Adventures in travel dining. Mom’s Cafe, Salina, UT. – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Mom's Cafe, Salina, UT

Mom’s Cafe, Salina, UT

We’d been driving all morning non-stop, and now it was time to refuel the Audi and grab a late lunch.

Exiting I-15, we pulled off to Salina, UT, which looked to be the stereotype American small town. – a main street with businesses, a gas station, and not much else.

It’s nearly 2:00 PM and our morning’s continental breakfast at the motel has run out, and we’re looking for lunch.  Ingrid points to Mom’s Cafe as we roll slowly past the eatery and continue down the street.  As far as we can see, we’ve driven past the small concentration of businesses, and Ingrid suggests, “Let’s turn around and go back to Mom’s Cafe.”

Great idea, I think because there doesn’t look like anywhere else to eat in town.

One of the great adventures in travel for us is to discover new places to dine.  It doesn’t need to be fancy, or expensive; we’re just looking for a good – make that great – meal for a good price.  Something that’s reflects the local spirit and, if we’re lucky, showcases the local culture through its cuisine.

A wall of accolades

Entering Mom’s Cafe through the back door, we’re surprised the cafe has a wall plastered with accolades an rewards, with various newspaper and magazine articles urging, “If you’re doing a cross-America road trip, don’t miss Mom’s Cafe in Salina, UT!”  High praise indeed, and I’m happy we’ve stumbled onto the proverbial ‘hidden gem.’

Where's the chicken? in the chicken pot pie

Where’s the chicken? in the chicken pot pie

Fried, sweet dough was the 'side' to the chicken pot pie, offered with a bottle of honey-based store bought 'flavouring'

Fried, sweet dough was the ‘side’ to the chicken pot pie, offered with a bottle of honey-based store bought ‘flavouring’

We’re sad to report Mom’s Cafe was one of the most disappointing meals of the trip.

I gave Ingrid a good portion of my Chicken Pot Pie, the special of the day.

Ingrid said, “Did you get any chicken?”

“No”, I replied, “I was hoping you’d gotten it.”

The crust was undercooked, the filling over salted and with little chicken; it was just not good.

On the bright side, the lunch special was served with a side of sweet, deep fried dough.  And who doesn’t like fried dough?  Oddly, it was served with a bottle of store bought honey-based ‘flavouring’, which I should have but didn’t try.

If dining can be categorized as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the Chicken Pot Pie definitely falls into The Bad bin.  That’s too bad.

To be positive, I’ve always said that on any journey, one has to experience a mediocre or bad meal every once in a while.  I call this ‘benchmarking’, and such unremarkable meals are a way to remind our palates what really good food tastes like when we get it.


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