On-the-Road Food: Arizona’s Best BBQ, Diners & Drive-Ins
Highway 89: Prescott to Page
Ranch House Restaurant, Yarnell
You may have to fight for a table at this historic eatery at the top of Yarnell Hill, wildly popular with locals, classic car enthusiasts, and bikers alike. The Ranch House came under new ownership in 1994, but has continued its sixty-year legacy as the spot for hearty, home-cooked breakfasts — pancake stacks and three-egg omelets to the giant “18 Wheeler”: biscuits & gravy with hash browns and sausage or bacon — plus nine types of burgers and enchilada-style Mexican dishes. Aside from the great food, I suspect repeat customers are created by the legendary (genuinely) friendly service and sociable clientele.
(23225 Broadway St., Yarnell; 928.427.6522; ranchhouserestaurantyarnell.com)
Highway 89A: Prescott to Sedona
El Toreo, Cottonwood
This authentic Mexican eatery dedicated to the art of bullfighting may be small, but it’s big on taste. Diners can choose to partake in El Toreo’s enormous buffet offering or order directly from the menu. Standout dishes include the machaca (shredded beef or pork) enchiladas or burritos, chile relleno and Albondigas soup, made with Mexican-style meatballs and veggies in a chicken stock, served with tortillas.
(2181 E State Route 89A, Cottonwood; 928.649.0416)
Coffee Pot Restaurant, Sedona
Huge portions and a lively atmosphere are the order of the day at this kitschy, but much beloved breakfast/lunch spot in Sedona. Order by number from the extensive menu that boasts 101 different kinds of omelets, plus other morning favorites, such as buckwheat pancakes, biscuits & gravy, Belgian waffles, French toast with strawberries and whipped cream, and Eggs Benedict. Per their namesake, each table is given their own pot of coffee — no waiting for refills.
(2050 W. Hwy 89A, Sedona; 928.282.6626; coffeepotsedona.com)
US 60: Phoenix to Show Low
Interstate 17: Flagstaff to Phoenix
Bigfoot Bar-B-Que, Flagstaff
Voted best barbecue in Flagstaff six years in a row, Bigfoot’s expansive menu is “influenced, inspired, and outright stolen from some of the most auspicious gas stations across the South.” Be it brisket, chicken, pulled pork, ribs or tips, the hickory-smoked barbecue is tender and moist, with just the right amount of smoke. Other standouts include the catfish po’ boy, sugar-dusted sweet ‘tater fries and perfectly spiced coleslaw. The location is a bit odd, on the basement floor of a clothing boutique, but the funky ambience and smoky-rich barbecue keeps folks coming back for more.
(120 N. Leroux St., Flagstaff; 928.226.1677; bigfootbbq.com)
Rock Springs Café & Saloon, Rock Springs
Located halfway between Flagstaff and Phoenix, the historic Rock Springs Café has been best known for their delicious array of home-baked fruit, mega-meringue and specialty pies, such as the Rhubarb Crumb or Jack Daniels Pecan, for more than 50 years. The café also serves up a heaping helping of country cooking, like fried chicken and pork chops, “Two-Gun Chili” and great mesquite-smoked BBQ ribs and sandwiches. The café is always buzzing on weekends, with an all-you-can-eat fish fry on Fridays and bottomless BBQ ribs on Saturdays.
(35769 South Old Black Canyon Hwy, Rock Springs; 623.374.5794; rockspringscafe.com)