March 22, 2009

Junipine Cafe

By Angele Sionna

  • 8351 N. Hwy 89A, in Oak Creek Canyon (about 30 minutes from Flagstaff and 10 minutes from Sedona)

  • No menu online (but they will fax you one if you call and ask)

  • JunipineCafe.com

  • Call for reservations: 928-282-7406





The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>= good, but not great

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxxx= you’ll love it

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)

breakfast $ -$10

lunch $$-$$$ - $10-15

dinner $$$$-$$$$$ - $20-$30

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money


sdc15019Junipine Cafe is located in a beautiful location in the midst of Oak Creek Canyon, just north of Slide Rock State Park. It's the perfect spot for a quick getaway for locals and a nice rest stop of tourists. (And it's a part of the Junipine Resort hotel, which is a nice location for visitors who want to check out Flagstaff, Sedona and the Grand Canyon without staying at a place that feels super touristy, though I can't speak to the rooms because I've never stayed there.)

The cafe has a great patio with views of the towering trees and red rocks in the canyon. The sun shines down through the trees, leaving it warm but not too hot, though it can get windy. But its a very relaxing feeling and the premium place to sit at the restaurant when its sunny out. Inside has a very woodsy, cabin feel with oak paneling and furniture.

sdc15032The claim to fame at Junipine are their fish dishes, they say. They use locally caught trout and fly in other fish fresh from the coast. The lunch menu includes blacked or season fish specials, fish tacos, several salads, burgers, sandwiches and a soup of the day. Dinner has many of the same items plus steak, fajitas and more fish selections... all at higher prices of course. They also serve up breakfast, with items like trout and eggs, waffles and pancakes on the menu.

We ate at Junipine today for lunch, celebrating my daughters birthday. The perfect time to try something new. We've driven by so many times and always wondered what their food was like but never stopped and their menu isn't online so we had no idea what to expect. But it's such a nice day, we figured why not. And it was a good choice.

For an appetizer, we got the calamari. It was very good, nice light crust and very flavorful, and among the best we've had in this area, though the dipping sauces weren't very exciting at all. I got the blacked fish special with a side ceasar salad. They don't make any of their own dressings and you could tell. It was just average. The fish, however was perfectly cooked, though almost too seasoned, but full of flavor and something I'd order again. My husband and dad ordered the sandwich special of the day - the Reuben with fries. The fries were very good and the Reuben was also tasty and worth getting. Junipine also serves a turkey reuben daily for those who don't eat beef. And for vegetarians, they have a garden burger. My step-mom ordered the Junipine burger which was really small and had an okay taste, but nothing special. For my daughters - chicken nuggets and fries from the kids menu. The kids menu says the meal comes with a beverage - all for $5, but they charged us an $2 extra for that on the bill, so be sure to ask before you order so you don't have any surprises. On the desert front, we tried the apple cobbler a la mode- which was homemade with a nice flaky crust and fresh apples, but not too sweet- and the chocolate lava cake with a scoop of ice cream. My daughter really loved that. Though we were there for her birthday and informed our waitress, they didn't give her a complimentary desert nor did they put a candle in her cake or sing to her. All of which was fine, but kind of surprising being most of this area's nicer places offer a complimentary birthday desert with a candle to blow out, so we were a bit disappointed.

sdc15023Prices are inline with Flagstaff and Sedona restaurants at about $10-$15 per person for lunch, so they're more expensive then they should be for each entree but what you would expect for this nice location. And dinner puts them up into the expensive range at closer to $20-$30 per person. If you have a party of six or more - even if some of your party are babies that don't order - they take it upon themselves to add a 18% gratuity. That's also unheard of in this area, where most places don't include kids in their party totals when automatically adding gratuity. When we asked about it our waitress was really snippy and rude and quite frankly it ruined the nice, relaxing experience of our lunch today. She also got defensive when I asked why she charged us for milk that the menu said came with the kids' meal. They're also not on top of things when it comes to drink refills. So I wouldn't say service is their string point but all in all Junipine is a nice change of place and really feels like a nice getaway, even though it's just down the road.

