Oh, John’s Pizza Works, how thou hast saved me many a drunk evening where, in the one-horse town of Mammoth Lakes where no restaurants seem to stay open past 8 p.m., you offer pizza, wings, beer and liquor until midnight (or 11 p.m. on weekdays).
Your food is delightfully average, save the uber-local favorite, the Matsu Wings (named for an old school Mammoth restaurant, Matsu, which apparently bequeathed the sweet-spicy Asian recipe to John’s when they closed).
Your drinks are overpriced, and your bartenders constantly rotating. Your busboys are clueless and your atmosphere is far too loud, and what on earth are you doing serving poke?
But yet, I always come back to you. After 8 p.m., that is. Or when there’s a football game and I feel like drinking all day. Or when I need those sweet, sweet Matsu wings in my belly.
The thing is, John’s is one of those places that offers up everything, and therefore really only does a handful of things close to well.
They have ice cream, and if you’re craving it at 10 p.m., the slightly freezer burnt Dryers is awesome. But if I was going for ice cream at 7 p.m., I’d probably hit up Bongo Froyo or the Mammoth Fun Shop.
They’ve got a chicken fettuccine Alfredo for $16 (with broccoli and mushrooms), and I’ll let you use your imagination as to how it is. They do fries, and onion rings, and garlic cheese bread, and pepperoni rolls, and a couple of salads. They do that thing where they sell faux-unique “cilantro lime” and “asian chicken” salads, but they put cherry tomatoes on both of them. I just can’t fathom what that’s about, but John’s isn’t alone in this folly.
But, let’s be honest, John’s Pizza Works is drunk food (or feed-your-kids-so-they’ll-shut-up food), and you know you’re just going to get that giant BBQ chicken pizza ($34) that will feed a hungry crowd. And that’s not a bad thing.
Sarah Rea is a freelance dirtbag-turned-journalist who has been living in the Sierra on and off for twenty years, with eight spent in Yosemite National Park and five in Mammoth Lakes. She likes dogs, rocks, good food and jumping into cold water.