Feast Your Eyes On This!
This sandwich is the result of an incredible culinary collaboration in one of the most unusual places you could imagine!
Four years ago this week, an incredible culinary adventure began in the desert near Joshua Tree, California: now, the legend of La Copine is cemented!
Bon Appetit magazine ran a story in February titled: “This Diner Is a Queer Oasis in the California Desert”, and reported:
“Claire Wadsworth and Nikki Hill — partners in life and business — decided to open their restaurant, La Copine. Located on the vividly named Old Woman Springs Road, La Copine seats just 42 and feels like a gussied-up roadside diner. For a queer visitor to the desert, walking through the door feels like stumbling upon a gay, matriarchal oasis. The staff is largely female or gender nonconforming, and everyone seems delighted that you’ve decided to stop by, even when the wait list is twelve deep. The positive vibes, as they say in Joshua Tree, are strong. Add to that Hill’s food—architecturally craggy fried chicken, flattop-blistered green beans showered with mint and dill, a brownie masquerading as chocolate almond cake—and it’s no surprise that customers can expect to wait two hours on the weekends.”
So of course, my wife Alex and I had to go!
We had to eat here, so it was time for a road trip! Southern California was in the midst of a “super bloom”, incredible displays of nature in various parts of the state, including the Joshua Tree National Park – here is a photo Alex took:
The other research Alex had done involved great places to eat near Joshua Tree, and she found La Copine, which a friend also told us about – so we had to find it!
Highway 62 takes you from the main Interstate 10 freeway toward Joshua Tree, in the Yucca Valley – and you see a LOT of those trees – but to get to La Copine, you take a detour on “Old Woman Springs Road” – yes, that’s the name of the road, and here is what it looks like:
As you can see, you don’t just drive by this place on your way to somewhere else, you have to seek it out!
Here’s an important tip: the restaurant doesn’t open until 2p – BUT they have a “sign up” sheet on the porch they put out at 1p, which also houses an outdoor bar – which began serving early arrivals at 1:30p…
We ended up being the first ones on the list, which is important to note because, when they opened the doors at 2p, the list was already 25 tables long!
Once seated, I took these shots of customers getting drinks while waiting to be seated – a fun festive atmosphere for all!
The interior of the restaurant is clean, with lots of fun pop culture touches as well:
Time To Dig In!
We did some research and were aware of some of the classic dishes offered, but the menu is always changing, so we were ready for anything!
Here are the three dishes we tried:
CITRUS AND BEETS $14
baby lettuce, tangerine, cara cara, fennel, beets, avocado, currants, sunflower seeds, poblano-lime vinaigrette
Alex ordered this salad to share, and it was a delicious melange of ingredients, and very filling.
Arriving at the table next was our shared dish:
PAPAS A LA PLANCHA $9
duck fat potatoes, rosemary, lemon aioli, chives
Yes, potatoes cooked in duck fat and rosemary, topped with chives and lemon agile – rich, decadent, and delicious!
Again, the dish was rich and filling, so luckily we shared the final dish as well…because as you are about to see, my dish was huge as well!
Behold The Bahn Mi!
I had thought about their legendary chicken dish, but decided to go for something “lighter” – ha!
My main course was this incredible sandwich!
BÁNH MÌ $18
five spice pork belly, pickled carrot & daikon, green papaya, napa cabbage, tamari, sambal-yuzu mayo, herbs, baguette
Read those ingredients and imagine if they were combined in just the perfect manner – because that’s what I bit into…a delicious,. juicy, spicy, flavorful mouthful of food!
The sandwich was incredible, but also very filling – and by the time we finished these three dishes, we were stuffed! Oh, the restaurant kept things moving at a nice clip: no rush, but efficient and really friendly…you could tell they have a fun, relaxed vibe that makes it easy to hang outside and have a drink while waiting…
We loved La Copine, and are so excited about the press that Wadsworth and Hill are getting for this restaurant gem, which is indeed an “oasis in the desert”…and as we left, a large crowd had gathered to enjoy some wine outside while waiting for their meal…
The restaurant is just over two hours east of Los Angeles. We were able to go to La Copine restaurant because we were headed to Joshua Tree National Park to see the incredible natural beauty there:
This national park is incredible…you can see more pictures here:
Bravo to Claire Wadsworth and Nikki Hill for the success of La Copine – we can’t wait to go back for more of this!