Black Bart’s Steakhouse (Flagstaff, AZ)

Flagstaff’s Black Bart’s is many things to many people.  To some, it is a general store serving the revolving population of an onsite RV park.  To others, it is a handsome saloon serving up not one, not two, but eight different renditions on the classic margarita.  But to most, Black Bart’s is the city’s premiere dinner theater steakhouse.  Okay, you got us… only dinner theater steakhouse.

Some 25 years had passed from the time when Set of Drifter Brady first encountered this kitschy gem with his family shortly following a move westward from Chicago.  It was a restaurant remembered moreso as a kitschy experience rather than one of Flag’s must-eat culinary stops.  (And that’s saying something since most 11 year-olds couldn’t care less how an entrée tastes as long as it accompanies some fries and ketchup.)  Even back then, Black Bart’s logo and dark wood interiors felt dated.  And perhaps some 10 years into the restaurant’s history, they already were.

By December 2013, most of that had changed.  Though the handlebar moustache and inverted triangle cowboy hat on the logo still reign supreme, the silly (but fun) Western costumes adorned by servers have vanished in favor of simple black T-shirts and jeans.  An update of the décor has also transpired following the 1991 discontinuation of Black Bart's “Vaudeville Show & Old West Melodrama.”  To be perfectly honest, though we appreciated the new open floorplan, it may be time again for another refresh; the “antique” doodads and Old West signage feel a bit short in supply.  Our favorite room was certainly the aforementioned saloon, a plush pre-dinner setting complete with red velvet wallpaper and an old-time player piano.

Speaking of music… Arguably the most important attribute of Black Bart’s - then and now – is dinnertime tuneage.  Here, it seems just about anyone can break out into song at any given moment – from the maitre d’ right on down to your busboy.  Keep an eye out for the team that serves you cocktails and takes your food order; it’ll be just a matter of time before he/ she drops their serving tray in favor of a microphone.  But don’t let that scare you.  Somehow, management has been able to train their staff to share tables and orders so that service never lags.  

Part of this success may have to with the fact that waiters and support staff seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs.  Most likely comprised of current (and former) NAU theatre students, Black Bart’s crooners are equally as poised singing showtunes as they are asking how you’ll want your NY Strip prepared.  Our server was a mid-30s bloke who fashioned himself as a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and Guy Fawkes.  With a jaunty beard, firm pecks and one intense stare, we had to concentrate hard ordering our meals, or fear potential beheading.  Like the rest of his compatriots, he would later enter the main stage - really no more than a raised platform - though not in the company-wide rendition of “Be Our Guest” from Beauty & the Beast.  Oh no.  He saved himself instead for a solo of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Really?

As far as the food goes, this too has changed over the years, and luckily for the better.  In fact, dare we say it… Black Bart’s may have been the best meal of our two night trip into town.  Dinner specials such as rack of lamb and a 9 oz. salmon come with your choice of salad and potato.  Expect your usual steakhouse cuts of meat or ribs, plus a decent selection of wines, beer and cocktails.  (Hint - try the “Hawaiian Cowboy.”)  Set of Drifters tip:  Dessert lovers should also leave room for a scoop of deep-fried ice cream or any one of the sumptuous coffee drinks on offer.

Black Bart’s belts out the best of Bette and Brigadoon, among others, nightly starting at 5:00 PM.  They do take reservations, but with such high traffic, expect a small wait by the cozy fireplace at the front door.

Black Bart’s Steakhouse - 2760 East Butler Avenue, Flagstaff, AZ  86004, (928) 779-3142


http://www.blackbartssteakhouse.com/index.php


Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas, NV)

Who woulda thought that hidden away inside a dilapidated mall just moments away from the Las Vegas strip lies a fabulous Award-winning Thai culinary experience?

We certainly didn’t - well not until its reputation was solidified by two back-to-back recommendations from very different types of travelers.  Lotus of Siam may not be a fancy place, but when the food is this good, who cares?

