At the crossroads in the old cowboy town of Salina (where Butch Cassidy was born), Mom’s Café isn’t really all that motherly, but it’s been a great Roadfood stop since long before we hit the road many years ago. In fact, this square brick edifice has been a gathering place for travelers and ranchers since 1929, and it bears the well-weathered look and seeming permanence of the rock mesas that surround the town.
The menu is classic-cafe, including excellent liver and onions at supper, but we like breakfast best. That is when the scones are fresh and hot. The scone is a Utah specialty, and always on the menu in this true Utah café. It is similar to New Mexican sopaipillas and to the Indian fry breads served at roadside stands throughout the southwest.
As the sun rises, Mom’s fills up with breakfasters for whom the close quarters are an invitation to socialize with one another. Our dining companions the morning we first stopped in included ranch hands with rodeo-trophy belt buckles, Piute Indians wearing spectacular porcupine-quill hatbands, and a pair of German-speaking tourists with backpacks on their way to hike around Bryce Canyon. The waitress used hand gestures to explain to the foreigners the difference between “over easy” and “sunnyside-up”; the cowboys showed the newcomers how do dip their biscuits in the thick, white gravy; and a Native-American coffee-hound demonstrated that a squeeze bottle of honey-butter on the table was put there so they could frost their scone.
The German couple took all the good advice looking a little confused. But finally they beamed with joy when their chicken-fried steak arrived. This was food they recognized! – the ranch kitchen cook’s version of a wiener schnitzel – made perfectly at Mom’s, the pounded-tender slab of meat encased in a luscious meltaway crust. At eight in the morning, the two well-fed travelers finally topped things off with wide slices of blueberry sour cream pie, then headed out the door for a day of hiking.