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