Arriving on a Tuesday afternoon around 12:30, we found the joint packed - and with what appeared to be many people of Thai descent.  Always a good sign.

Patrons in the booths to the left were snacking off the hot and cold selections from a buffet while those in the dining room on the right were hunting for specialty items from an impressive menu that just goes on - and on.  Having traveled to Thailand ourselves, we were impressed to see Chef Saipin Chutima’s devotion to regional-based dishes, the majority of which hail from the Northern and Isan regions.

Service was impeccably quick.  No sooner had we ordered when plates of delicious steaming goodness arrived.  Brady enjoyed the Khao Soi, a Burmese dish composed of egg noodles, shrimp, lime and pickled vegetables nestled amidst a curry/ coconut base - while I opted for the panang curry with chicken.  We appreciated the fact that our waiter could interpolate how spicy we wanted our meals based off a scale of 1 - 10.  That being said, while everything was perfectly seasoned, our portions were so large that we found them difficult to finish.  (Can you say leftovers?)

You can’t find more bang for your Thai baht in Los Angeles, we tell you.  Seafood seems to be one of Lotus of Siam’s specialties with a typical fish entree running around $10.95 a plate.  And with prices that good, why not top things off with a full-strength Thai iced tea or an icy cold glass of Singha?  Hint:  we did both.

Set of Drifters will definitely return to Lotus of Siam on our next trip through town and we recommend it to those of you who have already digested enough greasy Vegas buffets deals to last you a lifetime.  In short, if you’re looking to mix in with the locals, it’s time to put Lotus of Siam at the top of your list.

Lotus of Siam is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM and for dinner every night from 5:30 PM until 9:30 PM.

Lotus of Siam - 953 East Sahara Avenue, Unit A5, Las Vegas, NV  89104, (702) 735-3033

http://www.saipinchutima.com/


Peppermill & Fireside Lounge (Las Vegas, NV)

When our like-minded friend, and "Sin City" aficionado, Julie told us that she never leaves Las Vegas without a visit to the Peppermill & Fireside Lounge, we knew we had better check it out.  Though it is open all hours of the day and night, she recommended it might serve us best for breakfast.  So, on our final day in town back in October 2013, we zoomed a few miles north on The Strip, parked our car and stepped inside…

Ww-w-what?  They say most first impressions are lasting, but at this zany diner-cum-nightclub, that expression is taken to a whole new level.  Awash in hues of purple neon, fuchsia cherry blossoms and turquoise and blue plush seating, the Peppermill felt like the lost love child of Xanadu and Blade Runner.  The place was hopping at 9:00 AM and our hostess had to take us on a short walk on her escort to our booth.  Nevermind; we like scoping out the pulse, especially one as twisted as this.  All walks of life peeps, all walks of life.

After ordering from the too-good-to-be-true menu, we both took turns investigating the aforementioned Fireside Lounge, a 24-hour “nightclub” where video game bets and 64-oz. “Scorpion” cocktails are jussssst the beginning.  It is here were obscure dance videos compete for attention alongside groovy swivel chairs and a fire pit also fashioned from the same eye-popping color/ decor choices as in the diner.  We here Showgirls’ “Nomi Malone” gave Kyle MacLachlan his lap dance in one of the far booths while Gina Gershon sucked on a lolly… not that we’re judging.  (In fact, Showgirls is not the first film to feature scenes here; for more cinematic goodness at the Peppermill, scan a digital download of Casino or The Cotton Club.)

As we sat gazing into the mesmeric flat screens in the distance - they show oddball blendings of snowy mountaintops and desert dune vistas - we noted the diner getting busier and busier.  It is no wonder then that it took quite some time for our orders to arrive tableside.  But when they did…  Ww-w-what?

