Restaurants & Bars


Southwest Roadtrip Notes (long)


Restaurants & Bars

Southwest Roadtrip Notes (long)

Striver | Aug 2, 2005 08:56 AM

Just back from a two week roadtrip that took us through Santa Fe, Durango, Chinle, Winslow, Tucson, Bisbee, Phoenix and Sedona. Great time, beautiful country, friendly people. A few food notes:

From the Alburquerque airport we rented a car and headed straight for Santa Fe where our very first stop was at Bobcat Bites for green chile cheeseburgers. They're big (10 ounces) and very good. Best burger ever? Not quite, but well worth a stop. OTOH, the tableside guacamole at Gabriel's was undoubtedly the best version I've ever eaten. Excellent carnitas, too, served with a cakey version of a tortilla totally unlike the flat crepey ones this Easterner is used to (closer to an arepa).

In Durango, we had rainbow trout and sirloin stuffed with blue cheese at the Ore House. Funky atmosphere like an upscale mall steakhouse (salad bar??), but nice wines by the glass, attentive service, and the kind of flavorful beef I hoped to find in Colorado. I ordered it rare-to-medium-rare, and it was prepared perfectly. My wife also reported that her trout was fine.

The Holiday Inn/Garcia's Trading Post restaurant in Chinle (home of the stunning Canyon de Chelly) surprised us with good and greaseless Navajo Tacos served on fry bread (which was also good with huevos rancheros as prepared at Goulding's Lodge in Monument Valley).

Best meals of the trip were had at the Turquoise Room in the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Az (aside from the "corner", the only - and sufficient - reason to stop in Winslow). We both went for game plates for dinner. Mine was the "Southwestern Cassoulet" - confited duck thigh/leg, a churro lamb chop, and an elk sausage served with a pile of tender little tepary beans. My wife had the game sampler which included elk loin medallions in a black current sauce, grilled quail, and a bison-venison-boar chile. Both dishes were outstanding. The restaurant is part of the wonderful restoration job being done on this Mary Colter-designed Harvey railroad hotel. An evening here - or an overnight stay - is well worth the detour. Oh - also had the best breakfast of the trip, their "Arizona Green Chili Eggs" which were two eggs baked with jack cheese and served on a bed of cornmeal with green chile salsa and black beans. Incredible.

Other meals of note included dinner at the Arizona Inn in Tucson (a super hotel, and a great bargain in the summer months). Our entrees of grilled pork medallions (with a dry mole rub) served with asadero-poblano mac and cheese (my choice) and saffron penne with piquante peppers, portobellos, spinach, Manchego and goat Cheeses and toasted almonds in a sherry cream sauce (wife's choice) were first-rate. We also had drinks before dinner with an order of char-grilled chilled shrimp that were sweet and smokey and went well with our classic margaritas (not the frozen kind).

In Phoenix, we stayed at the Clardendon Hotel, an in-progress renovation job that aspires to create a South Beach/Tribeca kind of atmosphere. Their in-house bar/restaurant is called "Camus", and we had a better-than-good dinner there in a well-designed contemporary setting. Highlights here included huge shrimp served cocktail-style and lamb chop "lollipop" appetizers, and the chocolate trio dessert (panna cotta, "martini", and torte). Great mango-mint mojitos from the bar, too, along with a highly addictive pile of crisp frites tossed with garlic and asiago cheese.

Also in Phoenix, we dined at Cowboy Ciao (thanks to hounds' recommendations) and enjoyed that very much. We sampled their mushroom pan fry app (terrific) and also particularly liked the entree special (veal shortribs served on gorgonzola-polenta in a cabernet reduction), the "hot" chocolate dessert (with assorted chili flavors) and the blueberry bread pudding. They've also got a knockout wine cellar (the "list" is a huge book), and excellent by-the-glass options.

Overall, it was a great trip with some fine eating experiences. Thanks to all the southwestern posters for helping guide our choices!

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