Class of 1960
Ah, Linda's. This place and the
food it served are arguably the best-documented in the Los Altos /
Mountain View / Palo Alto area in the 1950's -1960's. Blogs honor
it, recipes are passed around, present-day restaurants claim to
duplicate special eats, and sentimental tears are shed over the glories
of Linda's Parisian Burgers. This photo is from Tod
Wick's Blog about Linda's . Below are several articles
from different sources -- and I'll bet we will add more to this website
before we are done!
An article from April 2009 reiterates "Linda's lore" for the Old
Mountain View Neighborhood Association, where OMVNA.org gives their
version of the recipe. Someday the page will be possibly archived
and less available, so we give the article here......
Parisian Burgers Are
From Mountain View, Not Paris, By Bruce Karney
Hanging out at the local burger joint was an essential part of growing
up in small town America from the 40s to the 80s. Every town had a
burger restaurant or two, most likely locally owned and not a
franchise. Here in Mountain View, for a span of about 30 years, one of
the best of the breed was Linda’s at the corner of El Camino and
Escuela (the building that now houses Wolf Camera.)
Linda’s “Parisian Burger” has recently made a comeback at Armadillo
Willy’s and at Pezzella’s Villa Napoli. But in case it disappears from
the menu, I’m happy to let you know that I’ve gotten the recipe for the
“secret sauce” from Tony Siress, who worked at Linda’s in the 80’s. It
makes 1 1/2 cups, which is enough for 6 Parisian Burgers.
Put 2 tablespoons of dried onions in a small bowl and add warm water to
the top of the onions. Let hydrate for 30 minutes. Mix the following in
a one-quart bowl:
6 oz. catsup (Heinz)
6 oz. tomato paste (Heinz)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard (French’s)
1 teaspoon celery seed 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Don’t forget to add the dried onions
after they have hydrated.
Take the sauce out when you are ready to make the burgers and warm it
before using. If you’re a Linda’s fan, this sauce recipe is sure to
bring back memories. If you’re new in town, listen to some old time
rock and roll and flip through your high school yearbook to get
yourself in the mood before you chow down.
Don’t forget the authentic side dish – a couple dozen steaming hot
Tater Tots, which were called “Super Fries” at Linda’s. And as for the
“Parisian” name – they were called that because the roll the burger was
served on came from the Parisian Bakery. According to Tony, Armadillo
Willy’s has the “real” Parisian roll but a historically incorrect
single patty, while Pezzella’ s has the correct double patty but a
Here is the article from The Ecphorizer.
(just in case the article is no longer available on the original
website, we show it here -- though Tod's article about Linda's seems to
be the most popular of all time)
Burgers, by Tod Wicks
One of the fond memories of my high school years of the late 1950s is
of Linda's Drive-in Restaurant in Mountain View, CA.
This place served hamburgers, fish sandwiches, shakes, a few other
specialty sandwiches. One item that I often enjoyed was called a
Parisian Burger. This was made with a couple of hamburger patties, a
slice or two of cheese, a real French bun, and some special sauce. One
usually ordered their special fries, known today as potato puffs or
Tater Tots. The soft drinks were supplied by the makers of Royal Crown
Cola. A drink, fries and a Parisian Burger were very affordable for
kids in the 50s. It was a regular hangout for many of us from
both Los Altos High School (the Knights) and Mountain View High School
(the Eagles) as it was about equidistant between the two schools.
After a quick afternoon snack after school, a few of us would drive
over to Camino Bowl for a game or two.
Linda's was "fast food" well before the term ever came into
vogue. It was sited on El Camino Real at Escuela in Mountain
View. All they served were a couple of varieties of hamburgers -
one was called a steakburger and on the glass window someone had
painted the slogan, "When we say 'steak,' we mean (a cartoon of a
t-bone steak)." It was a red and white cube of a building with
large glass windows on three walls. You walked up and gave your
order to one of the kids who worked there and within a couple of
minutes, your burger, fries and drink were ready.
Linda's is long gone, having been replaced by a 1-hour photo outfit.
The memories of those hamburgers with their special sauce will always
linger. I recently began a stuttering search online and in libraries
for information about making Linda's secret sauce. I'd heard that
some old-timers in Mountain View knew the recipe but guarded it closely
as if it were Coca Cola's cola recipe.
