A Panorama Tour of the Hilltop Steak House in Saugus, Mass.

While cleaning our basement a few days ago, I came across a booklet entitled, "A Panoramic Tour of Hilltop Steakhouse." It made my day. I loved that place, as I am sure you did, too.

Throughout this post, I will include the pages from that booklet. May it bring back special memories for you!
The former Hilltop Steak House in Saugus, Mass. seems to take top mention in traditional and social media posts and articles asking readers which restaurants they miss most in Massachusetts or New England.

It all makes perfect sense. From 1961 to 2013, the Hiltop Steak House immediately appeared larger than life on Route 1 with its myriad fiberglass cows out front and the cartoonish neon cactus sign almost 70-feet tall, as well as a parking lot accommodating 1,000 cars.

The fun, western-themed wall memorabilia and spacious dining rooms with names like Dodge City, Kansas City, Sioux City, Virginia City, Santa Fe and Carson City on two floors expertly towed the line between tacky and lovable. The 20,000 sq. ft. restaurant, which could accommodate nearly 1,500 customers, often became filled to full capacity -- thus validating media reports that the Hilltop evolved into one of the busiest restaurants in the world. Thank goodness the two walk-in meat chests behind the scenes could hold over 1,500 loins! Additionally, the Hilltop featured a separate butcher shop that seemed as popular as the main restaurant.

The Hilltop Steak House -- the brainchild of butcher Frank Giuffrida -- represented the true American Dream with a small business success story as big as the steaks (and drinks) served.

. Oh, and those steaks... the sirloin (starting at 18 ounces!), filet mignon and tenderloin. Magnificent in a delicious, unpretentious and straightforward way! The Hilltop served those dishes and other selections in big portions and at affordable prices.

Locals and travelers also loved the abundantly-served iceberg lettuce salads, broiled half chicekn, pork chops, broiled burgers and broiled halibut steak. Many considered the baked stuffed lobster pie as good as the steaks -- served with plenty of tender lobster and enough breading and butter to make the experience even that much better.

The Hilltop did things its own way, not accepting reservations or credit cards. The wait could be slightly uncomfortable in the long, crowded indoor waiting area out front. Many chose to head to the bar while waiting and became quite soused in the process -- often, seemingly, some big guy with a square head and his aggressive wife/girlfriend. I don't know why -- just an observation.

But I digress. There will never be another Hilltop Steak House. How could there be? For more than 50 years, the Hilltop had a great ride with a substance (the food) and style (the wonderfully exaggerated decor and design) that resulted in a one-of-a-kind restaurant and tourist attraction. Rare is it that a restaurant becomes a household name but the Hilltop fit that description.

It's a sad feeling knowing that the Hilltop Steak House will most likely never return as the restaurant we once knew and loved. Bur we have those memories and they can be embraced, forever.
I look forward to hearing about your personal reflections and perspectives on the Hilltop in the comment box below!

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