Tucked off of California Highway 58 is the small town of Boron, known primarily for its huge Borax mine. Several military air bases and a space port are located in the area … and every military general and astronaut that comes through here knows Boron for another reason: Domingo’s, a Mexican and seafood restaurant.
Eating while traveling is one way I like to experience a place, and Domingo’s had been recommended to me. (Let’s face it, there aren’t many places to eat in Boron, California, anyway.) From the outside of the building, Domingo’s didn’t appear to be much different than other small-town Mexican restaurants I had stumbled upon, but the inside told an entirely different story.
Domingo Gutierrez has run his restaurant for more than 20 years. Its claim to fame? More than one hundred astronauts and countless generals have eaten here. It is tradition for them to eat at Domingo’s as the last meal before launching from and immediately after landing at any of the local bases or air or space ports. Domingo told me that if an aircraft lands nearby, he knows that within four to six hours he can expect to see the entire crew in his restaurant. “We’re happy to be part of their family,” he told me. “They are a big part of our community.”
The walls of Domingo’s are covered with signed photos, memorabilia from space missions, flags flown in military missions and commemorative flight tokens. One plaque thanks Domingo for his support in setting 50 B-1B world speed records. In his office, he showed me his VIP invitation to the ST-128 Discovery mission launch for August 6. He will be joining the crew for their last meal on Earth before the launch, and then he will get a front row seat as they blast into orbit.
Despite being famous among the airborne elite, Domingo is in the restaurant business because he loves it—not for the fame. “This isn’t a job, it’s a hobby,” he said. “I am lucky that I get to meet such great people.”