Nostalgia is, among many things, an adventure into the past. True, nostalgia is technically a wistful yearning for a time or place in one’s own past, but that seems so limiting! One of the first rules of adventuring is that there are no rules in adventuring, which means that you can wax nostalgic about your childhood or your grandmother’s. You can yearn for Paris from your year abroad or Zelda Fitzgerald’s Paris of the 1920s. Exploring this feeling opens lots of fun doors and if we’ve learned anything from C.S. Lewis, it’s to open doors!
Two things that seem to garner intense nostalgia are Route 66 and the 1950s. In fact, this place and this time period will, if you follow The Daily Adventurer long enough, probably pop up multiple times. Sorry not sorry. You will also read a lot about Disneyland because we can’t ever get enough of Walt’s world. So what would happen if something combined Disneyland, Route 66, and the 1950s? Well, we’d probably cause a rip in the fabric of time, but we’re willing to take that chance for you, dear readers, as we sh-boom our way over to Radiator Springs to eat at Flo’s V8 Café. Buckle up, kids.
Radiator Springs, if you are unfamiliar, is the fictional town located along Route 66 in the Pixar movie Cars. Its real-world counterpart is Cars Land, located in Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim. As replicas go, this one is truly astonishing. Every last detail has received the Disney treatment, including Flo’s V8 Café. It’s the fifties diner you wish all fifties diners could be and more. The pinks and teals are vibrant, the chrome is shiny, and the neon begs to be photographed.
Of course, this is Cars Land, so the diner has been designed specifically around its owner. The sassy and sleek Flo used to be part of a girl group known as the Motorama Girls and her diner is a showroom homage to that musical past. Even the jukebox at the counter holds Motorama Girls hits like “It Takes Two-Tone, Baby” and “Cruise Into My Life”. The waitresses wear teal uniforms with crisp white aprons, familiar fifties tunes play in the background, and the clocks are made of white wall tires.
Inside you can hang a right and sit in Doc Hudson’s clinic if that’s your thing, but the real action happens on the left. This is Flo’s turf. Old articles are framed on the walls telling the story of the Motorama Girls, a giant Motorama Girls mural takes center stage, and a rearview mirror that looks like an old prop from The Incredible Shrinking Woman hangs overhead. You can sit at a table facing the desert landscape of Ornament Valley and catch a few fast laps of the Radiator Springs Racers or you can venture outside to sit among the old fashioned gas pumps.
Luckily for hungry diners, Flo’s isn’t only about ambience. The menu here is something right out of June Cleaver’s kitchen. You won’t find any hipster nonsense here. Okay, that’s not totally true. They may not have foraged, artisanal truffle donuts served with bacon foam, but they do have tasty aiolis and IPAs. But any slightly gourmet tones are well hidden in homemade, down-home, comfort food that’s served up in a jiffy. Waffles and French Toast for breakfast, Roast Beef & Cheddar for lunch, a Turkey Dip for dinner, and sides of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese for days. All the great diner classics without the threat of roadside food poisoning!
Are we forgetting something? Oh yes, only the best desserts in Carburetor County. Flo’s “Made Right Here” Pie-O-Rama Pies are the reason the term “mouth watering” was created. Apple-Cheddar and Chocolate Mud are the tops and pair nicely with a classic shake (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or neopolitan) in a souvenir glass.
A little bit of Route 66 lore combined with the be-bopping 1950s all wrapped up in a Disney package. We never thought we’d be recommending a restaurant inside a theme park, but it’s absolutely impossible to resist Flo’s V8 Café.