A few months ago the hubs and I took a long weekend in Arizona, doing a mini-road trip around the southern part of the state. (Flights from Denver to Phoenix are always SO CHEAP so they are perfect for a last-minute getaway!) One of the places we stopped at during our travels was the beautiful desert town of Sedona.
Surrounded by amazing red rock formations in nearly every direction, the drive through Sedona is pretty stunning. I found myself wanting to pull over and take photos every 50 yards, making it hard to stay on the mission: Finding the most delicious eats in town.
However, I did manage to keep focused on the food when it mattered. Here are my picks for places that will do your tummy well for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when visiting Sedona, AZ and Winslow, AZ:
The Acclaimed Restaurant You Can’t Miss: Elote Cafe
Recommended for: A “fancy” dinner
I was told by a friend that no trip to Sedona was complete without a foodie pilgrimage to Elote Cafe. So I quickly fired up my phone and tried to figure out how to snag a spot at the restaurant. I figured it would be a hard place to get seated later in the evening since the establishment has won tons of awards and is helmed by chef Jeff Smedstad, a 2017 James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southwest and by all accounts is the best restaurant in town.
All the Yelp reviews said to queue up before they open otherwise be prepared for a long wait. We were lucky and got there 15 minutes after opening and somehow managed to get a table. Just five minutes after we got there folks were having to wait. By the time we left around 6:15 pm, a whole outdoor patio worth of folks were waiting to be seated!⠀
Pace yourselves on the complimentary chips and salsa — we didn’t and ended up pretty full by the time our appetizer came out. Whoops!⠀
When at Elote, you must order the Elote of course! We started out with the fire roasted corn appetizer which was mixed with spicy mayo, lime, and cotija cheese ($8). Perfectly sweet corn with a slightly smokey flavor. Warm and inviting – a great way to kick off the meal.
I love when restaurants cater to teetotalers such as myself. Elote’s non-alcoholic beverage menu features a delicious Blood Orange Limeade ($5) which was the perfect refreshing drink for a hot Arizona evening.
For my entree, I got the Corn Crusted Scallops. It was a beautifully composed plate of crispy fried sea scallops served with tomato jam, truffle cream and roasted poblanos ($30) and was the de facto star of the night. The scallops were perfectly cooked (of course) and each one was enormous!
On the way out be sure to snag a “Yo <3 Frijoles” bumper sticker at the greater stand because of COURSE you love beans!
Classic Diner Breakfast with a Twist: Red Rock Cafe
Recommended for: Breakfast
The next morning I was looking for some good ol’ breakfast eats near our hotel and found the Red Rock Cafe. Located in a totally random strip mall, this unassuming diner turns out some pretty stellar, drool-worthy eats.
Blue Corn Huevos Rancheros was made from a blue corn tortillas layered with mixed cheeses, spicy black beans and two eggs, topped with a special rancheros sauce ($9.99). I of course ordered mine with hash browns (because hash browns are the ultimate breakfast side!) which were griddled to crispy perfection. The rancheros sauce was slightly spicy, but 100% delicious along with everything else on the plate.
They were out of blueberries that morning, so our order of Banana Blueberry Walnut French Toast became an order of Banana Strawberry Walnut French Toast, which was fine by us ($9.89). This is not just any french toast – it’s banana bread dipped in batter, topped with walnuts, and fruit. Oh. Maw. Goodness. Wowee! Maybe all french toast should be made from banana bread. Sweet (but not cloying), and absolutely delish.
From Argentina, with Love: Dellepiane Sedona
Recommended for: Lunch or a mid-day snack
Looking for a snack in the area, we stopped by the Arizona outpost of a Buenos Aires burger joint, Dellepiane Sedona, which has only been open for a few months.
With a charming modern bistro decor inside and a lovely patio outdoors, the Dellepiane also houses a bit of Arizona food history, with large communal tables made from planks of wood that originally came from the now-closed Greasewood Flat Bar in Scottsdale.
We ordered a Veggie Burger, made with a chickpea patty, peanut butter, lettuce, tomato, onion, sweet chili sauce ($8) and a side order of Yucca Fries ($9) to share. The veggie burger was tasty, all fresh ingredients on a sesame burger bun. But the showstoppers were the yucca fries, which were incredibly delicious! Crunchy on the outside, and soft and tasty on the inside and served with a yummy garlic mayo dipping sauce. Maybe next time we skip the burger altogether and just get three orders of yucca fries to shovel into our mouths.
Old-School Elegance: The Turquoise Room
Recommended for: An elegant lunch or dinner
While we headed further west on the way to the Petrified Forest National Park I fired up Yelp and started looking for decent food before we made it to the park. I saw an interesting restaurant listed in Winslow called The Turquoise Room which had great reviews and seemed promising.
So glad we stopped in! This place is such a magical gem. The Turquoise Room is housed in a gorgeous historic La Posada Hotel with many interesting corridors and rooms to explore before or after you visit the restaurant.
The main dining room is beautiful, with wonderful tapestries along the walls and sparkling chandeliers lighting the space. The hotel and restaurant are reminders of a time when the railroad was king and the height of high-speed travel. (The hotel to this day is still an Amtrak stop — you can actually see the train tracks from some of the windows in the restaurant.)
Fred Harvey, an entrepreneur who sought to bring clean, decent, tasty food and as well as dignified lodgings to railroad travelers in the era of the “Wild Wild West,” built La Posada in the 1920s and opened in 1930. Famous guests include Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, and even FDR. For many many years, the hotel was in ruins until the current owners restored the magnificent building back to its original beauty.
The meal was very good (and pretty reasonably priced for such great service and ambiance). The Signature Soup is quite tasty – a split of a smooth black bean and cream of corn soup with a chile cream signature ($8).
The one thing I will say is I struggled a bit with the lunch menu because there weren’t many vegetarian options (besides maybe one or two of the salads), so rather than fight it, I went full meat-eater.
I ordered a very yummy Pork Carnitas Platter which features large pieces of pork carnitas, with red and green salsas, white tortillas, black beans and sweet corn tamale ($13) and was very fresh and tasty and was a nice refined spin on a Southwest favorite.