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Is Sedona Really That Dismal?

My husband and I are heading out to Sedona the end of March/early April for a week. I keep reading that the dining scene out there is not the best. We're staying at L'Auberge which I know is a lovely resort and the food there will be good, but we're looking for other alternatives in the area.

Does not have to be fine dining necessarily. Just decent food.

Someone had recommended the Coffee Pot for breakfast to us, but I keep reading around here it's no big deal (plus, we get breakfast nearly every morning anyway I think).

Suggestions? Or do we have to think about driving out of the area. That would really stink!

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  1. We had a two hour lunch on the patio right by Oak Creek at L'Auberge a couple of years ago, it was heaven. Rachel Ray's table and favorite place in AZ.

    1 Reply
    1. re: duck833

      So there really is a Rachel Ray? {G} Not just on the back of the Ritz cracker box?

      Breakfast or lunch at creekside at L'Auberge is so pretty on a nice day, you'll forgive any lapses in the food (probably). It's always been at least pretty good for us, sometimes very good, once or twice excellent. But inconsistent, which is annoying. We haven't been since last spring.

      Cheers -- Pete Tillman. Rimrock

    2. We stayed at the Sky Ranch Lodge on Airport Road, which by the way was a piece of heaven on earth. Up the road from the Lodge is a restaurant at the small airport there, which had outstanding dining. They also have huge windows so you can watch the planes taking off and landing. Very pleasant atmosphere, very fresh affordable food. Breakfast was great as well. Have a good time. Here is the web site for the Airport Restaurant.


      3 Replies
      1. re: cdesoto

        we ate at sedona airport restaurant last night. we both ordered the cod all you can eat. I was having fond memories of the wonderul cod from ///wholeys in pittsburg, pa. and this cod was not living up to my expectations. the batter was a little moist near the cod so i just ate the cod. my husband; s beer ( local brew) was not so good either. they are convenient to the sktyranch where we are staying and others on this site had suggested it but i wouldn't return there based on our meal. It might be unfair cause the dinner was only 12.95 for all you can eat and i was expecting too much but we are heading to cafe elote tonight.

        1. re: virginiagal

          to bad to hear, we are heading to Sedona this summer and thought we would give it a try. have you eaten breakfast there? wondering if it is good for a quick bite? Love to hear how Elote turned out and what you think of skyranch, thanks

          1. re: geminigirl

            The airport restaurant has always been a good breakfast and lunch spot - haven't been there for dinner in years, though.

      2. Dahl and DeLuca is good, as is Cucina Rustica. They also have a nice little wine store and gourmet market called A'Roma. Try the resaurant and Hotel Rouge as well. Stay away from the main drag tourist places and you'll do fine; it's not a wasteland!

        1. A 40-minute drive/diversion from Sedona will put you at the Cottage Place in Flagstaff. This is a fantastic restaurant which will make for a memorable evening. The food and service are both top-notch. The drive up Oak Creek Canyon has fantastic scenery so it would not "stink" too bad.

          I also very much enjoy L'Auberge. The tasting menu is top quality as are the ala carte choices. Good wine list as well. It seems to take beatings on the web for being "snooty" with "small portions", but I continually defend it as one of Northern Arizona's best dining experiences.

          I don't know why Sedona gets so bashed as you say. It's really just a small desert town that has some tourist appeal. There is no other small town in Northern AZ with anywhere near as many good dining choices as Sedona.

          1. Stayed at the Enchantment Resort (just outside of Sedona) last year, they have two restaurants, the view is spectacular. The outside rest. is ok, worth it for the view. The inside rest. is fancy, food is good, expensive, service is good, view (again) is spectacular - it is worth your time to have a meal there. After a few very mediocre meals in town, we decided to have most of our meals at the resort.

            1. Thanks everyone. Sounds like things are not as terrible as I've been hearing and with all those recs, we should do just fine. Glad to hear our hotel dining is recommened. We're used to "small" portions, being from the NYC area ;)

              1. There is another place that's new and getting rave reviews....I keep fogetting the name but it's the former owners of Los Sombreros. Can someone help me out with the name...have not been there myself but here it is truly excellent cuisine with southwestern flair.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ejs1492


                  I would definitely make a stop there. While I haven't had the chance to go, I (along with 99.99% of this board) am a huge fan of Los Sombreros. I'm sure the food is just as fantastic at Elote.