If you’re hungry, you’ve come to the right place.  Since its debut some 40 years ago, Peppermill has prided itself on serving up large portions of delicious food.  And though Brady’s “Munch Breakfast” was exquisite (a scrambled egg/ hash brown medley with peppers, linguiça sausage, mushrooms and cheese), with a reported 10 eggs, it was completely OTT - and that’s saying something for a spot where table sugar comes in the form of multicolored coarse granules.

Peppermill & Fireside Lounge are both open 24 hours of the day, seven days a week.  Go for the food.  Go for the preposterous interiors.  Go for the history.  Who cares?  Just go.

Peppermill & Fireside Lounge - 2985 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV  89109, (702) 735-4177

http://www.peppermilllasvegas.com/#home


“mile high” grub (Jerome, AZ)

Hungry for lunch after climbing Jerome’s never-ending steep inclines?  Then you’re in luck.  This one-time ghost town has rebounded with more than a few watering holes waiting to sate empty tummies.

The hard-to-miss Flatiron Cafe may just be the enclave’s most surprising oasis, a healthy, but caffeine-friendly, spot housed inside a historical landmark at the nexus of Main and Hull.  At the Flatiron, Amy and Jen serve up some of the tastiest breakfast and lunch dishes in town Wednesdays through Mondays from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM (closed Tuesdays).  Their Baklava Waffle is composed of sweet walnut and honey layered between multi-grain waffles and served with butter and maple syrup.  We’re hungry just thinking about it.  Set of Drifters tip:  In town for the Jerome Art Walk on the first Saturday of every month?  Head on down to the Flatiron from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM for coffee, cakes and music!

Located only steps away from the Flatiron, another top breakfast spot in town is the Mile High Grill, named as such to celebrate Jerome’s mountain-top elevation.  By 9:00 AM on weekends, you can bet it’ll be tough to grab a table.  If you are interested in checking out any of Mile High’s six pig-out omelet options, you had better get up early!

We actually dined at the Mile High Grill just after the dinner rush on a Saturday night when warmed over live music accompanied our pints of Hefeweizen - and some rather tasty burgers.  That avocado burger with Havarti cheese and 1,000 Island dressing sure hit the spot, though it may still be a few months before my arteries recover from the bliss.

The Mile High vibe is casual and fun, best illustrated by a collection of quirky road signs that adorn most walls.

In hindsight, the Mile High might have been best suited for lunch, as it is the Jerome Grand’s Asylum restaurant and bar that clearly marks the epitome of fine dining in town.  But it will cost you; most entrees come in at the $30 range.  Still, with stellar views, and an award-winning wine selection, this is one cozy indulgence you won’t want to pass up.

We enjoyed a few pre- and post-dinner drinks from the bar’s signature cocktail menu that includes a “screaming” Bloody Mary you just have to see to believe.  Make sure you save time for a gander at the oddball art and photography that adorns the entrance leading out into the 2nd floor hallway.  Our favorite piece is the one featuring a winking sass dressed from derby to toe in razzle-dazzle white.

Asylum Restaurant and Bar is open for lunch from 11:00 AM until to 3:30 PM, and then for dinner from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM.  We’re told it’s best to book in advance as seating in the dining room is limited and easily fills up on busy weekends.

Set of Drifters tip:  After all that savory grub, your sweet tooth is bound to clamor for a quick fix.  No worries.  Like nearby Sedona (see "sights"), Jerome is dripping in fudge and you should not have to walk too far before sniffing out gooey delicacies in a handful of different varieties.

Flatiron Cafe - 416 Main Street, Jerome, AZ  86331, (928) 634-2733, http://theflatironjerome.com/

Mile High Grill - 309 Main Street, Jerome, AZ  86331, (928) 634-5094, http://www.milehighgrillandinn.com/

Asylum (at the Jerome Grand Hotel) - 200 Hill Street, Jerome, AZ  86331, (928) 639-3197, http://www.asylumrestaurant.com/



Windsor (Phoenix, AZ)

Spend any time in the Valley of the Sun and you’ll realize that Phoenix area residents love their shopping malls and restaurant chains.  And though independent boutiques and foodspots offering anything remotely healthy seem hard to come by, these days that might be changing.

