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Dec 31, 2007 05:36 PM

Sedona & the Verde Valley --year end report

New Year's Eve, a good time to think back over good meals (and bad) in 2007 in the Verde Valley.

The most consistently good new(ish) restaurant here is Pinon Bistro in Cottonwood, which is mentioned here regularly. The Dungeness Crab Cakes are awesome, my favorite entree (and/or appetizer), but we've had no poor meals here. The Shrimp Scampi is also very good. We both found the filet a bit disappointing (but still pretty good. Bread is always first-rate, and they usually serve nuts with your drinks. Desserts are another standout -- I'd say the Apple Crisp is our favorite so far, but the Chocolate Macaroons are way up there, too. Specials are always worth checking out. Service is good, and prices fair. They don't take credit cards, so bring your checkbook. Usually open Thurs through Sun nites only, and closed in summer.

The most consistently good old standby is the Heartline in Sedona, which we're well into our second decade of patronizing, and very few bobbles along the way. My current favorite entree is the pecan-crusted trout, which is pretty near perfect. Note that it's also on the lunch menu for (ims) $9 less than dinner, for the identical dish. Soups and salads are consistently excellent, as are the desserts. Friendly service, fair prices. Can be noisy at peak hours.

The prettiest place in Sedona with good, reasonably-priced food is Ti Gavo, the casual restaurant-bar at the Enchantment resort in Boynton Canyon. Ribs are outstanding. Chicken quesadillas are reliable, burgers are good. These are all in the $10-15 range, complete with million-dollar views. THE place to take out-of-town guests -- or yourself. A post-prandial stroll up Boynton Canyon makes a fine windup. No reservations, so call ahead at busy times -- or just hang out at the bar or on the deck. Really, really fabulous views.

Elote, the new Mexican place at King's Ransom (next to Hillside), has been hit-or-miss for us so far (2 visits). I didn't much care for the chicken enchiladas, or the green corn tamales. But the salsa is outstanding, and my wife has had better luck, and others like it. Maybe I just haven't found my favorite yet.

Nic's in Cottonwood continues reliable -- I particularly like their Top Sirloin, and their chowder. Desserts are less successful, but the meals are so big, you don't need desset anyway. No reservations; can be noisy and a long wait on weekends.

Sweet Jills, Cottonwood has the best breakfasts in the area -- don't miss the applewood-smoked bacon. Excellent pastries and scones, also available to go. They smoke all their own meats -- try the pastrami, which is a revelation. Fine salads. Try the Xingu Brazilian black beer. Nice folks, good food, good prices. Open til 3PM. Call first if it's your first visit -- obscure location in an office park.

Happy eating in 2008--
Pete Tillman, Rimrock

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  1. Thanks Pete - we may be up that way in February and Ti Gavo will be on the list to visit! If Elote is open for lunch, maybe we can try them also.

    1. A quick addition: Gabriella's Mexican in Camp Verde (Main St.) is now Casa Antigua, but it's just a name change -- same owners, same menu. We ate there last week, and it was just OK, imo -- my stepson likes it better (but he lives in NYC, so what does he know? {G}) I had the green chile plate -- decent meat, OK beans, fair rice, $10. Plenty of food!

      I also ate at La Carreta in Cottonwood, near the jct of 89A & 179(?, hwy to CV/PHX), while having my oil changed next door. Ordered machaca & eggs, & it was pretty good -- hot, flavorful, reasonable ($6 or 7). I'd go back.

      Happy eating--
      Pete Tillman

      1. Thanks for the great information, Pete. I recently moved up to Flagstaff from the Valley and I need to get down to Sedona more often. Do you have an opinion on Reds at Sedona Rouge? I ate there a couple of times in the last few years and always had great experiences (minus the horrendous view from their location on the highway), but I've heard that things have changed so I wanted to see if you think it is still worth it. Thanks!

        1. We've only been to Cafe Elote once, but we had great luck. I still dream about the Elote appetizer.

          As is my m.o., I'll throw a plug in for a kid-friendly place whenever I get the chance. Cafe elote offers high chairs AND lidded plastic cups with straws for the kiddies.