Grand Canyon Cafe, Flagstaff, Arizona

If you’re heading for the Grand Canyon or just passing through on Route 66, Flagstaff is worth an overnight stop. There are plenty of motels along the old highway passing through town, some with great neon, but for my money I’m staying at the historic Monte Vista Hotel one block north of Route 66 downtown.

 

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

 

The hotel opened in 1927 by the City of Flagstaff and was community owned until the 1960s, when it became privately owned.

 

lobby - photo by The Jab, 2008

lobby – photo by The Jab, 2008

 

The Monte Vista Lounge opened with the hotel, reportedly as a speakeasy until Prohibition ended. Both entrances to the bar, from the hotel and from the street, are fabulous!

 

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a historic hotel, some of the less expensive rooms have baths down the hall, but many rooms are larger with baths and they also have suites. I stayed in a small single with bath across the hall. The room was basic, but clean (as was the bathroom) and had a historic feel. Some rooms are named after famous guests from the past.

 

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

 

Besides the cocktail lounge, the hotel also has a cafe/bar called The Rendezvous, which serves as a coffee bar all day from 6:30 am (serving Intelligentsia coffee and tea) but also is a cocktail bar offering classic and craft cocktails until 2:00 am every night. Splendid! Two bars in one classic hotel; now you know why I like to stay here!

 

photo by The Jab, 2008

photo by The Jab, 2008

 

Within a short walk from the hotel there are several good restaurants (I particularly liked Swadee Thai restaurant) but a walk down Route 66 also takes you to the neon splendor of the Grand Canyon Cafe, which opened in 1942. In 1945 three brothers, Alfred, Edward, and Albert Wong bought the restaurant with a partner Bill Yee. Amazingly, it is still owned by the Wong family almost 70 years later. Albert’s son Freddy Wong now runs the restaurant with his wife Tina. The menu is a combination of classic American cafe fare (Freddy’s specialty) and Chinese food (Tina’s expertise). So it’s a great place to come both for breakfast or for some Chinese food for lunch or dinner. The chicken fried steak with green chili sauce comes highly recommended. And you can the see by my photo below that it hasn’t changed much in 70 years. I love the original vinyl booths and the lunch counter with jaunty red, white, and black stripes and a green Formica top to match the tables.

 

photo by The Jab

photo by The Jab

 

Of course if you’re going to the Grand Canyon, and can afford it, you should stay in one of the historic lodges for a few nights. But you may also enjoy saving a bit of money by staying a night or two in the charming, historic Monte Vista Hotel in happening downtown Flagstaff. And don’t miss the animated neon signs on Route 66 and around town!

 

 

 

Grand Canyon Cafe
110 E Santa Fe Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 774-2252
Open Mon-Sat 7:00am-9:00pm

 

Turquoise Room, La Posada Hotel, Winslow, Arizona

In the 19th century an Englishman named Fred Harvey, while working as a freight agent for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, negotiated a contract with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to open a chain of restaurants at railroad meal stops along their line (before dining cars were common). The “Harvey Houses”, often including a hotel, grew into a chain of 84 at their peak, and had a reputation of good food and excellent service. A few survive as hotels today, including El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, The Fray Marcos in Williams, Arizona, La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and La Posada on Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona.

The hotel was designed by Mary Colter in 1929, who later proclaimed it her masterpiece (she also designed several buildings at the Grand Canyon, including Bright Angel Lodge, and the beautiful Harvey House dining room and cocktail lounge in Union Station in Los Angeles, which is only open for private functions and tours). Santa Fe closed the hotel in 1957 and it was later vastly remodeled into an office building, with most of its interior beauty hidden behind plain walls and dropped ceilings. Incredibly, a man named Allan Affeldt purchased it in 1997 to save it from demolition, and with some partners restored it to its original grandeur. The hotel is beautiful – wonderfully restored and decorated with gorgeous artifacts with great attention to detail. A must stay if you are going along Route 66, or traveling by train on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief (the old Super Chief route), which stops directly behind the hotel (I have ridden the entire Chicago-Los Angeles route two or three times and loved every minute of it).

