The window seat in the Horseshoe Cafe looks out over the train tracks…which were perhaps the first things to arrive in Benson, Arizona. The Southern Pacific Railroad had a junction here beginning in 1880, shuttling freight cars to nearby towns and then shipping off ore and refined metal back east.
The Horseshoe Cafe opened it’s doors in 1936, the same year the Kennedy brothers (Jack and Joe) were sent to a nearby ranch called the Jay Six. The boys were to be ranch hands on the 40,000 acre sprawl, with the intent of (in Jack’s case) recuperating from a recent illness, and to learn a little about the importance of a solid day’s work. As the story is told in Benson, the foreman worked the Kennedy boys hard enough each day to help them appreciate a good night’s sleep.
My trip to the Horseshoe Cafe was on a pass-through, heading across the country from the warm, sunny Southwest to the sub-zero Midwest with my parents, who joined me for breakfast. Unfortunately, they were unable to order the Eggs Benedict…it’s a favorite of theirs, but the Canadian bacon had not yet arrived on the truck. I don’t fault the Horseshoe for that…it’s not like Canada is remotely close by…
I of course ordered my standard breakfast. At the Horseshoe, it’s called Eggs Any Style, and the eggs were perfectly poached. Our server, Alexa (she goes by Lexi) even asked if I wanted them poached soft, medium, or hard. C’est Magnifique. The hash browns were shredded (which should be a law, in my opinion), and I’d give them an 8 out of 10, but any shortcoming there was made up for triple time by Lexi.
Lexi is older than me and has been a server for a while. I don’t know either of those as fact; I am basing the assumptions on the belt buckle and the fact that she just really knew what she was doing. Lexi’s big old belt buckle said 2010, and was a prize for winning at her favorite pastime, Barrel Racing. In conversation, this brought up dates and lengths of time, which gave me her age range…unimportant except for the fact that she is still out there running her horse around the cloverleaf. And winning. She is one kick ass woman, and so much fun to share stories with.
Lexi’s mom taught her to barrel race when she was three years old. She has three sisters, and they all learned the sport right alongside her. In fact, one of Lexi’s sisters now lives in Wyoming but is in Arizona for the winter. Lexi was looking forward to the upcoming weekend when they would race at the same event. “She’s going to win,” Lexi told me with pride. “She’s been down here cleaning house all through the circuit, all these girls here want spring to come so she can go back to Wyoming!” Lexi’s sister wasn’t leaving until after this weekend, though, because winning this Barrel Race would earn her a brand new saddle, and she had her heart set on that.
Upon returning to our table to deliver the bad news…no Eggs Benedict this morning…Lexi clinched the “favorite server of the trip” deal when my dad tried to rush my mom through her second choice pick. “Come on,” he said with impatience, “she’s waiting for your decision.” Lexi, bless her barrel-riding heart, put her hand up and said, “Hang on, now, you stop rushing her!” And she proceeded to walk my mom through the rest of the menu, helping her decide on some scrambled eggs, homemade raisin toast, and thick cut bacon on the side. Mom’s meal was the perfect choice…and the look on Dad’s face, well, quite priceless to say the least.
Click here for the Barrel Racer’s Egg’s Benedict recipe. It’s tweaked to perfection, and can only be made better with shredded hash browns on the side. Stop in to the Horseshoe Cafe and ask for Lexi…I know their Eggs Benedict would be this good.