Check out the menu in the below gallery:

[gallery orderby="ID"]

Black Bart's Steakhouse, Saloon and Musical Revue

By Angele Sionna




The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>= mixed bag, can be good but can be bad, can’t count on it

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$$$ $20

Value (what you get for your money)
** = okay - overpriced for quality/taste


Black Bart's is a unique Flagstaff restaurant. It's located at an RV park just off I-40 on the east-central side of town. It's claim to fame is its singing waiters (who are all music students from NAU).

The theme is western and very comfortable. They take reservations but in general you can make them the day you go and probably don't need one if you go when they open at 5pm. I've never been there when it was packed. The service is always good and friendly and they're on top of things because all the singing waiters help each other out.

The menu too is western themed with steaks, barbequed ribs and chicken, fish, salads plus some pastas. The prices are on the higher side, but that does include your entertainment. Black Bart's is kid-friendly and has a kid menu. My children love to see the singers and clap after each performance.

The food is decent but nothing to rave about. The steaks aren't very flavorful (and we've tried their prime rib, filet and sirloin steaks all on different occasions and all with the same boring taste). The barbequed chicken is pretty good and the way I recommend to go. If you like fries, ask if you can get curly fries instead of steak fries. They serve curly fries with the kids meals so they always have them, they just normally serve adults the steak fries. The baked potato is pretty small and plain tasting but again a decent choice. Their ribs are an okay option but they're kind of tough and don't fall off the bone but the flavor is good. Everything here tastes like its missing a real chef. All the entrees do come with a salad and biscuits, both of which are really quite tasty and my favorite parts of the meal.

Black Bart's is worth going to at least once for the experience and a good place to take out of town guests who really want to do something with a "western"-ish feel. That's when we always go because someone always has heard about it and wants to check it out while they're here. But it's not really good enough to keep going back to for the food. The good news for locals is you can always find a 10% off coupon or a 1/2 of dinner (with purchase of another dinner and two beverages) coupon in the Money in the Mail monthly coupons that show up in your mailbox.

March 19, 2009

Mama Burger

Mama Burger

By Angele Sionna

  • 112 E. Route 66 (in the former downtown Fratelli's location, next to AZ Music Pro)

  • (no website, but you can find their full menu at the bottom of this review!)

  • Note: Mama Burger has limited hours, only open Monday thru Saturday from 10:30 am - 2:30 pm.





The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>= a favorite, can count on it being good every time

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
x= if the food’s good enough, still worth going, otherwise forget it

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$                    under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay


If you're looking for a good burger at a decent price, then you're going to want to try the new Mama Burger downtown Flagstaff. This is literally a hole in the wall with only a few stools at a bar shoved up against a little window. (So I opted to eat my feast in my car.)

Mama's has a basic menu: burgers and fries (plus soft serve ice cream and shakes). If this isn't what you're looking for, then at least you don't need to ponder whether or not to go. If you *are* in the burger mood, it's perfect and probably the best priced local combo you're going to find in downtown Flagstaff. You can get a double cheeseburger with all the fixings, fries and a fountain drink soda (with free refills) for just $7.95. That beats Beaver Street's $10+ burgers with fries but no soda, but then there's really no service or atmosphere so to speak at Mama Burger. And if you're just looking for a burger, you can get the Mama Burger (with no cheese) for just $3. That's a bargain (and probably as close to In-N-Out Burger as you're going to find in town).

Mama's burgers are simple but quite tasty. They kind of have an old fashioned flare. The toppings aren't deluxe by any means (they use plain old iceberg lettuce, for example) but they get the job done. We really enjoyed our meal and left feeling satisfied.

The fries are handcut and thin and quite good as well. Again, nothing fancy but quality. You can jazz them up by ordering cajun-style (at no extra cost). But I liked the plain ones more, quite frankly. I wouldn't order a side of fries by themselves though, as they're quite pricey for the little bag you get at $3. (I think french fry prices in Flagstaff need a reality check for sure. And not just at Mama Burger.)