On our most recent visits to Phoenix, we’ve noticed a small backlash against these “power-strip” behemoths in the form of a handful of stand-alone, non-corporate entities that look as good as they taste.

Central Avenue’s Windsor is one such place.  A delicious alternative to Chilis or TGIFridays, Windsor is the brain-child of Upward Projects, an enterprising group of investors who have also provided their “Midas Touch” to the successful Il Postino, Joyride Taco House and Federal Pizza across the street.  Serving bar favorites with an upscale, and healthy, twist, Windsor has been packing them in ever since it debuted in 2011.  While corn dog poppers, cheddar fondue and “loaded” chips sprinkled with bacon, blue cheese and chipotle crèmaare are on the menu, we enjoyed the healthier side of life, downing our kale caesar and ahi tuna salad (topped with red pepper, avocado and lemongrass vinaigrette) in no time flat!

As for the decor, think Southwest hipster; we love the wall leading to the bathrooms.  Why?  Duh.   It’s constructed out of vintage cassette tapes from the 70s and 80s.  Will you find your fave hair metal band among the lot?

Cocktails are also available from the bar, though since both times we have visited Windsor, we were facing long drives back to Los Angeles, we did something we rarely do:  we abstained.  

Set of Drifters tip:  Looking for dessert?  Head next door to Churn, Windsor’s sister-property - and a confection-lover’s veritable wet dream.  We also love HuB clothing next door to that, though you can’t eat or drink anything here except choice fashion.  HuB has been a consistent spot to shop in Phoenix for funky threads since it first made waves on Tempe’s Mill Avenue back in the 90s. Don’t miss it.



Windsor - 5223 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85012, (602) 279-1111, http://www.windsoraz.com/

Churn - 5223 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85012, (602) 279-8024, http://churnaz.com/

HuB Clothing - 5213 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85012, (602) 277-4822, http://hubclothing.com/


Lux Central/ Pane Bianco (Phoenix, AZ)

For years our friend Roya has been persuading us to sample Phoenix’s legendary Pizzeria Bianco.  But each time we attempt it, a long hour-plus wait keeps us well at bay.  After having lived in New York City, where an abundance of great eateries means never having to wait, that particular ship has sailed for us.  Nevertheless, Roya has managed to get us into the restaurant group’s smaller outfit, Pane Bianco.  Here, a sampling of Bianco’s tasty pizzas augments a dinner menu that focuses primarily on gourmet sandwiches and salads for lunch.  Pane Bianco makes for a great pre- or post-art stop-off as it is located only a hop, skip and a jump away from the fabulous Phoenix Art Museum (see “sights”). 

Now if Italian delights are just not your thang, why not head next door over to Lux Central?  The be-all and end-all of Phoenix coffee culture, this cavernous spot is crawling with local hipsters who enjoy showing off their latest fashions amidst a casual, yet quirky atmosphere.  Though we feel their purposely-withholding website is just a tad cloying, their baked goods, coffee creations and all-around general vibe more than make up for their pretense.  Just listen to this sampling of goodies (yes, from one of their daily Facebook menu photos), and tell us you’re not intrigued:  Yorkshire Pudding Burger (served with chilled broccoli and carrot salad), butternut squash soup (with house made granola, desert blossom honey and herb gruyere scone) or macaroni and cheese with jalapeno bacon.  Um yeah, we’re there. 

Though Lux Central is famous for their in-house roasted coffee blends, they also serve beer, wine and daily cocktail concoctions to accompany their artful plates.  Stop in for cup, glass or high ball Sunday through Thursday from 6:00 Am until 12:00 AM and Friday and Saturday from 6:00 Am until 2:00 AM.

