We had a great time hiking Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and even Phoenix. We also had some great food experiences, many thanks to y'all here.
Here's what I can still piece together (after all the good wines, beers, margaritas, etc).
San Diego Bay
highlights: fish in verde sauce (special order with the sauce from the shrimp dish), fish in diablo sauce (creamy chipotle?). shrimp ceviche tostada
Mariscos Ensenada. Shoot, we meant to take a picture of the No Firearms Please sign but we forgot. Had a corn/ fish pancakey thing in a chile sauce that was really different and nice
Fish tacos at Rubio's. Is there a fish theme going on here? Actually we got dragged here by Scott's friend cuz they were on sale for 99 cents (friend ate 6) and they tasted surprisingly decent to us New Yorkers.
The Tlacoyos were excellent (we fought over dividing the 3 of them) and the torta with avocado and pico de gallo was addictive. I bargained away half a tlacoyo to get most of it. Waitress urged us to get Enchiladas Suizas which were mediocre.
Tried once, closed.
Tried again, hour wait.
Tried to convince husband to go early another day, refused. Said he'd seen too many gringos there, specifically retirees in golf shirts.
Well, the hiking was superb. Even our 3-1/2 year old marched herself up into Boynton Canyon.
Had pretty decent Thai Food at (?) in Bell Rock Plaza in Oak Creek. Actually, for outside NYC or LA it was very good. Had to tinker with the menu a little like asking for veggies with the meat or tofu, but the sauces were great and the mango and sticky rice up to highest standards. Had very nice Oak Creek amber beer (why would someone pay more for Singha?)
Waited an hour for Javelina Cantina and I can't remember a thing we ate. Even the margaritas were so-so, way too sweet.
El Tovar restaurant was very good considering its location. Had a big, flavorful, tender filet mignon in a peppercorn crust. Breakfasts were really nice there; huge servings of buckwheat and blue corn pancakes with prickly pear syrup, and SWestern egg dishes... lots of hiking fuel. And they have a cheap kids menu (for dinner)
The Turquoise Room! What a find! (see link below)
We stayed in this gorgeous, sprawling hotel and were pinching ourselves about how artful and tasteful the rooms were for so few bucks. You probably all know about this place, but in case you don't, it was a hacienda-style railroad hotel designed by Mary Colter, a big stop on the Santa Fe line. After being closed for 40 years in blighted Winslow, someone (look at the website for details) spent 11 mil renovating it a few years ago. And the restaurant brings people from all over.
Their caesar salad with pepitas and roasted peppers was so much better than the crouton and anchovy rut. And the "signature" soup (which they hype a little too much) was half sweet creamy corn soup and half salty, smoky black bean soup, with the chef's signature in red pepper soup or something crossing over both halves. Yummy in spite of the hype.
Duck in cherry sauce was excellent; the cherries were whole, subtle and not cloying and the skin was nice + crispy, big portion, good sides.
And the steak in spicy barbecue sauce (?)( a lot of wine that night, we didn't have to drive home) was a little too heavy on sauce and the spiciness interfered a little with the enjoyment of the meat, which was of highest caliber and mesquite grilled just right.
I seem to remember some decadent chocolate desserts but that was after the raspberry dessert wine (Bonny Doon?) that blew my mind with its raspberry-ness (OK I'm a framboise neophyte) But I can still taste the jammy, fruity, sweet-but-not-too flavor of this wine and am trying to track it down here.
Oh yeah, and the breakfasts were superb. Poached eggs over polenta with spinach and cheese or beans and green salsa. Slow, confused service at both breakfasts, tho
Well, those are a few highlights of our 16 days in AZ. Luckily there weren't too many lowlights (again, thanks to much guidance here). Have to say we couldn't wait to go out for DIM SUM the day after we got back! But we had a fabulous Southwestern experience. Visit NY and the NY board and we all promise to return the favor many times over!