Salt Flats Cafe is a hidden gem in Wendover
Wendover • Sometimes good things can be found in strange places.
Take, for example, the Salt Flats Cafe, which is located in the Sinclair Station truck stop off Interstate 80 just east of Wendover.
Owner Marcelo Escobedo and his son Jorge along with a busy staff have served basic Mexican and American meals at reasonable prices since opening 13 years ago.
According to Jorge Escobedo, his father became tired of working for the nearby Nevada casinos as a cook and wanted to open his own restaurant. He found this hole-in-the-wall and opened during Speed Week, which brings land speed record enthusiasts from all over the world into Wendover.
The Southern California Timing Association's 65th annual Speed Week is now underway and today, organizers say it brings more than 500 speed enthusiasts to the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Speed Week is a special time for the Escobedos and their staff as many fans return year after year to say hello.
"A lot of people recommend us. Some found us on Google," explained Jorge, who never writes down an order but always gets everything right, even with large parties.
Everything is made on site, except the tortillas which come from a company in nearby Elko, Nev. The most expensive menu items are $8.95 for shrimp and steak or shrimp fajitas. Ceviche tacos and baja chicken are also available.
The salsa the Salt Flats Cafe is cool, fresh and possesses just the right amount of zip. Portions are huge with most entrees cost under $7. Menudo is served on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Pasole is available on Wednesday. The Pancho Special, at $6.95, features a chile verde burrito, steak tostada, steak enchilada, rice and beans.
Some of the tacos, especially the carne asada, taste much like those served by Salt Lake City street taco vendors and cost about the same.
The restaurant also serves breakfast including chorizo and eggs and huevos rancheros as well as American favorites and has a large children's menu.
Regulars know to bring cash, as the Salt Flats Cafe does not take credit cards. Though there is an ATM machine inside the adjacent gas station, which also sells a variety of Salt Flats souvenirs.
The little diner features an eclectic mix of customers from locals to long-distance truckers. Different languages are spoken, often because foreign visitors make the trip to see the nearby Salt Flats. The close quarters also means that strangers often join in conversation.
The atmosphere is inviting, too. There is a long lunch counter, ready with baskets filled with chips to be served. Foreign currency decorates part of one wall as does a poster of Burt Munro, the New Zealand motorcycle enthusiasts who set land speed records on the nearby Bonneville Salt Flats. Anthony Hopkins portrayed him in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian."
Escobedo is a big baseball fan, and especially likes the Cincinnati Reds. Utah Jazz memorabilia also is fastened to the walls along with photos of famous Salt Flats racers, two crucifixes and a trophy.
Cross-country travelers who accidently discover the out-of-the-way cafe are usually shocked at the quality of the food and service. Online comments such as "low prices," "authentic," "best in Wendover," and "nice staff" capture the essence of the place.
Salt Flats Cafe
This Mexican American restaurant features traditional tacos, burritos, enchiladas and tostadas. Menudo is served on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Pasole is available on Wednesday.
Where • 1 N Bonneville Speedway, Wendover; 435-665-7550
Open • 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Prices • the most expensive item is the shrimp and steak for $8.95; most entrees under $7. Cash only, no credit cards. But there is an ATM machine inside the adjacent gas station.