By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Eating on the road at a sensible price usually boils down to cooking something up at camp. After all, you can usually save a ton of money by pulling something out of the fridge and whipping it up, as opposed to hitting a restaurant. But face it, you don’t always feel like cooking.
We feel we’ve mastered the art of eating on the cheap at franchised burger dives. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King – they’ve all heard our opinions countless times in order to score the “free McOrphaned Whopper” or whatever it is that’s offered on the register receipt as an inducement to score how clean the bathrooms are to how courteous the order taking folks are. But how many burgers can you bite before they all taste the same?
On a road trip we met some new friends in the little burg of Price, Utah. High up (nearly 6,000 feet in elevation) in the coal country, and a long ways from any “big” cities, the restaurant reviews for a lot of the local eateries are anything but complimentary. We’ve learned to be leery of restaurant review trolls, who seem to get their jollies stabbing the wait staff in the back, or greasing the floors of review sites so that the cook will slam face first on the floor.
When the group said, “Sure, join us – we’re eating at the hospital,” we dug back in the mental morgue for a review that we might have read on a joint called, The Hospital. No soap – surgical or otherwise. “The hospital?” “Yeah, sure, on the other end of town, go under the underpass, make the first right, and you can’t miss it.”
Sure enough, a right turn after the underpass showed us the Castleview Hospital, “a 49-bed acute care facility serving Emory and Carbon Counties.” Now picture a group of say 10 folks, dressed in their Sunday best, trooping into a hospital cafeteria on a Sunday afternoon. “Have you folks all been to a wedding?” we were asked. “Uh, noooo – just told there was good grub at a great price,” was all we could stammer back.
And surprisingly enough, it was good grub. Let’s see here, between the two of us we had, mashed potatoes and gravy, with roast beef. A fair sized cabbage roll, a huge green salad off the salad bar, a chunk of lemon meringue pie, a decadent chocolate something with plenty of caramel, and the cheapskate’s mandated two large glasses of ice water. Total bill, out the door? Less than $7.00. And unlike what patients normally expect, the food was not bland, cold, nor unpalatable. In fact, it was pretty good.
So, next time you’re in Small Town America, check out the local bone-pinning facility. They may serve up more than just X-rays and bandages.