September 25, 2016

Mom’s Cafe: Salina, Utah

Discovering Small Town Utah Door-to-Door

Mom’s is featured in the book Eat your way across the U.S.A as one of the best places to eat in America and has more recently been featured in National Geographic Explorer Magazine. They haven’t let the fame take advantage of their customers. Their entrees are still very reasonably priced from $7-$9.

Salinas Utah

Service with a smile from a 17-year veteran waitress Marge Turner at Mom’s Famous Cafe. Marge told me about waiting on Ashlee Judd, who later sent a thank you note and an autographed photo. Tom Brokaw did a special report on small towns from Mom’s in the 1990s.

Salinas, Utah is famous for much more than off-road vehicle trails. Mom’s Cafe in Salinas is visited by all sorts: big, tough bikers who ride through on their choppers; tourists who come for the OHV opportunities; and even celebrities, such as Buddy Hackett and Ashlee Judd.

They all come for the experience of dining at a place that feels and appears so incredibly unchanged since it opened 70 years ago. The food has always been fresh and homemade.  The tourism the BLM trails draw in Salinas is a significant boon to their economy.

Historically, Salinas is known as the place where Butch Cassidy was born and raised before he became a gunslinger and outlaw. Although Salinas doesn’t have much of a gang problem today, residents seem proud that one of the oldest and most well-known “gang-bangers” in the country got his start by getting into trouble on their streets.

I entered the Salinas Barber Shop after doing a double-take; completely stupefied by a sight I’d never seen in Salt Lake: a teenage boy pulling weeds and actually perspiring as a result of the exertion. This bizarre display led me to inquire. Inside I met lifelong barber Zane Hatch, who had hired the young man.

Zane Hatch of the Salinas Barber Shop

“He’s a good kid, but it’s only his first day helping me.”

I spent about an hour with Hatch. He has been all over Utah and visited many of Utah’s best small towns. Hatch asked me if I’d heard of Koosharem, Utah. When I told him I didn’t, he acted like I didn’t know jack.

“You don’t know Utah if you haven’t seen Koosharem, Utah – home of the best hardware store in America.”

True or not, at least I knew where I should go next on my trip.