I discovered a posting on a web site devoted to locating and publishing
"lost" recipes. One correspondent wrote in that the recipe was
very similar to hamburgers served at a place called Tommy's Burgers in
Los Angeles. The writer noted that the only difference was the
bun. He then provided what he felt was the recipe for Linda's
Parisian Burger secret sauce, copied out of one of author Todd Wilbur's
Top Secret Restaurant Recipes books. The recipe was actually more
of a chili-burger sauce than anything I recalled from Linda's.
Interested readers can view the bogus Linda's recipe here.
However, I did publish that recipe as a blog entry several years
ago. That blog entry proved to be mildly popular and eventually
generated emails from a several readers.
The first, Charles Guest of Mountain View, wrote that he enjoyed my
original recollection of Linda's and noted that he had worked there in
the late 70s and he knew a Mrs. Riggs, who owned Linda's. He
informed me that the recipe I had published was not correct.
Charles offered to let me watch him some time as he brewed up some
secret sauce. Unfortunately, though there were a number of
followup notes between us, the topic petered out with me being no
closer than before.
About the time that the "Charles" lead dried up I heard from Jim Noon,
who was a year ahead of me in school at Los Altos High. He bumped
into my blog after being referred to The Ecphorizer by a San Diego
Jim also noted that the Tommy's recipe was completely bogus. He
was close buddies with a fella in his class named Scott Curtis, who
(Jim claims) was one of Linda's original employees. Jim sent me
his version of the recipe, which is much simpler than the Tommy's
recipe. I tried it and it was perfect! I bought a bag of
sourdough French rolls, grilled a patty, slapped on some cheese, and
smeared on the sauce. Words cannot describe how good that tasted
and how it brought back memories so sweet.
About a month after Jim Noon contacted me, a local reader named Roberta
sent me an email indicating that she had also run across my blog
entry. Roberta wrote that she had gotten the recipe from an
online posting by a former employee of Linda's who actually had his
hands in making the sauce. Roberta provided me with the original
bulk recipe, which called for, among other ingredients, 6 gallons of
ketchup and 2 gallons of mustard. Wow!
On further research I discovered that Roberta's source was none other
than Charles Guest, my original correspondent!
Roberta kindly divided the commercial recipe's volume by 128 and came
up with a recipe remarkably similar to Jim's.
Even though Jim warned me to guard his recipe with my life, since I
have a second source I feel that I can now publish the recipe for
Linda's Parisian Burger secret sauce.
Here is the basic "bill of materials" for Linda's famous Parisian
Preparing the hamburger:
- Small round sour dough french
roll (a little bigger in diameter than a normal hamburger
- Two beef Patties (a
little thicker than regular hamburger patties usually made from very
high grade Denver Meat Company meat)
- One piece of cheese
(usually Kraft or similar high quality American sliced
- A glob of sauce
The meat was cooked on a gas fired grill/griddle at 350 degrees. The
hamburger was cooked just long enugh to see gray juice come up through
the meat while cooking the first side and then it was turned over. By
the time the buns were ready, and the sauce and cheese on the meat, the
patties were done.
The split sourdough rolls were heated on a covered grill at about 250
degrees, just until the inside was starting to toast a little.
When the meat was done on side one it was turned over, about 1-1/2
tablespoons of sauce was put on one patty and cheese was put on the
The bottom half of the French roll was removed from the grill and put
on a heated counter. The pattie that had the sauce on it was removed
from the grill and placed on the pattie with the cheese on it and then
the whole 'stack' was removed from the grill, using the top half of the
French roll to balance the stack and absorb the sauce The stack
was then placed onto the bottom part of the French roll. The
whole thing was then wrapped in waxed paper and served to the customer.
Assembling the ingredients:
|2 ½ cups
|8 #10 cans (2)
|1 ½ tsp
|8 "industrial spoonsful" (3)
|4 "industrial spoonsful" (3)
Putting it all together:
The sauce is best served when warm
and can be used as a general purpose meat sauce in addition to its
original use at Linda's.
- All three recipes start out by
rehydrating the dried onions by adding some warm water to the onions
and letting stand for an hour or so.
- Combine the other ingredients,
- Heat the mixture over low
- Add the onions and let simmer
for a while
Incidentally, according to Charles, the commercial recipe called for
all the ingredients to be poured into "...an old looking 15 gallon
trash can..." and mixed by hand - literally, as Charles adds:
Now reach into the
plastic garbage can and touch the bottom of it beneath the mustard and
ketchup. Good. Your arm is now immersed in the sauce a
little bit past the elbow. Stir the ketchup and mustard together with
your hand and arm until they are well mixed.