Pane Bianco - 4404 North Central  Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85013, (602) 234-2100, http://www.pizzeriabianco.com/#pane


Lux Central -  4402 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85013, (602) 696-9976, http://www.luxcoffee.com/

Pizzeria Bianco - 623 East Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ  85004, (602) 258-8300, http://www.pizzeriabianco.com/


brunch at the Wrigley Mansion (Phoenix, AZ)

Phoenix’s Wrigley Mansion is a landmark residence built by the chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. in 1931.  From its many floor-to-ceiling walls, the home boasts extraordinary views of surrounding environs, including downtown Phoenix and Camelback Mountain.  Each week, the gorgeous property opens up to the crowds for an impressive Sunday Brunch that is on many must-do lists for tourists and locals alike!  A champagne toast inside a historic mansion with 360-degree views of Metropolitan Phoenix?  Need we say more? 

Part of Geordie’s Restaurant and Lounge, the weekly food-cation escapade at Wrigley Mansion begins with an endless round of champagne or mimosas.  And yet, for $45 USD, you are also assured a cavalcade of tasty treats that run the gamut from custom-made waffles and omelets to carved filet mignon and freshly-made sushi!  (The seafood selection alone is mind-boggling, and sure to make fast friends with your tastebuds!)  Our favorite dish had to be the inventive "dessert pizza."  Its delicate crust held a bed of fresh fruits and mascarpone cheese that was seemingly too good to be true!  Set of Drifters says “Top-notch!” 

Of course, the best part about the brunch is the setting!  Before sitting down to pig-out - or perhaps after to work off the calories - make sure that you take a mini-tour of the property.  Since the home is used for private parties through much of the week, the lavish interiors are rarely open to the public.  Spread out over 16,000 square feet, Wrigley Mansion boasts 24 rooms - we counted so you don’t have to - and 12 fairly suave bathrooms that feature impressive tile work.  Many of the tiles were imported from Wrigley's factory on Santa Catalina Island (near Los Angeles) where the Master of Gum had been building an impressive ballroom that still stands in Avalon’s harbor. 

Wrigley chose Los Angeles architect Earl Heitschmidt to design his Phoenix home from a combination of styles that included Spanish Colonial, California Craftsman, Mediterranean and Monterey.  At the time of its construction, it cost $1.2 million and building elements had to be hauled up the mountain to the construction site by mules.  They just don't make 'em like they used to anymore!  Heitschmidt’s crowning glory at the Wrigley Mansion has to be the impressive spiral staircase and ceiling that decorate the entrance foyer.  Just try not to take a photo!

Sunday Brunch at the Wrigley Mansion takes place from 10:30 AM until 2:30 PM.  Geordie’s has extended hours on other days of the week as well.  Check their website for more information since we hear the place is currently undergoing renovations.

Set of Drifters tip:
  While checking out the impressive views of Camelback Mountain to the east, make sure to look for the little rock formation on the left called the "praying monk."  (It’s definitely on the belt notch of many local trekkers.)  Come to think of it, the formation looks more like the slumbering camel's eyelash dabbed with heaping dose of Maybelline, but who are we to judge? 

Wrigley Mansion - 2501 East Telawa Trail, Phoenix, AZ  85016, (602) 955-4079

http://www.wrigleymansionclub.com/


Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)

The challenge?  Find a picturesque al fresco spot to grab a quick lunch with relatives before leaving Las Vegas in under two hours.  We had placed bets on a rendezvous at the Artisan Hotel Boutique - host to a most difficult-to-maneuver entrance off of Highland Drive - only to find out that, despite information on their website, their kitchen was now only serving dinner.  (What a shame; the look of this place stunning.)

Suffering from a bit of panic, we soon found ourselves magnetically pulled back to The Strip where, as it turns out, the least offensive possibility ended up being the Paris, the same casino we had already spent much of our time at.

