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Aug 10, 2010 07:03 PM

Need good lunch suggestion north of Phoenix

My family and I are flying into Phoenix in a few days, where we'll pick up a car and drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We arrive around 11 a.m., and with two teenagers, I suspect we won't make it all the way to Sedona before we have to stop for lunch. So I'm wondering if anyone can suggest something along our route in the area between the airport and whatever is about an hour or so north of Phoenix. Since I'm not expecting anything much foodwise once we hit the Grand Canyon, I'm really hoping someone can suggest something delicious for this first Arizona meal! Thanks.

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  1. My advice would be to stop at any of the good Mexican or Southwestern places as you find your way from the airport to I-17. Don't wait until you're north of Phoenix.

    Barrio Cafe might be the most you'll ever spend on a Mexican lunch, but, I think it's worth it (others disagree). They are not open for lunch on Saturday. My short list includes Padre's Modern Mexican, Phoenix City Grille, Sierra Bonita Grill. These are all full service. There are also many good divey Mex joints along the route, if you're interested.

    I would also suggest searching the Southwest board for "Canyon", as this topic has been covered many times, and the Phoenix board is fairly new.

    Barrio Cafe
    2814 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

    Sierra Bonita Grill
    6933 North 7th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014

    Phoenix City Grille
    5816 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

    Padre's Modern Mexican
    1044 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ

    1. I agree with John. Once you get on I-17 and head north out of Phoenix, the options become limited.

      Instead, I recommend picking up your rental car and then driving just half a mile to the original location of Carolina's at 12th St. & Mohave. The neighborhood might seem a bit dodgy to the uninitiated, but you'll be fine at 11 AM. Besides, a lot of cops eat at Carolina's, so it's a pretty safe place to be.

      It's a no-frills place but the food is quite good and would appeal to teens. What's more, you'll get in and out fast. Afterward, just go south on 7th St. and then get on I-17 northbound toward the Canyon.

      If Carolina's doesn't appeal, you might head north from the rental car center up 16th St. and try the food court at Pro's Ranch Market (counter service) or Tradiciones (full service). Nearby at 12th St. & Van Buren, you'll also find Phoenix classic La Tolteca. After a meal at any of these, it would be easy to get on either I-17 or I-10 via 7th St.

      1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

      La Tolteca
      1205 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

      2 Replies
      1. re: exit2lef

        Yep, the food is excellent altho if you're just coming in from out of town, it would seem a little weird to go to Carolina's. My mechanic is nearby and ever since I've found that restaurant, I've never had a problem getting a ride to / from with a promise of lunch or breakfast at Carolina's!

        I do think they're closed on Sundays.

        Good suggestions Exit2Lef (Isn't it strange that the " t " sound is left off the light rail announcement voice?)

        1. re: JerryMe

          Thanks, and, yes, it is strange how the synthetic voice sometimes clips the "t," but I've gotten a good user name out of it. Just curious, what would be weird about going to Carolina's? It's a taste of the real Phoenix -- the flip side of the resorts. I think a lot of people who inquire on this board like that sort of thing.

      2. On your way there, or on the way back, you can stop at Rock Springs Cafe for dessert. The pies there are fantastic. It's a full service restaurant, but I've never had anything other than the pies.

        Rock Springs Cafe
        35769 S Old Black Canyon Hwy, Black Canyon City, AZ 85324

        1 Reply
        1. re: andyeats

          We had lunch once at Rock Springs Cafe. It wasn't very good. We've always loved the pie(blackberry!) as well. Now we just stick with the original plan of picking up a pie as we head north to enjoy on our trip.

        2. For what it's worthy, there's always the In-N-Out right by the 17 and 101 in N. Phoenix.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            haha...I love ipsedixit's suggestion! In-N-Out is quick, inexpensive, and delicious!

          2. Thanks for all these ideas! (This is what I love about Chowhound.) I know I'm going to vote for Mexican, but my kids have heard about In-N-Out for years, so I suspect the writing's on the wall!

            4 Replies
            1. re: redthong

              I like In-N-Out for a snack, once in a while. I almost never eat at any other fast food chains. I have to say that I was disappointed on my first visit. I had no idea what to expect, it was just over-hyped. Anyway, I think it is worthy of a "bucket list". I like the wikipedia page:

              1. re: johnseberg

                I think In-N-Out's offerings are best appreciated in the context of those from other fast food places. In my opinion, their burgers are good but not great, and frankly, I have yet to figure out how to get fries cooked the way I like--their standard fries border on soggy, and the "well done" fries wind up being dessicated. All that said, I guess In-N-Out is worth experiencing at least once.

                If the In-N-Out brand was not an important consideration, I would suggest the OP hit Gallo Blanco Cafe where the adults could order great Mexican food and the kids could order outstanding burgers and fries. Plus, everyone would have a chance to relax somewhere besides in a plane or car seat.

                Gallo Blanco Cafe
                401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013

                1. re: hohokam

                  In N Out fries, by themselves, really are a travesty. It's what happens when a fast-food joint uses fresh potatoes.

                  If you are going to order their fries, order them not only "well-done" but also "animal style"

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Yes. Minus the fries and the Thousand Island dressing, I love that as a burger accompaniment.