The mountain town of Flagstaff may be famous for skiing, snowboarding and hiking, but this outdoorsy enclave offers big-city culinary sophistication, too.
At Expedition Foodie, we're all about giving you reasons to travel for a good meal. "It's the Weekend. Let's Eat." features itineraries for where to dine and what to order in cities and towns throughout Arizona. This edition takes us to Flagstaff.
Historic downtown Flagstaff was once only considered a base camp for exploring surrounding mountains, canyons and forest. In recent years, though, a plethora of chef-driven restaurants has bubbled up, luring visitors and locals to linger longer over a meal before hitting the slopes or trails. Bottom line? You might want to rethink subsisting on energy bars and vitamin water while in town and weave in stops at these impressive Flagstaff restaurants.
Kick back with a craft cocktail on the roof deck of Root Public House to watch the sun's last rays wash over the nearby San Francisco Peaks. Then go downstairs to enjoy an ever-evolving menu at a table in the airy space of a century-old building. You'll always find the mesquite-smoked pork chop on the menu, but other entrées making guest appearances might include salmon with tomato risotto, a charred leek risotto or the five-spice short ribs with mascarpone potatoes. Save room for the chocolate and hazelnut torte.
For nearly four decades, Macy's European Coffee House has been Flagstaff's de facto living room, where locals sit for hours, sipping coffee made from house-roasted beans. The vibe? Bohemian, art-filled and elbow-to-elbow, unless you can score a barstool outside. Try a cinnamon-flecked café Mexicano or a Macy's Special, made with espresso and steamed hot chocolate, then ponder the beckoning baked goods. Vegan and vegetarian breakfast offerings are other great choices—steamed eggs, yogurt and granola, waffles, breakfast sammies or biscuits and gravy (yup—vegetarian gravy).
People who have been away from Flagstaff awhile are known to make their first stop back in town at MartAnne's Burrito Palace, right on Historic Route 66. The café, known for its bright red walls, Dia de los Muertos-themed art and colorful dinette chairs, has become a pilgrimage spot for its chilaquiles, spinach and cheese enchiladas, burritos and chimichangas. If you are, by some unfathomable reason, still hungry after one of these heaping plates, try a banana and caramel chimichanga topped with chocolate sauce. Recommended: A post-lunch nap.
Historic Barrel + Bottle House is part of downtown Flagstaff's robust craft brewing scene. Here, you can sample other Arizona brews as well as the brewery's own beers, like the Piehole Porter—with notes of cherry and vanilla—or the summery Undercover Cucumber, a cooling melon and cuke brew that's the perfect drink for a summer night on the patio. The food has gastropub DNA, with offerings like burgers, mac 'n' cheese and pulled pork sandwiches. Start with the salty, tangy fried pickle chips dunked in tzatziki sauce.
By Sunday, an early-morning hike might be warranted so you can enjoy a guilt-free brunch at Josephine's Restaurant. Housed in a Craftsman-style bungalow and named for chef Tony Cosentino's mother, the restaurant has a cozy interior and a landscaped front patio, ideal for relaxing with a mimosa or Bloody Mary on a sunny day. Go for a smoked salmon omelet, eggs Benedict or the steak and potato hash, and bear in mind that the wine list has received plaudits from Wine Spectator.
About the Author
Nora Burba Trulsson
Nora Burba Trulsson is a long-time Arizona resident and a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, lifestyle, architecture and design topics. Her articles have appeared in Sunset, Arizona Highways, Vegas Seven, Houzz.com, Valley Guide, Scottsdale Magazine, United Airlines Hemispheres, Westjet's Up!, Renovation Style, Beautiful Homes and other publications and websites. She can be reached through noraburbatrulsson.com.