johnny rebs’ / trip to calico ghost town | victorville, ca

Over President’s Day Weekend, Jake and I took the kids on a little road trip out to Barstow – the halfway point to Las Vegas – a place where there is not a whole lot to do. Our actual destination for the weekend was the Calico Ghost Town which was holding a Civil War battle reenactment that weekend. I’ve got a keen interest in the Civil War – when I was in college I discovered I really liked history and took a few classes regarding the Civil War and American History and have been interested in it ever since!

We left Friday night and drove up in a terrible rain storm. The traffic was horrid, visibility was low, and what should have been a 3 hour trip overall dragged out and it took us about 4 hours just to get to Victorville where we planned a stop for some grub at a joint called Johnny Rebs. The name of the restaurant was not lost on me, in fact, it was why I choose to go there and I was tickled pink about the place.

The building itself was in a renovated McDonald’s that was jazzed up to look like an old shack. The door to get in was an old wooden door with a serving spoon as the handle. Walking into the “foyer” you heard a bunch of cats, dogs, and chickens clucking as you go in to get seated. The windows are slanted, the drapes look like they’re made of old tablecloths and are held up with spoons, the “vases” of flowers are actually beer bottles and they had some tacky lamp shades hanging above the tables as well as the grill of a Mack truck hung up on the wall as decoration. I loved it! Jake and the kids seemed to get a kick out of the place as well – great atmosphere!

This somewhat blurry photo kind of shows what it was like inside.

Drinks were served in mason jars.

And  you got a bucket of peanuts to eat while you waited for your food. Shells are thrown willy-nilly on the floor, on the table, on the chairs… every which way. Another reason why I knew the kids would like this place were just because of the peanuts… Jake’s youngest went crazy for the peanuts at Five Guys Burgers last year and the same thing happened here. We even took a box of peanuts to-go to stash in the hotel room over the weekend!

Onto the food! I got a combo plate and as one of my “Fixins”, I got the “Bitty Salad” with BBQ Ranch dressing on the side. They weren’t kidding about the “bitty” part since this was a teeny salad. I needed a least one thing sort of healthy going into my belly! Very simple, basic salad. The dressing was interesting – the BBQ in the Ranch gave it a sweet-smoky flavor. I didn’t love it, but I liked it enough. Still prefer my regular ranch for dipping!

The kids both got “Tween” meals – which contain a bit more food than the “Kids” meals. They got the same thing – the Southern Fried Chicken Strips ($7.99) which came with 2 Fixins’ and a biscuit or cornbread. One kid got mashed potatoes and fries and the other got mac n’ cheese and mashed potatoes. We all got mashed potatoes. We like those a lot. The “Tween” meals were pretty big and the 2 kids could have definitely just shared a meal – we took “home” a bunch of leftover chicken strips that we stored in the mini fridge in the hotel room. The chicken strips were definitely real chicken meat (breast meat) and the bite I had was pretty tasty. The mac n’ cheese was also really cheesy and rich – I almost wish I had gotten some for myself!

Jake and I pretty much got the same thing – combo plates. I got the Combo BBQ Plate ($12.50) and Jake got the Pork Out Plate ($16.25). The difference is that I chose 2 meats and he chose 3 meats. You can pick from: St. Louis Pork Ribs, Baby Back Pork Ribs, Beef Ribs, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Beef, Hot Links, Pulled Pork and Tri-Tip. For the combos it costs a little extra to get Back Back Ribs and Tri-Tip and you can also add on Cajun Sausage, Catfish or Fried Chicken to your combo plate for $2 each.

I decided to go with the Beef Ribs and the Pulled Pork. My fixins’ included mashed potatoes and the bitty salad with the biscuit on the side. The beef ribs were crazy – I went to pick it up and the bone pulled out clean as a whistle so I ended up eating my beef with a fork and a knife! Their sauce is an “Atlanta” style BBQ sauce (North Carolina available upon request) – it was a bit sweet and had a nice flavor to it. I wasn’t knocked out of the park impressed with the beef ribs, but they were good enough. I really enjoyed the pulled pork and it was by far my favorite. Very tender and moist pork – I ended up spooning more BBQ sauce on the pulled pork because I didn’t think it had a enough! The biscuit was also very good (home made) and the mashed potatoes had a country-style gravy on them that I liked a lot.

Jake’s 3rd meat were the St. Louis Pork Ribs which he didn’t really care for – he thought they were a bit too dry. He really wanted to try the Tri-Tip since that’s one of his favorite items, but they were out of it that evening!

I wish I had room for dessert (Drop Biscuit Peach Cobbler… Pecan Pie… Fried Apple Pie… oh my) but there was no room and we still had about 20-30 minutes of driving left before we got to Barstow to check into the hotel! We were stuffed and greatly enjoyed our dinner at Johnny Rebs’.

The next day it didn’t rain (thank god) and we headed to Calico Ghost Town for a little Civil War Battle viewing. Here are a few pictures!

You can see the “Calico” mountain from way far away.

The Union troops (left) fend off the Confederates (right) as they take a stand at the school house. The smoke is from all of the cannon shootings (so loud!) and their rifles.

The Union Camp tents.

President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address speech not long after the battle.

The kids reenact part of the battle in their own way.

It was a great weekend overall, the kids enjoyed it way more than I thought (and they thought!) they would – win-win all around!

Johnny Rebs’
Multiple Locations
15051 7th Street
Victorville, CA 92392
(760) 955-3700

Calico Ghost Town
Civil War Battles take place every President’s Day weekend. $10 for adults, $5 for children (one day admission).

3 thoughts on “johnny rebs’ / trip to calico ghost town | victorville, ca

  1. What a fun weekend activity! I didn’t know a ghost town existed near Victorville. Now there’s a reason to head up there on a long, lazy weekend.

  2. The Ghost Town is actually closer to Barstow. Apparently I went here when I was a kid, but I don’t remember it. I’ve found that I remember things less when there were no photos taken. In any case, I think it’s totally fun – there are mine rides, gold panning, that kind of thing. On non-CIvil War days they do Western type shootouts and such.

  3. I have never heard of Johnny Rebbs, but we drive to Vegas pretty often (to see my parents) and sometimes it works out that it’s mealtime when we’re passing through Victorville. I’ll have to put it on the list for our next trip out.

    I went to Calico once, I think after seeing a sign for it at the freeway exit? I remember it seemed like we had to drive forever once we got off the freeway and then I was surprised at how many people were at the ghost town. It’s a fun spot, but it’s really a a destination – not somewhere to stop on the way to Vegas.

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