separate our adventure into multiple posts - beginning with a hamburger that I have been waiting years (plus ten months) to taste.  It was my season to chow down!!!

Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe
Can you tell that we were pretty excited?!

Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe seems pretty unassuming and really wouldn't garner much more than a fleeting, drive-by glance on old Route 66 - until, of course, one realizes that its modest mid-century architecture, bathed in a saturated, sea foam green is home to one of roadside California's very best hamburgers.  Opened as Holland Burger Cafe in 1947 by the Holland family, Emma Jean's became Emma Jean's in 1979 when Emma Jean (a long-time waitress) took over ownership of the cafe.  Her son, Brian, and his wife, Shawna are the current proprietors and carry on the long tradition of delicious food and happy customers.

Yes, Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe was featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives."  Yes, I did feel like a bit of a sell-out going to a place that had become "cool" after its basic cable debut.
No, that wasn't the first time I had heard of it, having a few friends who live in the high desert.  No, I was not going to miss out on the joy of crossing an item off my bucket list based on some strange, self-imposed "principle" of decrying anything that is too "cool."  As a side note, is it strange that 87-93% of the items on my bucket list are food related?

Shawna & Brian Gentry
The owners of Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe 

This isn't an especially picture-heavy post because, again, Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe isn't especially picturesque.  The interior is shoe box-ish with many finishings that have been replaced over the course of its 65-year lifespan with economy in mind rather than historic preservation.  One doesn't go to EJHBC for the decor (which thankfully is not overrun with Route 66 memorabilia and life-size cut outs of James Dean and Elvis).  One goes for the great food and the hospitality of the management.  On a busy Saturday, we counted ourselves lucky just to find a seat!

It couldn't have been more clear to anyone present that I was the most verdant of greenhorns.  Shawna, the owner and our waitress, took every opportunity to initiate me.  From the novelty, trick-ketchup that she squeezed on me, to my utter confusion over whether I was supposed to hand her my trash or my water glass, to her friendly/gruff demeanor, it was clear that she has no problem turning newbies into regulars!

The Holland Burger
When I go to a new place, I always try to order the menu item
on which the establishment was founded.

The Brian Burger
Mary and Amber both got the famous Brian Burger with double Swiss cheese,
Ortega Chiles, and parmesan-crusted sourdough bread.

Country Fried Steak
Bob always orders like a dad.

The burgers were delicious; Mary still can't stop talking about hers.  The portions were so generous that we didn't have any room at all for the tempting cobblers about which there is much buzz on the blogs and review websites.   Gratefully, EJHBC is far enough away where it can only be a special treat on an adventure day.

Don't worry about my diet, that was my first and last hamburger for a very long time.  I have been suffering the consequences for the last few days and I am emotionally prepared to live on the sweet memory of that burger and the good times that we had at Emma Jean's for a long time to come.  If you're in the Victorville area (or at least passing through), I encourage you to visit Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe and say "Hi," to Shawna.  Show the gang a good time and pay for everyone; just because it's a Holland burger doesn't mean you have to go Dutch Treat!!!

Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe

17143 N D St.
Victorville, CA

"Turn, Turn, Turn" - The Byrds


Mr. Tiny


  1. haha - trick ketchup. I love it! It's not often that I get out to Victorville, but now I'm going to have to make a trip out there.

    1. Neither do I, but it was definitely worth it. Plus there are so many beautiful spots for you guys to take pictures!!!

  2. Now I want a Brian Burger!!! Yum!!

    1. Oh, Anon, I would get one for you right away...if I only I knew who you were!!!!