Celebrate the fact that no matter how you ended up in this state, the conditions were not so arduous as they were for those crossing the Oregon Trail. As the game taught you, meals were procured by someone who was a good shot—you miss, you go hungry. That’s no longer a problem for road trippers in the area, where filling up at Mal’s Diner (218 A St. W, Vale, 541-473-3925) is as easy as pointing at the menu. Like a tribute to the restaurant in Happy Days, with black-and-white checkered floors, records plastered on the walls and retro chrome barstools, the portions here are large and the prices a steal. If you want to stick to the theme of this trip, the Hwy 20-26 Burger is a smoky-sweet stack of bacon, onion ring and barbecue sauce. For those who’d rather take a food challenge and lean into modern overindulgence, order the Monster. For $29.95, you get two half-pound patties stuffed with grilled onions, bacon and jalapeños and topped with slices of Swiss and American as well as an egg. All that is bookended by two grilled cheese sandwiches that serve as a bun. If you can stomach the abomination along with a mound of chili fries and a mega shake, you’ll secure a spot in Mal’s Hall of Fame—along with the possibility of an early death. Hey, it sure beats dysentery.
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