Parking our car deep in garage nether regions, then meandering through the quaint backstreets of some faux arrondissement, we eventually found our way again to the noisy main floor.  Here, just under the “Eiffel Tower,” would-be burlesque can-canners traipsed on a raised catwalk while desperate gamblers tried one last time to recover their losses.  And then finally, there it was… the solution to our original challenge - Mon Ami Gabi.

Throughout our trip, we had seen crowds lining tables inside and out of this graceful establishment, cleverly rendered to depict any standard Parisian bistro.  With selections from an extensive boutique wine list passing nearby via the restaurant’s signature rolling cart, diners here could blink a few times and almost imagine them some 5,400 miles further east.  (Too bad everyone within earshot tends to speak English.)

After segueing from the rather dark anteroom, we were pleased to be seated at a table that, although not outdoors, was awash in natural light from large windows on all sides.  Fresh baguette soon arrived with our beverages, though it was a bit of a wait until our selections of Caesar salad with prawns and a tantalizing tuna melt tartine finally made their appearance.  Even so, Executive Chef Terry Lynch’s entrée portions were perfectly suited to fill that lunch gap before the long drive back to Los Angeles.

Long story short:  Handsome Mon Ami Gabi promises a satisfying meal from 7:00 AM until 11:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and 7:00 AM until Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.  Despite possible slow and impersonal service during peak meal periods, with so much catching up to do between relatives we had not seen in years, we hardly noticed.  And then there’s that view!

Mon Ami Gabi (at the Paris Las Vegas) - 3655 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV  89109, (702) 944-4224

http://www.monamigabi.com/home/?loc=vegas 




Battista’s Hole In The Wall (Las Vegas, NV)

Vegas is known the world over for its super huge casino buffets, and in more recent years, a range of high-end celebrity chef event restaurants that require reservations be made days in advance.  You know your Set of Drifters by now.  Neither of these options is going to sway us.  Instead, we’d rather hit up a spot favored by locals, preferably one that’s been proving itself without changing for a number of decades.

Located just steps from The Strip across from Bally’s, Battista’s Hole in the Wall is one such place.  A large family-style Italian restaurant clogged to the gills with Old World kitsch, Battista’s has been packing them in every night since its debut in the late 1970s.  What its secret?  Maybe it’s the huge portions from a set menu that includes garlic bread, salad and cappuccino.  Or perhaps it’s the classic booth seating with views to photos of previous celebrity guests of yore.  Oh, who are we kidding?  It’s the endless supply of wine delivered to your table - and included in the set price of the meal!  (If you are not staying within walking distance, don’t forget to grab a cab.)

In any case, if you are a fan of old school American style Italian food, at Battista’s, you won’t be disappointed.  Prix fixe options start at $21.95 for basic spaghetti or ziti and go upwards to $38.95 for New York steak, filet mignon or cioppino.  Other mid-range selections include ravioli, lasagna and any number of chicken dishes.  It’s actually pretty reasonable when you consider the cost of an equivalent meal in any one of the casinos.  Just don’t expect much from the house red.  This one may give you a headache later, though we promise you’ll still remember Battista’s fondly the morning after.  Mangia!

Set of Drifters tip:  If waiting for a table, don’t bother with drinks from the bar.  Cocktails are expensive, and sadly, watered down.

Battista’s Hole In The Wall - 4041 Audrie Street, Las Vegas, NV  89109, (702) 732-  1424

http://www.battistaslasvegas.com/ 


L'Auberge (Sedona, AZ)

Located along the babbling Oak Creek, L’Auberge is part of a larger resort that attracts upppercrusties looking for a relaxing, quiet getaway.  Though we prefer our accommodations a little less refined, the award-winning restaurant is certainly worth a trip - even if you have to climb into a precarious little funicular to complete the short trip brookside!

