The Washington Times - August 9, 2009, 06:13PM

by JoAnna Haugen, special to Donne Tempo Magazine

Boron, CA…The chimichangas at Domingo’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant are heaped with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Fajitas sizzle and pop. Generous portions of rice and beans spill over the plates.

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To say this is not your local Taco Bell is an understatement.

But visitors to this small and unsuspecting eatery tucked in the high desert country on a quiet road in Boron, California, are in for a treat that far exceeds the taste of just hot tortilla soup and spicy salsa.

Domingo's Mexican & Seafood Restaurant, Boron, CAStrategically located near Edwards Air Force Base, the Mojave Air and Space Port, and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Domingo’s has become the place for anyone related to air and space travel to dine pre-departure and immediately after landing.

More than 100 astronauts and countless generals, as well as service men and women, have participated in this culinary tradition.

“When they come here, they come to Domingo’s,” says Domingo Gutierrez, owner of the restaurant.

With its unique place in aviation history, Domingo’s has become a museum of sorts filled with unique air and space travel paraphernalia. Adorning the walls is a flag flown over Iraq onboard a B-1B hanging near a certificate thanking Gutierrez for his support in breaking 50 B-1B world speed records.

Badges and buttons are squeezed between signed pictures and posters. A model train circles the restaurant, pulling two miniature spaceships on the caboose.

Domingo's Mexican & Seafood Restaurant, Boron, CAIn a back office, Gutierrez has even more memorabilia including a parachute rope from Mission 126, a signed STS-126 Endeavor movie-type poster and a photograph of the ST-112 space crew wearing sombreros.

He recently received an invitation to the launch of STS-128 from Cape Canaveral in August. Gutierrez will dine with the crew before they depart, then watch the launch from the VIP section.

His rise into the ranks of air and space fame has earned Gutierrez the titles of Honorary Commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base and Honorary Mayor of Boron.

When Gutierrez opened his restaurant more than 30 years ago, however, his vision of the future was much different than the reality.

“I never thought I’d meet all these people and ride in F-16s,” he says. “This isn’t a job. It’s a hobby. I get to meet such great people.”

And though he has achieved a certain level of distinction among astronauts, the owner of Domingo’s has never forgotten his top priority to them: serving a high-quality, memorable Mexican meal with excellent customer service.

For the undecided air and space personnel who visit his restaurant, he says, “I suggest they have fajitas with chicken and shrimp.”

On one occasion, an astronaut was craving steak and potatoes, so Domingo’s made it happen.

“We aim to please every guest,” Gutierrez says.

411:

Domingo’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant
27075 20 Mule Team Road
Boron, California 93516
760.762.6266

Author’s bio: JoAnna Haugen writes from Las Vegas, where she can often be found planning her next great adventure. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, her travels have taken her from the waters of the Nile River to the rainforests of Australia and the Inca Trail in Peru. Follow her journeys at Kaleidoscopic Wandering.

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

Domingo’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant in Boron, California, offers flavorful food and a taste of aviation history. Friday, June 26, 2009, photo by Cory Haugen.

Restaurant owner, Domingo Gutierrez shares his stories about being involved with the air and space industry at Domingo’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant in Boron, California. Friday, June 26, 2009, photo by Cory Haugen.