Anyone who is visiting Yuma for a short period of time should concentrate on Mexican food--after all Yuma has some of the finest Northern Mexican style cuisine that you can get in the U.S. But those of us who live here, as well as winter visitors who spend months here, need to eat other things, at least once in a while. Fortunately, there are a few other good places to eat. Rather than trying to discuss the whole restaurant scene in town, I'm just going to focus on the spots that I frequent:
1. Yummy-Yummy. Located in the Palm Plaza on Ave A, this little Chinese restaurant is a gem. Although most Yumans know it only as the home of $3.50 lunch specials (try #3 and #17), Yummy-Yummy offers some of the most vivid Chinese cooking I've ever eaten.
The style of the food is Cantonese by way of Mexicali (considered the Mexican city with the best Chinese cuisine). Y-Y specializes in a wide variety of fine dishes: the Kung-Pao chicken and shrimp (usually getting their crunch from celery, not peanuts) are fiery combinations of veggies and chicken or shrimp. The pork rib(let)s in black bean and chili sauce are superb, with choclaty rich black beans. Abalone (at $9.99 a plate) is a regular on the menu. Their tofu dishes, either with mushroom or spicy sauces, are consistently outstanding. Shrimp in Oyster Sauce here
is the best I've ever eaten. While most nights they only have one choice for Chinese vegetables, I've had outstanding choi sum with foo yee sauce, baby bok choi with garlic or oyster sauce, long beans, and Chinese broccoli--all of them excellent. I'm sure I've left out a few of their other specialties, but this little place should be viewed as a treasure--an authentic Chinese spot in the midst of Chinese buffets and faux Chinese food.
2. River City Grill. While this place (on 3rd St around 5th or 6th Ave) can be very inconsistent, it regularly provides some of the most interesting food it town. Their seafood dishes are usaully good and different, their curries are excellent, and some of their raviolis are outstanding. Nonetheless, I would suggest avoiding the Pad Thai and the black beans and rice. Sometimes the pastas can be overcooked also. Still, the service and wine list here are superb, and this is my #1 choice in town for fine dining.
3. Don-Dons. Another place that can be a bit inconsistent, Don-Don's Barbecue (8th St by 1st) still cooks the best ribs in town. Open only Friday-Sunday, this is old fashioned black Southern barbecue. The ribs are usually outstanding, and the chicken (if it hasn't been sitting around it long) can also be good. On Sundays, they add corn bread and greens to the choices of side dishes, which usually include excellent beans, roll, creamy potato salad or coleslaw.
This short list is not to imply that there is no other good food. Chateau Basque provides alot of well cooked food, Julianna's has good veal etc, but a mediocre wine list, and Papa-Sans has adequate rice bowls and decent salads that are nice for lunch. Da Boyz, a new place in the Fry's Shopping Center in the Foothills, has good salads and sandwiches for good prices, though their pizza is not anything special. Bernardo's sandwiches (also in the Foothills on Fortuna) is definitely worth eating at also. And of course Yuma is littered with numerous corporate eateries that I try to avoid.