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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   THE DISH
Great Finds - The Saugus Cafe
March, 2006 - Issue #17
The Santa Clarita Valley is rich with history. We have Vasquez Rocks on our border and the Oak of the Golden Dream, San Francisquito Dam, William S. Hart Park and Mentryville all within our city limits. Our rapidly growing community has a unique blend of old and new, past and present, that makes our city vibrant with culture and tradition. Our Great Find this month contributes to the history of our valley by being the oldest restaurant in Santa Clarita. The Saugus Cafe has been feeding hungry SCV patrons since 1887 - that's over a century of good food and satisfied customers.

Joseph Herbert Tolfree opened the cafe's doors in September of 1887 at the depot of the Saugus Train Station. Since then there have been numerous actors, directors and even a few United States presidents that have eaten at the popular restaurant. In 1905 the cafe was moved to its current location on San Fernando Road and quickly became a Santa Clarita staple.

Customers will be overwhelmed with nostalgia when they walk into this old cafe. The walls and counter tops are covered with historical references that will have you continuously gazing around. But try not to become too distracted because when your order is brought to the table there will be plenty of work to be done. The Saugus Cafe does not skimp when it comes to filling the bellies of its hungry customers. Most heaping entrees are accompanied with bread and salad, which are a nice complement to the main course.

Restaurant manager Gail Johnson, who has been with the restaurant for the past 30 years, says that customers will be pleasantly surprised to find unique items on their menu. Hobo Chicken, for example, is half a bird wrapped in foil with fresh vegetables and spices all baked to perfection. This signature dish gets its name from the way old hobos used to cook their dinner - basically throwing a bunch of ingredients together. This is one of the many recipes that Johnson says date back many decades.

The cafe offers specials that change daily. In order to please all patrons the staff try to incorporate several different cuisines on their special's board. So, much like their diverse menu, there's bound to be something you crave; whether it's Italian, Mexican or American. "It's old, there's no getting around it," explains Johnson, "but people come here for the atmosphere, its homey and not corporate. We're all friendly and fun and you can expect to have a good time."

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this eatery can satisfy any craving at any time. Try the Eggs Benedict - they are to die for! And for you vegetarians, my sister is addicted to their veggie burgers; she hasn't found one this delicious anywhere else. Regardless of what you order, everything is cooked daily using only the freshest ingredients. Open 24 hours a day, Johnson suggests trying the restaurant's Bloody Mary after a night of drinking - she claims they are great hangover cures.

The Saugus Cafe has stood the test of time - our city wouldn't be the same without it. So, stop by the month's Great (and oldest) Find and get a little taste of history.

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The Saugus Cafe is located at 25861 San Fernando Road in Saugus.
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