Executive Chef David Schmidt has created a seasonal menu that is part Mediterranean/ part American comfort and a whole lotta seafood!  Dinner courses include Charred Diver Sea Scallops and Chicken Roulade with sunchokes, chestnuts, and braised escarole.  Lunch fare is much simpler with salads, sandwiches and artisan cheese platters. 

Now, most people visiting "Red Rock Country" would probably eschew higher-end cuisine as their lunchtime repast in favor of Sedona’s more lo-key offerings, but we beg to differ.  A midday visit to L’Auberge, the restaurant many claim offered them the “best meal of their life,” will help you to avoid the crowds at the many popular Tex-Mex cantinas in town.  And besides, lunch at L’Auberge is significantly cheaper than dinner where a roast loin of lamb will set you back $46 USD!

Elegant L’Auberge is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 AM until 10:30 AM for breakfast, 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM for lunch and 5:30 PM until 9:00 PM for Dinner.  Champagne Brunch is served on Sundays from 9:00 AM until 2:00 PM, with dinner following again from 5:30 PM until 9:00 PM.

L’Auberge - 301 L’Auberge Lane, Sedona, Arizona  86336, (928) 282-1661

http://www.lauberge.com/sedona-fine-dining/


Santiago’s (Bisbee, AZ)

Bisbee, AZ has been noted as one of America’s most "quirky towns in which to retire," and it shows.  During a stroll through a residential section of town, we noted that many of the abodes were built on top of one another, clinging to steep hillsides that are only accessible via narrow steps not for the faint of heart!  The annual “Bisbee 1000-Stair Climb” is a 5 km. run through “Old Town” that is billed as the "most unique physical fitness challenge in the USA!"  We don’t doubt it! 

After returning home from our “Old West” adventure, we joked that if we ever wanted to settle down in Bisbee, it would only be to compete with the upscale Cafe Roka.  This joint was jammed every time we passed by, proving that there was certainly an untapped market here in this sleepy little southern Arizona town.   

One spot that is giving Cafe Roka a run for its money is Santiago’s, a Mexican restaurant that pleases both the eyes, and the palette.  We checked it out on occasion of Set of Drifter Brady’s birthday!  The margaritas (or “Margot Kidders” as we like to call them) were superb, and we imagine their “Diablo Shrimp,” sautéed with lime, shallots, chipotle, garlic and cilantro, is the best in town.  Other menu highlights include white fish and shrimp ceviche, “Holy Mole” chicken enchiladas, and their signature dish “Chilorio,” pork tacos that have been marinated in ancho chilies and orange citrus!  The service was friendly and the crowd relaxed and jovial.  This is definitely your best bet in town for lunch!

After your meal, make sure you take a stroll down “Brewery Gulch” to work off those quesadillas!  Old town Bisbee is noted for its quaint Victorian architecture, perhaps best exemplified by the charming Pythian castle that today doubles as an apartment building.  The structure dates from 1904 and was once the lodge for the “Knights of Pythia” (a fraternal order from the Post-Cival War days).  Built by an entrepreneur who emigrated from Switzerland, the building is just one of the elements that gives Bisbee an unexpected European flair!

While Bisbee's age is apparent wherever you turn, it is not the least bit depressing.  In fact, Old Town’s ever-evolving history is celebrated.  These days, some of the older buildings that have lain dormant for decades are now being renovated in hopes of generating additional business from more practical or modern services.  The local bike shop on the edge of “Brewery Gulch” was formerly Bisbee’s roaring bordello that catered to hot ‘n bothered miners!  The couple of blocks that make up the “gulch” make for a fun, casual night out.  Don’t miss it while in town!  (For more information on Bisbee, check out "sights," "digs" and "sips.")

Santiago’s - 1 Howell Avenue, Bisbee, AZ  85603, 520-432-1910,

http://santiagosmexican.blogspot.com/






We also recommend:


El Rincon Restaurante Mexicano at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village (Sedona, AZ) - 336 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ  86336, (928) 282-4648, http://www.elrinconrestaurant.com/