Nothing was said about what the cooks did to prevent arm hair and
dander from mixing in with the sauce, or what was done with the sauce
that clung to the cook's arm. One supposes that they rinsed off
rather than using the other hand to squeegee the mix back into the
post online can be viewed here.
1. The commercial recipe calls for S. E. Rykoff brand ketchup and
2. A #10 can is equal to ¾ gallon.
3. The recipe posted online mentions that an "industrial
spoonful" was equal in diameter to a man's closed fist.
A search online turned up nothing relating to "industrial" spoons.
From Charles J.
Guest's comments (edited):
Well, I used to work at Linda's Drive In. It was a nice little
mom and pop run walk up burger stand. I worked there for almost
four years while in high school.
Whew! There has certainly been a lot of interest in the sauces
that we used to make at Linda's Drive In. As promised, here are
the recipies for the sauces were made at Linda's before it closed down.
I have been asked for a little history of Linda's and why it closed
down, I will start off with that and follow with the recipes.
Several persons asked for the recipies for the sauces that I used to
make when I was the evening supervisor at Linda's Drive In on Esquella
and El Camino Real in Mountain View.
If you did not live in Mountain View or frequent El Camino Real in
Mountain View you probably missed an old red and white building on the
corner of El Camino Real and Esquella. The predominant
feature of this building was a massive red and white metal awning that
extended over the front of the building and toward El Camino. The
place was called Linda's Drive In, and by the time I began working
there in 1978 it had become something of an institution in Mountain
Linda's was a fast food/hamburger joint that was started by Dean and
Becky Riggs when El Monte was still a dirt road. I don't know the
date but suffice it to say that it was one of Mountain View's earlier
business establishments. (To put this in perspective El Monte is
now a two to four lane road and the orchards that provided Linda's
first customers are all long since cut down and covered over with
Linda's was never a walk in restauraunt. There may have been a
short time when there were car-hops but I am not aware of it. The
owners made you walk up to a window, place your order, and, (until
about 1979/80), go back to your car to eat. It was a well known
spot for really good hamburgers and was usually frequented by the local
police. (Who, by the way, NEVER ate free.)
Linda's Drive In closed around 1984 not too long after Dean Riggs
passed away. For the sake of privacy I won't go into how it
happened, but lets say that he probably should have lived many more
years were it not for an un-expected medical problem.
The old drive in is now a Photo Drive up, and because of the
inept re-modeling the building got, it looks nothing like the
original Linda's Drive In. Thee look now is that yuppie modern
plasticised garbage that we have all become too familiar with.
Linda's experimented over the years with different kinds of food
including pizza, hotdogs, and other fast eats, but durring the time
that I worked there, (1978-1981), they had gotten the menu down to
three main items, the 'Parisian Burger', the Fish Sandwich (called a
Norweigen when it was called back to the cook), and the Steak
Sandwich. In addition they had 'Super Fries' which was just a
grandiose way of saying tater totts without having to buy them from the
Ore-Ida company who held the trade-mark. They also had turnovers
(like McDonalds apple pie), 3-bean salad, chilli, cole-slaw, soft-serve
frozen yogurt, and about 9 kinds of milk shakes.
All in all the food was really pretty good. Well, on to the
The 'biggie' was the Parisian burger. As with all of the food
served at Linda's it was very simple.
A Parisian was:
1) Small round sour dough french roll (a little bigger in
diameter than a normal hamburger bun.)
2) Two beef Patties (a little thicker than regular hamburger
patties usually made from very high grade Denver Company meat)
3) One piece of cheese (usually kraft or similar high quality
american slices cheese)
4) a glob of sauce (see below)
The meat was cooked on a gas fired grill/griddle at (I think) 350
derees. The hamburger was cooked just long eonugh to see greying
come up through the meat while you were cooking the first side and then
it was turned over. By the time you got the buns ready and
the sauce and cheese on the meat, the patties were usually
exactly well done.
The sourdough rolls were heated on a grill that was covered at about
250 degrees, just until the inside was starting to toast a little.
(They were obviously cut in half before being put under the hood and
onto the grill.)
When the meat was done on side one it was turned over, about one and
one half tablespoons of souce was put on one patty and cheese was put
on the other.
The bottom half of the french roll was removed from the grill and put
on a heated counter. You would then take your spatula, pull up
pattie that had the sauce on it, place it on the pattie with the cheese
on it and then remove the 'stack' from the grill using the top half of
the french roll to balance/absorb the sauce, and put this 'stack' onto
the bottom part of the french roll.
