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Quirky Cuisine: Arizona’s Roadkill Cafe

With dishes on the menu like “Splatter Platter” and “Smear of Deer” and the catchphrase, “You kill it, we grill it,” wary diners might be inclined to steer a wide circle around this kitschy diner in Seligman, Arizona. But if you’re in the mood for good, rib-sticking food served up with a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, this is the place for you! Visitors can also take time to explore Seligman. With the help of longtime resident and businessman Angel Delgadillo, Seligman enjoys the title of “birthplace” of Historic Route 66. With its Old West town, kitschy souvenir shops, classic cars, and neon signs, it’s a step back in time and a must-stop spot for anyone traveling on the Mother Road. Hungry for more? Read on.

Desert Delicacies?

Why did the chicken cross the road? Well, if you’re in the quirky little town of Seligman, Arizona just a fraction over an hour east of Kingman, he almost crossed the road. At the eccentric “Roadkill Café,” it sounds like he made the menu instead. At least, that’s the case if you buy into the outrageous humor of restaurateurs Debbie and Bruce Mejia. If you dare to step past the hungry stare of a super-sized buzzard, you will find a welcoming, rustic interior and friendly, courteous staff. Now, while the featured fare on the diner’s menu does boast some rather dubious monikers, there’s no actual roadkill served. The Mejia’s have just put a humorous spin on some good, old-fashioned diner fare. Sometimes, however, folks miss the joke. Customers have been known to arrive with their own “Highway Hash” in hand!

A Slice of History with Your Pie

There’s more to The Roadkill Café than funny food. If you’re motoring west past the quiet little town of Ash Fork, you come to a winding section of highway resplendent with natural beauty. Crookton Road takes you through scenic hills and sprawling vistas just ripe for an Instagram post. But it will also take you right into the town of Seligman, home of The Roadkill Café, where you can get a slice of history to go with your pie.

Long before the Santa Fe line was laid, Seligman was settled by the Havasupai people. As years went by, it became a familiar stop on Beale’s Wagon Road, an old trade route forged between Arkansas and California. Before it was ever known as Seligman, the town that sprang up was called Prescott Junction. A hopping stop on the old Santa Fe line, the name changed in 1862. Seligman’s namesake was Jesse Seligman, who helped finance many of the western rail lines. Seligman continued its rise when Route 66 was built, as tourists flocked to the town with its magical neon signs, the OK Saloon, and the Navajo Motel with its refreshing pool. The magic wouldn’t last, however. Like so many small towns along the Mother Road, Seligman became a virtual ghost town as travelers began to bypass it in favor of the faster, more streamlined interstate.

But now some of the magic has returned, as Seligman has once again become a popular tourist attraction. Like a 1950s-time capsule, you can get a taste of yesteryear with mementos from some of the kitschy gift shops. Visitors with a sharp eye might spot a nod to Disney’s animated classic “Cars” around town. The well-known movie echoes the plight of many towns along Route 66. And in Seligman, Elvis hasn’t quite left the building. You can spot him resting his blue suede shoes just outside The Rusty Bolt Gift Shop. But Elvis isn’t the only famous face to grace Seligman. Personalities like rocker Ozzy Osbourne and NFL superstar John Elway have all passed beneath the buzzard at The Roadkill Café. A blanket of signed dollar bills is a testament to the dizzying array of visitors that have spent time getting as stuffed as the animals mounted on the wooden walls.

Need to work off your “Fender Tenders”? Take a walk next door and visit the historic replica of the town and storefronts, including an 1800s Arizona Territorial Jail. The Old West town has been featured in a number of movies and commercials.

Getting There

Travelers have two choices to get to Seligman and The Roadkill Café from Kingman. The fastest route is to hop on I-40E. It’s roughly an hour or so via this route. But if you truly want to get a taste of what made towns like Seligman so popular, opt for travel along historic Route 66 where you’ll have the opportunity to pass through other historic towns like Peach Springs.

So, if you’re ready to get your “kitsch” on Route 66, head to Seligman, Arizona. An easy day trip from Kingman and the Zuni Village RV Park, you can visit an Old West town, pose with Mater, and belly up to the table at The Roadkill Café where “kitsch” is always on the menu.

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