                  1. re: crsin

                    ditto. If it is half as good as Los Sombreros was when the Elote chef was a part owner there, it would be a must do for someone from NYC. I hope OP goes and reports back.

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      You say it like Los Sombreros has gone down hill. In my experience since Smedstedt (sp?) left, they've kept the same menu and everything's of the same caliber.

                      1. re: crsin

                        don't mean to imply it has gone downhill, the 'was' was a reference to the fact that I haven't been since he left. Sounds like it may be time to check it out again.

                2. Keiser's is better than the Coffee Pot. See if they will slip you a rellano or an enchilda with your brisket.. Dahl and DiLuca is superb. Brunch where you are staying is great. Judi's is a good place and in Flagstaff Cottage Place and Brix are both very good.Joey's at Los Abrigados is also pretty decent for Italian.

                  1. I am at a loss, right now, as we have loved the dining (and the lodging) at L'Auberge de Sedona. However, I must add that it has been a while, and I've seen some recent reviews, that painted a very bleak picture of it now. Not my experiences, but these reviews were much more recent, and were in detail, even when I questioned their panning of the dining there. This makes me worry.

                    Next, I have had some good meals at Restaurant Renée, just south in the Talaquepaque [SP?] area. Again, same thing. Recent diners (some of the same as with the L'Auberge reviewers) have panned it.

                    I need to get my wife up that direction, just to see for myself. I do not mind "taking one for the team," just to see what is really happening, just up the road.

                    Right now, I am too shell-shocked, to make any recs., but hope that others can do so and with accuracy. Please report back, as some of my "sacred cows" have been badly gored, and I hope that it was just the reviewers' tastes, and not a real downturn in the dining there.


                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Most of the panning of L'Auberge on this site and others are by the folks who seem to judge the quality of their dining experience by the sheer weight of the food they consume. Not stuffed=bad experience. No you won't get any large plates of food at L'Auberge. Collectively the artfully designed and well-thought courses will fill most anyone. L'Auberge is an experience not to be missed in Northern AZ. I take many reviews real seriously on this site. I typically tune out any review which complains about portion size. We are an overfed society in general. Chowhounding and gluttonizing are not one in the same.

                      1. re: climberdoc

                        I'm puzzled. I searched the board for "auberge" going back 6 years and found only two negative reports (one about cold and overly sweet food; one about a bad service experience that occurred in 2001) but several references to "recent pans" and such. Indeed, I found many positive comments and recommendations.

                        Is this discrepancy due to a "technical issue" related to the the takeover of CH by CNET, a problem with my search procedure, or just selective memory for negative reviews?

                        1. re: hohokam

                          You're right. I guess my disdain stems from tripadvisor.

                          Case in point is the guy who was "so hungary" after eating at L'Auberge that he drove back to Flagstaff and ate at the Dog Haus.

                          1. re: climberdoc

                            Thanks for the link. Similar replies to the CH articles. One, in particular, really rang some bells. I wonder if it was the same post to two different boards. I'm searching for the posts, that I alluded to, and will link those, if I find them.


                          2. re: hohokam

                            My guess is that the problem is with the search function. I have a half-dozen of my articles bookmarked, because they do not show up in a "search this board," regardless of which board we're talking about. Google finds them, but CH cannot. It'll find posts with the same criteria before, and after, but not mine. Same criteria in Google, and there they were, so I just bookmarked 'em to append to replies.