The shakes are good though priced on the high side at $3.75. I ordered their strawberry. It's made with soft-serve ice cream and fresh strawberries and topped with whip cream. But I would skip their plain soft serve ice cream cone at a ridiculous $3.

The folks work hard and fast and are friendly at Mama's- but do check your order. My burger came without onions, though I ordered it "mama's way" with all the fixings they have, and we were missing one of our fries, which they quickly corrected, of course, but still. I like to trust that I'm getting what I ordered without having to check. They were super-packed when I stopped by this week for lunch though, so I'm going to cut them a little slack on that.

All in all, Mama Burger is a contender for best burger in Flagstaff. It wins the prize on burger value for sure. And while this is not a place to take the fam for lunch, it would be a great spot to pick up and bring home or over to the park for a tasty treat. We'll definitely be stopping by Mama Burger again!

Mama Burger's Menu

MamaBurger……………………………………$3.00
with cheese……………………………$3.30
DoubleMama……………………………….. $4.00
with cheese……………………………$4.60
Mama’s way: lettuce, tomato, onion, sauce, mustard
Or the highway: choose from any of the above
Hand cut Fries: we cook em’ in pure peanut oil!…….$3.00
Cajun or Regular
Shakes…………………………………………………………. $3.75
Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry
add Oreos for 50 cents
Cones……………………………………………………. $3.00
Chocolate, Vanilla, Twist
Dipped in Chocolate……………….. $3.50
Sundaes……………………………………………………………… $4.25
Hot fudge or Strawberry
with or without peanuts
Sodas……………………………………………………………………………. $1.81
Mama’s shoe throwin’ Combos
number 1: MamaBurger, Fries, and a soda…………………………. $6.95
number 2: DoubleMama, Fries, and a soda………………………… $7.95
Free cheese on Combos. Sub a shake for $1.75

March 12, 2009

The Best Irish Pub Food In Flagstaff for St Patrick's Day or Anyday

Collins Irish Pub


By Angele Sionna





The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>= good, but not great

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxxx= you’ll love it

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$                 $10

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money


(This article was first published in Flagstaff Live! on March 12, 2009, written by me of course!)

Sláinte! Pick up a mug of Irish goodness (a.k.a. beer) and toast your friends and family in this month of St. Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and the one who lovers of all things brewed have taken to celebrating in March. In Ireland, St. Patty’s Day is really more a day of religious observance than here in America, where we tend to enjoy the party side of things. I’ve been to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day on two occasions and was surprised to learn that the festival there isn’t quite like in the States … though they are embracing the tourism dollars more and more and have upped the party attitude in honor St. Patrick’s American devotees.

[caption id="attachment_240" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Collins' Black & Tan Onion Rings"]Collins' Black & Tan Onion Rings[/caption]

You may not think Irish when you think Flagstaff, but we do have one little joint where you can feel a wee bit o’ the Irish charm everyday of the year and celebrate Éirinn go Brách (a Gaelic saying meaning “Ireland forever”).
That’s Collins’ Irish Pub.
Collins’ Irish Pub is an Americanized Irish pub in a century-old downtown building at the corner of Route 66 and Leroux. When you walk inside you get the feeling of many pubs in Ireland. It’s nothing overly flashy, but it is warm and welcoming with a wooden bar and lots of big tables—though I’ve never been to any Irish pub with the great booths of Collins’. They’re roomy and comfortable, perfect for conversing.
The everyday menu has many traditional Irish pub selections, and some they’ve invented themselves. In the appetizer realm, they serve up Irish nachos made with homemade “Irish potato chips,” and black and tan onion rings made in a Guinness and Bass beer batter. The onion rings are really good, though pricey at about $9. The main menu includes pub grub like homemade Newcastle beer-battered fish and chips, Molly’s corned beef stew, Guinness and beef stew and corned beef and cabbage (of course), all at about $10 per entrée. The food has the same flare and flavors of many of the Irish pubs I’ve visited across the pond. Collins’ also has a friendly wait staff that adds to the enjoyable atmosphere.
Of course, if you’re looking to celebrate American-style on St. Patrick’s Day here in Ire-zona with an all-out beer fest, Collins’ is good for that too with both Guinness Stout and Harp on tap, plus many other fine beer choices. You can find a full food and drink menu online at www.collinsirishpub.com.
In honor of St. Patrick
The flavors of Ireland may not get an everyday showing on the menus of many restaurants around town, but on St. Patrick’s Day Beaver Street Brewery is making an exception. All day on St Patty’s Day, they’ll be serving up a traditional corned beef and cabbage entrée. I’ve never had anything sub par at Beaver Street, so I’m sure this dish will be one to try as well.

