With its collective cheese history, miniature horses and non-racist mascots, Watonga is a great small town to visit and spend a few dollars in; I threw down some of my own cash this past Friday at the metal-encased diner known as the Eagle’s Nest, 1201 Eagle Lane.
Located across from the high school, the Eagle’s Nest is an edible tribute to the Watonga Eagles, with wallpaper made from yearbook photos and framed football helmets over the tables. But, as I sat in the dining room that resembled a fabricated building, one that houses booster club flapjack fundraisers and volunteer fire department chili cook-offs, I realized the Nest is so much more than just Watonga’s version of The Max.
Numerous locals filled the sturdy tables around lunchtime, many of them appearing to order the half-pound Eagle Burger ($6.99) from the specials board, set close to the register and written quickly in erasable marker. As these plates came out to the various tables, covered in chili and cheese, I told the youthful waitress that one of those sounds pretty good to me.
My pal Jodie, on the other hand—who was getting over a recent sickness of sorts—ordered the other item on the specials board, the Chicken Noodle Soup ($6.99) and, as an appetizer, the appealingly monikered Boneless Chicken Chunks ($6.99).
And while fried bits of chicken were sure to be expected at the Eagle’s Nest, one foodstuff that was not expected, at all, was the Filipino delicacy of Lumpia ($1.50), which I simply had to order, if only for curiosity’s sake; I mean, really, how good can Filipino food taste in the rural burg of Watonga?
Pretty darn good, as it turns out. Handmade by the Filipina chef that rules the kitchen—I think she might be the owner as well—the larger-than-usual Lumpia rolls were the perfect surprise on this already surprising trip, the thin crepe skin clinging tightly to the savory chopped meat that was generously minced inside.
As I munched slowly on the deep-fried treat, dipping it in its spicy sauce and making every bite count, Jodie smacked her lips on the almost-as-exciting Boneless Chicken Chunks, featuring small portions of chicken freshly fried and piled into a welcoming bowl. After a few clucks, we surmised that more chicken should be served in chunk form.
As with most things at the Eagle’s Nest, the Chicken Noodle Soup was, refreshingly, made from scratch as well; the bowl was filled with thick-cut pieces of chicken, fat noodles and, most surprisingly, a few runaway dumplings that, at least I thought, really made the whole thing worth the scant price. Jodie seemed to like it quite a bit, her remaining vestiges of sickness dissipating. Hopefully.
Served as open-faced as a sandwich can be, the Eagle Burger was even better than I could have imagined; a half-pound patty of beef, mercilessly drowning in hot chili and nacho cheese, and topped with jalapenos and onions—I think a bun was somewhere in there too. While many of you might glare at it with an unimpressed yawn, for me, the burger soared with a unique taste that belies its concession-stand good looks.
Finishing with a hefty helping of those diner fries that crunch with a dark crackling skin, as I wiped up the errant chili and cheese with a small handful of these greasy buggers, I had to publicly admit to Jodie that I was fully caught up in Watonga’s fledging school spirit at the Eagle’s Nest. Go Eagles and cómpralo ya!