CASTLEFORD — If you find yourself traveling out to Castleford, you won’t need to drive any farther to get a decent meal at an affordable price.
While I was out on another assignment Thursday, one of the locals suggested I head down to Tangles for lunch. A hair salon for a meal didn’t sound that appealing, but my source assured me that the restaurant behind the salon would be a safe bet.
Despite its unusual roots and appearance, Main Street Mocha in Castleford does indeed offer a delicious homemade meal for only $5. And if you stick around, you might just get to see what this small-town life is all about.
Vici Brito has owned Tangles, a hair salon and gift shop, for more than 20 years. But about three years ago, she decided to put a storage shed out back.
“I was just going to get the building for storage,” Brito told me. “Then I thought, I might as well make the storage unit pay for itself.”
Thus, it became Main Street Mocha — a small coffee shop behind the salon that required Brito to bring on Kari Derrick for additional help.
“When we opened, we didn’t even know how to make coffee,” Brito said. “My dad thought I had lost my mind.”
But it wasn’t long before they couldn’t stick just to coffee. They began offering homemade muffins, cookies and breakfast sandwiches. That eventually led to a daily lunch special, which draws many of the local high school students her way.
The menu is simple: Each day, Main Street Mocha rotates the lunch option. The rotation goes: Ham and cheese melts on Monday, tacos or burritos on Tuesday, turkey bacon wraps on Thursday, burgers or french dip on Thursday, and pizza or french dip on Friday. (If the weather’s bad for burgers on Thursday, they go with the french dip. If they do burgers Thursday, the french dip happens Friday).
With the lunch special, you also get a bag of chips and a small drink – either lemonade or iced tea, with a syrup flavoring of your choice.
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that I got there on burger day, when their turkey bacon wrap seemed to have established a good rap with the locals. But after I took the first bite of the bacon cheeseburger, I wasn’t complaining.
Brito and Derrick make each burger by hand, grill it, and then soak it in au jus broth to keep it warm and moist. When you place your order, the patty goes onto some preheated buns with the usual toppings.
The size of the patty could easily double or triple what you get at McDonald’s — and it comes just as quickly and at a better deal.
The storage shed is a tight fit. But if you want to avoid battling for space with whatever other teenagers or customers show up, Main Street Mocha also has a drive-through, as well as tables outside.
The students start coming in around noon. If she runs out of the day’s specialty, Brito can whip you up something else.
“The normal people” — that is, the adults — “have learned to come before the crowd or after,” Brito said.
“You get a lot of food for $5,” Derrick said.
I didn’t get a chance to sample the coffee — though you can upgrade your lunch meal to include one, at a cost of $8. But I did take a peek into the little gift shop and hair salon next door, where you can find some purses, belts and jewelry. Brito and Derrick said they have learned to schedule their salon clients for times when the cafe isn’t busy.
The burger itself was amazingly moist, thanks to the au jus. I tried some raspberry syrup in my iced tea, which made for a pleasant drink that wasn’t too sweet. Combined with the friendly conversation, I left town eager to return again for another $5 meal.