March 4, 2009

Diablo Burger

Read the February 2010 update HERE.
  • Downtown off the main square with alley entrance behind Pesto Brothers (no street)
  • diabloburger.com
  • Cash Only




The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>= a favorite, can count on it being good every time

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$                 $10

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money


Diablo Burger opened up this week in downtown Flagstaff. It's a funky little joint tucked away in a little nook behind Pesto Brothers off the main square downtown. It's what one might call a hole in the wall, but with style and a hip feel.You might think they had outside seating because DBs is tucked behind the patio for Pesto Brothers, but I asked and that is Pesto Brothers patio only. Though DBs does plan on getting a picnic table to put outside somewhere soon, which will really be great.

There are four copper topped tables and a bar, all with tall stools. You walk up to the counter and place your order and pay on the spot - cash only. (They say cash only because a British study found that using cash tends to support local markets, while credit cards send money other places.) There's no real waiters and waitresses but everyone there is very friendly and welcoming and makes sure you're enjoying everything.

The menu is simple but still deluxe. The focus is on local with their beef coming from the Diablo Trust Ranches in Northern Arizona. They have burgers and fries and a few other tidbits like Homemade Holy Guacamole (which I didn't try this time but will on another occasion). They also have a chili and a seasonal vegetable soup of the day (but sadly when I ate there tonight they didn't have soup).

The fries are fabulous and definitely going to be added to my best fries of Flagstaff list. They're $4.25 for a basket and come with a special homemade dipping sauce of your choice. I went for ranch which was fab. Other choices include Hatch Chile Mayo and pesto.

Now to the burgers. They all come with the yummy fries and are served on an english muffin and range in price from $6.50 for their Monk, which is a basic burger... on up to $9.25 for the Blutarsky, served blackened with bacon, sharp cheddar and holy guacamole. You can also build your own burger for $7.50 for a two topping to $9.25 for a four topping burger.

To come is a veggie burger - which I really look forward to trying. Though I feel like they're teasing me with it there on the menu. They do have a super fancy Grilled Cheese but I just can't muster up to buying a grilled cheese at a restaurant for adults, unless it was to come with freshly made tomato basil soup.

Oddly enough all this focus on local is absent in the beers part of the menu. No Arizona beers are on the menu, even though we have some fab brews right here in Flagstaff and Sedona. Instead beers are all from California's North Coast Brewing company. That's kinda disappointing with their local focus.

And if you're one of those Coke-a-holics who love a Coke or Pepsi, you might wanna ask if you can bring your own cause there's nothing like that high fructose corn syrupy, bad for you carbonated goodness served at DB. They do have the better for you alternative - Hansen's sodas.

Not to be left out - the dessert menu. It has milkshakes made with hormone-free whole milk and Strauss Family Creamery ice cream for $4.25 and Simply Bread's chocolate chip cookies with a scoop of ice cream for $4.25.

Note to parents and families: DB doesn't have high chairs yet (though they told us they plan on getting one). So bring a stroller. The chairs are all tall stools so tiny tots that would normally need a booster aren't going to be accomadated either. My three year old was fine on the stool but she wasn't in a squirmy mode.

All in all this is a place worth trying. Cut them a little slack cause they just opened this week. You'll be glad you did.

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