Stan Diego was more than a restaurant


I don’t think I’ve ever been in a restaurant with an obscure orange Volkswagen van parked amongst the tables.

Until yesterday.

I entered Stan Diego, a West Coast-inspired restaurant located in Walker, with an already extensive knowledge of their menu. Days earlier, I had scoured the menu online, not only in search for vegetarian options, but also to see if it would be worth the thirty-minute trek. I didn’t want to travel an hour total only to be disappointed in the food.

Disappointment was definitely not on the menu.

The lively experience at Stan Diego started immediately when I stepped into the bright, open space. The yellow benches, fairy lights, and plants welcomed my mom and me with California-sun warmth. The vast brick wall, painted brightly with cool colors, and their logo graciously greeted us, but the biggest and brightest smile was the orange Volkswagen sitting dead center.

The restaurant said “hello” before the host even spoke a word.  

Already in awe, my mom and I were led to a table propped against a window overlooking the setting sun. We were promptly greeted by our waiter and ordered drinks and chips for the table. The vibrant, upbeat music complimented the equally vibrant room; however, it wasn’t overpowering in the slightest. We spent a few minutes looking through the menu even though I already had an idea of what I wanted. When our waiter asked if we were ready to order, it was a quick and excited “yes” from me.

The black bean taco- comprised of refried black beans and avocado- and the papas- a potato and lettuce taco- were scribbled on the waiter’s notebook along with my mom’s order. My aunt and baby cousin joined us soon after and experienced the same swift service we received earlier.

After placing the order, we snacked on the tortilla chips and spicy salsa. Enjoying the company of my family and the huge Volkswagen, I patiently waited for my tacos and watched the sunset. About ten minutes after we placed the order, the tray of delectable tacos arrived. Excited to dig into the tacos I had read about and craved days ago, I quickly transferred them to my plate.

I can easily say that the six dollars spent on two four-inch tacos were well worth it.

The black bean taco was a smoothly blended mix of refried beans and avocado; the thin tortilla complimented the somewhat heavier filling impeccably. The potato taco was a little bit choppier; each bite was like the lurch your bike does when transitioning from the road to the sidewalk. The large chunks of potato were the curb that makes the bike go airborne: a little bit uncomfortable and unsettling. Not to say that the taco was necessarily bad, but there was something about it that was off-putting. Maybe it was the large pieces of lettuce that didn’t mesh quite as well with the potato as the ingredients in the black bean taco had. The black bean taco was definitely my favorite, but the potato taco wasn’t bad at all.

With delicious food, an inviting atmosphere, and good company to enjoy it with, my Wednesday evening was definitely not wasted. The hour commute was exceptionally worth it because Stan Diego was more than just sitting at a table and eating food on a weekday to kill time.

It was an exuberant experience starting with the Volkswagen and ending with the California postcard served with the bill.