                            As for the Sedona/L'Augerge posts, it seems that there were three, in fairly quick order, right at a year ago, maybe a tad sooner. The posters all felt that the food was mediocre, and all hated the service. "Snooty," was an adjective, that came up often. I responded to each, trying to find out what the exact problems were, and each poster had a litany of reasons, all seemingly plausible for their feelings. All were atriculate, and articulated clearly their feelings. Since I had not dined there (but loved each experience) in some time, I could not counter. Places can go off, and sometimes for no real good reason. The same with Restaurant Renee. Seems that only one of the three (or so) negative L'Auberge posters also dined there and hated it. Again, it had been too long, for me to defend the place, but we've dined there twice, and had great meals, and service, both times. I do not recall any of the three posts, that I cited above, mentioning portion size. That would have been a bit tip-off to me, that they were really looking for a Midwestern, all-you-can-eat buffet. They seemed to all know their stuff, but just did not like L'Auberge - oh well.

                            Glad to get the feedback, that it has not changed all that much, as we plan on going back in the Spring, and I always look forward to dining there.

                            I'll also see if I can track down some of those posts, to A.) refresh my memory, and B.) to post links for others to see.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Thanks. It's possible that I wasn't as careful as I could have been in reading through my search results, but, as you point out, the search function does seem wonky at times.

                              The only complaints I saw about portion size were on the TripAdvisor board that climberdoc pointed me to.

                              Truth be told, I'll probably never eat there (unless someone buys me a winning lottery ticket), but I'm sure there are others who would be interested in seeing those bookmarked posts.

                              1. re: hohokam

                                I found two of the reviews, that I was speaking of. One is a response and down the thread, the other is a review. I could not find the others, but one was very, very similar to one on the TripAdvisor link, that Climberdoc posted, and I feel certain, that it appeared on CH, as well.


                                I'd love to see the ability to do a full "search" with boolean modifiers, as well as a single word. I've tried using "AND," etc., but the results seem the same, with no boolean filtering. Maybe one day.

                                There are more, but maybe I'm also thinking of more than 1 year ago, which seems to be the limit on serches now.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  I guess for me there is a larger, more personal issue here. Much of it is emmeshed in my evolution as a chowhound (I'm 38 years old and have become appreciative of fine food over the past 5 years or so). Restaurants like L'Auberge have become a passion of mine. I am constantly seeking restaurants who serve food with top quality ingredients artfully presented by folks who have passion for what they are serving. If there are passionate people pairing and serving wine, that's all the better. I can't think of a better way to spend and evening than with my wife at L'Auberge (or someplace like it).

                                  I just get irked when someone pans a restaurant based solely on portion size. Usually those complaining about portion size are also complaining about price of the portions they deem insulting. Maybe it comes down to ones expectations walking in. If you are expecting a large plate of food (like a 20 oz ribeye for example) and the waiter places in front of you 4 oz of Wagyu beef, you will likely feel disappointment and resentment over the cost. The waiter may also be perceived as "snooty" because he is excited about the wagyu he is serving and surprised that the diner is disappointed. If you expected the Wagyu beef and were looking forward to it then it could conceivably be one of the more memorable dining experiences you will have. If you expected the ribeye, then the 4 oz portion is an insult.

                                  A decade ago, I would have chosen to be uncomfortably full over the alternative I presented. Now, I have gained the best of both worlds since I can appreciate artfully presented modest portions and take solace in the fact that I have never walked out of L'Auberge (or the like) hungary. My wallet suffers, but so be it.

                                  With all the info available in the web, one should never go into a spendy experience like L'Auberge blind. If you do and your expectations are not met, then don't pan the place.

                                  1. re: climberdoc

                                    I am with you completely. I have always enjoyed the "passion" at L'Auberge, and was saddened, when others said that it was missing.

                                    As for portion size, I recently "panned" a restaurant for just the opposite. The portions were obscenely large. Even dining on the second night, and asking for smaller offerings, yielded enough food on MY plate to feed a family of 4.

                                    Because we often do the chef's tastings, I expect the portions to be adequate to acquaint one with the flavors of that dish, and be commencerate with the # of courses. I just did the 11-course tasting at Chef Mavro's, HNL, HI, and was not over-filled. The protions were correct, for the number. Likewise, we've done the a la carte and the tasting menus at L'Auberge, and have never, never gone hungry. Guess we are just not "super-size that" sorta' folk. I am often put off, when the portions are gigantic. I do not like having to do "doggie bags," especially with fine-dining.

