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Martinez

Mr. T’s was a perfectly adequate little place – decent (if unremarkable) food, reasonable prices, a picturesque locale and a friendly owner. There are plenty of restaurants that do a much poorer job on all of the above and yet remain in business and even thrive. But life isn’t fair and the mortality rate among restaurants of all calibers is high, so I wasn’t that shocked today when driving by to see that Mr. T’s had closed its doors (and boarded its windows).

We can only hope that Mr. T’s will be revived more successfully in the near future. In the meantime, RIP, Mr. T’s.

(See here for my previous post.)

As I said in my last post, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Martinez lately. My wife and I were up there around lunch time again and decided to visit Mr. T’s near the main entrance to the Shell Refinery.

I had always liked Mr. T’s in the past, but I hadn’t been there in awhile and, in fact, I had noticed that it had been closed not too long ago.  Still, seeing that it was now obviously open, we dropped in.

We were greeted at the door by a gentleman who said that his name was Dave and that he was the owner.  He seemed happy to chat and once we sat down he told us that he had bought the place about 9 months ago and that its recent closure was due to his being out of town.  (By the way, the guy at the register is NOT Dave.)

The interior is pretty basic, with a few stools at the counter and 5 or 6 tables along the wall. Decor is, to say the least, limited.

The menu is also limited – several burger choices and a steak sandwich, along with breakfasts and a few sides.

Dave does all the cooking, so once we ordered he disappeared into the back.

My wife got the double cheeseburger.  At $4.25 for the burger only (fries are a couple of dollars extra) it wasn’t bad, but, as she put it, it was just a cheeseburger.

I decided to splurge and went for The Wiz – a sort of Martinez take on the Philly cheesesteak.  It’s a rib-eye sandwich on grilled sourdough bread with some peppers, onions, and CheezWhiz (or however you spell that).

At $7.75 I wouldn’t say that it was a great bargain, but it was actually pretty good.  The steak really tasted like steak and there was just the right amount of peppers and onions.  Still, by the time you add some fries and maybe a drink, you’re into it for more than 10 bucks, and it just wasn’t that good.

You want Mr T’s to be great – it has a friendly, hands-on owner who is obviously enthusiastic about what he does, it has a gritty, exotic location, it has an authentic-feeling interior and reasonable prices.  The problem is that the food isn’t – it’s not bad, but it’s still just OK.

So, if you’re over there, you could do worse then to stop in for a burger and a chat with Dave, but I don’t think I’d make a special trip…

Mr. T’s
35 Howe Rd
Martinez, CA 94553
(925) 372-8807

I’ve been up in Martinez a lot lately, since I have several clients buying homes there at the moment. I was over there today around lunch time, scheduled to be back in the office for a 1:30 appointment and needed a quick bite for lunch.  Since I was heading up Pacheco Blvd, past the Shell Refinery, the obvious choice was the La Primavera Restaurant and Lunch Truck.

The truck is regularly (as in every day) parked in the lot of Bob’s Ace Truckbox Center, across the street from and just south of the refinery.  It’s got a couple of picnic tables alongside it, so you don’t have to eat in the front seat of your car if you’re not getting things to go.

The menu’s got the usual taco truck fare – tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, etc – as well as the typical meats.  The prices are quite reasonable, with the tacos at $1.25 each and regular burritos at $3.75-$4.50, depending on the filling.  Super burritos are $5.50+ and there are a few other items not so typical for a taco truck, such as enchiladas and tostadas.

Since it was really hot and I had work to do, I got my regular al pastor burrito to go and headed back to the office.

As you can see, compared to my keyboard, the regular burrito is a good size for lunch – filling but not coma-inducing.  (And, by the way, did you recognize that keyboard as one which started life attached to an SGI O2 workstation?)

Unwrapped.

If it was in East Oakland, I probably wouldn’t be writing about this truck, but it’s in Martinez and it’s the only taco truck (or, at least the only taco truck I know of) in town.  It serves a perfectly acceptable burrito – not great, but tasty enough. (Perhaps a little light on the meat – but what do you really expect for $3.75?)

Anyway, all in all, La Primavera is a fine place to stop and grab something quick, cheap and decent to go or, if you’re in the mood, to kick back there in the parking lot, enjoy your meal and admire the view.

The address of Bob’s Ace Truckbox Center is:

3550 Pacheco Blvd
Martinez, CA