Our Southwest Road Food (Long)
Thanks to the advice of you folks we dined pretty well during our recent once-in-a-lifetime trip through the southwest.
Three of us (myself, hubby and daughter) flew from the east coast to Phoenix and traveled to the Grand Canyon, Mexican Hat, UT, Cortez, CO, Durango, CO, Holbrook, AZ and then Scottsdale, AZ before flying back from PHX. The trip lasted eight days.
Day 1 & 2: As per a rec here, stopped at Ranch Market near PHX, really festive and cute! Stocked up on a case of bottled water, ice and picnic supplies and was overwhelmed by the prepared food choices... finally decided on a whole bbq chicken, which came with warm tortillas and salsa (a bargain for just $6). Thought all three of us (fussy 18-year old daughter) would enjoy this as a picnic at the GC. Also bought a variety of mexican sodas.
Made it to the GC in time for sunset, but alas, the chicken was dry as a bone and made my husband and I feel ill. Daughter, however, was fine afterwards. We don't fault the market, but fault our choice. Turns out the chicken did not keep as well as we'd hoped.
Got up super early (5 a.m.) to walk around and see sunrise next morning. Ready for breakfast around 9:30 a.m. and decided to give the El Tovar on th GC south rim a whirl.... Place was nearly empty, average food (cereal, fruit, pastry, waffle all unremarkable) for above average prices... go to Bright Angel instead.
Lunch..Picnic from food we brought (can't go wrong with PB&J sandwiches), fruity mexican sodas were delicious!
Dinner, El Tovar... it was okay..steaks were totally overcooked despite specifically going over doneness with our server... Food quality was good but not memorable. Do NOT eat here thinking you will get some kind of stupendous view...you won't get anything you can't get from the hotel's porch. Not a hit but not a miss either, it was fine, though overpriced.
Day 3: Passed through Tuba City at lunch time and stopped at The Hogan Restaurant. Great rec!! Friendly service (server had served in military in CT, so we had a state in common), and good homestyle diner food and sandwiches.
On our way out of TC we spied a SONIC!! Oh my! We've seen commercials for this chain, but never an actual restaurant before. Since we had just finished lunch we didn't stop but I told my husband if we passed another one we needed to so I could get a cherry limeade... As luck would have it we came across a Sonic in Kayenta and I got to try one and my daughter had a sonic blast ice cream thingie. Very good! We also found a Sonic in Cortez, and I had a cranberry slush with lime...also very good... did not sample the food.
Dinner: San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, UT. Greasy spoon place but no hand formed burgers or sense of homemade goodness here. Beef stew was more like soup and veggies tasted canned. However, their Fry Bread (equivalent to east coast fried dough) was AWESOME!!!!
Day 4: Breakfast...our own picnic... Lunch at Old Tymer Restaurant in Blanding, UT. No cars in the lot...was wondering if food could be good....and YES!! Nice salads..and daughter ordered fry bread this time...I had a bite....it was good... Probably hard to mess up fry bread.
Dinner: Main St. Brewery, Cortez. Chicken, Steaks, salads...eh... nothing rocked my world. Average at best.
Day 5: Continental Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express, Cortez. Yes! Very nice selection of fruit, juices, waffles, french toast, muffins, omelets, oatmeal... etc...etc... They also kept the breakfast room clean and restocked which was a big plus. (This was an excellent hotel, btw)
Lunch--Our own picnic atop Mesa Verde...ahhhh...
Dinner--Lady Falconburgh's Barley Exchange, Durango. Thanks for this rec! Decent pub grub and lottsa brewskis available. Be aware..ownership has changed recently, no Tuesday night trivia, and although it was my birthday (and the server was told) they did nothing special. Still, a good meal.
Went to Jean Pierre bakery and was appalled at the quality of pastries in the case. The fruit on the tarts looked liked it was about to develop mold and a napoleon was so dried out and the icing so hard it looked like it actually came from the Napoleonic era... Despite the sensory turn off I decided to buy a pack of the butter cookies (good) which are kept at the shop's entrance. When I asked for a bag for the cookies, the counter woman said they didn't have any. I asked what they packed their croissants in...she didn't answer...
Day 6; Continental Breakfast at the General Palmer Hotel, Durango...You can not beat the old western charm of this place... as quaint as can be... delicious little homemade banana nut and cranberry nut muffins. Not a huge spread like the HI Express (No omelets or cooked foods), but a nice, classy continental breakfast with good coffee and tea.
Lunch...Our own picnic again...somewhere after Four Corners...
Dinner: Joe & Aggie's in Holbrook. Thanks for this rec! Nice cheese crisp and decent enough food. The real pleasure was talking to one of the current owners about the filming of the movie Cars (the restaurant is mentioned in the film's credits). A lot of fun.
Day 7: Breakfast and lunch our own picnic...
Dinner: Roaring Fork in Scottsdale. OH YES! This was our best meal of the trip. Thank you so much for this rec. Rib eye steak cooked exactly as ordered and full of flavor. Lamb and chicken also very flavorful. Desserts were so beautiful, we saved room for them... The seasonal berry crisp (blackberry) was luscious, and a chocolate sponge cake with hot chocolate ganache was a chocoholic's dream. A frozen huckleberry 'rita slushy had a good pronounced tequila flavor. Loved the ambiance and service here. Totally my kind of place and well worth the price!
Day 8: Our own breakfast...
Believe it or not we ordered room service lunch at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort...yeah $48 is a bit much for a pizza, chinese stir fry (chicken and veggies) and a couple diet cokes.... but we had a medical issue to tend to and it was necessary for us to order in. The food was pretty good... but don't spend money on this.
Dinner: The sick person in the group wanted italian so the Fairmont's concierge recommended Pane e Vino. This is a beautiful restaurant that was nearly dead. One other couple in there. You can really tell August is the off season. I have to say the food hit the spot for what we were seeking. Our sick person enjoyed fettucine alfredo. Fettucine with bolognese sauce and chicken parm were pretty good though not as good as east coast italian. Their red sauce is a winner though, just faintly sweet. I was looking forward to a glass of prosecco and the wine list didn't have any. I had a glass of Cordoniu cava and it was good. Probably not a place I would return to, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Thank you for the rec's southwest hounds, we had a wonderful trip and enjoyed some very good comfort food along the way! Your help made this journey very special.