If I have a guest visiting and they are willing to drive a little bit for dinner, I try to take them to Elote Cafe in Sedona, which has rightfully earned the reputation of being one of the best restaurants in northern Arizona.
Located at the Kings Ransom Sedona Hotel, you can tell that this used to be a much more modest restaurant until former Scottsdale star chef Jeff Smedstad decided to take root here. They emphatically do not take reservations: it's first come, first served, starting at 5 pm. During busy times, the wait can be 2 hours, but on weekdays, I have usually waited 30 minutes to an hour. While you wait, you can get a margarita or other libation, munch on their tasty spiced popcorn, and look out over the beautiful pool, if the weather is nice. Be patient, and you will be rewarded.
It's not a trip to Yuma for GoalBusters without a meal at Tacos Mi Rancho. Located right next to our home away from home, the Best Western Coronado, Tacos Mi Rancho has very tasty tacos and a good selection of Mexican beers. We like the "little Mexico" feeling of this place, and the fact that we can gorge ourselves on tacos for almost no money. The first time we went here, we ordered one of every taco on the menu. Our server thought us a little strange, which we are.
Back dining room, photo from Yahoo
The small, L-shaped dining room is decorated with Mexican kitsch typical of a family run restaurant. Find a seat and one of the very prompt servers will bring you water, chips and salsa almost immediately. The service is usually very quick and attentive enough. The menu has a collection of the usual combo platters, but we tend to order a la carte. There is a very inexpensive senior menu, though, for the hordes of winter visitors who come to Yuma between November and March every year, and at lunch time, anyone can order from the senior menu.
One of my many goals in 2012 is to transfer all of the "Alice's Restaurant Picks" from the GoalBusters website to this blog with detail and photos. But in the meantime, here's the list of almost everything that was on the site, minus Tinderbox Kitchen, which already has its entry. Bon appetit!
Arizona Cave Creek AZ: Binkley's This is one of the most creative restaurants in Arizona! The parade of amuse bouche was incredible, and the presentation of all the dishes spectacular. Imagine a dish that lights up from below to highlight the colors of the food, and you'll get the idea. The tasting menu is definitely the way to go, and plan on spending several hours and tons of money.
CLOSED: GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:Chambers AZ: Apple Dumplin RestaurantWhen we're traveling to St. Michaels and Sanders, Arizona, we usually end up with at least one stop at the Apple Dumplin, although we've only had the apple dumpling itself two times. At exit 333 on Highway 191 North, the Apple Dumplin is the place where the locals hang out. We've seen police officers, medical staff, tribal officials, teachers, and more taking up spots at the western themed tables and staying long after their food is consumed. Jim's favorite is the Navajo Sugarfoot, which is a huge piece of frybread filled with taco meat and smothered in green chile gravy. It does seem that whenever Jim goes to the Navajo Nation, he only eats food with gravy on it.
Flagstaff AZ: Karma SushiGreat atmosphere and creative sushi in this locally owned establishment. Stephen Scully has done an excellent job of bringing fresh fish and high quality ingredients to Flagstaff's Japanese restaurant choices. A highlight here is that you can get grated raw wasabi, rather than the usual powdered wasabi--the real stuff has a richer flavor and milder heat. The Karma Karpaccio and the Tuna Tataki are delish.
The perfect little restaurant for my Montreal experience in 2011 was La Sauvagine, located in Old Montreal. This restaurant is located on the corner of Rue St Paul Est and St-Vincent, and we were lucky enough to snag a corner table by the window for some great people watching.
We visited this restaurant on a whim on our last full day in Montreal at the end of a conference. Before I left, I wanted to go to a place that felt like Quebec and La Sauvagine did not disappoint. My capacity to speak French is almost nonexistent, yet the staff were very patient with my attempts. Good news is that I speak "Menu" in many languages, so my selection process was not difficult!
My business partner and travel buddy, Jim Anderson (also known as my "work spouse") and I had a leisurely (read: long!) meal of the following: