Station 22 Café, Provo, Utah: Americana at its tastiest

A retro-soul food experience awaits at Provo's Station 22 Café.  Photo: Amelia Ames

PROVO, Ut., July 20, 2013 - A stroll through the revitalized historic downtown center of Provo, Utah reveals what happens when hipster culture collides with Pleasantville.

You get hip art gallery shows on First Fridays or a step back in time for a gentleman’s cut and a straight razor shave at Danburry Barber Shop. There is a surprisingly hot indie music scene that gave rise to the likes of the Imagine Dragons, and eco-conscious eating establishments that have thrown the norm out the window and turned their focus to fresh creations made from locally sourced, high quality ingredients.

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Station 22 Café is one of these up-and-coming restaurants that can be found on Center Street. The café is situated in the Old Town Square, a century plus old building with a narrowish storefront that you might miss if it weren’t for the eclectic music mix hand-picked by the owner. Janice Joplin and New Orleans ragtime beckon you, and after one look in the window, it’s virtually impossible to resist the temptation to check out the menu and see what they’ve got going on inside.

The restaurant décor has a Depression Era feel and was designed and decorated with objects hand-picked by owner Richard Gregory. Gregory relocated to the area from Napa Valley to manage the family’s real estate, and happily for Provo, decided to open a restaurant. The brick floors shine with patina and the walls are original to the building.

Combine that with clipboard menus, mason jars for glasses, and piano player music paper light fixtures, you are transported to a place your great-grandparents would have felt comfortable.

The wait-staff dresses to reflect the period in fedora hats and flannel shirts, and will go above and beyond from finding out who just sang the last song on the music list, to asking the chef what he puts in the fry sauce if you just need to know.

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But servers and ambiance are not why foodies go to restaurants, that’s just the gravy on the mashed (potatoes). Foodies go for the food.

Station 22 Café has got the food done right. The menu is small but varied, reflecting a lot of southern soul food influence, with everything from sage-fried chicken and fried okra to a pulled pork sandwich with grilled apple and cheddar.

They’ve got housemade root beer and craft sodas if you are looking for a different kind of beverage.

The café uses locally sourced organic hormone free beef from Pleasant Creek Ranch to make their Freedom Dip, a sandwich that dreams are made of. Slices of top sirloin beef round slow-cooked in an oven for six hours, still slightly pink, and unbelievably tender lay on the soft, fresh ciabatta roll.

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There is some sauce and some cheese involved, but the crowning jewel to this sandwich is the tempura style thick-cut sweet onion ring. The crunch and the sweet onion flavor push this sandwich out of the realm of very good, to I-must-tell-everyone-I-know-about-this-sandwich status.

You will also be unable to stay out of the perfectly crispy yet meltingly soft on the inside sweet potato wedges and that fantastic Utah condiment, fry sauce.

Station 22 Café has wide appeal for every eater, vegetarians included with what is rumored to be a secret family recipe for vegetarian corn dogs and burgers passed down through the Gregory family.

With an atmosphere that is relaxing, engaging staff, and food that is delicious, this café is the perfect spot for a business lunch or a casual meet-up with friends. If you are in Utah Valley, head over to Provo’s historic Center Street and enjoy a little slice of Americana at Station 22 Café.

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Amelia Ames

Amelia Ames is a food writer and reviewer for Communities @Washington Times.  Her column Kitchen Journeys seeks to find the best in food, and those that prepare it for us.  Read more of her recipes, reviews and news at Gastronomy Girl. She received a B.S. in Zoology-Entomology from Brigham Young University.

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