26 Macready Drive
Merced, CA 95341
Over the last eight years the economy has dipped dramatically and then slowly rebounded. This roller-coaster ride was especially hard on small businesses – specifically mom-and-pop airport restaurants. Over the years I have watched them come and go. One in particular is located at the airport in Merced. The two preceding restaurants to occupy the corrugated, hangar looking building were breakfast and lunch only places. Several years ago I stopped for breakfast only to find it boarded up, but met a guy who was taking it over and had an idea for a BBQ-Rib restaurant. He showed me around and explained his vision for the place. I thought sure, but the last two didn’t make it so I really didn’t give him much of a chance.
Fast forward a couple of years and I found not only is he still in business but thriving! On a beautiful Thursday evening last week, a friend of mine and I flew to Merced to check out Hangar BBQ. We found it hopping with about thirty patrons which seemed great even on a Thursday!
I was tempted to order the pulled pork sandwich, but since ribs are the specialty of the house, I just had to try them. My friend ordered the ribs and steak sandwich combination, he is a big guy! They both came with fries; I ordered the garlic ones, but they mixed up the order and gave me the regular ones. No matter, we shared and with coleslaw it was more than enough food for two hungry guys. The food was great; ribs were large with a lot of meat on them and the sauce was tangy but not too tangy. They also serve a variety of beer battered fried vegetables which I’ll be sure to try on the next visit.
The thing that makes this restaurant unique is that their patio area has been converted into a beach with lots of imported sand. The patio includes a covered bar, a number of cabañas and beach chairs which face the stage (live music Wednesday thru Saturday). With these features, I can see why this place would be a hit with the local college crowd. However this looked more like the over forty crowd.
Merced Regional Airport/Macready Field is located about 70 nautical miles southeast of Livermore and features a 6,000 foot paved and lighted runway. For pilots KMCE is easy to fly into without much traffic, although the airport is serviced by a commuter airline with several flights a day. If you’re passing that way on Highway 99 by automobile be sure to stop.