                                    Many years ago, we did do L'Auberge blind, but enjoyed every aspect. Since then, we've been back to great meals, whether lunch, or dinner. I cannot argue with the posters, who found it less than enjoyable - I was not there. I can only state that our experiences have been great, and I hope that the next one will be, as well.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt


                                      We enjoy the chef's tasting menus as well. My wife and I don't know a lot of real people (as opposed to virtual) who share our love of great food. We'd be excited to dine with you there sometime. Boy did this thread get hijacked.


                                      1. re: climberdoc

                                        Depending on the area in the SW Board (we're in PHX), that might well be possible. I know that Seth Chadwick has put together a few CH dining events, but we've not been able to make them. We dine out about 3x/week, but many of these are special events, board dinners, etc.. When we find the time to actually just "dine out," we usually try for a new spot, or re-visit an old friend. Most of our casual, non-business dining, focuses on wine and great food. These were the things that I loved about L'Auberge de Sedona - great food, great service and great wine.

                                        We're in the air, DC, SF, Sacramento and NOLA, until mid-March, but I'll gather a few wino-foodies, and schedule something late March and post it on the SW Board. If you can make it, great. Where in the SW are you located?


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          Sounds good Bill. We live in Flagstaff. We dine out 2 to 3 times monthly.

                      2. I haven't eaten at their Sedona location, but I frequently go to Pizza Picazzo's Scottsdale location for lunch. I love their pizza (esp. the puttanesca) and their salads. I recommend giving it a try for lunch.

                        1. Breakfasts at L'Auberge are indeed good, though I would avoid the Sunday buffet, unless it's compris. No one has mentioned Heartline yet (5 min away) -- search here for my & others remarks. It's been the most consistently good place in Sedona: in the 15 years or so we've been eating there, I only recall one dismal, and 5 or 6 so-so, meals. Second the recos for Ti Gavo at Enchantment -- try their posole, which has been excellent this year. Plus the best red-rock views around. No reservations, so call ahead if you're going at peak times. Or just hang out at the bar, or outside -- the views are truly wonderful.

                          But don't get your hopes real high -- Sedona is about as good as it gets in N. AZ, but this is whitebread cowboy country, and you sure won't mistake Sedona for Santa Fe, or even Taos. But it has other virtues {G}.

                          If you go to Jerome, the Asylum is consistently good, with wonderful long views back to the red rocks. And the most consistently good food in the area (imo) is Pinon Bistro, in Cottonwood, about 20 min from L'Auberge. Search here for recent comments, and days open (Th-Sun only, usually-- call ahead)

                          Have a good trip,
                          Pete Tillman, Rimrock

                          1. im suprised no one has mentioned garland's lodge www.garlandslodge.com

                            its a gem of a place that put out a james beard award winning cook book, and sunset mag has raved about the place - old school inclusive style resort, family dining..its stellar....

                            if you can get there, its amazing.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: winedubar

                              I wrote a review of Garland's a while back. We go every year, and love it there. The only reason that I didn't mention it is that they are closed for the winter and don't reopen until Spring....

                              1. re: ejs1492

                                oops :D my bad, thank you for the clarification.

                                1. re: ejs1492

                                  When I was researching the "lost episodes" of L'Auberge de Sedona, I saw that thread, and read it. Cannot understand how I missed it, when it was current - my bad. Good review, and I had not heard of Garland's before, so it was a flash of inspiration. Though it's coming late, thanks for that review.

                                  Still do not know what happened to the other Sedona threads, that I recall so very clearly. I guess that the search feature and the archive are not perfect.

                                  We have to get back up to Sedona and see for ourselves, what might have changed, plus try Garland's.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    You're better off searching Chowhoud with Google than via the internal search. They seem to have it set now to search the entire board, instead of just SW. Truth to tell, CH site-search has always been dicey.

                                    Good luck, Pete

                                    1. re: Tillman

                                      Actually, if you use the "search this board" link next to the board name, it will only search this board. The default option is for the most recent posts in the past year, but that can be changed using the options feature: