Remember when all of suburban Long Beach was bean fields as far as the eye could see? The hollow plastic cow perched atop the Rockview Farms sign on Bellflower and Del Amo does. So does the Milk Barn Dairy, in operation since sometime in the 1930s and one of the last still-operating drive-through convenience stores in Long Beach.
But Milk Barn is more than just a place to get all nostalgic by staying in your car when buying a gallon of Old Bessie's teet juice.
For a hot meal that goes beyond microwave burritos and AMPM hot dogs, roll your car straight through the store's main drive-up and park in front of Milk Barn Pizza, an auxiliary walk-up lunch spot that dishes out Americanized Italian grub from the property's former feed house.
Sometime in the 1970s--with bean fields and visitors on horseback no more--owners installed a small kitchen in the Milk Barn's back building and with the new tract homes being built around it in all directions, the family friendly food hub thrived.
Pizza here is pan-style, crispy and greasy like you'd get at the roller skating rink, with toppings buried under layers of chewy baked cheese. During lunchtime, buying by the slice is more economical and they have both pepperoni ($1.50 per slice) and cheese ($1) pizzas pre-cooked in the heated carousel case by the ordering window.
A $5.99 lunch special gets you two slices, a nice-sized garden salad and a can of soda, redeemable with your receipt over at "The Barn" itself. If you've brought a crew with you, a large four-topping pizza is still under $20 and locals swear by the tri-tip, a usual sandwich ingredient so tender and smothered in BBQ sauce it easily doubles as a pizza topping.
Though not as often heralded as the pizza and tri-tip sandwiches, Milk Barn's spaghetti also helps annul cravings for tangy Americanized sauce. Available in sizes of small ($3.65) to XXX-large ($23.95), it ain't L'Opera, but it's not supposed to be. Basic pasta noodles are cooked al dente and heaped in a pile before being topped with scoops of sweet tomato sauce and a single store-bought meatball.
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Another $5.99 lunch special gives you their generous small portion with a garden salad and a slice of buttery garlic bread for an adult-sized kid's meal better than what you'd attempt at home.
One of the best parts about visiting the Milk Barn is talking to the shop owner while you wait for your food. Walk over to buy your drinks and wander around the old school store while he helps out drive-through customers and answers your probably prying questions about the history of the area and the business.
"They built these houses for the servicemen returning from World War II," he'll say. And by the time you're shoveling pizza and a can of Coke into your face at the picnic tables outside, the rest of the neighborhood seems to fall away, replaced by bean fields as far as the eye can see.
Milk Barn, 4855 N Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 421-7666