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A while back, I had the opportunity to serve our country for a few years, as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, which was, all in all, a rather interesting experience.  I served on "tin cans," e.g.. destroyers and frigates, and the largest ship that I ever set foot on, albeit a visitor, was a cruiser.  I've always been interested in ships and airplanes, and I'd always been curious about aircraft carriers, as they are so massive, and quite unlike anything else.  Wednesday, December 30, 2009 I happened to be on a mini-vacation in the San Diego, and had some time on my hands, so a trip to the U.S.S. Midway museum was in order.

 

Photo:  View of Fantail Caf, located on the fantail of the U.S.S. Midway, from the shore, along Harbor Dr.  The entrance to the ship, which is now a museum, is to the right of the photo.  

Believe me, this ship is gigantic and after a couple of hours exploring her massive 74,000 ton hull, I developed a need for food and drink, which seems to happen frequently in my case.  On board Midway, you're in luck, as the Fantail Caf is located on the Hanger Deck, at the far end of the ship's stern, in an area on the ship known as the fantail, hence the name of the restaurant.  To get to the Fantail Caf, naturally you must board Midway; you enter the ship at the Hanger Deck, hang a left and proceed aft, through the gift shop, go through a door to the weather deck, and you'll find yourself at the fantail of the ship, at the Fantail Caf.

 

Photo:  Yes, you're really dining aboard a decommissioned U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, as this photo illustrates... Customers are placing their orders, as I'm waiting for mine, while enjoying a cold beer and snapping photos.

 

Photo:  Friendly Marcella rings up my order.  Should I say "touches up" my order on her touch screen terminal?

You'll see tables, placed among the bollards, bitts, ladders, hoses and other ship equipment, and to your right, you'll see the order counter, and friendly Marcella behind the counter and the cash register.  The menu boards are placed on the wall, errrr... bulkhead... behind the counter, and you'll see in bold letters the major categories of cuisine the restaurant offers, such as cold sandwiches, burgers, salads, quesadillas, snacks, drinks, beer and wine. Many choices had cutesy-poo, pseudo-Navy names, such as The Admiral, The Captain Tuna Wrap, Afterburner Nachos or the Tomcat Turkey Panini.  What caught my eye was an item in the lower left-hand corner of the menu that read:  "S.O.S. Fantail Caf's creamed chipped beef on toast." That's only natural that the menu should include S.O.S., since Fantail Caf is located on a Navy ship, and S.O.S. is a staple of Navy chow.  

The joys of S.O.S.!  If you're ex-military, you either love S.O.S., or you hate it, but whatever side of the street you stand on, you'll have had the pleasure to enjoy countless meals of the stuff...  Personally, I love S.O.S., so I made a beeline over to the counter, and placed an order for S.O.S. and an M.G.D. beer with friendly Marcella, the girl who was "personing" the counter and making things happen.  

 

Photo:  Early in the afternoon, the restaurant gets quite busy, as the ship fills with hungry visitors.  Photo clearly illustrates the comfortable and clean dining atmosphere.

 

Photo:  My delicious lunch of S.O.S. looks as good as it tastes!  I never seem to be able to get enough of the stuff, and order it whenever I see that it's available.

Fantail Caf features outdoor dining at the stern of the ship, and offers a beautiful view of the skyline of San Diego, and the goings-on of Harbor Drive.  The "mess deck" is covered by the flight deck, so you're protected from the elements, yet you're outdoor, and open to the fresh air.  The climate of San Diego is very mild, as it seldom rains, and it almost never gets excessively hot or cold.  Tables and chairs are strategically placed around the deck, and each offers a great view of the city, and comfortable dining.  The only downside is you have to be a bit wary of the ever-present pigeons and sea gulls, who are looking for a handout.

 

Photo:  I pose at my table with my delicious lunch, and a nice view of Harbor Drive, and a portion of San Diego harbor in the right background of the photo.  Thanks to Marcella for snapping my photo.

Like the menu states, the S.O.S. served at Fantail Caf is creamed chipped beef on toast.  It's good, very good, as the beef is tender, the gravy is thick, and the toast is a perfect golden brown, and very thick.  The portion is generous, but not huge, and the presentation is very attractive.  I might add that it's a very pleasant experience to enjoy dine aboard the U.S.S. Midway, at Fantail Caf, and enjoy a delicious meal and a cold beer, on board a mighty ship, with a beautiful view of the city of San Diego, and San Diego harbor.  

Yes, the next time I visit the U.S.S. Midway, I will definitely dine at the Fantail Caf, and will most likely enjoy another delicious lunch of S.O.S.

Fantail Caf
U.S.S. Midway Museum
916 N. Harbor Dr.
San Deigo, CA 92132
619 544-9600
www.fantailcafe.com


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