Dash of History: Orange Date Bar Recipe from Osterberg's Cafe in Alexandria

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Richard Osterberg opened Osterberg’s Cafe in 1921. Originally located on Lincoln Avenue in Alexandria, the cafe moved to a more prominent location on the east side of Broadway between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in 1926. The interior featured pressed-tin ceiling and wooden booths. 

The cafe was a popular eating and gathering place--especially after high school games and dances. The good-natured personality of the owners and staff kept locals and visitors alike coming back to Osterberg’s.

Richard passed the cafe down to his sons, Leanor and Tony, who operated it until around 1980 when Bill Osterberg took over. Osterberg’s Cafe closed in 1984.

Osterberg’s Orange Date Bars (early-1970s)

For the filling:
2 Tbs. flour
½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup dates, chopped
1 cup candy orange slices, sliced

For batter:
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup shortening
2 Tbs. milk
2 eggs
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°

First, prepare the filling by stirring two tablespoons flour into sugar. In a small saucepan, stir flour and sugar mixture into the water. Add dates and boil until thick. Add sliced orange candy and cool.

Blend together the ingredients for the batter in a bowl. Place half of the mixture into a buttered 16.5” x 12.5” pan or two nine-inch square pans. Spread all of the filling on top, then cover it with the remaining batter mixture. 

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Cool, then cut into squares.

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