By June 4, 2011 Read More →


By Dana Johnson

As June kicks off the summer season, the feeling of American Graffiti’s nostalgia is in the
air. Many want to breathe it, but more actually want to taste it! Look no further than Mike’s
Roadhouse to find a classic Route 66 dining atmosphere and a menu filled with hometown
Modesto flair. Street Steak Sandwiches and of course those Signature Platters with mouthboggling
BBQ Baby Back Ribs! The Roadhouse has a fully loaded bar which is also a great
way to get your Graffiti on!.

Mike Nelson, owner and head chef,
has dedicated the past 14 years to Mike’s
Roadhouse and its success. Mike said
he’s been doing this so long it’s like second
nature to him and everyone wants
to be a part of the Roadhouse! Mike
has 40 employees and some have been
there from the beginning, like Johnny
Baca and Bernie Brown.
Without hesitation, Mike boasted
about his family being a huge part of his
accomplishments in the restaurant business.
Parents, Mary and Rudy Nelson
have been an inspiration in every item
on the menu. Mary still insists on fresh
flowers in the restaurant daily! Mike has
two brothers Herman, and Dan Costa.
Dan is an extremely successful entrepreneur
with numerous acclaimed businesses
to his name, such as The Velvet
Creamery, Mallard’s, Royal Robbins,
etc. Dan, 15 years older than Mike, has
always been a true mentor by encouraging
great scenarios for Mike’s wanted
success. I gather that the entire family
has been full of passionate “foodies”
for generations!
Mike, age 44, was born,
raised, and has never
lived outside of
Modesto. He graduated from Davis
High School. He earned his culinary
training from working in the family
restaurants starting at the ambitious age
of nine! From bus boy, food prep, sandwich
maker, and an ice cream master he
had a fun beginning and was being self
taught into a culinary professional. He
also remembers at age nine making his
Mom a chicken and asparagus omelet
for breakfast on Mother’s Day, priceless!
Mike has been married to Shelly
Nelson for two and half years. They
met via family ties. Shelly also works
3 days a week at the restaurant as the
lead server, trainings, and uniforms. In
their rare free time they love to indulge
in trips to different spas. They have a
one year old daughter, Ava Mary, a
living doll, see her cuteness @ mikesroadhouse.
com. Shelly told me of how
simple things make Mike happy and
that he’s a big kid at heart, especially at
Disneyland. Shelly says he’s a wonderful
Daddy who loves to make-up songs
about Ava and sings them to her, plus
there is funny dancing involved! That
I’d like to see!
Mike has two favorite dinners that
he was raised on, ribs and meatloaf. Favorite
spice is garlic! His favorite dessert
is an old fashioned chocolate cake
his wife makes. His favorite cocktail is
Jack & Coke. Sports cars and big trucks
are his hobby. He also is a baseball fan.
I’d bet these fav’s would parallel those
of many American Graffiti fans far and
Mike would like to be remembered
for his gratitude andintegrity as he
stands behind his family and business.
Mike is rightly proud of his long-term
relationships with the community and
his loyal customers. He is a supporter of
numerous charities such as, the American
Caner Society, Mission Salvation
Army, and high school fundraisers.
Mike’s Roadhouse is well known
for its quality fresh ingredients from local
growers and vendors. Turkey, beef,
& corned beef are roasted daily. 153
items to choose from on the menu. The
customer service is obviously a priority
from the moment you walk in until
the moment you exit. Mike calls it
a “Cheers” like atmosphere as his staff
genuinely cares about the customers
and gives great customer service.
As I dined on Mike’s BBQ Baby
Back Ribs that take 4 1Ž2 hours to prepare
he described the sauce as a “sweet
non acidic glaze” I got caught up in the
Dana-licious moment that I simply devoured
them! The coleslaw was fresh
with a home-style flavor often hard to
come by! Looking forward to trying the
dessert menu next visit, especially the
deep-fried cheesecake! has upcoming
special events posted like American
Graffiti car shows, daily specials, full
catering service, and much more!
Beatles or Stones? “Neither, neither,
neither… I’m a country junkie!” I
wanted to say what country?!, but I held
my tongue for the sake of the ribs!
Pork Baby Back Ribs
Start with a petite pork rib
Steam cook for 1.5 hours
Cook with Pilsner Beer sauce
1 cap of liquid smoke
Do a garlic rub
Slather with Mike’s Secret Sauce
(Shh….it’s Brown Sugar, Mollasses and Mustard)
Finish off and mark on the Mesquite Broiler
Serve and dive in

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