Hometown Spreckels, Calif., cafe not just for truckers

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Updated Dec 14, 2009

But I’m sure they’re happy, if the Tamp;A Cafe in Spreckels, Calif., just south on Salinas on the Tanimura and Antle produce company’s campus is anything like it was described at TheCalifornian.com by food writer Ricardo A. Diaz. Diaz was writing for the local news audience — “…today my Volvo is darting around semis and trying to negotiate a parking lot teeming with 18-wheelers. I feel tough rubbing elbows with truckers and guys in coveralls.”

The story he tells is one of truckstop food of an uncommon character. At the Tamp;A Cafe, you won’t get any prepacked, reheated meal but rather a fresh-prepared feast, says owner Cheryl Ferch. Among the most popular items on the menu — and the one Diaz tried — is the burger. “We serve a lot of things, but the drivers love our burgers,” Ferch told Diaz. “They are half-pounders, all made by hand. We get drivers who walk in and just blurt out, ‘double bacon cheeseburger’ and I have to fill them in that [a double] is a full-pound burger.”

Diaz found it to be worth every minute he had to feel tough for once: “What I need is a burger that is hot and shaped by hand, cheese that is melted, vegetables that are still crunchy. A lot of people like to skimp on the bun, but not the Tamp;A Cafe. When you stop in this place, notice how that hamburger bun feels different in your hand: Tear a little piece off just bread and nothing else and if the bun is nice and airy and almost good enough that it could be eaten alone, that’s a sign that that the fixins will be of equally high quality….”

If that doesn’t get you pondering where to stop for lunch, I don’t know what will.