The sauce was really quite simple as you will see. Please forgive
me for not giving the ingridients list in more reasonable quantities,
but hey this is a bona_fide recipie. :-)
Mountain View Voice, March 2009
Battle of the burgers
Amadillo Willy's, Pezzella's unveil competing versions of a Mountain
View classic: Linda's Parisian Burger
by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff
There were other Mountain View drive-in burgers that people remember,
such as the Cadillac burger at Spivey's, and the pre-McDonald's Big Mac
at Johnny Mac's.
But the Parisian burger of Linda's Drive-In stood out. Put it this way:
if a local high schooler were to cut school in the 1960s and 1970s,
there were two popular options -- hit the beach or grab a Parisian
burger at Linda's Drive-In.
Linda's Drive-In is long gone, demolished in about 1985 to make way for
the Wolf Camera that exists now at Escuela Avenue and El Camino Real.
But its beloved burger is being replicated at two local restaurants:
Armadillo Willy's in Los Altos and Pezzella's Villa Napoli in Sunnyvale.
Recently, a Voice writer sat down with his uncle Geoff, who ate
Parisian burgers regularly as a teenager in 1960s Mountain View, to see
which version is truest to the original.
People who remember the Parisian burger agree that it was two beef
patties, American cheese, a French roll bun (from a bakery called
"Parisian," hence the name) and a glob of "special sauce" made from
ketchup, mustard, dried onions, celery seed and pepper. Tater tots were
served on the side. Still, those same people can disagree strongly
about their favorite burger.
"Everybody remembers something different," said Pat Pezzella, who owns
Pezella's with his brother Vince. "One guy said, 'The burger is great,
but there's something wrong with the sauce.'"
"What is it?" Pat recalls asking him.
"It was yellow."
"It was never yellow, what's the matter with you?"
"Another guy said, 'I remember the bun, it was oval,' Pat continued.
"Where do you guys come up with this stuff?"
The Pezzellas moved from Brooklyn in 1956 and attended Mountain View
High School (then located downtown) in the late 1950s. Since the summer
of 2008, they have been serving the Parisian at their 52-year-old
restaurant, a fairly upscale place that looks like an Italian villa.
Meanwhile, in late 2008 John Berwald unveiled his own version of the
Parisian at his Armadillo Willy's chain of restaurants. Already, he
said, it's outselling any other new dish. At the Los Altos location,
104 Parisian burgers sold in the first day, while 2,300 sold in the
first week across all nine locations.
Berwald says he used to eat the burger "practically every day for
lunch, and sometimes go back for dinner" while attending Cubberly High
School (class of 1966) just over the Mountain View border in Palo Alto.
"I always remembered that taste," he says. He had his friend Rusty, the
pickiest eater he knows, give the final seal of approval on the sauce.
The bun and the sauce are probably the trickiest parts to replicate.
After many years of mystery, the sauce recipe is readily available now
on the Internet, although the restaurant owners spent months perfecting
theirs. Berwald had a sourdough bun custom made by Le Boulanger bakery,
while Pezzella's uses the bakery they've used for years to cook the
A Parisian burger was purchased from both restaurants and placed side
by side on the table. Armadillo Willy's charged $7.25, while Pezzella's
Geoff started with the Pezzella's version.
"Except for the roll, it's good," he said, later explaining that the
roll was more like an Italian Ciabatta roll than the crispy-shelled
French roll he remembered. "A lot of it is the roll and the sauce," he
said. "This is a light, fluffy bun -- that's not what the Parisian
Burger was at all."
"But it's good as far as burgers go," Geoff concluded, ranking
Pezzella's over any other local burger, even Clarke's.
Then he tried the Armadillo Willy's version, which has a roll crispy
enough to shine.
"That's more like it," he said. "Armadillo Willy's pretty much nailed
For Geoff, it was Armadillo Willy's by a nose. Though it had less meat
(one patty instead of Pezzella's historically correct double patty),
the bun was more like sourdough, and it had more sauce with a "heavier"
and "spicier" flavor to it. It also came with crispier tater tots.
Armadillo Willy's was closer by price, too. After all, Linda's was far
from fancy. One former restaurant supervisor remembers using his whole
arm to mix large batches of the sauce in a vat the size of a garbage
But Armadillo Willy's is serving the burger for a "limited time only"
and Pezzella's may keep it around for the long run. And there's not
doubt Pezzella's makes it with a certain degree of appreciation for
Mountain View. Chefs Ralph and Maria Pezzella are in their 40s now, but
both remember the Parisian burger "distinctly."
"They do it with a little bit of love because they remember it," Pat