Photo credit: Matthew Berdyck

Area 51: Try The Worst Hamburger In The Universe

You'll be disappointed. We guarantee it.

RACHEL, Nevada - If you're an X Files fan like I am, you've seen the episode called 'Dreamland', where Mulder (David Duchovny) humorously switches bodies with Morris Fletcher (Michael McKean), after a UFO encounter outside Area 51, in Rachel, Nevada.

In that episode, the characters meet at a restaurant and bar called The Little A Le Inn.  On the show, producers used a stand-in restaurant.  That bar is actually a real place, a few miles Northeast of Area 51, which looks nothing like the bar from the episode and features what is globally known as the worst hamburger ever made, occupying the internet with thousands of one-star reviews.  

The real-life Little A Le Inn is situated in a small grouping of trailer homes, roughly 100 miles north of Las Vegas, up the infamous Extraterrestrial Highway, in a small town that is so dilapidated and sand storm battered that it almost appears as if Rachel was involved in the first atomic bomb explosion, in the 1940s.

Looking around the restaurant, at the gathering of local residents, one feels as if they just stepped into a small town that's citizens were chosen from directly from a Scooby Doo episode and truth be told, the place is just as cartoonishly goofy and amusingly creepy.  

The vibe a human visitor picks up in Rachel is you're not welcome.  The staff are rude, the locals are adversarially distant and the quality of the food is enough to make a person never return, almost as if that is what they are trying to do, to get people to stop once and never come back.  

I ordered the Alien Burger, the subject of all of those hilarious negative reviews, just as another patron walked in and ordered the same thing for the exact same reason.  

When I received my food, it was served to me by a cook who appeared to float out of the kitchen, hover across the room, who delivered it with a flat, alien smile, making me wonder if they'd hired him fresh from another planet.  Obviously, he's playing a part, as is everyone else in the room, or are they?

The man next to me excitedly took his first bite into the Alien Burger and was immediate as painfully disappointed as he'd expected, giving off an ironic vibe of be careful what you wish for.

Describing the alien burger, I'd say it's similar to a Big Mac but if you made the meat smaller, wilted the lettuce, watered down the sauce, and then put the entire thing in a steam room for about three or four hours.  

As I took my first bite, it was so bland and tasteless that I suddenly realized, maybe the cook is an alien and salt was forbidden on his home planet.  Unlike my counterpart who'd abandoned his burger after the first bite, I happily devoured mine, languishing in the terribleness of the entire affair. 

Once I choked down my last bite, I'd asked the woman behind the bar for a map to the gate of Area 51.  She immediately obliged, commenting, "There's a sign that says taking pictures is illegal, but you're allowed to take pictures."

The man sitting next to me began talking about UFO's and local Area 51 lore, the infamous black mailbox, and how nervous he was to go visit the outer gate of the no longer top secret military base known as Dreamland, Groom Lake, or Area 51, over the years.

I responded, very loudly, "The actual conspiracy at Area 51 is the groundwater content which is filled with toxic waste. The President signs an executive order, each year, making it so that members of the military who work there can't sue, because if they were forced to reveal the groundwater content, then one might know what types of experimental rockets they are building and testing on that base, based on the fuel content in the aquifers."

In true form, just as I'd finished speaking, I look up to notice everyone in the entire restaurant had stopped talking, angrily glaring at me as if I'd just revealed there was no such thing as aliens, which I guess is not good because the entire economy of Rachel is based on UFO's.

Satisfied that I'd disrupted the entire restaurant, I paid my tab, gave the bartender a $20 tip, in spite of the fact that she was cold and unwelcoming, which had the effect of suddenly softening her up.  She gave me an impassioned and surprised thank you and then I was off to locate the outer gate of Area 51, just as I noticed one of the Scooby-Doo-esque characters following me around the parking lot as I took photos.  

12 miles south of The Little A Le Inn, when I arrived at the gate of Area 51, at about 2 am, there was no one there, no guards, no security, just a desolate multi-layered security gate adorned with warning signs and ghostly flashing lights.  

When I got to the gate, I blasted Metallica, smoked a joint and waited about an hour for my people to come to pick me up - I assume I am alien from a planet that does have salt - but no one showed up to take me back to my home planet, the dirty bastards.  Eventually, I gave up and headed back to Vegas.  

On the way back, it wasn't the eerieness of the entire experience of visiting Area 51 that reverberated through me and sent tingles down my spine, but it was the utter awfulness of the hamburger I had just eaten.  

Matthew Berdyck is an experimental filmmaker, activist, musician, and US travel expert, most notably known for his national environmental campaigns. His writing pieces on the subject of toxic waste have been read by millions of people in The United States. He is the founder of, an environmental activism and EPA watchdog group.  He founded Daily Independent Journal, in 2018, to expose the sordid underbelly of reality.