California Zephyr 1957 Dinner Menu

Here’s a Cal Zephyr menu dated March, 1957. I previously presented a menu dated April, 1957, and despite the small separation in time the two are very different. Both are about the same size and same layout, but the paper used for the two are very different. The March menu is rough and has a deckled edge while the April menu is smooth with straight edges.

Click image to download a 1.5-MB PDF of this menu.

Like the April menu, the March menu had been cut and had holes punched for insertion into the Rio Grande Commissary files, but in this case I “repaired” the damage in Photoshop.

Inside, the menus are as different as the paper. Rocky Mountain trout–a tradition on the Rio Grande–was replaced in the March menu by Monterey abalone steak. The other five table d’hôte meals are different as well. Three of the six desserts are different, as are the soups, appetizers, and the single salad.

The a la carte side is similarly varied. These menus differ from others we have seen in that the appetizers, entrées, vegetables, and desserts on the a la carte side are all part of one of the table d’ôte meals. Among the entrées the only exception is the sirloin steak on the table d’hôte side, which is replaced by ham and eggs on the a la carte side. The a la carte side also offers several sandwiches, and–strangely, considering the other parallels between the two sides of the menu, the soup on the a la carte side isn’t found on the table d’hôte side.

Table d’hôte meals are all 75 cents more than the same entrées on the a la carte side. That 75 cents buys soup, vegetable, dessert, and beverage (and a discount on a salad), which together are worth about $1.25 (not counting the salad) on the a la carte side. The most expensive thing on the menu is broiled sirloin steak, which is $4.75 (about $40 today).

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