I know how it is; you’re zooming along the freeway, want to stop to grab a bite, but at every exit all you see is chain fast food. So you are faced with that dreadful choice: What do I hate least – McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Jack in the Box? Here’s some help when you’re blowing by Yuma. The following, listed by exit, are your best non-chain dining choices around I-8 in the area, listed by exit going west to east. Not necessarily my favorite places in town, but all close to the freeway. Most of these places keep normal hours, so you are on your own at 2 AM.
4th Ave Exit – Go into Yuma off the freeway and within a couple of blocks is Tacos Mi Rancho. Small place that (I believe) still allows smoking in the back room, but the Mexican food is authentic and very good. Some people think this is the best Mexican food in town. While it can get very busy around lunch time, the lunch specials are great values. A little further down 4th Ave on the left is Mr. G’s, an old-school Yuma Mexican fast food stop. Try the green chili or the bean and cheese burritos there.
Giss Pkwy – Nothing close
16th St. – This is Yuma’s major exit, full of chain buffets and stuff like Texas Roadhouse. But if you head east – which is considered north on Hwy 95 (away from town) – after you pass the mall, you will come to Pancho’s Cocina, which is in a Barney’s service station, so while you gas up, you can get some good burritos to go. In the other direction, you can grab good grub at the buffet at the Del Sol Mkt at 16th and 4th Ave, or go beyond 4th to a fancied up taco place (fancied up for a taco place, not truly fancy) called Las Palapas. Good soft tacos.
Neither 3E nor Araby Rd have much in the way of good food or any food at all.
Fortuna – Another exit with a lot of traffic (at least in winter) and a lot of chains. Best dining option is Da Boys, an outpost of a small Italian chain toward the eastern end of the same strip mall with the Fry’s Grocery. Decent pizza and sandwiches, and the small size of the garden salad is huge for around $3.
Foothills Blvd – Go south on Foothills and you will see a stripmall painted in a dark tan color just beyond the frontage road. On its southern side, hidden from view, is Bernardo’s. Very good East coast style sub (hoagie?) sandwiches on Italian bread. Very little counter or table space, but great for grab and go. Want something unusual but good? Try the ham and tuna. The steak subs are also excellent.
Dome exit – Just over Telegraph Pass on the other side of the Gila Mtns (20 miles east of Yuma), is Ligurta Station, a true 1940’s style roadside restaurant. Like a walk back in time. Same surly waitresses, good burgers, decent old school American food as I remember from trips with my parents before freeways. Not open July and August.
Wave as you drive by Yuma,