The ballroom at La Posada – open to guests for lounging or reading

The original Harvey House at La Posada, the Turquoise Room, has been restored as well, and is open every day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between meals. I was not able to stay in the hotel on my last Arizona road trip in Fall of 2008, but I stopped for lunch. I had a traditional Harvey House type meal of delicious fall-off-the-bone ribs, with house made beans, cole slaw, and cornbread. The dinner menu is fancier with classic and modern Southwest cuisine by chef John Sharpe, who was nominated among the best chefs in the U.S. by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. Many of the ingredients are traditional to the area and/or locally produced.

La Posada Turquoise Room 3

The Turqoise Room

The Turquoise Room
303 E. 2nd Street (Route 66), Winslow, AZ 86047
Phone 928.289.4366
Open 7am-9pm daily

Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon, Phoenix

In 1919 Edward Tovrea opened the world’s largest pen feeding stockyard in Phoenix, Arizona, which operated on 175 acres and could accommodate 300,000 head of cattle on their way to market anywhere in the U.S. In 1947 a restaurant opened in the center of the stockyard, designed in a mid-century modern architectural style.

 

original Stockyards Cafe, 1950 - photo from Stockyards Restaurant's Facebook page

original Stockyards Cafe, 1950 – photo from Stockyards Restaurant’s Facebook page

 

original Stockyards Cafe interior - photo from Stockyards Restaurant's Facebook page

original Stockyards Cafe interior – photo from Stockyards Restaurant’s Facebook page

 

The original Stockyard Cafe burned down in 1953, and in 1953-54 a large new restaurant was built, connected to a new administration building for the yard.

 

postcard

 

Stockyards sign, 1954 - photo from Stockyards Restaurant's Facebook page

Stockyards sign, 1954 – photo from Stockyards Restaurant’s Facebook page

 

The restaurant still exists in the same location today.

 

The neon sign “Since 1889” is incorrect. The current restaurant dates back to 1954 (1889 refers to the 1889 Saloon) – photo by The Jab, 2008

 

The interior of the main restaurant (planned and decorated by Helen Tovrea) has been remodeled several times since 1954, most recently in 2005. However, on my 2008 visit I liked the decor of large booths and wooden tables and chairs, large wrought iron western-style chandeliers, with old photographs, western paintings and artifacts on the walls, plus a rock fireplace. But the bar (1889 Saloon) and adjacent lounge are the most spectacular and original rooms in the restaurant. There is a beautiful intricately carved mahogany bar that looks like it’s over 100 years old, but it was actually built in 1954 by local cabinet-maker Russ Kapp, who is still around at 91-years old (he also made the carved wooden bar stools that are still intact). The lounge, called the Rose Room, is surrounded by gorgeous murals depicting Gay 90s scenes, painted by Catherine Patton of Pasadena.

 

Catherine Patton finishing the murals in the cocktail bar - photo from Stockyards Restaurant's Facebook page

Catherine Patton finishing the murals in the Rose Room, 1954 – photo from Stockyards Restaurant’s Facebook page

 

Rose Room, 1954 - photo by stockyardssteakhouse.com

Rose Room, 1954 – photo by stockyardssteakhouse.com

 

The booths have been replaced by tables and chairs, but the murals are still intact, as seen in this photo I took.

 

photo by The Jab, 2008

 

I didn’t take any photos of my dinner, but I remember enjoying an excellent steak. The steak menu (of aged, corn-fed beef) is extensive, offering a Porterhouse, two sizes of ribeye and New York strip, three sizes of filet mignon, two sizes of sirloin, a Chateaubriand, and even a buffalo ribeye.

 

Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon
5009 E. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85034
602-273-7378
Open for lunch: Mon–Fri 11am–2pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 5pm-9pm, Sun 5pm-8pm
Happy hour M-F 4pm-7pm