Trinity of chow

Here’s the General’s Chicken at California’s Burgers International.

Here’s the General’s Chicken at California’s Burgers International.

Photo By David Robert

The name is a little weird, but as far as I can tell, California’s Burgers International is the only answer to the mathematically complex question, “Where should my friends and I go if we want good, fast, inexpensive food that doesn’t come from a chain or a casino, and we can’t decide if we want American, Mexican or Chinese?” They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A holy trinity of national cuisines.When my friends and I went, we were all in different food moods. You order at the counter, which is a bit overwhelming. There are so many menu-boards with so many options, and you have to just stand there with your mouth agape, and you’re afraid that a line is forming behind you and that the girl behind the counter hates you.

Mark was the first to break out of the menu-board spell. He ordered the Chinese dinner combo ($6.27): an egg roll, fried wonton, soup, fried rice and a number of mostly chicken entrée options. Mark chose the General’s Chicken—a leader, apparently, militarily opposed to Colonel Sanders. Mark started with the soup, and, after his first sip, he wagged his scalded tongue and exclaimed, “This is the hottest soup I’ve ever had!” About 45 minutes later, Mark said the soup was still really hot, a good thing for take-out.

Ali ordered a tuna sandwich ($3.25).

“Good,” she said. “It’s not like a secret recipe or anything. But good.”

Danielle momentarily forgot she was a vegetarian and ordered the chicken tacos ($1.75). She ate one of her four tacos, realized what she was eating and slipped into a trance, staring blankly at her food in what Ali later described as a “chicken coma.” Danielle eventually gave me her tacos, since I am The Human Garbage Disposal. And I found them to be tasty and “authentic.”

But I think I fared best among this fellowship of diners. I ordered a double bacon cheeseburger with fries and a refillable fountain soda ($5.75). It was ever so tasty—big and juicy and messy like a proper burger should be. There’s a reason why the burgers are the only menu item that appear in the restaurant’s name.

There was a brief, tense disagreement over the quality of the fries. Mark liked them. Ali didn’t. It seemed Ali’s opinion should have had more weight since her tuna sandwich actually came with fries, and Mark was eating Chinese food and only had fries because he stole them from me (and any palate that would want to eat fries with Chinese food is, shall we say, unrefined). But I sided with Mark; the fries are good. They’re fat, and you can actually tell they used to be potatoes.

California’s Burgers International is not the type of place you go for the ambience. You go there as a solution to an argument about where to go for food. In fact, it seemed like the majority of patrons got their food to go. But we had a fine time eating there, so don’t be afraid to bring your bickering friends and ask, as Mark did after we started eating, "So, how’s everybody’s multi-cultural food?"