Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs The big buzz in the newsroom at 7:30 p.m. Thursday was the impending arrival of a new hot dog kiosk on Lincoln Avenue. Why such a fuss? Some of my younger colleagues were excited at the prospect of devouring large quantities of budget-friendly late-night dawgs.
I was preoccupied when the friendly banter first broke out, but after a few minutes of reflection, I caught up with them. After all, I grew up in the heart of America’s sausage belt in south central Wisconsin. Brats, not wieners, are king from Sheboygan all the way down to Madison, but I was raised to honor all forms of sausages.
One of the memorable days of my youth was the day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile toured our neighborhood (picture a man driving a giant fiberglass hot dog mounted over the top of a truck chassis).
During my early adulthood, I occasionally found myself seeking sustenance at 1:30 a.m. But in the winter of 1972-73, it wasn’t frankfurters we hungered for; it was doughnuts fresh out of the fryer.
There was a little commercial bakery located in an alley off Monroe Street just off the campus district in Madison, where ladies wearing hairnets were rolling out dough, cutting doughnuts by hand and dropping them in boiling oil. Nothing ever tasted so good.
When I first started work at the Steamboat Pilot, former publisher Chuck Leckenby had a trade-out with a doughnut shop in the 700 block of Lincoln Avenue that netted two-dozen donuts that perched by the coffee machine every morning. It’s a healthy thing that the newspaper no longer swaps ads for doughnuts.
It may have predated my arrival in the ’Boat, but there was once a Dairy King where Canton is now. If you ever ate there, you probably recall that Eloise Moore ran the joint and the waitresses wore roller skates to deliver blueberry milkshakes to the customers.
The Sidestep was once a couple of doors away, where Johnny B Good’s Diner is today. Cooper Barnett ran the restaurant, and longtime Steamboat personalities Cathy Hirschboeck, Deb Proper and Millie Beall waited tables. I’ve heard that if you’re really tight with Barnett, you still might receive a jar of the old Sidestep burrito sauce during the holidays.
The Goode Taste Crepe Shoppe on Fifth Street was a Steamboat staple for breakfast and lunch, or breakfast at lunch, until the Good News Building blew up. Literally. I can recall that the restaurant had a functioning dumbwaiter.
Moon’s Burger Barn in the Old West Building and Burger Express had the best hamburgers on the west end of town.
I never had the chance to eat at The Ski Inn, just east of Del’s Jewelry, but I hear the French toast and grilled cheese sandwiches were top shelf.
If it was a rowdy cowboy bar you sought, they served food in The Hatch, a honky-tonk in the basement of the Harbor Hotel. The only place for Asian cuisine in those days was the dark and mysterious dining room in The Cove, with its tropical fish tanks. The chef was Mr. Tong, and like The Hatch, The Cove was in the Harbor.
The Cantina is among the longest surviving restaurants on the Steamboat scene. How many of you recall the Rathskellar in the basement of the Cantina?
I know I’ve omitted some of Lincoln Avenue’s best restaurants that have come and gone. So anyone who cares to add to the list is invited to chime in.