Monday, February 7, 2011

The Livestock Cafe

Beautiful Okanogan County.  Home, sweet home.  From the snowy peaks to the verdant valleys; from the lycra playground of Mazama to the productive orchards of Malott; from sagebrush to Ponderosa pines; Okanogan County boasts of open spaces and not a lot of people.  With only four stoplights in the county and 7.5 persons per square mile, complaints about rampant urbanization are usually tongue-in-cheek.  It's far easier to complain of few cultural activities and commercial choices, but even that is not really fair.   In any month, with a little effort one can enjoy locally produced theater, music, and fine art exhibits, even in our tiniest hamlets.  If you stop to converse with your waitress or cashier, you shouldn't be surprised to find her conversant in the finer points of Balinese gamelan, or Spanish wines.

Now food, food can be a bit of a problem at times.  In any part of the county, the stranger would do well to ask the locals where to go for lunch, for the eating establishments are not obvious, often closed, and few and far between.   Methow Valley residents, upon hearing of a neighbor's visit to far-flung Tonasket or Brewster, invariably ask, "Is there anyplace good to eat around there?"

Parked cars in front of the entrance don't help the ambience.
So it's high time some intrepid eater/reporter tackled the job of restaurant reviews around here.  It may as well be me.  I'll start with a mostly overlooked gem of a greasy spoon, Okanogan's Livestock Cafe.

With no street presence (there is a sign that says "cafe"), and unlikely location at the front of Okanogan's livestock auction yard, one could hardly be blamed for driving right past the Livestock and never stopping.  But I'm suggesting you stop, and here's why:  you can get breakfast all day, or a "livestock" burger with homemade french fries, or chicken-fried steak (yes Tony, you heard me), AND rub elbows with the hardworking orchardists and cattlemen of the valley who already know it's good.  Claude Miller was having lunch there today and that's good enough for me.

Bacon cheeseburger
Frank and I each ordered burgers with fries.  I honestly couldn't have been happier with my food, and look how much was on the plate!  The fries were made from scratch, hot and greasy.  You get your pop in a can, but you can always ask for a cup of ice.

The woman at the next table got the soup of the day (navy bean), and it came with a hunk of cornbread!  Coffee refills appeared regularly.

The interior is shabby, a little grimy, and pretty much as it was in the 50s.  They have counter and table seating.  Pictures of prize bulls adorn the walls.  Here's a fabulous mural from 1952 that I just had to show you.

From Highway 97 in Okanogan, (going north) turn left immediately after the casino, follow the frontage road to the first intersection and turn right on Rodeo Trail.  Pull into the livestock auction yard.  Park among the large muddy pickup trucks.  Go on in the door; don't be afraid; they'll be glad to see you.  Your waitress will even open your can of pop for you.

1 comment:

  1. Thomas and I almost started crying when we saw that picture of the bacon cheeseburger and fries. How could you do that to us? And chicken-fried steak - are you trying to kill me? On the plus side, you're guaranteed to get a visit from us now. :)