The only reasons anyone should visit my hometown are to spend the day at Six Flags Magic Mountain and to dine at the Tea Gardens Cafe. Santa Clarita, a tiny and widely unknown town, can easily be mistaken for a gas station off the 101 freeway. It offers little in the way of cuisine other than fast food chains, and the most diverse food here is In-N-Out’s Animal Style fries. However, there is one hidden gem in this town that everyone should try at least once. This one restaurant almost makes up for the blandness of the rest of the town.
This surprising little restaurant is officially named The Tea Elle C Garden Cafe, but all the locals simply refer to it as the Tea Gardens. Most don’t know about the Tea Gardens because it is hidden behind an IHOP, but if you’re undeterred by pancakes, you’ll stumble upon the adorable patio outside of the Tea Gardens. Small tables and chairs are scattered next to a beautiful garden decorated with wind chimes and bird feeders. It gives off serene vibes and would be the perfect place to have brunch with friends. Inside, there is a cool and quiet indoor seating area where you can catch glimpses of bustling cooks and waiters as they rush to serve tea and scones.
The large windows overlooking the garden create a calming atmosphere, while the works of art that adorn the walls give off faint country vibes. The relaxed environment of the Tea Gardens simulates a mature and nostalgic experience for those who have outgrown childhood tea parties.
As the name suggests, the Tea Gardens is most famous for their enormous selection of loose-leaf tea, offering over 80 different flavors that can be served hot or cold. Depending on your selection, the waiter will either bring you a large ice pitcher or an adorable teapot to warm the tea while you wait for your meal. The tea itself is relatively affordable, ranging from $5.20 for two cups to $6.99 for six cups.
The food is equally impressive. There have been many mornings on which I have dragged myself out of bed before 11 a.m. to enjoy the eggs benedict from their breakfast menu. While this only comes with two small eggs, it is served alongside homecooked, crispy hash browns. The crunch and salty flavor perfectly complement the rich and creamy hollandaise sauce. Eating breakfast while overlooking a beautiful garden is an experience you can only have at this restaurant.
Despite the heavy competition from surrounding chains, this little breakfast nook has managed to thrive here. While large chains rely on quick and cheaply made meals, the Tea Garden does the opposite. They invite guests inside to sit down and connect with one another while enjoying quality food in a beautiful atmosphere. There may not be many reasons to visit my nondescript hometown, but the Tea Gardens certainly tops the list as a unique experience that cannot be had anywhere else.